1 bad NFL Draft trend for each SEC team that they'd like to end in 2023
SEC teams have no shortage of brag-worthy NFL Draft feats. Alabama putting 5 receivers in Round 1 in a 3-year stretch is insane, as is the fact that Georgia just had a record 15 players selected. Even Florida had a first-round selection for the 9th time in the past 10 years, which is something only 2 programs in America can claim.
But today isn’t the day for those brag-worthy NFL Draft feats. We’re gonna do the opposite.
Instead of hyping up each SEC team, these NFL Draft trends are more likely to be used as negative recruiting.
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Here’s 1 bad NFL Draft trend for each SEC team that they’d like to end in 2023:
Alabama — Zero No. 1 overall picks in the Nick Saban era
Yes, we’re splitting hairs. Coming up with an NFL Draft critique for Saban is like finding flaws with Beyoncé. This is someone who just tied Miami’s record with 14 consecutive years with a player selected in Round 1. But as crazy as it is, no, Saban hasn’t had a No. 1 overall pick at Alabama. He’s never had a No. 2 overall pick, either. You can count the list of people who can actually use a stat like that on 1 hand. Shoot, that list might just be Kirby Smart. Alabama’s best chance to change that might be in 2023 with Bryce Young or Will Anderson.
Arkansas — Hasn’t had a top-10 pick since Darren McFadden in 2008
Frank Ragnow and Treylon Burks are actually the only first-round picks out of Arkansas in the past 14 drafts. Consider that a byproduct of a botched 2010s decade of coaches. It’s been 15 years since the Razorbacks had a defensive player selected in Round 1. That could come to an end with Jalen Catalon in 2023, though it’s probably unlikely that a safety will come off the board in the top 10 overall. Still, with how well Sam Pittman recruits and develops, I wouldn’t expect that stat to continue through the 2020s.
Auburn — Hasn’t had a WR in the first 2 rounds since 2002
Some of that is because when you’re able to run the football like Auburn has for much of the 21st century, you play to your strengths. Gus Malzahn used to crank out 1,000-yard rushers on an annual basis. But in this pass-heavy world of college football, that’s a tough look. Even tougher is the fact that Alabama had 6 receivers taken in the first 2 rounds in the past 3 NFL Drafts. In the past 2 years alone, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU and Ole Miss all had a receiver come off the board in the first 2 rounds. That’s half the conference. Given the lack of depth at the position this year, no I wouldn’t bank on that bad stat changing on The Plains in 2023.
Florida — Hasn’t had a top-2 pick since the Harry Truman administration
Florida is an extremely difficult program to dig up negative NFL Draft stats about. Really. But even a program with 3 national titles in the past 3 decades still doesn’t have a top-2 pick since 1945. Neither Steve Spurrier nor Urban Meyer could produce a top-2 pick. Shoot, Spurrier himself could’ve made that a shorter drought, but he went No. 3 overall back in 1967. Since then, we saw Wes Chandler go No. 3 in 1978, Gerald Warren went No. 3 overall in 2001, Dante Fowler went No. 3 overall in 2015 and then in 2021, Kyle Pitts went No. 4 overall. Those are Florida’s top-5 picks in the past 50 years. It might take a minute for Billy Napier to add to that group.
Georgia — Most 5-star QBs signed since 2016 … but no quarterbacks in the first 4 rounds since 2009
It’s pretty wild how independent those 2 stats are. Nobody has added more 5-star quarterbacks to its roster than Kirby Smart since he took over at Georgia. In fact, Smart had as many 5-star quarterbacks leave his program as anybody else has signed during that stretch. Hence, why the Dawgs are still searching for their first QB in the first 4 rounds since Matthew Stafford went No. 1 overall in 2009. I wouldn’t bank on Stetson Bennett IV turning that around. Then again, if you told me at this time last year that Bennett would be the guy to end the 1980 jokes, I would’ve laughed you out of the room. Never say never.
Kentucky — 1 quarterback drafted this century
Well, excluding Randall Cobb and Lynn Bowden. If we’re talking guys who were drafted to be quarterbacks who played there exclusively in college, Andre Woodson was the first and only Kentucky player to do that this century. Woodson was a 6th-round pick in 2008. He’s the lone Kentucky signal-caller of the post-Tim Couch era to hear his name called. In way-too-early mock drafts, Will Levis is getting legitimate top-10 overall buzz. Conventional wisdom says that the former Penn State transfer will end that drought and become Kentucky’s first quarterback picked in Round 5 or earlier since Couch.
LSU — Brian Kelly only developed 3 first-round skill players at Notre Dame
You really can’t make a legitimate negative argument against LSU with the NFL Draft, but you can make one against Kelly. In a decade at South Bend, his Round 1 offensive skill players were:
- 2012 — WR Michael Floyd, No. 13 overall
- 2013 — TE Tyler Eifert, No. 21 overall
- 2016 — WR Will Fuller, No. 21 overall
In other words, Kelly didn’t have an offensive skill player come off the board in Round 1 in the last 6 drafts. Why is that significant now that he’s at LSU? He has arguably the best group of receivers in the SEC, and one of the best in America. In the 2020 NFL Draft alone, LSU had 3 offensive skill players picked in the 1st round. There’s a different kind of standard in Baton Rouge. If someone like Kayshon Boutte, who is all over the way-too-early mocks, falls outside of the first round it’ll be considered a knock against Kelly.
