Fear not, SEC fans. The 2019 NFL Draft is here, and in all likelihood, you’ll be doing some bragging by the end of the weekend.
That’s not much of a debate. What remains to be seen is how exactly the conference will get there. How many SEC players will get picked in the first round? How many SEC quarterbacks will get picked? Will an SEC player go No. 1 overall for the 9th time in 22 years?
We. Don’t. Know.
But I have many thoughts ahead of Thursday night’s festivities. Here they are:
The timing of this Montez Sweat news bums me out
I’m usually extremely skeptical of anything that comes out during draft week. Rumors fly around like trades on Wall Street. You take rumors with a grain of salt until they’re actually confirmed on draft night.
But nobody would make up a heart condition rumor before the draft:
Montez Sweat stock bottomed out due to team medicals. Have heard from a few clubs that have him off the board. Of course it only takes one team, but the expectation now is he will drop. Could fall out of Round 1
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 22, 2019
That really, really bums me out. I’ve been arguing that if Sweat wore an Alabama jersey, he’d be a top 5 pick. But now with something like this, it’s fair to have serious concerns about someone who looked like he’d come off the board in the top 10.
And look, I get it. Have a bust in the top 10 and there’s no guarantee that front office survives it. There are jobs on the line with a pick that early, and if Sweat’s heart condition really does cap his potential much lower than previously expected, then it’s understandable why teams would avoid him.
But Sweat has potential to be a major steal if this is indeed just a small hiccup. The dude was extremely prolific the past 2 years, despite the fact that opponents had him at the top of scouting reports. Everyone needs edge rushers who produce like Sweat, and I’d be curious if he doesn’t fall as far as expected because of that.
Either way, though, I hate to see news like this come out just before the draft. It’s hard to envision a scenario in which this doesn’t impact his bank account.
And the likely Jeffery Simmons slip is frustrating, too
Speaking of MSU defensive linemen who are trending in the wrong direction ahead of the draft, Simmons’ case is atypical. The torn ACL means it’d be surprising to see a team in the top half of the draft take him when he’s expected to miss all of 2019.
But the odd thing is that there continues to be questions about Simmons’ character issues. I am by no means dismissing what Simmons did before he got on campus at Starkville. That video had a lasting impact, and plenty of people believed he never deserved to play a down of college football. I get that.
My point with Simmons, though, is that he’s done everything and more with his second chance. The guy has had people waiting on him to mess up the past 3 years, and he’s been nothing but a model citizen. Joe Moorhead didn’t even know about Simmons’ viral video until months after he got to Starkville, and he was blown away because of how different of a person he is today.
Simmons is likely due for a fall now from the original mock drafts. But it’ll be all the more frustrating if the talk shifts to “well there are some major character issues, too.”
It’d be a tough pill to swallow for MSU if both of their stars take a tumble. The good news? All it takes is one.
I expect Drew Lock to end an ugly draft skid for the SEC
Here’s something that I’m not sure even the diehard SEC fans realize. From 2012-18, there were 21 quarterbacks drafted in the first round. Only 1 came from the SEC. Who was it? Johnny Manziel in 2014.
That means Drew Lock is in position to not only become the SEC’s first first-round quarterback in 5 years, but he can also become the SEC’s first non-first round bust since Cam Newton in 2011.
Speaking of that stretch, it’s been a pretty pedestrian 7-year run for SEC quarterbacks in any round in the draft:
- 2018: 1 (Danny Etling)
- 2017: 2 (Chad Kelly, Josh Dobbs)
- 2016: 2 (Dak Prescott, Brandon Allen)
- 2015: 0
- 2014: 4 (Manziel, A.J. McCarron, Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger)
- 2013: 1 (Tyler Wilson)
- 2012: 0
Lock is expected to be the first of as many as 5 SEC quarterbacks drafted. That’d be on the high side, and it’s only if Jordan Ta’amu and Nick Fitzgerald come off the board, which we know isn’t a guarantee. The last time the SEC had 5 quarterbacks picked in a draft during the modern era (since 1994) was, well, never.
