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SEC Football By The Numbers: NFL Draft — Pros to pass on SEC quarterbacks

LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, right, makes an interception on a pass intended for Arkansas wide receiver Jarius Wright during the 2011 season. (AP Photo/The Lafayette Daily Advertiser, Leslie Westbrook)SEC Football by the Numbers slices the selections by position in the second of a four-part look at the 2012 NFL draft. Monday’s installment examined the first round. On Wednesday, the preferences of NFL teams where the conference is concerned will be SEC FBN’s subject. And on Thursday, we’ll warm up for the first round with some stats and streaks involving the conference and the draft. No SEC QB It’s unlikely that any SEC quarterback will be selected in the 2012 NFL draft. Florida’s John Brantley and LSU’s Jarrett Lee are the league’s top draft-eligible, pro-style QBs, and it seems far-fetched that either will be drafted, although it’s not inconceivable a team might spend a seventh-round selection on LSU’s Jordan Jefferson to use in some sort of change-of-pace wildcat attack. The SEC has had at least one quarterback selected in every draft since coming up empty in 1996. That year, the conference couldn’t crack what was a weak crop of senior signal-callers. The quarterbacks drafted that year were Michigan State’s Tony Banks, Ohio State’s Bobby Hoying, Northern Arizona’s Jeff Lewis, Florida State’s Danny Kanell, Duke’s Spence Fischer, James Madison’s Mike Cawley, Trinity’s Jon Stark and Southern Cal’s Kyle Wachholtz. In the 15 drafts since 1996, 26 SEC quarterbacks have been selected, including six who have been the No. 1 pick — Tennessee’s Peyton Manning in 1998, Kentucky’s Tim Couch in 1999, Ole Miss’ Eli Manning in 2004, LSU’s JaMarcus Russell in 2007, Georgia’s Matthew Stafford in 2009 and Auburn’s Cam Newton in 2011. Other SEC QBs drafted since 1996 have been Florida’s Danny Wuerffel in 1997, Tennessee’s Tee Martin in 2000, Georgia’s Quincy Carter, Florida’s Jesse Palmer and LSU’s Josh Booty in 2001; LSU’s Rohan Davey in 2002, Florida’s Rex Grossman in 2003, LSU’s Matt Mauck in 2004, Auburn’s Jason Campbell and Georgia’s David Greene in 2005, Vanderbilt’s Jay Cutler, Alabama’s Brodie Croyle and Georgia’s D.J. Shockley in 2006; Tennessee’s Erik Ainge, Kentucky’s Andre Woodson and LSU’s Matt Flynn in 2008; Florida’s Tim Tebow and Tennessee’s Jonathan Crompton in 2010, and Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett and Alabama’s Greg McElroy in 2011. That list doesn’t include Arkansas QB Matt Jones, who was a first-round selection as a wide receiver by the Jaguars in 2005. First running back off the board Alabama’s Trent Richardson appears a lock to be the first running back selected on Thursday night. Projections usually have him going to the Browns at No. 4 or the Buccaneers at No. 5. Wherever he ends up, Richardson will become at least the 15th and maybe the 19th SEC player to be the first running back picked. The number depends on how you choose to classify four players whose position was less clear-cut in their time than it would be today: LSU’s Jerry Stovall, a two-way star for the Tigers who played defensive back in the NFL; Georgia’s Frank Sinkwich, a terrific threat as a runner and passer as a pre-T-formation tailback; Tennessee’s George Cafego, who played both running back and quarterback in the NFL; and Ole Miss’ Parker Hall, a tailback who today would be called a quarterback — after all, he led the NFL in completions as a rookie in 1939. Including all possibilities, SEC players who have been the first running back selected are Alabama’s Mark Ingram (28th in 2011 by the Saints), Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno (12th in 2009 by the Broncos), Arkansas’ Darren McFadden (fourth in 2008 by the Raiders), Auburn’s Ronnie Brown (second in 2005 by the Dolphins), Tennessee’s Jamal Lewis (fifth in 2000 by the Ravens), Georgia’s Garrison Hearst (third in 1993 by the Cardinals), Auburn’s Bo Jackson (first in 1986 by the Buccaneers), Auburn’s Tucker Frederickson (first in 1965 by the Giants), Stovall (second in 1963 by the Cardinals), Tulane’s Tommy Mason (first in 1961 by the Vikings), LSU’s Billy Cannon (first in 1960 by the Rams), Florida’s Chuck Hunsinger (third in 1950 by the Bears), Tulane’s Dub Jones (second in 1946 by the Cardinals), Georgia’s Charley Trippi (first in 1945 by the Cardinals), LSU’s Steve Van Buren (fifth in 1944 by the Eagles), Sinkwich (first in 1943 by the Lions), Cafego (first in 1940 by the Cardinals) and Hall (third in 1939 by the Rams). Two in a row for Alabama After never supplying the first running back in any of the NFL’s first 75 drafts, Alabama will make it two in a row on Thursday night whenever Trent Richardson goes, certainly in the first six selections. Last year, the Crimson Tide’s Mark Ingram was the first running back selected when the Saints took him with the 28th choice. Ingram was only the second Alabama running back picked in the first round in a span of 37 drafts. Before Ingram, Alabama’s previous first-round running back was Shaun Alexander, who was picked 19th by the Seahawks in 2000. Before Alexander, Alabama’s previous first-round running back was Wilbur Jackson, drafted with the ninth pick in 1974 by the 49ers. Neither Alexander nor Jackson was the first running back selected in his draft class. Alexander was the fourth running back off the board in 2000, behind Tennessee’s Jamal Lewis, Virginia’s Thomas Jones and Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne. In 1974, Colorado’s Bo Matthews was picked ahead of Jackson. First defensive back again For the third straight draft, the