When you talk to football fans, everyone wants to always say that the level of competition is the best in the SEC. They will swear up and down that the best conference is the SEC, and that the best talents come from the SEC. When you look at the first rounds of the NFL draft you can notice that the SEC is the division that has the most, but are they the most productive in the NFL? I thought it would be interesting to see how many 1st round draft picks in the past five years have been good and then to break it down by percentages, as to who has the best percentage, and see what division has the most pro bowlers. So is the SEC the best division in college football?
Well before I get into naming players and the fun of the statistics, I thought I would say that not every player on these lists are all pros, but they are guys that have come in and contributed early for their teams. The guys from 2011 are not the easiest to put into a category because we don’t know who is going to be good in two years from now. So if they contributed quite a bit, I put them on the list, so let’s check out the list of players and see what division really is the best when it comes to drafting in the first round, over the last five years.
The first division is the SEC because everyone is trying to figure out if they truly are the best division, well they have had a total of 42 players drafted in the first round from 2007-2011. The breakdown is 11 in 2007, 6 in 2008, 8 in 2009, 7 in 2010 and 10 in 2011. While they have the most players drafted in the first round, how many Pro Bowlers have come out of the SEC since then? Let’s take a look.
They had a total of 10 Pro-Bowlers with Patrick Willis – Ole Miss. Dwayne Bowe – LSU, Ben Grubbs – Auburn, Jerod Mayo – Tennessee, Percy Harvin – Florida, Eric Berry – Tenneessee, Maurkice Pouncey – Florida, Cam Newton – Auburn, AJ Green – Georgia, and Patrick Peterson – LSU. The other 12 players that really impressed me were Robert Meachem – Tennessee, Darren McFadden – Arkansas, Felix Jones – Arkansas, Matthew Stafford – Georgia, Michael Oher – Ole Miss, Joe Haden – Florida, Rolando McClain – Alabama, TIM TEBOW – Florida, Marcell Dareus – Alabama, Nick Fairley – Auburn, Mike Pouncey – Florida, and Mark Ingram – Alabama. That is a total of 22 players for the SEC that have been major contributors of the 42. That equals a total of 52% who have been hits in the first round for the SEC. With just 10 of them making the pro bowl that is a total of 24% and is not really a great number. But we shall see what the other divisions can come up with.
What about the ACC, everybody thinks the teams like G-Tech, and the "U" are pretty good teams, well their breakdown looks like this, 6 in 2007, 7 in 2008, 5 in 2009, 4 in 2010, and 3 in 2011. That is a total of 25 players who came out the ACC in the past 5 years. So let’s see their breakdown…..
They had a total of 6 Pro Bowlers to include Calvin Johnson – Georgia Tech, Brandon Merriweather – Miami, Jon Beason – Miami, Chris Long – Virginia, Matt Ryan – Boston College, and B.J. Raji – Boston College. The other 5 impact players in the ACC were Greg Olsen – Miami, Hakeem Nicks –UNC, Demaryius Thomas – Georgia Tech, Christian Ponder – Florida State, and C.J. Spiller – Clemson. That is a total of 11 of 25 players which equals out to 44% for the ACC for guys that came out and performed. The ACC had a 23 percent when it came to probowlers, but still fell short of the SEC.
Let’s do the Big 12, since they have had the second most players drafted in the first round with 29. Their breakdown looks like this 4 in 2007, 1 in 2008, 7 in 2009, 9 in 2010, and 8 in 2011. They have had a whopping 7 Pro Bowl players to include, Adrian Peterson – Oklahoma, Michael Griffin – Texas, Brian Orakpo – Texas, Ndamukong Suh – Nebraska, Earl Thomas – Texas, Jermaine Gresham – Oklahoma and Von Miller – Texas A&M. The best of the rest are Michael Crabtree – Texas Tech, Josh Freeman – Kansas State, Jeremy Maclin – Mizzou, Brandon Pettigrew – Oklahoma State, Sam Bradford – Oklahoma, Dez Bryant – Oklahoma State, Aldon Smith – Mizzou, Blaine Gabbert – Mizzou and Nate Solder of Colorado. That is a total of 16 stud players out of 29, average out at 55 percent, which is higher than the SEC. They had 7 of 29 probowlers which equals out to 24 percent, which ties with the SEC.
The Big Ten had a total of 23 players drafted from 2007-2011 which broke down like this; 6 in 2007, 4 in 2008, 4 in 2009, 3 in 2003, and 6 in 2011. They had a total of 2 probowlers to include Joe Thomas of Wisconsin and Jake Long of Michigan. There were only 7 other players that I believe contributed enough to make this list so they are Rashard Mendenhall – Illinois, Dustin Keller – Purdue, Vontae Davis – Illinois, Beanie Wells – Ohio State, Bryan Bulaga – Iowa, J.J Watt – Wisconsin, and Ryan Kerrigan of Purdue. That came out to 39 percent for players drafted that turned out to be pretty good, with a horrible 9 percent of them making the Pro Bowl.
The Pac 10 is another smaller group who had a total of 16 players drafted in the past 5 years. They have had 9 decent players come out the division with 4 of them being pro bowlers. Marshawn Lynch – California, Brian Cushing – USC, Clay Matthews – USC, and Alex Mack of California all made the pro bowl. The others who round out the 9 were Jonathan Stewart – Oregon, Mark Sanchez – USC, Jahvid Best – California, Jake Locker – Washington, and Tyron Smith – USC. There percentage was 9/16 which equaled 56 percent of which turned into pretty solid players, with 25 percent of them going to the Pro Bowl.
The Big East surprised me very much. It tells me that the guys who come from the Big East are pro ready. They only had 11 of them get drafted in the past 5 years. The breakdown looks like this, 2 in 2007, 2 in 2008, 3 in 2009, 3 in 2010, and 1 in 2011. Out of the 11 of them four have made the probowl, Darrelle Revis – Pittsburgh, Mike Jenkins – USF, Jason Pierre-Paul – USF and Devin McCourty – Rutgers. The other good players were Eric Wood – Louisville, Kenny Britt – Rutgers, and Jonathan Baldwin of Pitt. That is an amazing 64 percent with 36 percent of them making the Pro Bowl.
The Best of the Rest, includes the small school guys who were drafted in the first round, with conferences like MAC, Conference USA, CAA, WAC and others, which had a total of 13 draft picks in the past five years. The breakdown looked like this 2 in 2007, 5 in 2008, 1 in 2009, 4 in 2010, and 1 in 2011. Out of the 13 players 7 of them have been pretty good, and 5 have been Pro Bowlers. Joe Staley – Central Michigan, Ryan Clady – Boise State, Dominique Rodgers- Cromartie – Tennessee State, Chris Johnson – East Carolina, and Ryan Matthews have all made the Pro Bowl. The others on this list were Joe Flacco – Delaware, and Mike Iupati of Idaho. That is 54 percent of the guys who turned out to be good players and 38 percent of them ended up as Pro Bowlers.
So do you still think that SEC is the best of the best? I believe that the SEC is losing its Swag when it comes to the NFL. It is hard to come from any division and be successful, but once again Stats Don’t Lie, and the SEC is not the clear winner here. If you go by stats, the BIG EAST, is actually the division that has produced the most NFL ready players in the past 5 years by percentage. I know you guys are going to love to debate about this one, but I am game for debate, put it in the comments section and answer the Poll Question.