Lone Star State is out front when it comes to producing draft picks
The NFL Draft is over, so this week Rivals.com will be reviewing all the picks. Today, we take a look at which states lead when it comes to where the draftees played their high school football.
CLASS OF 2022: Top 100
TEXAS (33 selections)
Overview: The state of Texas staked its claim for the best high school football in the country, but there is also a worrisome consideration when it comes to top players coming out of that state: Too many are leaving. Only two of 33 players drafted ended up playing for Texas. Ohio State came in for Jeffrey Okudah and J.K. Dobbins, two standout college players. CeeDee Lamb and Kenneth Murray left for Oklahoma. K'Lavon Chaisson for LSU.
Even players like Laviska Shenault at Colorado and Antoine Winfield at Minnesota were fantastic players who could have impacted the Longhorns or another in-state program. There is no doubt Texas made a statement with 33 players in the draft. Keeping more home has to be a focus.
Farrell’s take: This is a bit of a surprise as you’d usually expect California or Florida to lead the way, but there is a resurgence of talent in the state of Texas and the Longhorns are not taking advantage of it or developing players as expected. Look for more and more programs to hit the state as they see the success that LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma and others have had stealing talent. Things will get tougher for Texas and Texas A&M because of this draft, not easier. The best program at developing talent in-state could be TCU.
Overview: When it comes to draftees who played their high school football in California, one thing is clear: Not one school or conference dominates where players shined, at least in this draft. The only first round draft pick was Jordan Love, Utah State’s quarterback. USC had only one player drafted who played high school ball in the state in Michael Pittman. Pac-12 programs were well-represented throughout the draft but so were non-Power Five programs and players who flew under the recruiting radar as well.
Farrell’s take: The Golden State always produces talent, but the numbers are down a bit this year and it’s hard to explain why. It could be a lack of development by USC, a program that usually sends many to the NFL but only sent two this year. Just one first round pick from California is awful and that certainly needs to change. The 2020 class was big with prospects like D.J. Uiagalelei and Justin Flowe so better results should be on the horizon.
Overview: The Florida numbers are slightly skewed by players who transfer to Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy. Three IMG alum who came in from out of state were drafted this weekend. Something else is also telling after reviewing the players. Other than C.J. Henderson, who played at Florida, a bunch of the earlier picks in the draft left the state to play their college football. Jerry Jeudy went to Alabama; Damon Arnette to Ohio State; Josh Uche to Michigan. (Cesar Ruiz, Grant Delpit and K.J. Hamler were not Florida natives but went to IMG, so it is not a big surprise they left the state.) For Florida, Florida State and Miami to become national contenders again, keeping more in-state players home will be crucial.
Farrell’s take: The high-end talent is there in Florida but this number is low overall for the state. The reason? Could be a lack of development at programs like Miami and especially Florida State. More and more programs are raiding Florida. I expect a big bounceback number from the state in the 2021 draft.
Overview: The state of Georgia had a nice showing and so did the Bulldogs with Andrew Thomas, Jake Fromm, Charlie Woerner and Tae Crowder all coming from the Peach State, but even in this state it’s clear that a lot of top talent heads elsewhere. In the ultra-competitive Southeast, it’s expected that other top national programs will come in for elite talent. Auburn came in for Derrick Brown; Clemson for AJ Terrell; Alabama for Xavier McKinney. Florida for Jabari Zuniga. The Bulldogs have won three-straight team recruiting titles, so nobody is complaining, but a lot of talent is also going elsewhere.
Farrell’s take: There is officially a big four when it comes to states producing college and NFL talent as Georgia has been doing this long enough to get lumped in with California, Texas and Florida. And it’s only going to get better in the next few years.
Overview: LSU has the state of Louisiana locked down - and many of the players drafted over the weekend helped the Tigers to the national championship this past season. Of the 12 players who played their high school ball in the state, seven then went to LSU including the first five taken and six of the first seven. Justin Jefferson, Patrick Queen, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kristian Fulton, Lloyd Cushenberry, Rashard Lawrence and Stephen Sullivan were all local standouts that then starred for the Tigers. No other top state has had this level of success to keep players from leaving to play their college ball.
Farrell’s take: Louisiana always produces talent, but now LSU is developing players like never before and it’s showing. The Tigers have the best home state advantage of any program and it has finally led to another national title. And with players like Derek Stingley Jr. and others coming up, it appears to be getting stronger.