The SEC has had 49 players taken in the first round of the last five NFL Drafts (dating back to 2010), which represents more than 30 percent of the total first round picks during that time. Among those SEC first-round selections were two No. 1 overall picks, nine top-5 picks and 20 top-10 picks.

The 2015 NFL Draft is now less than two weeks away, and once again there are former SEC stars littered all over the top of various draft boards. In anticipation of this year’s draft, we went back and ranked the 49 SEC first-rounders from the last five drafts to determine who panned out, who didn’t and who is still a work in progress.


Criteria: The title of this category speaks for itself.

49. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama, No. 3 in 2012 (Cleveland Browns): Richardson’s career has been what the kids call an epic fail. He ran for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns as a rookie in Cleveland, but then regressed 105 yards and zero touchdowns in just two games in 2012. He was dealt to Indianapolis in 2013 for a first-round pick, and since has rushed for 977 yards and six touchdowns in two seasons combined. His career yards per attempt average is 3.3 and his career high for one season is 3.6.

48. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida, No. 25 in 2010 (Denver Broncos): Tebow’s mechanics were constantly questioned at the NFL level, and although the 2012 Broncos not only won the division and even a playoff game, most feel that team was led by its defense and run game. Tebow is a perennial winner and as polarizing a figure as the NFL’s seen in some time, but he’s never shown an ability to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.


Criteria: These players failed to assume starting roles, but there’s a chance they’ll last in the league as role players for a few more years.

47. Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State, No. 32 in 2011 (Green Bay Packers): Sherrod has been a backup for most of his career, and injuries have limited him since he left Mississippi State as well.

46. Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU, No. 6 in 2012 (Dallas Cowboys): Claiborne began his career as a starter on the outside, but soon regressed to second-team and/or nickel duties, a role he’s been stuck in ever since.

45. Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia, No. 17 in 2013 (Pittsburgh Steelers): Jones has only started 11 of the 21 games he’s played in his NFL career, and he’s averaged fewer than three tackles per game during his two years in the league.

44. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama. No. 28 in 2011 (New Orleans Saints): Ingram had a career year last year, rushing for 964 yards and nine touchdowns on his way to his first Pro Bowl invite. However, he’s never rushed for 1,000 yards in the NFL and has never posted double-digit touchdowns in a season, which doesn’t quite justify his first-round selection.

43. Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee, No. 26 in 2010 (Arizona Cardinals): Williams has been in and out of a starting job for five years, and he has only two sacks to his name in that time despite logging an average of more than 31 tackles per season.


Criteria: These players have either battled injuries or are project players still being developed by the teams that drafted them.

42. Dee Ford, DE, Auburn, No. 23 in 2014 (Kansas City Chiefs): Ford did not start a single game as a rookie, and only logged eight total tackles and 1.5 sacks. Still, it’s too early to rule his career as one that did not pan out, especially after only one year.

41. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M, No. 22 in 2014 (Cleveland Browns): We all remember Manziel’s brilliance in college, and we all know of his antics off the field. He barely completed half his passes in two starts last season, throwing two picks without a touchdown, but he also recently checked out of rehab and may have put in the work to turn the corner and be a leader. We’ll see this fall.

40. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina, No. 1 in 2014 (Houston Texans): Last year’s No. 1 overall pick played in only four games with only two starts while battling a knee injury he suffered in Houston’s season opener. He was eventually shut down for the season after logging just seven tackles, and he’s yet to record his first career sack.

39. Dominique Easley, DT, Florida, No. 29 in 2014 (New England Patriots): Easley only started two games last year due to the depth of New England’s defense, but he still used that time to log 10 tackles, a sack and an interception, proving his playmaking abilities in a very limited role.

38. Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU, No. 6 in 2013 (Cleveland Browns): Mingo started 11 games last year after starting only three as a rookie, but he posted almost identical numbers both seasons. This may be reason for concern, but may also indicate growth out of the converted linebacker.

37. Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida, No. 23 in 2013 (Minnesota Vikings): Floyd started only one game as a rookie but started 11 last season, improving his numbers in nearly every statistical category. He’s showing a positive trend but isn’t an established long-term contributor just yet.

36. Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn, No. 2 in 2014 (St. Louis Rams): Last year’s No. 2 overall pick started 12 of the 16 games he played for a lackluster Rams offensive line. It remains to be seen whether he’s the cause of the struggles or the future solution to the problem.

35. Matt Elam, S, Florida, No. 32 in 2013 (Baltimore Ravens): In two seasons Elam has only one interceptions and only seven passes defended 32 games. He’s shown flashes of excellence but must bring more consistency to the field.

34. Melvin Ingram, LB, South Carolina, No. 18 in 2012 (San Diego Chargers): Ingram has never had high tackle numbers during his career, but he’s added production to San Diego’s defense in the form of six sacks, seven passes defended and four forced fumbles during his first three seasons in the league. He had a career high in sacks and forced fumbles last season, and could be in store for a career year in 2015.

33. Mark Barron, S, Alabama, No. 7 in 2012 (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Barron is a physical safety who has been used less in coverage and more in the box during his NFL career. He’s transitioned roles and since changed teams, but still shows signs that he could last in the league for another handful of years.

32. Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M, No. 2 in 2013 (Jacksonville Jaguars): Joeckel has been productive when he’s been on the field, but he’s already missed 11 games his first two seasons, which is cause for concern considering he was taken No. 2 overall in his draft and is now tasked with protecting franchise quarterback Blake Bortles.


Criteria: These are all above-average players who may not get invited to many Pro Bowls, but who will last as starters in the league for a while.

31. Michael Brockers, DT, LSU, No. 14 in 2012 (St. Louis Rams): Brockers has started 44 of the 45 games he’s played in the NFL, and he’s logged at least 30 tackles and at least 2 sacks in each of his three seasons in St. Louis.

30. Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama, No. 8 in 2010 (Oakland Raiders): McClain’s career has been a strange one through five seasons. He was brought to Oakland to improve the Raiders’ run defense, which never really improved upon his arrival despite some impressive numbers. He was cut by Oakland after three seasons and signed by Baltimore, but he retired before ever playing for the Ravens. He was brought out of retirement by Dallas last year as the Cowboys compensated for injuries, and he now appears headed for a career revival after recording 81 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and two picks for the NFC East champs.

29. Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama, No. 17 in 2012 (Cincinnati Bengals): Kirkpatrick has started only five of his 35 career games in Cincinnati while serving as the team’s nickel corner, which may as well be a starting role in the age of spread offenses. He’s logged 53 tackles, six picks and two touchdowns the last two seasons, proving himself to be a valuable asset despite not technically being considered a starter in the league.

28. James Carpenter, OT, Alabama, No. 25 in 2011 (Seattle Seahawks): Carpenter has started 39 of the 45 games he’s played during his career, including a start in each of the last two Super Bowls, in which his Seahawks are 1-1. If you can start on the line for that offense and in front of Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch and Russell Wilson, you’re clearly doing something right.

27. Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn, No. 13 in 2011 (Detroit Lions): The former Auburn one-year star hasn’t been quite as successful in the NFL, but he’s certainly been productive. He battled injuries a year ago but logged 11.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in 2012-13 combined, showing the kind of growth many expected when he was drafted. If he can get healthy, he’ll return to his productive ways.

26. Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina, No. 10 in 2012 (Buffalo Bills): Gilmore has had to be the guy in the Bills secondary since he was drafted, and he’s grown into that role nicely. He’s had fewer passes defended in each of his three seasons, mostly because opposing teams are not interested in throwing in his direction anymore, and he’s recorded 10 takeaways in three years to maintain some semblance of his playmaking abilities.

25. Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama, No. 20 in 2010 (Houston Texans): Jackson has quietly been one of the SEC’s most consistent players in the NFL the last five years. He’s recorded at least 42 tackles all five years and at least 53 in four of those years. He has five seasons with at least six pass breakups and four with at least nine breakups. He’s hauled in 10 interceptions in five years, and is one of the NFL’s better cover corners.

24. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, CB, Alabama, No. 21 in 2014 (Green Bay Packers): The man with the NFL’s best name had his coming out party in last year’s NFL Championship Game, even though his Packers choked away a late lead. During the regular season he made 92 tackles on the perimeter and hauled in another pick in addition to six passes defended as one of the NFL’s bright young rookies.

23. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama, No. 9 in 2013 (New York Jets): Milliner only played in three games last season due to injury, but as a rookie he logged a whopping 17 passes defended and three interceptions, battling all year as the Jets’ corner most often picked on by opponents. He rose to the challenge and proved he can last in this league, so long as he stays healthy.

22. Eric Reid, S, LSU, No. 18 in 2013 (San Francisco 49ers): Reid was drafted onto one of the best defenses in the NFL, and he took advantage in a big way. As a ball-hawking safety, he has seven interceptions (and 192 return yards on those seven picks) for his career, all in addition to 118 tackles and 18 passes defended. He’ll truly be tested this fall now that San Francisco has broken up its recent championship core.

21. D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama, No. 11 in 2013 (San Diego Chargers): Fluker was taken one pick after Chance Warmack, his college teammate at Alabama, and he’s started all 31 games of his NFL career for a Chargers team that has won 18 games during his two years in the league.

20. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M, No. 6 in 2014 (Atlanta Falcons): Matthews hails from a family of NFL offensive linemen, and he followed suit with a productive rookie season last year that included 15 starts in 15 games played.

19. Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama, No. 10 in 2013 (Tennessee Titans): It’s rare that an interior offensive lineman gets picked as high as Warmack did in 2013 when he went 10th overall, but he’s justified the pick by working himself into better game shape. As a result, he’s started all 32 games of his NFL career.

18. Ja’Wuan James, OT, Tennessee, No. 19 in 2014 (Miami Dolphins): James started every one of Miami’s games last season at offensive tackle, and he was named to the Pro Football Writers Association’s All-Rookie team at season’s end.

17. Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State, No. 12 in 2012 (Philadelphia Eagles): Cox is a complete defensive end who can rush the passer or stop the run at the point of attack. He’s amassed at least 4 sacks in each of his three NFL seasons, and he’s added a pair of forced fumbles and an average of 47 tackles per year along the defensive line.

16. Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama, No. 25 in 2012 (New England Patriots): Hightower has averaged 82 tackles a year as a physical force at the heart of the Pats’ defense, and few players move as well at 270 pounds as Hightower, who is a punishing tackler. His 11 sacks and two career forced fumbles only serve to supplement that point.

15. Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia, No. 30 in 2013 (St. Louis Rams): Ogletree has cleared the 110 tackles mark in each of his first two NFL seasons, and he’s added 22 passes defended and 10 forced fumbles to prove himself as one of the NFL’s most well-rounded young linebackers both at the line of scrimmage and in pass coverage.

14. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee, No. 29 in 2013 (Minnesota Vikings): Patterson has been as explosive as a kick returner as he has as a receiver during his two years with the Vikings. He was a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro in 2013 even though he only started six games that season at wide receiver. However, he has a 109-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to his name, one of two return scores during his brief career. He’s also rushed for a 67-yard score as part of a rare 100-yard rushing performance by a wide receiver. He’s scored his 11 career touchdowns in three different ways, and has amassed at least 30 catches in each of his two NFL seasons to serve his primary role as a wideout.


Criteria: Again, the name of this category speaks for itself.

13. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M, No. 7 in 2014 (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Had it not been for Beckham, Evans would have been the easy choice as the NFL’s best rookie receiver. He, too, went over 1,000 yards on the year to go along with 12 touchdowns, and rather than playing with a two-time Super Bowl champion he posted those numbers as the top option in Tampa’s mess of an offense, which makes his season even more impressive.

12. Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri, No. 13 in 2013 (New York Jets): Richardson was the Defensive Rookie of the Year two years ago and a Pro Bowler last year, and he’s still improving as the anchor of the Jets’ defense. His 145 tackles, 11.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles in two seasons are a lot for even an experienced defensive tackle, and like many on this list he’s yet to reach his peak as a player.

11. Joe Haden, CB, Florida, No. 7 in 2010 (Cleveland Browns): Haden has been a lockdown corner since arriving in Cleveland five seasons ago. He’s registered 16 career interceptions despite failing to haul one in during the 2011 season, and he’s had at least 50 tackles in each of his five seasons in the NFL in addition to four career forced fumbles. He’s a two-time Pro Bowler and was a second-team All-Pro in 2013, serving as the leader of the Browns’ defense.

