College football's best conference flooded the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night. Twelve players -- four of them in the top ten -- from the Southeastern Conference went off the board, tying the all-time first-round mark set by the ACC in 2006.
Six of the SEC players to go were linemen, a microcosm of the first round as a whole, which saw 18 of the large guys up front on either side of the ball get their name called. Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel started off the SEC run, going at No. 2 to the Jacksonville Jaguars after the Kansas City Chiefs opted for Central Michigan's Eric Fisher with the first overall pick. LSU's hybrid pass-rusher Barkevious Mingo came next, going sixth to the Cleveland Browns.
Then, as they so often do, the Alabama Crimson Tide started rolling. Three straight picks -- cornerback Dee Milliner to the New York Jets at No. 9, guard Chance Warmack to the Tennessee Titans at No. 10 and tackle D.J. Fluker to the San Diego Chargers at No. 11 -- came from Nick Saban's college football machine. This was the first time players from one college went back-to-back-to-back in the first round of the draft since 1967.
Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson will join Milliner with the Jets, who took the big Tiger at No. 13. The Pittsburgh Steelers got a player at No. 17 seemingly tailor-made to be a fearsome Steelers outside linebacker, Georgia's Jarvis Jones, and the San Francisco 49ers traded up to nab LSU safety Eric Reid at No. 18.
Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd slipped a little farther than many expected, winding up with the Minnesota Vikings at No. 23. The Vikings, wanting to enlighten more SEC players on their beautiful winter weather, then traded back into the first round at No. 29 to take Tennessee Volunteers wideout Cordarrelle Patterson.
The St. Louis Rams, in the Atlanta Falcons' No. 30 spot, took Georgia's uber-talented linebacker Alec Ogletree, and the defending champion Baltimore Ravens ended the first round by taking Gators safety Matt Elam. With that, the SEC doubled-up the closest conference in terms of first-round picks (the ACC had six), accounting for about 38 percent of Thursday's selections.
It also added to the conference's lead in picks in recent history. Since 2000, the SEC now has had 540 players drafted, 85 more than the Big Ten, the second-place conference in that time span. Back in 2006, the ACC set the record for the most overall picks in one draft, with 51. Time will tell if the SEC gets there or not, but the conference is certainly off to a strong start. We'd expect nothing less.
|Luke Joeckel||OT||Texas A&M||Jaguars||2|