SEC smashes mark with 15 1st-rounders in draft

  • Covers Texas A&M and the SEC.
  • Joined ESPN in 2012.
  • Graduate of the University of Houston.

The Southeastern Conference often touts itself as college football’s toughest league, usually pointing to the number of players it sends to the NFL annually. On Day 1 of the 2020 NFL draft, the conference set a new benchmark in that department.

Fifteen players from the SEC heard their names called in the first round Thursday night, a record in the common draft era (since 1967), according to ESPN Stats and Information research.

That surpassed the previous record of 12 first-round picks from a single conference, achieved three times before by the ACC (2006) and SEC (2013 and 2017).

The first overall pick — LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, who was chosen by the Cincinnati Bengals — was one of five players from the national champion Tigers chosen Thursday. That was just one shy of the common draft-era record for most first-rounders from one team, held by the 2004 Miami Hurricanes (six).

It was the sixth time in NFL draft history that a school has had at least five players selected in the first round, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau.

LSU had as many first-round picks alone as the entire Big Ten and Big 12 conferences. The Tigers’ quintet tied the 2002 Miami Hurricanes and the 1968 USC Trojans for the most first-round picks taken from a reigning national champion, according to ESPN Stats and Information research.

Four SEC teams had multiple players drafted in Thursday’s first round. Alabama, led by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who was chosen fifth overall by the Miami Dolphins, had four first-round picks. Georgia and Auburn each had two, including a top-10 pick from each school: Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas (chosen fourth overall by the New York Giants) and Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown (seventh overall, Carolina Panthers).

LSU and Alabama’s nine combined first-rounders were the most for any two schools from the same conference in the common draft era.

Six of the top 10 picks in Thursday’s first-round were from the SEC, with Florida cornerback CJ Henderson and Alabama offensive tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. rounding out the top 10.

Eight teams produced multiple first-round picks, including four from outside the SEC: Ohio State had three, including No. 2 overall pick Chase Young, who went to the Washington Redskins, and No. 3 pick Jeff Okudah, who went to the Detroit Lions. Clemson, Oklahoma and TCU each had two players selected.

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