Maybe the Southeastern Conference should simply hold onto its players and become part of the NFL.
The home of national champion LSU and perennial contenders Alabama, Georgia and Auburn, the SEC dominated the first four rounds of the NFL draft before the flow of talent slowed to a trickle. Or the conference finally began running out of top prospects.
The top four rounds are where the vast majority of pro starters are found. So beginning with LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, who went first overall to the Bengals, the SEC provided the mother lode. And by the time this virtual/remote/digital draft — make your own choice — was over, 63 players had come from its 14 teams — well, 13, because Ole Miss was ignored. LSU sent 14, tying the most in a seven-round draft, followed by Alabama with nine. Not quite a record, because the SEC had 64 selectees a year ago. But this grab bag was further proof of its place atop college football.
“I think it’s really easy to see NFL players when you watch as many players get drafted from the SEC and from that conference,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said after his team grabbed Georgia tackle Isaiah Wilson and LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton. “But there’s great players in every conference. It’s just you don’t have to look too far to see them play against some really talented players.”
The Lions noticed. They took Georgia running back D'Andre Swift and Kentucky guard Logan Stenberg.
“The SEC, I would argue, is one of the top one or two conferences in college football. I think a lot of people say it is the best conference," Detroit general manager Bob Quinn said. “The competition that’s in that conference — from LSU to Alabama to Auburn to Georgia to all those schools — and some of the other teams have really, really good players. So the level of competition, they get the high recruits, they really do.”
Nearly every NFL club will have an LSU Tiger or member of the Crimson Tide on its roster by next week.
As the third day of this unusual draft concluded, it became clear that concerns about communication problems cropping up were vastly overblown. Clunky at times, poignant at others, and exceptionally entertaining in spots, the draft has done what Commissioner Roger Goodell hoped.