On the low side, it could be 3 with Lock, Jarrett Stidham and Kyle Shurmur. In order to best the top year for SEC quarterbacks in the draft (2014), it would take Lock coming off the board in the first round, plus Stidham going on Day 2 with Shurmur and/or Ta’amu and Fitzgerald getting picked.
Of course, even if the SEC does best its own mark, all the attention will immediately shift to 2020 with Tua Tagovailoa and Jake Fromm expected to be top picks.
Knock me over with a feather if Josh Jacobs isn’t RB1
A lot of people have Jacobs slotted as RB1, so this is more of a precautionary take. But if for whatever reason Jacobs isn’t the top running back selected, I’d like to ask that front office what they didn’t like about Jacobs.
Was it the fact that he does everything? Or that he runs like he’s trying to hurt people with either a stiff arm or a devastating cut in space? Or what about the fact that he only had 251 carries in college and he won’t have the wear and tear on his body that others do?
Those would all be fair questions, and that’s not necessarily a slight at any of the other running backs on the board. A lot of people like David Montgomery or Devin Singletary. There could even be a few people who think Damien Harris will be the better pro player.
I still come back to the belief that when Alabama had to get yards on third down or in a key situation, Jacobs got the rock. It wasn’t one of the multiple 5-star backs that Alabama had to choose from.
I love this play by Josh Jacobs.
– Subtle jump cut to let Irv Smith get to his guy, then hits the hole at full speed
– Cuts early to screw up tackling angle, then uses contact balance to break next two ankle tackles.
– Fantastic leg churn downfield, got an extra 10 yards. pic.twitter.com/afprFixYMP
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) February 23, 2019
I’d expect Jacobs to go either to Philadelphia at No. 25 or Indianapolis at No. 26 — he apparently played a game of “HORSE” with Frank Reich. Wherever Jacobs goes, I’m buying stock in him to succeed at the next level.
If Kyler Murray doesn’t go No. 1 … look out
For the sake of just wanting pure chaos, I’d love to see this happen. If it does, I’d bet on either Quinnen Williams or Josh Allen going in the top 2. That’s the thinking with Nick Bosa apparently being billed as the No. 1 pick if Murray doesn’t get picked by Cardinals.
The sequence that it could trigger would be fascinating because it would change a whole lot of things in the top 5 and beyond. Maybe the Raiders would trade up to get Murray? Maybe the 49ers would pick Williams? I don’t know.
What I do know that the vast majority of mock drafts in the past month had Murray going No. 1 overall. This could seem like last year when it really wasn’t publicly known what was going to happen with the top pick until it was announced.
Let’s hope for some madness.
The SEC should set a first-round record or two
So you know those brag tweets you see from our Twitter account (@SDS) and the SEC Network account? Get ready for them. The SEC is about to flex on the rest of the college football world.
Like, more than its usual post-draft flex of having the most players picked again.
Here’s what we think is on the table from a record standpoint. The SEC could have 6 players drafted in the top 10 and 13 players drafted in the first round, both of which would set marks in the modern draft era (since 1994).
All of the following SEC players have shown up in the top 10 of mock drafts:
- Quinnen Williams
- Josh Allen
- Devin White
- Jonah Williams
- Jawaan Taylor
- Drew Lock
- Greedy Williams
- D.K. Metcalf
- Montez Sweat (pre-heart condition)
I realize not all of those players will be top 10 picks, but the odds seem as good as ever that 6 could come off the board that early. And in all likelihood, they’ll at least contribute to the SEC’s first-round total.
Those would both be pretty absurd feats if you think about it. Having the majority of the top 10 picks and boasting nearly half of the first round (13 SEC players would make it 41%) is something that even the Danny Kanells of the world can’t argue with.
But I look forward to watching them try.