During the first round of Thursday's NFL draft, the SEC West division had more draftees than any other conference. The SEC had 11 of the top 32 draft picks, and eight of them came from the West. The ACC was the second-most drafted conference with five picks, and the Big Ten and American Athletic Conference each had four picks.
The SEC's domination didn't seem abnormal. The reputation the conference has gleaned comes heavily from the number of NFL draft picks that it produces. But was the West division's number of draftees an outlier?
No, not really. In the past 10 first rounds of the NFL draft, the SEC has had the most picks of any conference six times. Four of those seasons (2012, 2011, 2007 and 2005), the SEC West had as many or more picks than the conference in second place. And in 2013, when the SEC set a record for the most players from the conference picked in the first round (12), the West had six players, just one fewer than the whole ACC.
Of course, the presence of Alabama and LSU help immensely, though on Thursday night they produced three of the West's eight picks. And it was the first time that Alabama hadn't had a player picked in the top 10 of the draft since 2008.
In the previous four drafts that the West led everyone else, 16 players – eight each – came from either Alabama or LSU. Here's how it breaks down by year:
2012: Trent Richardson, Alabama (3), Morris Claiborne, LSU (6), Mark Barron, Alabama (7), Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State (12), Michael Brockers, LSU (14), Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama (17), Dont'a Hightower, Alabama (25)
2011: Cam Newton, Auburn (1), Marcell Dareus, Alabama (3), Patrick Peterson, LSU (5), Julio Jones, Alabama (6), Nick Fairley, Auburn (13), James Carpenter, Alabama (25), Mark Ingram, Alabama (28), Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State (32).
2007: JaMarcus Russell, LSU (1), LaRon Landry, LSU (6), Jamaal Anderson, Arkansas (8), Patrick Willis, Ole Miss (10), Dwayne Bowe, LSU (23), Ben Grubbs, Auburn (29), Craig Davis, LSU (30)
2005: Ronnie Brown, Auburn (2), Cadillac Williams, Auburn (5), Carlos Rogers, Auburn (9), Marcus Spears, LSU (20), Matt Jones, Arkansas (21), Jason Campbell, Auburn (25), Chris Spencer, Ole Miss (26)
With the SEC now at 14 teams and the emergence of both A&M and Auburn (after a brief hiatus) in the West, expect the West's heavy first-day draft presence to continue. It may not outpace the ACC and Big 12 every year, but nights like Thursday will still be fairly common.
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