By early Saturday evening, anyone who had followed the NFL Draft had to be asking themselves: are there any players left at LSU, Alabama and Georgia?
There are, of course, plenty of good ones still suiting up in Baton Rouge, Tuscaloosa and Athens, but there are also a bundle who found their way onto this draft board, littering every round.
After the final selection, Alabama had nine players taken in the 2013 draft — three in the first round, one in the second, two in the fourth, two in the fifth, and one in the seventh.
LSU and Georgia had eight players taken apiece. The Tigers had two chosen in the first round, one in the second, three in the third, two in the fifth and one in the sixth, while the Bulldogs had two taken in the first, two in the third, two in the fifth and two in the sixth.
To put that into perspective, the University of Miami, Michigan and Nebraska had six players taken, combined. That was fewer than the fourth-ranked SEC team, Florida, which had seven players picked.
It was a stellar week for the conference overall with a dozen SEC players going in the first round, eight in the second, 12 in the third, seven in the fourth, nine in the fifth, nine in the sixth, and five in the seventh. If you’re scoring at home, that’s 63 players from one conference, breaking the old record by eight.
Every team except Ole Miss had at least one player drafted. Even Mr. Irrelevant, the last player taken overall, was an SEC guy: Justice Cunningham, a tight end from South Carolina who will show up at training camp for the Indianapolis Colts.
Most of the picks on Saturday were expected. Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson went in the fourth round to Oakland and South Carolina receiver Ace Sanders will be trying to turn the momentum in Jacksonville.
Alabama’s Nico Johnson went to Kansas City, and Ryan Swope, the all-time leading receiver for Texas A&M who will forever be remembered as the man who caught the famous bobbled-ball pass from Johnny Manziel in the back of the Alabama end zone went to the Arizona Cardinals early in the sixth round.
Georgia’s Tavarres King will be catching Peyton Manning passes in Denver this fall, and, as if San Francisco needed to get better, they added Alabama defensive end Quinton Dial in the fifth round.
The Redskins also filled a need by stealing Georgia safety Barcarri Rambo in the sixth round, and LSU running back Spencer Ware will be picking up yards for the Seahawks.
But the best story of the late rounds was the 34th selection of the fourth round. That was when San Francisco took a chance and drafted South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, the man who missed most of two seasons with catastrophic knee injuries, and who became a symbol of hard work and persistence in his recovery.
Lattimore was eating with his family at Benihana when he got the news.
“I gotta call right when they were about to start cooking the food,” Lattimore told the NFL Network. “It was a 408 area code — I didn’t know who it was, but I usually know the area code — but I was surprised when I got the call. It’s such a great feeling. Everybody just starts screaming and yelling. It was a great time.”
Jim Harbaugh had commented before the start of the draft that he thought Lattimore would be a “steal” if he was still around by Saturday. So Harbaugh stole him. Now, the Niners will have to decide how diligently to work their new running back, given that Lattimore isn’t likely to put on pads for another four months.
“Whatever is best for my career or future, I’m good with it,” Lattimore said in the same interview with the NFL Network. “The 49ers and the coaches there, we’ll come to a conclusion of what we should do. I’m just so fired up. I’m excited about everything and just ready to work hard.”