For a while, “SEC first-round quarterback” was a myth on par with the Abominable Snowman.

When the New York Jets selected Alabama quarterback Richard Todd to replace Joe Namath in 1976, the SEC had produced a nice string of signal-callers, players like Steve Spurrier and Archie Manning.

Then the well went dry — for 18 years.

By comparison, as the NFL has become an increasingly lucrative league for quarterbacks, 11 SEC players at the position have gotten selected in the first round in the last 18 drafts.

Elite quarterback play in the SEC is a pretty recent phenomenon, one that was in part responsible for the league winning seven consecutive national championships.

Don’t expect the SEC to add to its total of 22 first-round quarterbacks all-time, though. At least not next week. Blake Sims, the SEC’s best chance to get drafted, is a third-day pick at best, while Auburn’s Nick Marshall should get taken — as a cornerback.

The SEC never has produced two first-round quarterbacks in the same year, though in 2011, the Carolina Panthers selected Auburn’s Cam Newton at No. 1 overall and Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, then a part of the Big 12, went to the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 10 overall.

Forced to choose the best NFL draft class for SEC quarterbacks, I’m going with ’98 — the year the Indianapolis Colts selected Peyton Manning. One of the all-time greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, Manning could stake a claim for No. 1 if he had performed better in the postseason.

Here’s a complete list of the SEC’s first-round picks, followed by a few observations.

Year Player School
 1948  Y.A. Tittle^  LSU
 1949  Johnny Rauch  Georgia
 1951  Y.A. Tittle^  LSU
 1952  Vito “Babe” Parilli  Kentucky
 1954  Lamar McHan  Arkansas
 1965  Joe Namath  Alabama
 1967  Steve Spurrier  Florida
 1971  Archie Manning  Ole Miss
 1972  John Reaves  Florida
 1973  Bert Jones  LSU
 1976  Richard Todd  Alabama
 1977  Steve Pisarkiewicz#  Missouri
 1994  Heath Shuler  Tennessee
 1998  Peyton Manning  Tennessee
 1999  Tim Couch  Kentucky
 2003  Rex Grossman  Florida
 2004  Eli Manning  Ole Miss
 2005  Jason Campbell  Auburn
 2006  Jay Cutler  Vanderbilt
 2007  JaMarcus Russell  LSU
 2008  Matthew Stafford  Georgia
 2010  Tim Tebow  Florida
 2011  Cam Newton  Auburn
 2011  Blaine Gabbert#  Missouri
 2012  Ryan Tannehill#  Texas A&M
 2014  Johnny Manziel  Texas A&M

#School was not an SEC member at the time.
^Drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1948, Tittle instead joined the Baltimore Colts of the All-America Football Conference, who joined the NFL in 1950, but then folded. Subsequently, Tittle again got drafted in the first round by the San Francisco 49ers in 1951.


1. Florida 4
2. LSU 3
T3. Kentucky 2
T3. Georgia 2
T3. Alabama 2
T3. Ole Miss 2
T3. Tennessee 2
T3. Auburn 2
T3. Missouri 2*
T3. Texas A&M 2*
T11. Arkansas 1
T11. Vanderbilt 1
T13. Mississippi State 0
T13. South Carolina 0

*Again, not an SEC member at the time of at least some of the listed first-round picks.

Texas A&M didn’t produce a single first-round quarterback from 1936, the first NFL draft, through 2011. But now the Aggies claim two: Ryan Tannehill and Johnny Manziel.

Tannehill played his last season in College Station as a part of the Big 12 conference, otherwise A&M, in the span of three years, would’ve gone from zero first-round quarterbacks into a tie for third in SEC history, and not far behind Florida and LSU.

Even now, there are only 32 starting quarterback spots in the NFL. Players like Tom Brady, Aaron Rogers, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Joe Flacco and Russell Wilson — the list goes on — occupy plenty of those spots, often for a decade or more.

The SEC’s low numbers aren’t indicative of a weak quarterback league so much as a scarcity of first-round picks at quarterback.

Florida and LSU have combined to produce seven of the conference’s 22 first-round quarterbacks all-time, while Mississippi State and South Carolina are the only two SEC programs never to produce a first-round pick at the position.


1940s: 2
1960s: 2
1970s: 4*
1980s: 0
1990s: 3
2000s: 6
2010s: 3

*Numbers do not include Missouri or Texas A&M defensive linemen drafted in the first round prior to SEC membership for those schools.

The 1980s was a terrible decade to play quarterback in the SEC if you wanted to parlay your college days into a professional career. Even the Gators, which produced an All-American quarterback in the ’60s, ’70s, ’90s and ’00s, couldn’t produce a first-round pick that decade.

(Florida’s Kerwin Bell earned SEC MVP honors in ’84, then got drafted in the seventh round by Miami in ’88, but barely played in the NFL.)

The SEC will not produce a first-round quarterback next week, so the conference has four more drafts to produce three more first-round picks if it wants to equal the 2000s in the current decade.