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SEC Makes Gigantic Statement in 2020 NFL Draft

By Dave Holcomb
SouthernPigskin.com
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The 2020 draft results clearly indicate that the SEC is college football’s best conference. It’s also not really close.

As a common thread, the state of Ohio claimed an early lead in the 2020 NFL Draft. The first three draft picks from last Thursday night were all players who were at one point at Ohio State.

But that ended with pick No. 4. From there on, the common thread among most players drafted was the SEC.

Considering the SEC has been the supreme conference in football over the last two decades, that’s not all that surprising. From 2006-12, four SEC teams won national championships while all other conferences had zero. Furthermore, the last time the SEC didn’t lead all conferences in draft picks was 2006.

Since 2013, college football has seen more parity, and with average fans experiencing SEC fatigue, it’s become a bit of a trend to construct a “hot take” about the SEC no longer being college football’s premiere conference. Or maybe just that the SEC isn’t above and beyond everyone else.

After the 2020 NFL Draft, that’s exponentially harder to argue. Last weekend’s draft results clearly indicate that the SEC is college football’s best conference. It’s also not really close.

Following the Top 3, which, by the way, even with the claims of Joe Burrow being from Ohio and a former Buckeye, saw a Heisman Trophy winning SEC quarterback go No. 1, SEC players flew off the draft board. Six of the Top 10 players and nine of the first 16 drafted were from the SEC.

Alabama dominated the top of the draft board with four selections in the first 16, but LSU, Georgia, Auburn, Florida and South Carolina all had one player taken during the first half of the first round as well.

Then the final 16 picks of the first round saw a run on LSU players. The Bayou Tigers had four selections in the round’s second half, giving them five picks on Thursday. LSU and Alabama combined for nine first-round picks, which was more than what the ACC and Big Ten had together.

With 15 selections, the SEC broke the NFL draft record for the most picks from one conference during the first round. Six SEC players going in the Top 10 was also a record.

The records continued to fall on Day 2. The SEC tied the record for selections from one conference in the first four rounds with 40 picks, and the SEC reached that total by the end of the third round. By the time the draft completed the fourth round, 48 SEC players had come off the board.

According to ESPN, it wasn’t until late in the fourth round that there were 10 straight selections without an SEC player selected. Every SEC school had at least one pick except Ole Miss, who saw six selections last year.

As previously stated, this was the 14th consecutive year the SEC led all conferences in picks, so, on one hand, this is nothing new, but the SEC’s 63 selections were 15 more than the next closest conference, and it took a run of Big Ten players in rounds six and seven for that gap to be even that small.

Through the first four rounds, the SEC had 48 players picked and the Big Ten was the next closest conference with 23. After Day 2 (three rounds), the SEC’s 40 selections nearly matched the 48 the other four Power 5 conferences combined to have.

Fans can slice it however they like, the SEC absolutely dominated the 2020 NFL Draft, and that spells doom for college football fans hoping to see more parity during the 2020s.

The SEC taking over the NFL draft in recent years is reminiscent of the old question -- what came first, the chicken or the egg? Are SEC players going early in NFL drafts because the conference has the best players or is the conference landing the top talent due to the fact high school recruits know the SEC is the best place to showcase their skills, improve against elite competition and become a top pick at the next level?

New facilities, playing time and winning championships are certainly major sticking points in recruiting. There’s no doubt about that. But college football’s top talent is going to flock to where they can best position themselves for NFL careers, and without a doubt, that’s the SEC.

With that in mind, looking at this next decade, this may be just the beginning of the SEC accounting for more than 40 percent of all players selected in the NFL draft.