SEC dominates the NFL draft

BY foxsports • April 30, 2012

It should have come as no surprise. Logic dictates that they best conference has the best players, so it stands to reason that the conference with six consecutive BCS championships ought to have the most players chosen in the NFL draft. 

This year's draft was one instance where Occam's razor proved correct: the obvious answer was, indeed, the right one. The SEC had 42 players picked, one more than the Big 10 and 11 more than the ACC.

Every SEC school had at least one player chosen. Even Ole Miss, which went 2-10 (0-8 SEC) had one NFL-caliber standout: offensive tackle Bobby Massie, who went to the Arizona Cardinals in the fourth round.  Vandy and Kentucky both had a couple of draftees, while last year's young-and-not-very-good Tennessee team had one player, Malik Jackson, chosen in the fifth round by Denver. 

Auburn, the team that played more freshmen than any other in the conference last year, also saw one shining upperclassman, offensive tackle Brandon Mosley, go to the New York Giants in the fourth round. 

Naturally, Alabama led the way with eight players drafted. The defending national champions saw Trent Richardson go third overall as the first running back chosen, followed by teammates Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick and Dont'a Hightower, who all all went in the first round, while Courtney Upshaw, who figured to be a first-rounder, went to the Ravens in the second as the 35th overall pick.

Georgia was something of a surprise, finishing second overall with seven players taken, although none in the first round.  Offensive guard Cordy Glenn was projected to go in the first round, but had to wait a day before being picked up by Buffalo in the second, 42nd overall. He was followed by Dawgs' center Ben Jones (Houston), tight end Orson Charles (Cincinnati) and cornerback Brandon Boykin (Philadelphia) in the fourth round. The rest of the Georgia contingent were sixth and seventh rounders.  

South Carolina had six players go, including defensive back Stephon Gilmore (Buffalo) and defensive end Melvin Ingram (San Diego) in the first round.

The Gamecocks' Alshon Jeffery was also a surprise. The best wide receiver in the conference and one of the best in the nation went to one of the worst passing teams in the NFL, the Bears, in the second round as the 45th overall pick. Normally an athlete of Jeffery's caliber is taken early under the "best athlete" theory, even if a team has plenty of receivers.

Jeffery lingering on the board for as long as he did raised a few eyebrows, as did the late selection of Kentucky linebacker Danny Trevathan, who remained available until late in the sixth round, going 188th overall to the Denver Broncos. 

It was no surprise that defense dominated the SEC portion of the draft. Of the nine conference first-rounders, Richardson was the only one to play offense. In fact, almost half of the defensive players drafted in the first round came out of the SEC. 

"I think one of the worst things about the draft now is how everybody gets beat up," Nick Saban said in an ESPN radio interview. "I mean, I don't know how anybody drafts anybody. There's so much information out there, how do you get the right information?"

This year the answer appeared to be pretty simple: if you took the best SEC player left on the board, you probably couldn't go wrong.