Spring practice is officially over. The NFL Draft is officially over. So what did we learn over the weekend?
The NFL still loves the ACC, SEC: As we told you last Friday, over the past five drafts before Saturday the SEC (191) and the ACC (176) have had more draft picks than any of the nine other Division I-A conferences. In Saturday’s first round the SEC had three of the first six picks, four of the top 12 and five of the top 18.
ACC had four of the first nine and nine of the first 45, which was more than any other conference.
The SEC had eight first-round selections and the ACC had five. So 13 of the first 32 players chosen in the first round of the draft, over 40 percent, came from those two conferences. The final totals in the draft were, by conference:
Here is the SEC and ACC breakdown by school.
ACC DRAFT PICKS BY SCHOOL
Atlantic: Boston College 2; Florida State 1; Clemson 4; Maryland 5; N.C. State 2; Wake Forest 4.
Coastal: Duke 0, Georgia Tech 4, Miami 1, North Carolina 5; Virginia 4, Virginia Tech 1.
Notice that Florida State and Miami had only one player drafted each while six other schools, including Georgia Tech, had four of more players chosen. Miami’s streak of 14 straight drafts with a first-round choice was broken.
SEC DRAFT PICKS BY SCHOOL
East: Florida 3; Georgia 6; Kentucky 1; South Carolina 7; Tennessee 1; Vanderbilt 1.
West: Alabama 4; Arkansas 1; Auburn 3; LSU 6; Ole Miss 4; Miss. State 0.
Notice that South Carolina led all schools in the SEC with seven draft choices.
My two favorite draft stories were Michael Oher of Ole Miss and Aaron Curry of Wake Forest.
Oher’s story has been chronicled in a book, “The Blind Side,” which is being made into a movie, portions of which were shot at Georgia Tech. Oher was abandoned and homeless as a teenager in Memphis. He was taken in and eventually adopted by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy. Oher had every right to be angry at the world. But instead he used his energy to make the most of his opportunity. He was taken by the Ravens as the 23rd player in the first round.
Curry is a testament to what determination and good coaching can do for a player. Curry was not a highly recruited player out of E.E. Smith high school in Fayetteville, N.C. He was small, just over 190 pounds. Wake Forest and East Carolina were the only Division I-A scholarship offers he had. Former Georgia assistant Brad Lambert, now the defensive coordinator at Wake Forest, was convinced that Curry was going to be a great player.
“I remember Brad asking me to watch film of Aaron so that I didn’t think he was making stuff up,” head coach Jim Grobe said. “Brad said: ‘Do you see what I see?’ And I did. It was clear that if Aaron could put on some weight he would be something special.”
It took five years at Wake Forest but Curry eventually grew to 6-2, 254 pounds. On Saturday Curry was taken by the Seahawks as the fourth player in the first round.
Two more reasons why I don’t understand the NFL: Vanderbilt’s D.J. Moore lasted until the fourth round (119th pick) and Florida State’s Everette Brown was not taken until the second round (43rd pick).
Moore had 13 career interceptions and was one of the better all-purpose players in the SEC. He averaged 19.4 yards per kickoff return and 14.4 yards per punt return. Various reports said he ran a relatively slow 40-yard dash time at the combine and at Vanderbilt’s Pro Day. That’s something I’ve never understood about the NFL. This guy excelled against the best competition in college football. He can PLAY. How do you ignore that and base a decision on some numbers on a stopwatch?
Florida State’s Brown led the ACC in tackles for loss (21.5) and sacks (13.5) last season. Some thought he was a “tweener” at 6-2, 256. Again, reports were that his 40 time was a little slow.
Both guys were juniors and it looks like both could have used a senior year to increase their draft stock.
Andre Smith is one talented but very lucky guy: I was glad to see that after a series of bad decisions that could have cost him dearly, Alabama OT Andre Smith was the No. 6 player picked in the draft by the Bengals.
Not long ago it looked like Smith, the Outland Trophy winner, had blown his chance at becoming a wealthy man. He was suspended for the Sugar Bowl after it was determined that he or someone connected to him had had contact with an agent’s representative. He shows up at the NFL combine out of shape and then doesn’t work out. He then leaves the combine without telling anybody and gets a ton of well-deserved bad press.
Smith got his bacon saved because he fired his first agent and hired a pro in Rick Smith. Andre is also lucky because Alabama coach Nick Saban went to bat for him with the NFL teams who wanted the real skinny on this kid.
This should be a cautionary tale, especially to juniors who enter the NFL Draft. Two lessons: 1) Hire a proven agent and do what he says; 2) If you want to be a professional then ACT like a professional. If you’re not sure how to act, then refer back to Rule 1.
The B.J. Coleman decision is best for both sides: The people I talk to tell me that Tennessee’s coaches were caught completely off guard when sophomore quarterback B.J. Coleman announced last week that he was going to transfer to another school. Coleman told his hometown newspaper in Chattanooga that he didn’t think he would get a “fair shake” from the new coaching staff. Coleman felt he had made it clear in spring practice that he should have the job ahead of senior Jonathan Crompton. I think Coleman could have chosen his words more carefully because it makes no sense to suggest that Lane Kiffin would play a lesser quarterback in this league. Conspiracy theorists say Kiffin wants to play a senior to open the door to sign the quarterback of the future next February. That doesn’t make any sense either. Coaches take the talent they have on hand and build the best possible team for that season.
The reality is that Coleman’s decision is probably the best for both parties. If he had been head and shoulders better than Crompton in the spring, then he would have the edge going into fall camp. The truth is that none of the three Tennessee quarterbacks—Crompton, Coleman, and Nick Stephens–were really setting the world on fire.