10. Mike Pouncey, C, Florida, No. 15 in 2011 (Miami Dolphins): Brother of Maurkice, Mike also lands on this list as one of the SEC’s best first round picks of late. He’s played in two Pro Bowls without any All-Pro honors, but like his brother he’s started every game of his NFL career.

9. Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama, No. 3 in 2011 (Buffalo Bills): Dareus has hit his stride the last two seasons, earning back to back Pro Bowl invites in addition to All-Pro honors last season. He recorded 120 tackles the last two seasons after recording only 82 in his first two seasons, and he’s recorded at least 5.5 sacks in every year of his career, including 17.5 the last two seasons. Dareus is a monster in the middle with a nose for the football, and he’s still improving.

8. A.J. Green, WR, Georgia, No. 4 in 2011 (Cincinnati Bengals): Green was limited by injuries a year ago, but he’s had four straight 1,000 yard seasons to begin his career. He also averaged 14 yards per catch in each of those seasons, and hauled in 35 touchdowns including consecutive 11-score seasons in 2012-13. He’s a four-time Pro Bowler, even earning the honor last year despite missing three games, and he’s a two time second-team All-Pro.

7. C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama, No. 17 in 2014 (Baltimore Ravens): Like Beckham, Mosley needed little time to assert himself as a budding star in the NFL. He stepped into a middle linebacker role that Ray Lewis had maintained for a generation, and immediately logged 133 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 picks, 8 passes defended and a forced fumble on his way to his first Pro Bowl. Yeah, this kid is going to be special.

6. Julio Jones, WR, Alabama, No. 6 in 2011 (Atlanta Falcons): Jones led the NFL in receiving a year ago with 104 catches for more than 1,500 yards, and for his four-year career he’s posted two 1,000-yard seasons and three 950-yard seasons. Jones is a two-time Pro Bowler and his combination of size and athleticism are nearly impossible to stop.

5. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU, No. 12 in 2014 (New York Giants): Beckham has only been in the NFL for one season, but last year’s Rookie of the Year needed hardly any time to prove himself as one of the NFL’s bright young wideouts. In only 12 games he caught 91 passes for more than 1,300 yards and 12 scores, all in addition to making a catch many consider the greatest of all-time. Beckham was a top 5 wideout in the league last year, and he only stands to improve.

4. Cam Newton, QB, Auburn, No. 1 in 2011 (Carolina Panthers): Newton has only had one winning season in four years as the Panthers’ starter, but he’s been as electrifying on the field in the NFL as he was in college. He’s thrown for at least 3,000 yards and run for at least 500 yards in each of his four seasons, and he’s posted 115 combined touchdowns in 62 games as one of the game’s dazzling playmakers. He’s a two-time Pro Bowler and was named Rookie of the Year in 2011.

3. Eric Berry, S, Tennessee, No. 5 in 2010 (Kansas City Chiefs): Berry is now out of football as he battles Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but he reached the Pro Bowl three times in his first four seasons and earned All-Pro honors in 2013 (he only played one game due to injury in his lone non-Pro Bowl year). He averaged more than five tackles per game from his safety position, and he added 10 takeaways and 31 passes defended during his career.

2. Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida, No. 18 in 2010 (Pittsburgh Steelers): Pouncey is often overlooked as one of the SEC’s best alums in the NFL, but he’s earned All-Pro honors in four of his five seasons in the league and has started every game he’s played as a pro for one of the best lines in the NFL.

1. Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU, No. 5 in 2011 (Arizona Cardinals): Peterson has had far and away the best career of any recent SEC draftee, first round or otherwise. He’s a two-time All-Pro and has played in the Pro Bowl in every year of his career. He’s shown a nose for the football with 15 interceptions and nine fumble recoveries in four years, and he’s registered at least 42 tackles in each year of his career despite playing on the perimeter. He’s also the NFL’s best punt returner. His four punt return touchdowns (each of at least 80 yards) in 2011 are an NFL record for return touchdowns in a season, and he already has a 99-yard game-winning punt return score in overtime on his NFL resumé. He’s an all-around talent who has dominated the NFL since he debuted in the league.

(NOTE: Players drafted from Missouri and Texas A&M before the 2013 draft never competed in the SEC and were thus excluded from this list.)