96 Days to the NFL Draft: Could the SEC set a new first-round record?

96 Days to the NFL Draft: Could the SEC set a new first-round record?
February 1, 2014, 8:00 pm
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The record for the number of first-round draft picks from any one conference is 12. The Atlantic Coast Conference set the record in 2006 and the Southeastern Conference tied the mark in 2013.

In the upcoming draft, the SEC could break the record.

A total of 13 SEC players could be drafted in Thursday's first round on May 8. Here's the breakdown of how it could happen:

The Top 10's

Two players are shoo-in's to become top 10 picks: South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson.

Clowney could go as early as No. 1 to the Houston Texans and probably won't last past the No. 7 pick when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select. Robinson's range is anywhere from No. 2 to the St. Louis Rams through the No. 6 pick, which is owned by the Atlanta Falcons.

The Fringe Top 10's

There are three players from the SEC that could potentially land among the first 10 picks, but could fall lower. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, offensive tackle Jake Matthews and wide receiver Mike Evans are both wild cards.

Manziel could go as high as No. 1 to the Texans or could fall into the high teens. He's likely a guy who will land somewhere like No. 3 to the Jacksonville Jaguars or No. 4 to the Cleveland Browns. However, a few bad interviews at the NFL combine or a poor showing could send his draft stock plummeting.

Matthews could be selected as high at second to the Rams and as low as No. 11 to the Tennessee Titans. There are a number of teams in the top 10 (Atlanta, Tampa Bay and the Buffalo Bills come to mind) that need help along the offensive line. Matthews isn't likely to fall out of the top 10.

Evans is likely a pick for after the top 10, but someone like the Detroit Lions at No. 10 could take a stab at Evans as a good option to play opposite Calvin Johnson.

Almost-Certain First-Rounders

Depending on team need and where players fall in front of each pick, the draft 96 days out if very hard to predict. The following SEC players are pretty solid bets to land somewhere from pick No. 11 to No. 32.

  • Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
  • C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
  • Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
  • Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

4 Needed to Break Record

Now that the nine players above have been anointed first-round draft picks in the 2014 draft, the SEC needs four more players to sneak into the top 32 picks somehow.

LSU has a pair of wide receivers that could land in the first round: Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. If they are selected in the first round it will likely be to teams with a pick after No. 20. The Kansas City Chiefs, Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks are all teams that could pull the trigger on a receiver in the first round.

Tennessee offensive tackle Antonio Richardson had a better sophomore season than junior and paid the price. If eligible to enter the 2013 draft, Richardson might have been a top 10 pick. Now he's likely a low 20's type player who could elevate with a good combine.

The true wild card for the SEC could be Arkansas center Travis Swanson, a guy sitting on the fence between the first and second rounds. Swanson is a very athletic center and at 6-foot-5, 310 pounds, he's a monster. He also seemed very coachable at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Multiple reports were cast stating Swanson, who didn't play anything but the center position at Arkansas, was moved to offensive guard during the week leading up to the Senior Bowl.

If Swanson goes in the first round, it will likely be down near the bottom of the round. The SEC will have to sweat out its shot at breaking a record by having 13 players taken in the first round.

Check back every day from now until May 8 for an NFL draft nugget that pertains to college football in the South. You can also view the entire “100 Days to the NFL draft” series.

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