Recapping the first round of the NFL draft
Finally, we can put mock drafts in the rear view mirror, and we can concentrate on where players were actually picked in the first round.
Aren’t you happy?
Let’s get down to business…
Less than expected: It’s true; the NFL draft, with respect to the SEC, trended like the conference did this year — somewhat down. The SEC had just seven first-round picks this year, down four from 2014’s draft total of 11. Even at 11, the SEC didn’t set a conference record. That came in 2013 when the league had 12 first-round picks. It’s been quite a wild ride the last several years for the conference with respect to the NFL draft, and the SEC should continue to replenish the draft with elite prospects in the future, especially knowing the high school talent that’s funneling into the conference.
But for the seven who were selected, dreams certainly came true. Here’s a look at the SEC’s first-round picks:
No. 3 Dante Fowler, OLB, Florida Gators (Jacksonville Jaguars)
No. 4 Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama Crimson Tide (Oakland Raiders)
No. 10 Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia Bulldogs (St. Louis Rams)
No. 21 Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M (Cincinnati Bengals)
No. 22 Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky (Pittsburgh Steelers)
No. 23 Shane Ray, OLB, Missouri (Denver Broncos)
No. 24 DJ Humphries, OT, Florida (Arizona Cardinals)
Streak is over: The SEC’s four-year streak of having the most first-round picks is officially over. Here’s a breakdown by conference of first-round picks, with the SEC coming in behind both the ACC and Pac-12:
- ACC (9)
- Pac-12 (9)
- SEC (7)
- Big Ten (3)
- AAC (2)
- Big 12 (2)
Dominating the Top 10: Over the last six NFL drafts, the SEC blows away all other major conferences with 23 Top 10 picks. The next closest conference is the Big 12 with 14. The Pac-12 has 10, the ACC has eight and the Big Ten has one over the same time period.
Welcome back, running backs: Thanks to Todd Gurley and Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, the NFL draft featured a first-round running back for the first time in two years. In fact, there were two. It’s been a whirlwind for Gurley. He went from a suspension to a torn ACL and then became a Top 10 draft pick…at running back, nonetheless. Now, Gurley combines with former Auburn running back Tre Mason in St. Louis.
The Sunshine State: Everyone knows the state of Florida is a hotbed for elite college prospects, and undoubtedly, the Sunshine State shined again on draft night. Four of the top nine overall picks played high school football in Florida. Dante Fowler, Amari Cooper, Ereck Flowers and Leonard Williams all hail from the state of Florida. With the final tally, Florida high school football boasted eight of the top 30 picks in the draft.
Odd guy out: The one player who most everyone thought would be a first-round pick was Alabama safety Landon Collins. With Collins not being selected in the first round, it snaps Alabama’s five-year streak with two players selected on draft day one. Several were questioning Collins’ coverage, and those concerns were the main reason why Collins didn’t hear his name selected. Florida was the only SEC team that had two players selected in the first round.
Three’s a charm: With the Cincinnati Bengals picking Texas A&M offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi at No. 21, the Aggies have now produced three first-round draft picks at offensive tackle in as many drafts. Texas A&M has also now produced five first-round picks in three years, including three in the 2014 draft.
The best overall player? Media outlets and Twitter was abuzz last night following Oakland’s pick of Amari Cooper at No. 4. Fans, draft pundits and team leadership alike all know Cooper is going to be a great player in the NFL. He was the No. 1 overall player on several teams’ boards, and regardless of what number he was chosen, he may be the surest pick in the entire draft. Coop will ball in Oakland.