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Wednesday, April 27, 2011
The SEC's NFL pipelines

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

With the NFL draft set to begin on Thursday night, it’s always fun to go back and see who’s produced the most talent in the SEC over the last decade.

As was pointed out Tuesday, Georgia leads the SEC with the most total draft picks (61) since 2000. Tennessee (60) is second. Both are among the top 5 nationally, too, even though neither team has won an SEC championship in the last five years.

Delving even deeper into the question of who produces the most talent in the SEC, anybody want to venture a guess on which school has produced the most premium draft choices over the last five years and the last 10 years?

And by premium, I mean any player taken in the first three rounds.

Over the last 10 years, that would be Georgia with 29 players selected in the top three rounds. Over the last five years, Florida and LSU are tied at the top, each with 14 players selected in rounds 1-3.

Florida has produced 11 first-round selections over the last 10 years, while Georgia and Tennessee have both produced 10 first-round selections during the last decade.

Over the last five years, Florida, LSU and Tennessee are tied with the most first-round selections, each with seven.

No team in the SEC has done less with more than Tennessee. The Vols are the only team in the league that has produced a first-round selection each of the past five years. Only Florida has produced more first- and second-rounders than the Vols during that span, but has two national championships to show for it.

Tennessee, on the other hand, has finished with a losing record two of the last three seasons and three times over the last six seasons. The Vols last won an SEC championship during their 1998 national championship season.

Equally interesting is how few premium draft picks South Carolina has produced under Steve Spurrier.

The Gamecocks haven’t had a first-rounder since 2006 and only three players over the last five years who’ve gone in the top three rounds.

Mississippi State hasn’t exactly been an NFL pipeline, either. The Bulldogs haven’t had a first-round draft pick since 1996 when Walt Harris and Eric Moulds both went in the first round. They’ve only had one player taken in the first three rounds over the last five years and four players in the last 10 years.

The Bulldogs have gone nine straight years without a first- or second-round pick, although that drought will end this year with offensive tackle Derek Sherrod.

Alabama had gone eight straight years without a first-round selection until 2009. The Crimson Tide have had three in the last two years and are expected to have three more this year with defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, receiver Julio Jones and running back Mark Ingram.

Counting his time at LSU and now Alabama, Nick Saban has recruited and signed 11 players who went on to become first-round draft choices. When you throw in the three others from Alabama who are expected to go in the first round this year, that would be 14 first-rounders for Saban in nine seasons as a head coach in the SEC.

All nine of LSU’s first-round picks over the last 10 years were recruited and signed by Saban, who was the Tigers’ head coach from 2000-04.

Cornerback Patrick Peterson, projected to go in the top 10 picks of this year’s draft, will be LSU’s first first-rounder recruited and signed by Les Miles.

Here’s a team-by-team breakdown of who’s produced the most first, second and third-round selections over the last 10 years in the SEC:

Georgia: 29
Florida: 27
Tennessee: 25
LSU: 21
Alabama: 18
Auburn: 18
Ole Miss: 13
Arkansas: 12
South Carolina: 10
Kentucky: 6
Vanderbilt: 5
Mississippi State: 4

Here’s that same breakdown over the last five years:

Florida: 14
LSU: 14
Alabama: 12
Georgia: 10
Tennessee: 10
Auburn: 9
Arkansas: 6
Ole Miss: 6
Vanderbilt: 4
South Carolina: 3
Kentucky: 2
Mississippi State: 1

Here’s a look at the first-round scorecard over the last 10 years:

Florida: 11
Georgia: 10
Tennessee: 10
LSU: 9
Arkansas: 6
Auburn: 6
Ole Miss: 6
Alabama: 3
South Carolina: 3
Vanderbilt: 2
Kentucky: 1
Mississippi State: 0

Here’s the first-round breakdown over the last five years:

Florida: 7
LSU: 7
Tennessee: 7
Alabama: 3
Arkansas: 3
Ole Miss: 3
Georgia: 2
Vanderbilt: 2
Auburn: 1
South Carolina: 1
Kentucky: 0
Mississippi State: 0