NFL Draft: Which conference produced most DBs over past 4 years?
There have been 204 defensive backs taken in the last four NFL Drafts with some conferences doing better than others. Below is a breakdown.
CLASS OF 2022: Top 100
1. SEC: 41 DBs
If there is a debate over which SEC school is the real DBU, the last four draft classes are not going to settle it.
LSU has staked its claim with six draft picks during that stretch, including first-rounders Tre’Davious White and Jamal Adams and second-rounders Greedy Williams and Donte Jackson among the group. But Florida has seven selections over that time, with just as many first-round guys in Vernon Hargreaves and Keanu Neal and extra second-rounders, with Duke Dawson, Quincy Wilson and Marcus Maye going in that round.
Other SEC programs also have impressive hauls, as Alabama has seven draft picks in the last four years with first-rounders Marlon Humphrey and Minkah Fitzpatrick leading the way. Auburn has five, Texas A&M has four and then Mississippi State, Kentucky, Tennessee and Ole Miss have two each. Georgia, Vanderbilt and South Carolina have one each. Other first-rounders are Mississippi State’s Johnathan Abram and Georgia’s Deandre Baker.
Farrell’s take: Well, we know the SEC is DBC — Defensive Back Conference — and it’s no surprise to see LSU and Florida on top here as both make a strong claim as DBU. Alabama can also make that claim quite easily, but so can some others out of conference. The bottom line is that the SEC churns out the best players at most positions and that won’t change anytime soon with the way the conference is recruiting. CJ Henderson, Trevon Diggs, Kristian Fulton and others will add to those numbers this draft.
2. ACC: 38 DBs
Miami made a big statement by pumping out eight defensive backs in the last four NFL drafts to lead the ACC by a wide margin, as the Hurricanes were led by first-rounder Artie Burns. Miami’s quantity was the highest, but not the highest quality as every other Hurricanes pick came in the fourth round or later.
Next up for the ACC was Clemson and Boston College, which each had five picks but no first-rounders. Trayvon Mullen, Mackensie Alexander and T.J. Green were second-round picks for the Tigers, and the Eagles didn’t have any players taken until the third round.
Arguably, the most impressive group is at Florida State, which only had three players drafted but that list includes first-rounders Jalen Ramsey and Derwin James. Virginia Tech had four picks, including first-rounder Terrell Edmunds. Virginia and NC State had three each, Louisville and Pitt had two, and then North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest had one.
Farrell’s take: The ‘Canes leading Clemson by a large margin is a bit of a surprise. The ACC numbers are impressive, thanks to teams like Boston College, Florida State, Virginia and NC State. Florida State can still make a case for DBU based on quality and I expect more Seminoles in the draft soon under Mike Norvell. AJ Terrell and Bryce Hall add to the numbers this year.
3. BIG TEN: 35 DBs
After Ohio State’s performances over the last four drafts, maybe the Buckeyes should be crowned DBU. Their showing at defensive back would definitely back up any argument, as seven players at cornerback or safety have been drafted, including first-rounders Denzel Ward, Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley, Malik Hooker and Eli Apple. Plus, Vonn Bell was a second-rounder and Kendall Sheffield went in the fourth. That’s the best showing nationally by far.
Other teams in the conference have some bragging rights, too. Penn State had six defensive backs drafted over the last four years, although most in the later rounds. Michigan has had five, including first-rounder Jabrill Peppers.
Michigan State and Iowa have had three each, and then Maryland, Rutgers, Wisconsin and Minnesota have had two. Purdue, Nebraska and Illinois have claimed one each. The only first-rounder out of that entire group is Darnell Savage, who played for the Terrapins.
Farrell’s take: Ohio State is another program that can easily claim the title of DBU, and Jeff Okudah will add to that resume this year as the top DB taken. Penn State and Michigan, as usual, finish second and third, and Michigan State and Iowa do a good job but don’t get recognized enough. The Buckeyes will continue to separate themselves from the pack moving forward with the way they are recruiting because talent draws talent.
4. PAC-12: 25 DBs
There has been only one first-round draft pick over the last four years at defensive back in the Pac-12, and it was former five-star Adoree’ Jackson out of USC. The Trojans had a nice haul with five total picks, but Jackson was the only one selected before the fourth round.
USC did well, but the Trojans were not the best in the conference. That award goes to Washington, which had six selections, including five second-rounders in Byron Murphy, Kevin King, Sidney Jones, Taylor Rapp and Budda Baker. The other pick was fifth-rounder Jordan Miller.
Colorado had a nice showing over the last four years with four draft picks, including second-rounder Isaiah Oliver, and Utah has had three, with Marquise Blair going in the second round. Arizona had two picks, and then Oregon, Stanford, Oregon State, UCLA and Washington State had one each.
Farrell’s take: Once again, the Pac-12 is lacking where it used to be strong, but programs like Oregon, Washington and USC will push the numbers a bit soon. But as more and more talent leaves the West Coast to seek a national title, the Pac-12 will lag behind the other conferences, except for the Big 12.
5. BIG 12: 13 DBs
The first four Power Five conferences all had excellent numbers, but there was a tremendous dip when it came to Big 12 defensive backs. But West Virginia had a surprisingly strong haul. The Mountaineers had five selections to lead the conference by far, led by first-rounder Karl Joseph.
Farrell’s take: This is not a surprise, and it speaks to the theory of weak defense in the Big 12. Texas has some talent coming out soon, but these numbers are embarrassing and will continue if players like Okudah escape the area.
NON-POWER FIVE - 50 DBs
As with every position, a lot of non-Power Five players were drafted over the last four years and one reason is because there are just so many more schools outside those conferences than in them.
The first-round picks over those four drafts were UCF’s Mike Hughes and Houston’s William Jackson. The second-rounders were Temple’s Rock Ya-Sin, Central Michigan’s Sean Murphy-Bunting, Delaware’s Nasir Adderley, Samford’s James Bradberry and UConn’s Obi Melifonwu.
Farrell’s take: There is some talent here - and of course a large number when you consider Group of Five and the rest of college football - but no real stars recently.