For the eighth year in a row, the SEC led all conferences with 49 picks and had the No. 1 pick in the draft for the fourth time in that same span. The conference also had the most first round picks with 11, which more than doubled the ACC with five. LSU led all schools with nine selections and Alabama was tied for second with Notre Dame with eight.
Whether it be superior coaching, more money, better athletes or a culture driven to succeed on the gridiron, the success of the conference on the next level is undeniable. NFL rosters are rife with players from the SEC and the 2014 Draft just added to the growing number of Southerners playing under the bright lights of pro stadiums all over the country.
Judging by the recruiting classes of 2015, the conference is simply reloading with top-level talent that will keep several of its teams at or near the top every year. These players will play on prime time television against the best players in the country every week. Scouts have no choice but to acknowledge that if a player can dominate in the SEC, that will likely translate into a solid NFL career.
Could the draft streak be broken in 2015? Mock drafts are already in place and the SEC looks to dominate again in several of them. However, the PAC-12 and Big Ten may have something to say next May, especially on the defensive side of the ball. CBSSports.com has predicted that only five SEC players will be taken in the first round in 2015. USA Today Sports predicts that six will be taken and none of those will be a top five pick.
However, the amount of SEC talent that will be eligible next season may prove these drafts to be way off base. Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Texas A&M all have multiple possible first-rounders who will graduate or declare early. Players like Amari Cooper, Todd Gurley and La’el Collins cannot be ignored. Tradition and repetition dictate that if these players have big seasons, NFL teams will come calling quickly and often.
Then again, there is a long way to go. Mock drafts are only good for prognosticating and arguments that will only be settled a year from now. Who could have predicted that Blake Bortles would be the first quarterback taken in this draft? That no Texas Longhorns would be drafted at all or no running back would be drafted in the first round?
Only one thing is certain at this point: if the SEC continues to recruit and produce on the field as they have for the last eight years, the draft streak is in no danger for the foreseeable future.