Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a past president and member of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Like It Is:
SEC West best -- on field, in draft room
Odell Beckham Jr. is seen with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the New York Giants at the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City on Thursday, May 8th, 2014 in New York, NY. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
The top two finishers in the SEC Western Division, Auburn and Alabama, along with fourth-place finisher Texas A&M, each had three players selected in the NFL Draft's first three rounds Thursday and Friday.
Players selected in the first three rounds are generally considered almost automatic to make a roster this fall.
Auburn and Alabama each had two first-round picks, and the Aggies, third in the division, led the way with three. But if you weren't a first-rounder at A&M, you weren't getting drafted this year.
Other than that, last week's draft was not all that indicative of last season's final standings, other than the West being the best, totaling 8 of the division's 11 first-round picks and accounting for 30 of the SEC's 49 players selected.
As most people are aware, the Arkansas Razorbacks didn't win a SEC game but had four players drafted; three more than Ole Miss and Mississippi State, two teams that defeated and finished ahead of the Hogs and went to bowl games.
But two of the Razorbacks picked were in the seventh round and those are the longest shots to make a roster.
It was thought that the SEC might have 70 or more players drafted after having 63 taken last season. This year's number, 49, was still tops of all the conferences. The Atlantic Coast Conference was second with 42 teams.
Kentucky, which also went winless in SEC play, was the third conference team with one player drafted, and he went in the fifth round.
It might be easy to pick on LSU Coach Les Miles and claim he underachieved at 5-3 in SEC play and 10-3 overall because he had a league-high nine players drafted. Five Tigers were taken in the first three rounds, and one of those drafted later, quarterback Zach Mettenberger in the sixth round, was rumored to have failed his drug test at the NFL Combine.
The Tigers might have the biggest holes to fill with that many players going in the draft. Two of their three losses last season were by just three points at Ole Miss and Georgia. Like most teams, they got beat pretty good at Alabama, 38-17 for their third loss. LSU also gave Auburn its only loss until the national championship game.
Tennessee, which finished next to last in the Eastern Division had three players drafted, including Ju'Wuan James in the first round.
Florida had a first-round pick plus three others and finished fifth in the East.
If any team outkicked its coverage it might have been Missouri, which won the East and played Auburn for the SEC Championship. The Tigers had two players go in the second round, one in the sixth and one in the seventh. That's not exactly a ton of talent leaving. Maybe that bodes well for the coming season for Mizzou.
Auburn had just four players drafted, although two went in the first round and one anchored the offensive line and the other the defensive line.
Two other teams that might have overachieved, at least going by the NFL draft, were South Carolina and Vanderbilt.
South Carolina (6-2, 11-2) had the No. 1 overall pick in defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, but the Gamecocks had just one other player drafted -- wide receiver Bruce Ellington, who went to the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth round.
Vanderbilt finished fourth in the East at 4-4 and posted a 9-4 overall record. The Commodores had only three players drafted, one in the second round, one in the fifth and one in the final round.
We would be remiss to not mention that Alabama, 7-1 and 11-2, and one breakdown on field-goal return coverage away from going back to the BCS Championship Game, had eight players drafted; three in the first two rounds, one in the fourth, three in the fifth and one in the sixth.
The Tide were good last year, and will be again, but they did not dominate in the offensive line like they did the year before when they won the national championship.
Last week's NFL Draft reinforced that the SEC still produces the best players, and more of them, than any other conference.
Sports on 05/13/2014