Listen to an NFL coach, an NFL draft analyst, or a college coach talk about the Southeastern Conference and the edge it holds over other leagues and the chit-chat always returns to the big, fast, powerful D-lineman of the SEC.
Well, we wanted to take a look back at all of the players drafted into the league over the last decade and see which SEC positions really do get the most attention from NFL teams. First, we’ll show you only the first-round picks from 2003 through 2012.
|Position||1st Rd Picks ’03-’12|
Indeed, over the past 10 years, 17 defensive line prospects have been tabbed by NFL clubs in the first round of their draft. But defensive backs have become first-round picks 16 times, suggesting that the league’s only advantage isn’t simply in the trenches… at least at the high-end of the draft.
More interestingly, perhaps, is the fact that over the last 10 drafts, the SEC has produced 37 offensive first-round picks and 28 defensive first-rounders. For a league with a reputation for defense, it’s clear that NFL franchises value the high-end offensive talent of Mike Slive’s conference as well.
Now let’s compare all of the picks from 1993 through 2012. The numbers below represent all the players tabbed, Round One through Round Seven.
|Position||All Picks ’03-’12|
Ah, and there’s the separation. The SEC has produced 91 defensive linemen picked by NFL clubs since 2003. Defensive backs come in second with 78 overall selections.
But look at the number of offensive skill position players chosen by NFL squads. The total number of quarterbacks, running backs and receivers selected equals 108. Again suggesting that the SEC’s advantage in talent cannot simply be narrowed down to one position (D-line) or even one side of the ball.
One other interesting note — while the SEC has produced 91 defensive lineman over the past 10 years, it has only managed to put 57 offensive linemen into the pros via the draft. Could it be that SEC D-linemen are so big, so athletic, and so talented that they actually damage the draft chances of the league’s O-linemen? After all, when scouts see SEC defensive linemen plowing holes and holding up pass rushers, the guys getting plowed and held up are usually SEC offensive linemen.