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NFL Draft: SEC leads the way in producing draft picks

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The NFL Draft finished up over the weekend. Here is a complete breakdown of the conferences and how each one fared when it came to overall picks.

Quinnen Williams
Quinnen Williams (AP)

SEC (64 PLAYERS, 4.6 per team)

Overview: Alabama had three first-round selections in defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, offensive lineman Jonah Williams and running back Josh Jacobs, the Crimson Tide led the SEC with 10 draft picks and more than half of them went before the end of the fourth round. All that is to say, it was just another typical NFL Draft for Nick Saban and his club.

After Alabama - and that’s how the SEC is surely viewed - Georgia, Texas A&M and Ole Miss all had seven selections each but only the Bulldogs had a first-rounder in cornerback DeAndre Baker. Ole Miss had three second-round picks in OL Greg Little and then star receivers A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf.

Next up was Auburn with six draft picks but none before the third round and then Florida had five, led by second-round selection Jawaan Taylor. Kentucky also had five as defensive end Josh Allen was a first-rounder and then cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. was a second-round pick.

Four Mississippi State players were drafted with three of them going in the first round - defensive linemen Jeffery Simmons and Montez Sweat and then safety Johnathan Abram. Arkansas, South Carolina and LSU had three picks each. Vanderbilt and Missouri had two.

Farrell’s take: Surprise, surprise the SEC leads the way. This has been the way it’s been for years and it’s not going to change. In fact it’s going to get even better for the SEC with improved recruiting from programs like Georgia and Florida and you have to expect Tennessee to step it up soon as well.

NON-POWER FIVE (57 PLAYERS)

Overview: Only one Power Five conference put more players in the NFL Draft than this collection of non-Power Five schools and two players, Houston’s Ed Oliver and Alabama State’s Tytus Howard, were first-round selections. Oliver, a former five-star prospect, was not a surprise at all since he had a phenomenal high school career and turned down LSU, Alabama and others to stay home and play for his hometown Cougars. Howard, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound tight end in high school, was a shock to go so high.

Non-Power Five players also did incredibly well in the early rounds with seven going in the second round alone followed by 13 players in the third coming from those teams. It was an incredible haul for players not playing in the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 or Big 12.

Farrell’s take: This is not a surprise either as non-Power Five players come from so many conferences and circumstances that you have to expect the smaller schools to dominate . They don’t have as many high draft picks as the Power Five programs but the depth is impressive.

BIG TEN (40 PLAYERS, 2.9 per team)

Overview: Ohio State had another phenomenal NFL Draft class and there was a tremendous amount of discussion leading into the draft about the first two Buckeyes off the board - defensive end Nick Bosa and quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Then receiver Parris Campbell went in the second round followed by defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones and receiver Terry McLaurin in the third. In total, nine Ohio State players were picked to lead the conference once again.

Even though Penn State did not have a first-round selection, the Nittany Lions were still second in the Big Ten with six draft picks, led by running back Miles Sanders in the second round. Star quarterback Trace McSorley went in the sixth round to the Baltimore Ravens. Michigan was third in conference picks with five, including first-rounders Devin Bush and Rashan Gary, who went No. 10 and 12, respectively.

Iowa, Maryland and Wisconsin each had four selections but the Hawkeyes had two first-round picks in tight ends T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant. Former No. 1 prospect Byron Cowart, who transferred from Auburn to Maryland, was selected in the fifth round. Michigan State and Rutgers had two players drafted and then Minnesota, Indiana, Northwestern and Illinois had one each.

Farrell’s take: Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan carried the torch for the Big Ten, but the balance is impressive. Iowa has been improving, Michigan State always produces solid NFL players and the same can be said for Wisconsin. Just wait until Nebraska recruiting starts to pick up steam.

PAC-12 (33 PLAYERS, 2.8 per team)

Overview: Chris Petersen continues to establish himself not only as one of the best coaches in college football, but he and his staff do an incredible job of developing talent as well. The proof this time is that the Huskies led the Pac-12 with eight draft picks led by former four-star OL Kaleb McGary, a surprise first-round selection, and former four-star CB Byron Murphy, the first pick of the second round.

Next up in the conference was Utah and Stanford, which had five selections each. Neither had a first-round pick, but the Utes had safety Marquise Blair and the Cardinal had receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside go in the second round. USC had four players picked but the first one - Chuma Edoga - didn’t come off the board until the third round and Oregon had four as well with safety Ugo Amadi picked in the fourth.

Arizona State and Washington State had two each with each program getting a first-round selection in N’Keal Harry and Andre Dillard, respectively. Colorado, Arizona and UCLA each had one player picked.

Farrell’s take: It’s surprising that the Pac-12 has more than the ACC and maybe the collapse of the conference has been exaggerated. There isn’t a dominant program in the conference, but it still has good balance and produce plenty of NFL talent.

BIG 12 (26 PLAYERS, 2.6 per team)

For the second year in a row, an Oklahoma quarterback was selected No. 1 overall. After a bunch of pre-draft rumors and innuendo, the Arizona Cardinals picked Kyler Murray first and dealt Josh Rosen, the franchise’s No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft, to the Miami Dolphins. The Sooners dominated the conference with eight draft picks with receiver Marquise Brown also going in the first round. Four offensive linemen went by the end of the fourth round.

West Virginia had a strong draft, coming in second place in the Big 12, with five selections led by third-rounders QB Will Grier and OL Yodny Cajuste. After the Mountaineers, it was TCU with three picks (all on the defensive side of the ball) and then Kansas State, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Texas had two each. Texas Tech and Baylor had one player picked.

Farrell’s take: The Big 12 is always near the bottom because they have fewer teams and Texas has not been holding up its part of the bargain. Oklahoma leads the way and that shouldn’t change much in the future.

ACC (28 PLAYERS, 2.0 per team)

Overview: Clemson won the national championship last season, had a top-10 recruiting class and now made another big statement in the draft by having three first-round defensive linemen taken in Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence. The entire defensive front was drafted by the end of the fourth round when Austin Bryant was selected. Dabo Swinney’s club had six players drafted in total to lead the conference.

Miami was in second place in the ACC with five picks but all came in the fourth round or later. Safety Sheldrick Redwine was the Hurricanes’ lone fourth-round selection and all the others came in the fifth or sixth rounds.

Boston College and NC State each had four draft selections and each had a first-round offensive lineman go in Chris Lindstrom and Garrett Bradbury, respectively. Florida State and Virginia had two picks with Seminoles’ defensive end Brian Burns going in the first round. Duke, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, North Carolina and Syracuse each had one player drafted.

Farrell’s take: Clemson leads the way and will for a long time but Miami did well with some later picks and teams like Boston College and NC State always surprise. Virginia Tech didn’t help much this time around, but you know the Hokies will rebound and you have to expect more from Florida State soon as well.

INDEPENDENTS (6 PLAYERS)

Overview: Notre Dame makes up this group entirely and the Irish had a great haul on draft day led by defensive tackle Jerry Tillery going in the first round. No Notre Dame players went in the second round but receiver Miles Boykin was a third-round pick. A lot of analysts believe cornerback Julian Love going in the fourth was incredible value.

Farrell’s take: Notre Dame will always lead the way here and this will always be a small number overall.