Mizzou — Since 2016, Vanderbilt is the only SEC team with fewer draft picks
Yikes. If you’re wondering why Mizzou always struggles to get love in the preseason conversation, consider this: In the past decade or so, the Tigers have been known as a program that excels at finding overlooked recruits and turning them into NFL players. Yet even with that reputation, Mizzou ranks No. 13 in the SEC in total draft picks over the course of the past 7 years. Also of note, Mizzou hasn’t had a winning season in SEC play since that 2014 season. Which of those things is more responsible for the other? I’ll let you decide. It would help Eli Drinkwitz if Kris Abrams-Draine could lead a deep class and become Mizzou’s first Round 1 selection since Charles Harris went No. 22 overall in 2017.
MSU — Mike Leach has only had 6 receivers drafted during his time as an FBS head coach
I did a deep dive on this a few weeks ago, so I’ll basically give you the rundown. Six receivers drafted in 20 years of leading an offense more synonymous with throwing the ball than any offense in America is a tough look. We saw Makai Polk have a 100-catch, 1,000-yard season in the SEC and go undrafted. In fact, Leach only had 1 receiver picked in the past 7 drafts:
- 2004 — Carlos Francis (Texas Tech), 4th round
- 2007 — Joel Filani (Texas Tech), 6th round
- 2009 — Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech), 1st round
- 2013 — Marquess Wilson (Washington State), 7th round
- 2015 — Vince Mayle (Washington State), 4th round
- 2020 — Dezmon Patton (Washington State), 6th round
Three of those guys never caught a pass in the NFL. None of them — including Crabtree — made a Pro Bowl. Wes Welker did, but he was an undrafted selection who retired 7 years ago. Leach isn’t changing his system, and he seems content with not being an NFL factory because the route tree isn’t complex enough.
Ole Miss — 1 non-Mr. Irrelevant QB drafted in the post-Eli Manning era
I mean no disrespect to Chad Kelly. That guy earned an NFL roster spot for 4 years, which is no small feat. But the only non-Mr. Irrelevant quarterback that Ole Miss had drafted since Manning in 2004 was Matt Corral, who surprisingly fell to the 3rd round. Given the prolific offenses we’ve seen at Ole Miss in the past decade, that seems impossible, but it’s true. Corral was dominant for most of the year and was in the Heisman Trophy consideration, and even he was only deemed a Day 2 guy (barely). Playing in the SEC West without a slew of future NFL offensive linemen might have been in hindrance to Ole Miss as a whole. But I suppose negatively recruiting against Kiffin’s quarterbacks isn’t really a worthwhile argument.
South Carolina — No quarterbacks drafted since joining the SEC
Yep. Not even Connor Shaw got drafted (he did have a cup of coffee in the NFL). Crazy. The last South Carolina quarterback drafted was, ironically enough, current Gamecocks play-by-play announcer Todd Ellis in 1990. Ellis was taken in the 9th round and he never played a down in the NFL. If you’re wondering why Gamecock fans are giddy about Spencer Rattler, well, that’s why. Rattler can become the Gamecocks’ first All-SEC quarterback en route to becoming the first South Carolina signal-caller to hear his name called at the NFL Draft since it joined the conference.
Tennessee — No quarterbacks drafted in the first 3 rounds since Peyton Manning
Here’s the list of SEC teams without a QB drafted in the first 3 rounds since 1999:
- South Carolina
Yeah, even Vandy had Jay Cutler and Kentucky had Tim Couch. To be fair, Tennessee had Tee Martin (5th round, 2000), Erik Ainge (5th round, 2008), Jonathan Crompton (5th round, 2010) and Josh Dobbs (4th round, 2017) all drafted in the post-Manning era. But not having a quarterback in the first 3 rounds in the past 24 drafts is a tough look for a program with such rich history. Can Hendon Hooker end that drought and sneak up draft boards in the next 11 months? That’s certainly possible. If not, perhaps we’ll have to wait until the 2026 NFL Draft with Nico Iamaleava (half joking).
Texas A&M — Only 1 first-round pick since Jimbo Fisher got to College Station
Kenyon Green was actually Fisher’s first Round 1 selection since Jalen Ramsey in 2016. That’s a strange thought. In Fisher’s defense, this was only his 4th NFL Draft since he arrived in College Station. In fact, Green was part of Fisher’s first recruiting full cycle. It did, however, feel like a missed opportunity for Fisher to perhaps set A&M’s modern-day draft record. Instead, it felt like everyone on that roster had their draft stock slip. As for 2023, Antonio Johnson could be a future first-rounder, as could Devon Achane. Still, though. Fisher needs to turn that trend around in a hurry.
Vanderbilt — Only 8 players picked in the past 8 drafts
You know what? I’m not doing this. If you’re really using negative NFL Draft stats to recruit against Vandy, you should forgo your status as a Power 5 program.