NFL Draft: Breaking it down by Power Five conferences
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 schools should be considered winners and losers coming out of this draft.
MORE NFL DRAFT: Gorney's memories, grades of first-rounders | Thirteen five-stars that went undrafted | Five-stars that were drafted - and where
SEC (65 picks)
Winners: Georgia, LSU
Georgia is coming off winning the national championship and then the Bulldogs set an NFL Draft record with 15 selections through the seven rounds. Things are good in Athens. Travon Walker was the first pick overall and then Jordan Davis, Quay Walker, Devonte Wyatt and Lewis Cine were the other first-round selections. The Bulldogs had five defensive players drafted in the first round which is more than Texas A&M (4), Kentucky (4), Florida (3), Arkansas (3), South Carolina (3), Mississippi State (2), Missouri (2) and Auburn (1) had total drafted. Alabama finished with seven players drafted, Ole Miss had six and Tennessee had five. The Bulldogs made another huge statement on draft night.
The other victor was LSU with 10 selections. Former No. 1 recruit in the 2019 class, five-star cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. was the lone first-rounder at third overall. OG Ed Ingram went in the second round, cornerback Cordale Flott and running back Tyrion Davis-Price were third-round picks and then K Cade York, DT Neil Farrell, LB Damone Clark, OT Austin Deculus, OC Chasen Hines and DE Andre Anthony were selected. First-year coach Brian Kelly will look to build off that momentum on the recruiting trail.
Every team in the SEC had more players drafted than Auburn as its lone selection was cornerback Roger McCreary in the second round. He did outplay his low three-star ranking coming out of Mobile (Ala.) Williamson.
BIG TEN (48)
Winners: Penn State, Ohio State
It’s heartening for Penn State fans that the Nittany Lions led the conference with eight selections but must be a little worrisome that despite that NFL-level talent the team went 7-6 last season and 2-6 in its final eight games. Star receiver Jahan Dotson was the lone first-round selection and then defensive end Arnold Ebiketie and safety Jaquan Brisker were picked in the second round. Linebacker Brandon Smith, punter Jordan Stout, cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields, offensive tackle Rasheed Walker and linebacker Jesse Luketa round out the group.
Ohio State had six selections for a second-best showing in the conference. What impressed numerous recruits, including five-star wide receiver Brandon Inniss, is that Ohio State receivers Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave went back-to-back in the first round. Offensive linemen Nick Petit-Frere and Thayer Munford, along with tight end Jeremy Ruckert and DE Tyreke Smith, were also drafted.
Losers: Indiana, Northwestern
Northwestern was the only team in the conference without a single selection in the NFL Draft. Indiana had one in linebacker, Micah McFadden, who was picked in the fifth round. He was a two-star out of Tampa (Fla.) Plant, so McFadden outplayed his ranking.
BIG 12 (25)
Winners: Oklahoma, Baylor
Something first-year coach Brent Venables can build on is that five of Oklahoma’s seven NFL Draft picks played on the defensive side led by second-round pick Nik Bonitto, third-round selection Brian Asamoah and then Perrion Winfrey and Delarrin Turner-Yell in the middle rounds. The Sooners are thought of as an offensive juggernaut, but it was the defensive players that led the way in the draft at least this year.
Baylor has a huge opportunity to not only build off a Big 12 championship but after putting six players in the NFL Draft it should help even more on the recruiting trail. Safety Jalen Pitre was an early second-round selection and then wide receiver Tyquan Thornton went later in the same round. Safety JT Woods, LB Terrel Bernard, RB Trestan Ebner and CB Kalon Barnes rounded out Baylor’s picks.
Losers: TCU, Texas, West Virginia
It is almost unfathomable that with all the talent at TCU, Texas and West Virginia not a single player was taken from any of those three schools in this draft. But that is the case, and the Big 12 is one of only two Power Five conferences – and the smallest – that had three teams left out, along with the ACC, which had a disappointing showing.
In a conference that had largely disappointing draft results with a good amount of teams having just one or two selections, it was coach Chip Kelly’s club that looked best in this draft. The Bruins did not have any picks in the first two rounds, but then tight end Greg Dulcich and offensive tackle Sean Rhyan went in Round 3. DT Otito Ogbonnia, WR Kyle Phillips, S Quentin Lake and RB Brittain Brown were taken in the middle to later rounds.
Loser: Arizona, Colorado
It was a largely underwhelming draft weekend for most Pac-12 teams as Stanford, Oregon State, Oregon and Utah all had just one pick each. No players from Arizona or Colorado were selected.
Winners: North Carolina, Virginia Tech
It was not a great night for the ACC, but if there were two bright spots it would be the Tar Heels and Hokies, who got four players each in the NFL Draft. North Carolina was led by offensive guard Joshua Ezeudu in the third round and then quarterback Sam Howell was the first pick of the fifth round after many thought he could go higher. Running back Ty Chandler and offensive guard Marcus McKethan were also selected.
For Virginia Tech, every pick came in the fifth round or later as tight end James Mitchell led the way, followed by defensive end Amare Barno, offensive tackle Luke Tenuta and offensive guard Lecitus Smith.
Losers: Louisville, Syracuse, Duke
It was a little shocking to see Clemson only get two players drafted, and then Florida State, Miami and others only get one apieve, but those weren’t the worst in the ACC. Louisville, Duke and Syracuse had no players drafted this year.