How the SEC Dominates the Draft

USA TODAY Sports

It's not rocket science.

I have one chart left over from the post I did earlier today on the SEC and the NFL Draft. I thought it was important enough to give the thing its own post.

I spent that post going through some of the technical details of why the SEC ended up with 63 players taken: these schools had banner years, luck worked in the conference's favor like this, this coach has built up his program, etc. Those are all important reasons, but there is one overarching trend for how the league puts so many players into the draft. I can sum it up in three words:

Recruiting, recruiting, recruiting.

I took a look at the conference's average and median recruiting class ranks over the course of two-year bunches and compared them to the number of NFL Draft picks on a three-year lag. I did it that way to account for players leaving school early for the draft. This is the chart I got from doing that:

Click to see image

The left Y-axis shows number of NFL Draft picks, and it goes with the green line. The right Y-axis shows recruiting rank, and it goes with the red and blue lines. The averages and medians end in the year denoted below, so the 2003 points have the average and median of the 2002-03 recruiting classes. The green data point for 2003 shows the number of picks that came three seasons after 2003, so it's from the 2006 draft. I used Rivals.com's class rankings because they go back the farthest.

The relationship could hardly be more clear. If there is anyone out there who still believes that recruiting rankings are useless, let that person see this chart.

I obviously can't extend the green line out any more, but I did make up a bigger version with the 2011-13 classes included. It has Texas A&M and Missouri in the 2012 and 2013 averages and medians.

Click to see image

As the red and blue lines trail off some, we can expect to see the number of SEC draft picks decline a bit as well over the coming years. It would be tough to replicate what is the new record of 63 picks, especially considering that it beat the old record (51 in a seven-round draft) by a mile. The uptick in 2013 keeps the overall longterm trend rising from 2005 to the present, and that could mean big, big things for the SEC in the 2016 draft.

As for the future, who knows? The Mississippi schools, Vanderbilt and Kentucky all now have dynamic recruiters as head coaches, for crying out loud. Missouri had the No. 41 overall class in 2013 and brought up the rear in the conference by 12 spots in the national standings. The SEC's 2013 mark of 63 is the record for now, but it may not stay the record for all that long.

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