The National Football League will kick off its annual “player selection meeting” tonight in New York and you can once again expect to hear a number of ex-SEC names called out by commissioner Roger Goodell. A quick check of the mock drafts all over the web will tell you that Mike Slive’s league will likely lead the way in draft picks once again.
The last time the SEC didn’t lead the way in NFL draft picks was way back in 2006 when the ACC and Big Ten both produced more talent. But every year since then, the SEC has been the riverbed in which NFL prospectors have most often gone panning — 41 picks in 2007, 35 in 2008, 37 in 2009, 49 in 2010, and 38 last April.
For those outside the South who wonder why the SEC gets so much respect, that should put things in context for you.
But there are other ways of looking at the numbers, too.
NFL draft analyst Mike Mayock has listed his top five players — in his view — at each position. Here’s how the SEC stacks up slot by slot:
Quarterbacks: 1 out of 5 (Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M)
Running Backs: 1 out of 5 (Trent Richardson, Alabama)
Wide Receivers: 1 out of 5 (Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina)
Tight Ends: 1 out of 5 (Orson Charles, Georgia)
Offensive Tackles: 2 out of 5 (Cordy Glenn and Jeff Allen, Georgia)
Offensive Guards: 0 out of 5
Centers: 2 out of 5 (Ben Jones, Georgia and Quentin Saulsberry, Mississippi State)
Defensive Ends: 1 out of 5 (Courtney Upshaw, Alabama)
Defensive Tackles: 2 out of 5 (Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State and Michael Brockers, LSU)
Outside Linebackers: 1 out of 5 (Melvin Ingram, South Carolina)
Inside Linebackers: 1 out of 5 (Dont’a Hightower, Alabama)
Cornerbacks: 4 out of 5 (Morris Claiborne, LSU and Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina and Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama and Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt)
Safeties: 3 out of 5 (Mark Barron and DeQuan Menzie, Alabama and Brandon Taylor, LSU)
Not counting special teamers, Mayock has SEC players listed among the top five players at every position but offensive guard. A full seven of his top 10 defensive backs are SEC products.
As for a school-by-school projection of what we may see over the next three days, NFL.com has listed a number of potential draft picks from each school. Granted, some very longshots are included on their lists, but you still get a taste for the amount of quality players who emerge from the Southeastern Conference each spring. Those numbers are as follows:
Alabama: 13 players listed
Arkansas: 9 players listed
Auburn: 3 players listed
Florida: 4 players listed
Georgia: 9 players listed
Kentucky: 4 players listed
LSU: 11 players listed
Miss. State: 6 players listed
Missouri: 4 players listed
Ole Miss: 4 players listed
South Carolina: 7 players listed
Tennessee: 4 players listed
Texas A&M: 9 players listed
Vanderbilt: 4 players listed
Get ready. It’s gonna be a busy three days, SEC fans.