Expansion helps SEC dominate first round of NFL draft

Expansion helps SEC dominate first round of NFL draft
Texas A&M's Jake Matthews poses with Commissioner Roger Goodell after he was picked sixth overall by the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL draft. (Elsa / Getty Images)

Just what the Southeastern Conference needed: more bragging rights.

Not only has the league won nine of the last 16 national titles in football, it also clearly won conference realignment.


The SEC's 11 first-round picks in Thursday's NFL draft included three from Texas A&M, which rocked the college football world three years ago when it bolted the Big 12 for the SEC.

It didn't seem like that smart of a move at the time but, hey BEVO, look at them now.

Many at arch-rival Texas scoffed at the idea of Texas A&M competing in the rugged SEC. After all, the Aggies needed overtime to win their only Big 12 title, in 1998.

Many Texas fans figured Texas A&M would be suffocated in the rugged SEC. Instead, the Aggies went 11-2 their first year in the SEC West and handed the only loss to eventual national champion Alabama. Freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy and celebrated by coming back home to win the Cotton Bowl.

The SEC also added Missouri, which, after a rough first year, won the SEC East last season.

Either the SEC isn't as good as it claimed to be or Texas A&M and Missouri raised their competitive games upon entering the conference.

The show never stops down south and chants of "SEC! SEC!" could be heard Thursday as the conference landed four of the first 10 draft picks.

Two of those were picks were from Texas A&M, with offensive tackle Jake Matthews going No. 6 to Atlanta and receiver Mike Evans landing No. 7 in Tampa. It seemed almost insulting to the SEC that Manziel fell all the way to Cleveland at pick No. 22.

When the first-round circus ended, Texas A&M ended up with as many first-round picks as the entire Pac-12 Conference. UCLA, at long last emerging from the NFL draft's witness protection program, led the way with linebacker Anthony Barr going No. 9 to Minnesota.

The New Orleans Saints took Oregon State receiver Brandin Cooks with the No. 20 pick, and Arizona, with the No. 27 pick, selected Washington State safety Deone Bucannon.

Stanford, the defending Pac-12 champions, had no first-round players selected. Neither did USC, the conference's flagship program.

The Trojans had more head coaches last year, four, than Texas A&M had first-round picks.

The surprise conference was the fledgling American Athletic, which ended up with four. Two of those picks, however, belonged to Louisville, which is joining the Atlantic Coast next season.

Here's a breakdown of the first round by conference: SEC (11), ACC (5), Big Ten (4), Pac-12 (3), Big 12 (2), Mid American (2) and Notre Dame (1).