The 2016 NFL draft is in the books. Once again the SEC dominated the draft. The conference had the most players selected for the tenth straight year. The Southeastern Conference had 51 players selected including 8 in the first round. The Big Ten was a close second with 47 players drafted.
The top two picks were quarterbacks with the Rams and the Eagles desperately hoping to find a franchise signal caller. As usual, this year’s crop of quarterbacks is a crap shoot. Only time will tell if either team got the next Peyton Manning or the next Ryan Leaf. It’s more likely that both will more along the lines of the next Jay Cutler.
Every February on National Signing Day I hear fans of teams whose class ranking isn’t very high pontificate on how recruiting services don’t know anything and star ratings mean nothing. They will point out some three star or unranked kid coming out of high school twelve years ago that went on to be great. Here’s a little perspective. There were eight SEC players drafted in the first round. Four of them were ranked 5-star (the highest ranking available) and four were ranked 4-star coming out of high school. Overall 22 of the 31 players drafted in the first round were 4 or 5 star recruits. Considering that recruits of that ranking make up a small percentage of the overall players coming into college football every year that is pretty incredible. Clearly the ranking services do better than most think.
My Gators have had a player taken in the NFL draft every year since 1952 which is the longest active streak in the SEC with Georgia a very distant second with a player taken every year since 1992.
The Tennessee Vols did not have a single player drafted in this draft. This is actually WHY people are picking them to win the SEC East. The idea is that they return so many players with experience that they have to be better, right? The problem is that they also return head coach Butch Jones, assuming he survives the current scandal, and I’m just not sold on his game day coaching. I will buy into the idea that they have finally rebuilt (they began rebuilding back in the Clinton presidency) when they actually win something other than another moral victory but that is a discussion for another day.
There are some interesting stories from this draft but maybe none more compelling than Auburn’s Shon Coleman who was drafted by the Browns after battling cancer for two years. Coleman watched the draft from the St Jude’s hospital in Memphis with kids battling cancer. How can you not pull for this guy?
The Dallas Cowboys drafted Jaylen Smith, the linebacker from Notre Dame who suffered a brutal injury in the bowl game, in the second round after spending their first round pick on Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliot. Smith might not ever walk right again much less play football. And let’s just say that nobody is going to confuse Elliot with a Rhodes Scholar. They also took Rico Gathers, a tight end that hasn’t played football in years. Good luck with all that.
The Atlanta Falcons drafted to the needs they have with a safety, two linebackers, a tight end and an offensive tackle. They added a wide receiver in the 7th round. Safety Keanu Neal from Florida is a hard hitting, run stopper taken in the first round. Deion Jones is a solid outside linebacker from LSU. I am confident that head coach Dan Quinn will solidify the Atlanta defense in 2016. Overall, I like the Falcons draft and their chances of making the playoffs in 2017. I already miss football.