It is generally believed that the SEC is the best conference in college football, with teams like Alabama and LSU among college football’s best. The 2020 NFL draft bolstered this belief when the conference set a record for the most picks in the first round of the draft.
Here’s a look at the SEC players who will make an impact in the NFL and what the draft success of the conference in the draft could mean for the SEC in the future.
The SEC sets a record in the first round of the NFL draft
It was an unusual NFL draft, with everyone working remotely from their homes. That was a first for the event, as was what the SEC achieved in the opening round. Of the 32 first-round picks, 15 of them were from SEC teams. That broke the record for most players selected from a single conference in the first round of the draft — and the record was also previously held by the SEC, as well as the ACC.
The SEC had 12 first-round picks in both 2013 and 2017, while the ACC did it in 2006. This year, the SEC bumped that record up to 15, and the second-place conference in this year’s draft wasn’t even close, with the Big Ten having five players taken in the opening round.
SEC draft picks by team
LSU got the draft going with QB Joe Burrow coming off the board as the top overall pick. The Tigers continued to dominate with five players selected among the first 32 — including No. 32 to bookend the first-round selections.
Alabama was second among conference teams with four players taken in the first round. Auburn and Georgia each had two first-round picks, while Florida and South Carolina each had one. If you go beyond the opening round, the SEC’s dominance continues with 40 picks in the first three rounds (out of 106).
For the entire 255-pick draft, as CBS Sports notes, the SEC had 63 players selected, 15 more than the second-place Big Ten. LSU had the most picks in the seven rounds, with 14 Tiger alumni being taken in the draft. Alabama had the fourth-most players taken with nine, and Florida and Georgia had seven apiece. Auburn saw six players go, putting all of those conference squads in the top 10 among colleges in this year’s draft.
What does getting all these picks in the draft mean for the SEC? As Sports Illustrated points out, players are more likely to committ to SEC teams over teams from other leagues if they see NFL front offices willing to draft SEC players early and often. Getting picked in the NFL draft is every college football player’s dream.
SEC players expected to make an impact
When a team drafts a player in the first round, the front office expects him to make an impact, especially for quarterbacks. The Bengals took Burrow No. 1 overall and cut ties with Andy Dalton. So, Burrow should get a chance to start from Week 1, or at least early in the season.
FanSided highlights some other players who should have an impact in the NFL. The Dolphins also took a QB early, with Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa going to Miami at No. 5. Between those picks, the Giants took Georgia OT Andrew Thomas at No. 4. Look for him to be a starter from Week 1. New York will call upon him to help protect Daniel Jones. Other impact players to look for include:
- CB C.J. Henderson (Florida), who the Jaguars took at No. 9
- WR Henry Ruggs III (Alabama), who went at No. 12 to the Raiders
- WR Jerry Jeudy (Alabama), the 15th overall pick to the Broncos