Southeastern Conference Programs Are, Quite, Literally, Football Factories
Why do coaches, general managers, fans – and ESPN – sweat and fret over the NFL Draft every year, when the key to success is as simple as an off-tackle running play?
The answer for ESPN is obvious: Ratings! For fans, well, that’s what fans do, worry about their team and, quite often (and for good reason), the people in charge of it.
But for the coaches and GMs the NFL Draft it should be a snap. Easy like Sunday morning. Sit back with the champagne rather than take antacid pills to help a churning stomach because the team two picks ahead of you took the guy you wanted and now you’re scrambling to make the right pick or make a deal.
Just take players from the Southeastern Conference.
Sounds simple, but it’s an effective strategy. The SEC has the best teams, the best players, the best workout and training regimens, the best coaches and even the best high school coaches leading the players into college.
The players are NFL prepared when they leave school, be it as juniors or seniors. They know technique, fundamentals and are immensely talented. They are also used to playing on the biggest stages; most stadiums in the South are far larger than what they will be playing in during their NFL careers. Only Jerry’s World approaches the big SEC venues, and several of those are not seats, but standing-room-only areas.
SEC programs are, quite literally, football factories.
Look what is happening at Alabama. Nick Saban is pouring players into the NFL Draft like, well, draft beer pours into pints for fans watching the draft in sports bars. Alabama will likely have five – five! – first-round draft choices in 2012, with another three or four taken in later rounds. And you know what – that will probably be close to the case again next year.
As many as 12 – twelve! – SEC players are projected to be taken in the first round. If a GM can’t decide whether to take, say, a receiver (or defensive lineman, OL, DB, or RB) from one team or an available SEC player, go for the SEC player. The only position where the SEC is on the bench is quarterback. That’s where the Pac-12 traditionally excels.
The SEC process works. The Kansas City Chiefs went from doormat to instant contender in 2010 with the help of of three SEC picks – Eric Berry, Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas. The Cincinnati Bengals have selected at least one SEC player in each of the last 14 drafts, including a near-instant superstar last year, wide receiver A.J. Green of Georgia, and are in position to challenge the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North.
One team that ignores the SEC is the Jacksonville Jaguars. And, well, we see where the Jaguars are in the standings each and every year (and in the bonehead off-season move of 2012, it made only a weak passing attempt to acquire hometown hero Tim Tebow).
Well, that’s Jax for ya. The other teams, well take Sideline Sam’s advice.
And then celebrate with a champagne bath.