SEC Is The Playmaker Factory
By Cody Roche
Over the past five years, no conference has produced as much talent for the NFL as the SEC. Powerhouse schools like Alabama, LSU and Auburn have churned out playmakers at a rapid pace, and many of their prospects have made instant impacts at the next level.
Julio Jones, AJ Green and Eddie Lacy all enjoyed immediate impacts for their teams, as did Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Matthieu. In fact, the Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year, Lacy and Sheldon Richardson, were both products of the SEC.
The SEC has produced an insane amount of talent into the NFL. Alabama currently has 36 players on NFL rosters, highlighted by Jones, Evan Mathis and Andre Smith. Auburn has 20 players in the league right now, with some elite talent such as Cam Newton and defensive tackle Nick Fairley. However, the team with the most current NFL players is LSU, which has an astonishing 42 active NFL players, highlighted by Peterson, Matthieu and LaRon Landry.
It's likely that the top overall pick in this week's draft will also be a product of this conference: South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney. And many mocks have the second overall pick as another SEC player: left tackle Greg Robinson.
It’s hard to pinpoint one position that the SEC excels in creating because it's been dominant at almost every position the past five years. It has quickly become the gateway to the NFL.
About the only position that hasn’t been dominated by SEC players is quarterback. Outside of Newton, there haven’t been any successful quarterbacks from the SEC in the past few years. NFL scouts scrutinize QBs at such an intense magnification that it is hard for any player with a minor flaw to get recognized as a top draft pick.
Then again, there are three SEC quarterbacks entering this year's draft. LSU's Zach Mettenberger is a 6-foot-6 giant with an absolute cannon for an arm. This past season, he threw for more than 3,000 yards and 22 touchdowns despite ending his season early after an ACL tear. Due to said injury and limited mobility that doesn’t fit in the spread offense en vogue in today's NFL, he will likely be a second- or third-round pick.
Aaron Murray had a phenomenal career at Georgia, where he started for all four years and threw for at least 24 touchdowns every season. Unfortunately, Murray also tore his ACL. And, because he’s 6-1, many pundits are predicting he won’t be drafted until the fourth round.
Alabam's AJ McCarron won two BCS championships and threw for 77 touchdowns in his three years as starter for the Crimson Tide. Because of the talent surrounding him and questions about his arm strength, many have him going in the third round.
All three of these players have shown they can dominate in a competitive division but because the talent was vast around them it worked as a detriment in terms of how scouts viewed them.
Without a doubt, the SEC has become the premier conference for grooming future NFL stars. With the high volume of players entering this year, the schools will continue to attract the most talented recruits and will be able to maintain their success.