JOE BIDDLE: Wait a SEC? Is this the NFL?
By Joe Biddle, Sports Columnist
If there was ever any doubt, we are sitting smack dab in the middle of the college football world.
NFL general managers and head coaches voted their conscience in last weekend’s annual draft.
The SEC not only led the way, it was head and shoulders over other BCS conferences with the number of players taken in this year’s NFL draft.
It wasn’t close. It was a slam dunk.
The SEC saw 63 of its players taken in seven rounds. The next closest conference was the Atlantic Coast Conference, generally considered a basketball conference.
The ACC had 31 of its players drafted. That’s less than half the number the SEC posted. When NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stepped to the podium and announced the first 11 draft picks, five of them played their football in the SEC.
That started the avalanche rolling downhill. NFL teams took nine players from defending national champion Alabama, the same number of players LSU sent to the NFL.
Florida and Georgia each had eight players drafted with South Carolina losing seven players from last year’s team. One of South Carolina’s draft picks was running back Marcus Lattimore, who has had ACL surgery on both knees the past two years and will likely miss the season opener. The 49ers were willing to take a chance. If Lattimore gets back to where he was, that’s more than enough to be a top running back in the league.
New member Texas A&M saw five of its players picked starting with the second pick of the draft, offensive tackle Luke Joeckel who blocks out the sun.
Arkansas and Tennessee each had four draft picks and they had recent coaching changes. They might have had trouble picking competent coaches, but they can sure recognize football talent.
Other conferences may have undeserved reputations. The Big Ten was the first conference to have its own TV network, which was all about making more football revenue. The Big Ten had 22 players drafted, compared to the Pac 12, which had 28 draftees.
The Titans haven’t been keen on drafting SEC players in the past. That may change under general manager Ruston Webster and coach Mike Munchak.
The Titans’ first two picks were Alabama guard Chance Warmack and Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter. One of their two third round picks was Missouri linebacker Zavier Gooden. LSU defensive end Lavar Edwards was taken with the Titans’ fifth pick, making four of their first six players drafted from the SEC.
Draw your own conclusions. You have to go back to 2002 to find a Titans’ first round draft choice (Albert Haynesworth) that played in the SEC.
In last year’s draft there wasn’t one SEC player. In 2011, only one SEC alum was taken. That was Auburn’s Zach Clayton - taken in the seventh round. There was one SEC pick in 2010, Georgia linebacker Rennie Curran. He was the second pick in the third round and no longer with the team.
They had two SEC picks in the 2009 draft, none in 2008, two in 2007 and one in 2006. Obviously they haven’t been in love with SEC talent.
The record could reflect a lack of talent. From 2006-2012, the Titans are 60-52 overall. They have made the playoffs in only two of those seven seasons and are 0-2.
No conference prepares you better for the NFL than the SEC. Titans, take note.
Sports Columnist Joe Biddle is a four-time sports writer of the year in Tennessee and a 2013 inductee to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on: 5/2/2013