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The SEC, Recruiting Rankings and the NFL Draft

If you’re getting drafted from the SEC, on average, you’re a low four-star recruit.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl
Drew Lock is hoping to be the (checks notes) second SEC quarterback taken before the fourth round since 2013? That can’t be right, can it?
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

With signing day (the new, much-less-meaningful form of it, anyway) just passed and the NFL Draft less than three months away, I found myself musing about the SEC, recruiting rankings and the draft.

And, after doing a bit of research, I’ve come back to a conclusion that I’ve arrived at before in this space: Rivals’ talent evaluators know what they’re doing.

Yeah, you get anomalies every now and then — former baseball player turned walk-on turned first-rounder Hayden Hurst here, top-flight prospect turned seventh-rounder Bo Scarbrough there — but, when you look at the entirety of the data, there’s a pretty clear correlative line between Rivals ratings and eventual draft position for SEC teams.

Check out this, taking in the 322 players from SEC schools drafted from 2013-18, since the league took its current form:

Average Rivals Rating by Round
Round 1: 5.92
Round 2: 5.86
Round 3: 5.81
Round 4: 5.805
Overall: 5.804
Round 5: 5.731
Round 6: 5.726
Round 7: 5.71

Right down the line. The average first-rounder was higher rated than the average second-rounder, who was rated higher than third, then fourth, then fifth, then sixth, then seventh.

Kind of impressive, right? I used 4.9 as a rating for walk-ons, as I have before, because the Rivals scale goes down to 5.0.

Here are some other things to consider...

Picks by Round
Round 1: 60
Round 2: 51
Round 3: 43
Round 4: 44
Round 5: 42
Round 6: 46
Round 7: 36

Picks by Position (1st Round in parentheses)
DL: 63 (15)
OL: 55 (13)
WR/TE: 55 (9)
DB: 51 (10)
LB: 43 (9)
RB: 37 (3)
QB: 10 (1)
ST: 8

If you want to get drafted and want to play in the SEC, better start eating and become a lineman. A quarterback? Not so much.

Johnny Manziel is the only SEC quarterback in the past six years to have been taken above the FOURTH ROUND. That’s mental. But that’s also going to change with Drew Lock this year...

Average Rivals Rating by Position
RB: 5.87
DL: 5.84
DB: 5.829
LB: 5.826
Overall: 5.804
QB: 5.79
OL: 5.77
WR/TE: 5.76
ST: 5.44

And the SEC quarterbacks who’ve been taken lately haven’t really been studs, strangely enough. Manziel, Dak Prescott and Josh Dobbs were all three-star signees. And for all the grief LSU gets about its quarterback play, the Tigers are actually tied with Arkansas for most quarterbacks taken in this period: two. Then again, both of them — Zach Mettenberger and Danny Etling — were transfers. Arkansas’ were Tyler Wilson and Brandon Allen.

NFL Hall of Famers, all of them.

Really, outside of Prescott, none of the SEC quarterbacks taken recently have done anything at the next level.

Good luck, Drew!

Picks By Team (1st-rounders in parentheses)
Alabama: 53 (15)
LSU: 42 (6)
Florida: 40 (9)
Georgia: 27 (7)
Arkansas: 23 (1)
Texas A&M: 21 (7)
Auburn: 21 (2)
South Carolina: 17 (2)
Mississippi St.: 17
Missouri: 16 (3)
Tennessee: 16 (3)
Ole Miss: 15 (4)
Vanderbilt: 9
Kentucky: 5 (1)

Yeesh. Look at Alabama. Also, yeesh. Look at Florida. Then look at Florida’s results on the field.

Also, Missouri fans, if you want to dunk on Tennessee fans even more, be sure to mention to them that, outside of housing them on the field, both programs have been producing exactly the same amount of NFL talent.

So they can’t hang that over your head.

Average Rivals Rating by Team
Alabama: 5.93
Georgia: 5.90
Florida: 5.89
LSU: 5.84
Tennessee: 5.82
Ole Miss: 5.81
Auburn: 5.80
Texas A&M: 5.73
South Carolina: 5.69
Arkansas: 5.68
Mississippi St.: 5.65
Kentucky: 5.640
Missouri: 5.638
Vanderbilt: 5.59

Missouri gets the most out of lower-rated prospects. That shouldn’t be surprising, given two- and three-star wonders such as Charles Harris, Shane Ray, Justin Britt and Mitch Morse going off the board in the first two rounds.

Mississippi State comes close when measuring up low ratings and relatively high numbers of draft picks. Which further reinforces Pete’s claim that Mississippi State is, in fact, Missouri in the West.

Divisionally, at least. Directionally, Columbia is well west of Starkville.

Confusing.

Here’s the work, if you wanted to see it.