NFL Combine: Breaking down the Power Five conferences
Here is a look at the number of players invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, which opens Feb. 26, from each Power Five conference and which schools lead the way with an opinion on each conference from Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell.
SEC: 90 (6.43 per team)
Last year, the SEC had 70 players invited to the combine, so that number has jumped dramatically. Again, Alabama leads the conference with 11 invitees, led by Quinnen Williams, who could be one of the first defensive linemen off the board, and Jonah Williams, one of the top offensive linemen entering the draft.
After the Crimson Tide, Georgia and Ole Miss are tied with nine invitees. Both teams have numerous wide receivers available for the draft. Kentucky, Florida, Texas A&M and Mississippi State are sending eight players each to the combine. LSU, Auburn and Missouri have six players going to Indy and South Carolina has five. Arkansas is sending four and Vanderbilt has two players invited. Tennessee is the only school in the SEC that does not have any players heading to Indianapolis.
Farrell’s take: It’s no surprise that the SEC leads the way and there are some surprising numbers from certain teams. Ole Miss and Mississippi State have especially impressive numbers while it’s shocking to see Tennessee not being represented at all. LSU's numbers are down from its norm as well. I don’t see any conference making a run at the SEC anytime soon when it comes to combine invites and the gap only gets bigger each year.
BIG TEN: 53 (3.79 per team)
The Big Ten is a distant second place to the SEC among the Power Five with 53. Ohio State leads the league with 10, headlined by defensive lineman Nick Bosa, who could go No. 1 overall to the Arizona Cardinals. After the Buckeyes, Wisconsin is in second place in the conference with eight invitees led by a host of offensive linemen that could go early in the draft.
Penn State has seven players invited to Indianapolis and Michigan has six, led by DL Rashan Gary, who could be an early first-round draft pick as well. Iowa and Michigan State have four apiece, while Indiana, Maryland and Northwestern each have three. Minnesota and Rutgers have two invitees and Nebraska has one. Purdue and Illinois didn’t have any players invited.
Farrell’s take: Even though he’s now retired, Big Ten fans can thank Urban Meyer for the number of players in the combine. Not only did Meyer recruit the double-digit players from Ohio State, but he raised the bar in recruiting for the entire conference. Wisconsin being second with eight players is impressive and I’m a little surprised that Michigan and Michigan State have such low numbers. Penn State, as James Franklin continues to recruit at an elite level, could be the team to push Ohio State for the top of the conference moving forward.
ACC: 46 (3.29 per team)
Coming off another national championship, Clemson matches Alabama with 11 invitees, and the Tigers are led by five defensive linemen with Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence and Clelin Ferrell leading the way. Second in the conference is Boston College with seven invitees led by DL Zach Allen, who continues to move up draft boards. Miami and NC State have six each and then there is a dropoff to Duke and Florida State with three apiece. North Carolina, Syracuse and Wake Forest have two and then Louisville, Pittsburgh, Virginia and Virginia Tech have one each. Georgia Tech is the only school in the ACC without any invitations.
Farrell’s take: Clemson is clearly the class of the ACC and that won’t change anytime soon while Boston College is a big surprise at No. 2. What else is surprising? How about Florida State with just three players and Virginia Tech with only one. Miami has a solid number, but it’s still low for what you’d expect from the ‘Canes. If anyone is going to gain on Clemson, recruiting needs to be stepped up at many different programs.
PAC-12: 39 (3.25 per team)
Fourth on the list out of the Power Five conferences is the Pac-12. Washington leads the way with nine invitees, led by cornerback Byron Murphy, who could be one of the top players at his position taken off the board. After the Huskies, Stanford has seven players invited to Indianapolis followed by Utah with six. USC has five players that received invites, Oregon has four, Washington State has three, Arizona State and UCLA have two apiece and Colorado has one player that received an invite. Arizona, Cal and Oregon State had no players invited to the combine.
Farrell’s take: The fact that three programs don’t have any players invited is alarming for the Pac-12, nearly as alarming as USC having only five invites and UCLA having two. THe Pac-12 has the fewest players per team of any conference. Washington and Stanford are doing their part but based on 2019 recruiting, the raw number is going to drop below the Big 12 before too long.
Big 12: 33 (3.3 per team)
Oklahoma leads the way in the Big 12 with Heisman winner Kyler Murray, being the headliner after he decided to play football over baseball at the next level. The Sooners also have four offensive linemen invited to Indianapolis. After Oklahoma, West Virginia is second in the Big 12 with six invitees with receiver David Sills and quarterback Will Grier drawing plenty of interest.
Texas has five and TCU has three. Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech have two apiece. Kansas has one. The Big 12 is the only Power Five conference that will have every school represented at the combine.
Farrell’s take: This number should increase over the next few years as Texas is beginning to recruit the way it used to under Mack Brown and Oklahoma is a consistent juggernaut. West Virginia has a nice number of players invited while I’m surprised Oklahoma State only has two. With fewer teams than everyone else, it’s not a surprise to see the Big 12 at the bottom here but that could change soon.