After a two-year absence from capturing a college football national championship, the Southeastern Conference wore the crown again last season with Alabama’s title.
But one area that hasn’t dipped in dominance is the NFL Draft. The SEC should come up big once again starting with Thursday’s first round.
In each of the last nine years, the SEC has had the most players selected in the draft. The conference has a good shot at making it 10 straight. In projections, the SEC has as many 12 players identified as first-round selections.
The draft success coincides with the run of national championships. The current SEC run started after the 2006 season, the year Florida began a streak of seven straight national championships for the conference.
If the SEC’s first-round haul reaches a dozen, that would match the most by one conference. The SEC had 12 players selected in the 2013 first round. The Atlantic Coast Conference had the same total in 2006.
The first two selections are expected to be quarterbacks Jared Goff of California and North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz.
The SEC parade could start with the third selection and Mississippi offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil.
The steady action is projected to start a few picks later. Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III is expected to be the first cornerback off the board.
National champion Alabama figures to be represented in the first round by defensive tackles Jarran Reed and A’Shawn Robinson and linebacker Reggie Ragland.
Mississippi could have three first-rounders for the first time in school history: Tunsil, wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche.
The Big 12 could have multiple selections in the first round but none are expected early. TCU wide receiver Josh Doctson and Baylor defensive tackle Andrew Billings are most often mentioned as first-rounders. Among others are Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman, West Virginia safety Karl Joseph and Texas Tech offensive tackle Le’Raven Clark.
The Big 12 has had at least two first-round selections every year since 2008, and there hasn’t been a year without a first-round pick from the conference.