The first round of the NFL Draft is in the books now -- and, by its usual standards, the SEC did not have that great a night. Sure, the conference had seven picks among the top 32, meaning it accounted for almost a quarter of the players taken. But this is a league that came in with a four-year streak of double-digit picks in the first round and a four-year streak of having the most players taken in the opening round. Both of those streaks have now gone by the board.
In fact, both the Pac-12, a rival for the title of the best conference in the land, and the (gulp) ACC beat out the SEC with nine first-round picks apiece. It's been a rough few months for the SEC's reputation, and tonight didn't help. Not that it's all that much of a concern for the lucky young men who did hear their names called, deservedly so.
|3||Dante Fowler Jr.||OLB||Florida Gators||Jacksonville Jaguars|
|4||Amari Cooper||WR||Alabama Crimson Tide||Oakland Raiders|
|10||Todd Gurley||RB||Georgia Bulldogs||St. Louis Rams|
|21||Cedric Ogbuehi||OL||Texas A&M Aggies||Cincinnati Bengals|
|22||Bud Dupree||OLB||Kentucky Wildcats||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|23||Shane Ray||DE||Missouri Tigers||Denver Broncos|
|24||D.J. Humphries||OT||Florida Gators||Arizona Cardinals|
Will Muschamp might have changed the entire coaching job market, but some of his players might have gotten the most out of their time under Muschamp's defensive mind. Fowler Jr. was the first player taken off of the board -- obviously -- and is, like all the players here, going to be a very wealthy man in relatively short order.
As one of the better wide receivers to come through the SEC in several years, Amari Cooper ends up heading to the late Al Davis' former team. Anyone who's read anything here over the last couple of years knows that I'm a huge Cooper fan, so I'm probably not the most objective observer here -- but I think he'll be a great wideout in the NFL.
Part of you wants to say congratulations to Todd Gurley for being the first running back selected in the first round since Trent Richardson went to Cleveland with the third pick in 2012 -- but then you realize that Gurley is going to St. Louis Rams, and maybe congratulations are not in order. Gurley might be a bit of a test case for running backs in the future. If he does well, more teams might be willing to take a runner higher in the order -- and the opposite might be true if Gurley doesn't pan out (especially if Melvin Gordon follows suit).
After that, the SEC disappeared for a while, before running off four straight picks. Texas A&M puts an offensive lineman into the first round again, and Missouri continues to cultivate its image as DL U. Shane Ray might even have gone higher had it not been for his possession of marijuana. It's also nice to see a guy like Bud Dupree, a good player at a downtrodden program, get a moment in the spotlight.
Noticeable by its absence? LSU is shut out of the first round of the draft for the first time since 2010 and only the second time since 2003. But with the way the first round went this year, the Tigers are far from alone.