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NFL Draft: Big Ten, SEC dominate while Pac-12 struggles

Jahmyr Gibbs
Jahmyr Gibbs (© Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK)

The NFL Draft is in the books, but there are still plenty of storylines to consider, and one is the impact on recruiting. Today, we look at which conferences did best and at a more granular level, which Power Five programs should be considered winners and losers coming out of this draft.


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1. SEC (62 picks)

WINNERS: Alabama, Georgia

Big surprise. The Crimson Tide and the Bulldogs led all schools with 10 draft picks each as they continue to distance themselves from the rest of the pack in the SEC and across college football.

Alabama QB Bryce Young was the No. 1 pick. Edge rusher Will Anderson went third. Running back Jahmyr Gibbs was a surprise selection early at No. 12. Defensive back Brian Branch went in the second round and then Alabama had four selections in the third before linebacker Henry To’oto’o was picked in the fifth and defensive back Demarco Hellams went in the seventh.

The draft was equally as productive for the back-to-back national champions as Georgia had three first-round selections in DT Jalen Carter, OT Broderick Jones and edge rusher Nolan Smith followed by former five-stars TE Darnell Washington and DB Kelee Ringo in the third and fourth rounds.

The Bulldogs had as many first-round selections (3) as Kentucky and Texas A&M had players picked in the entire draft and more than Arkansas, Mississippi State and Missouri.

LOSERS: Missouri, Vanderbilt

Ole Miss, Kentucky, Texas A&M, Arkansas and Mississippi State all had fewer than five draft picks so those programs were not setting the draft on fire but Missouri only had one pick and Vanderbilt was the only conference program with none. The lone pick for the Tigers was in the fourth round when the Cleveland Browns took edge rusher Isaiah McGuire.


2. BIG TEN (55)

Paris Johnson, Jr.
Paris Johnson, Jr. (© Mark Henle/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK)

WINNERS: Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State

The Wolverines have made a lot of convincing statements in recent months - beating Ohio State in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1999-00, going to the College Football Playoff, keeping coach Jim Harbaugh away from the NFL and now leading the conference with nine draft picks led by first-rounder Mazi Smith and second-rounders TE Luke Schoonmaker and CB DJ Turner II.

Ohio State and Penn State had six players drafted each to tie for second place. The Buckeyes had the most first-round success with QB CJ Stroud going second overall, OL Paris Johnson Jr. going sixth and WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba at No. 20. The Nittany Lions had no first-round selections but three in the second round.

LOSERS: Rutgers, Indiana

In the sixth round, Rutgers cornerback Christian Braswell was the only selection for the Scarlet Knights. Indiana was the lone program in the Big Ten that had no players picked in this draft.


3. ACC (32)

Myles Murphy
Myles Murphy (© Liz Dufour/Cincinnati Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK)

WINNERS: Clemson, Pittsburgh

Early in the first round was a dry spell for Clemson but the Tigers rebounded late when former five-star defensive linemen Myles Murphy and Bryan Bresee were selected back-to-back at Nos. 28 and 29. The Tigers finished tied for the conference lead with six overall picks as former five-star LB Trenton Simpson was picked in the third round and former five-star DE K.J. Henry went in the fifth.

Pitt continues to prove it can develop underappreciated defensive linemen with the best of them as former three-star Calijah Kancey was taken in the first round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then five other former Pitt players were chosen in the later rounds.

LOSERS: Florida State, Duke

It was not a banner year for the ACC across the board in this draft and while six teams had only one selection, more is expected from Florida State especially as coach Mike Norvell rebuilds the Seminoles into a national power. The only FSU player drafted was safety Jammie Robinson in the fifth round. Duke was the lone ACC squad with no selections.


4. BIG 12 (30)

Tyree Wilson
Tyree Wilson (© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)


Coach Sonny Dykes took the Horned Frogs to the national championship game this past season before running into the Georgia buzzsaw and then led the Big 12 with eight draftees. It’s been a big run for TCU recently in a conference that has underwhelmed in recent drafts.

Wide receiver Quentin Johnston went in Round 1 followed by OL Steve Avila in the second, RB Kendre Miller in the third and then TCU had two picks in the fourth round. Cornerback Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson could be considered a steal in the sixth round and then QB Max Duggan went in the seventh.

LOSER: Kansas

Baylor, West Virginia and Texas Tech only had one player each drafted as each program only sent two to the NFL Combine but Kansas - which also sent two players to Indianapolis - was the only conference program to have none. That could certainly speak to a lot of young talent as the Jayhawks had one of their best seasons in well over a decade so next momentum will have to pick up in the draft.


5. PAC-12 (27)

Christian Gonzalez
Christian Gonzalez (© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

WINNERS: Oregon, Stanford

Over the last many years, Oregon has done the best job recruiting in the Pac-12 under former coach Mario Cristobal and now coach Dan Lanning and that’s reflected in this year’s NFL Draft along with some significant transfer success. Cornerback Christian Gonzalez, who came over from Colorado, was the first-round pick. Edge rusher DJ Johnson, a Miami transfer, went in the second. Former five-star LB Noah Sewell seems like a steal in the fifth round.

It’s been ho-hum at Stanford in recent years with three-straight losing campaigns in its last three full seasons but five players were drafted so there hasn’t been a lack of talent. WR Michael Wilson was a third-rounder and then the four others went in the later rounds.

LOSERS: Arizona, Colorado, Washington

Come on, Pac-12. It’s the only Power Five conference with three program without a single pick in the NFL Draft as Arizona, Colorado and Washington completely struck out and then Arizona State, Cal and Washington State had only one pick each.

The SEC and the Big Ten had more than double the draft picks than the Pac-12 this year.