SEC will provide the first defensive back selected. LSU CB Morris Claiborne will be that defensive back, and he’s projected to go within the first six picks. If he goes to the Buccaneers in the first round, this would be the third straight draft in which the fifth selection has been an SEC defensive back. Claiborne will become the seventh SEC player to be the first defensive back drafted. The others have been LSU’s Patrick Peterson (fifth in 2011 by the Cardinals), Tennessee’s Eric Berry (fifth in 2010 by the Chiefs), LSU’s LaRon Landry (sixth in 2007 by the Redskins), Georgia’s Champ Bailey (seventh in 1999 by the Redskins), Alabama’s Antonio Langham (ninth in 1994 by the Browns) and LSU’s Johnny Robinson (third in 1960 by the Lions). That list includes only players designated as a DB by their drafting team. Many SEC players from the days of two-way college football were listed merely as B for back and went on to play defensive back in the NFL. First defensive lineman For the second straight draft, the SEC could produce the first defensive lineman to have his name called. Last season, the Bills took Alabama DT Marcell Dareus with the third selection. SEC contenders to be the first defensive lineman picked this year are Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox and South Carolina DE Melvin Ingram, although with Ingram the designation might not apply since he could hear his name called as an outside linebacker. Cox appears to be under consideration by the Rams at No. 6 and the Panthers at No. 9. Ingram might go to the Jaguars are No. 7. In his latest mock draft, the Press-Register’s Mike Herndon has Ingram going as a defensive end to the Jaguars at No. 7, with Cox picked by the Panthers at No. 9. Other prospects for the first defensive lineman honor are North Carolina DE Quinton Coples and Memphis NT Dontari Poe. Twelve SEC players have been the first defensive lineman drafted. In addition to Dareus, they have been Kentucky’s Bob Gain (fifth in 1951 by the Packers), Tennessee’s Doug Atkins (11th in 1953 by the Browns), LSU’s Earl Leggett (13th in 1957 by the Bears), Kentucky’s Art Still (second in 1978 by the Chiefs), Alabama’s Mike Pitts (16th in 1983 by the Falcons), Alabama’s John Copeland (fifth in 1993 by the Bengals), Florida’s Kevin Carter (sixth in 1995 by the Rams), LSU’s Anthony McFarland (15th in 1999 by the Buccaneers), Florida’s Gerald Warren (third in 2001 by the Browns), Kentucky’s Dewayne Robertson (fourth in 2003 by the Jets) and LSU’s Tyson Jackson (third in 2009 by the Chiefs). That list contains only players designated as DT or DE by their drafting teams. We can safely add three more SEC players to the first-defensive-lineman-to-be-drafted list even though they were designated only with a T for tackle on draft day — Kentucky’s Lou Michaels (fourth in 1958 by the Rams), Ole Miss’ Jim Dunaway (third in 1963 by the Vikings) and Tennessee’s Steve DeLong (sixth in 1965 by the Bears). All three were defensive linemen in the pros after playing some on both sides of the ball in college. Kentucky linebacker hope For every SEC team to contribute to the draft this year, a Kentucky player will have to make a late-round appearance. Every other SEC team seems certain to have a player picked. Kentucky has two players considered marginal draft prospects — OLB Danny Trevathan and SS Winston Guy, with Trevathan deemed the most likely to be drafted. Trevathan, who led the SEC in tackles in each of the past two seasons, would become the first Kentucky linebacker to be drafted since 1994. In the seventh round that year, the Wildcats’ Zane Beehn went to the Chargers and Marty Moore was picked by the Patriots. Kentucky hasn’t had a linebacker drafted since. You may be wondering about Wesley Woodyard, the former Kentucky linebacker who was the Denver Broncos’ leading tackler during the 2011 season, his fourth in the NFL. Woodyard was not drafted. If we divide players into the broad position categories of quarterback, running back, receiver, offensive lineman, defensive lineman, linebacker and defensive back, Kentucky’s linebacker drought is one of the longest in the SEC for one school at one position in the regular NFL draft. Mississippi State hasn’t have a quarterback drafted since 1979 (Dave Marler, picked in the 10th round by the Bills), Vanderbilt hasn’t had a running back drafted since 1980 (Frank Modica, in the ninth round by the Saints) and Kentucky hasn’t had an offensive lineman drafted since 1993 (Todd Perry, in the fourth round by the Bears, and Chuck Bradley, in the sixth round by the Oilers). Those are the only position-school draft streaks in the SEC that stretch back longer than Kentucky’s linebacker dry spell. Of those droughts, the Wildcats’ lack of offensive linemen in the draft is particularly glaring since every other SEC team has had at least one offensive lineman drafted since 2009. LSU to keep position streak going LSU has had a defensive lineman selected in each of the past eight drafts, and that streak will continue this year when DT Michael Brockers’ name is called. The most recent draft in which an LSU defensive lineman was not selected came in 2003. Since then, LSU defensive linemen who have been drafted are Marcus Spears, Claude Wroten, Kyle Williams, Melvin Oliver, Chase Pittman, Glenn Dorsey, Tyson Jackson, Ricky Jean-Francois, Al Woods, Drake Nevis and Lazarius Levingston. Special players The SEC could have two specialists drafted this season, with Georgia P Drew Butler and PK Blair Walsh. No SEC punter or place-kicker has been picked in the past two drafts. The SEC has had 43 specialists drafted, not including some of the conference’s great triple-threat backs who punted and/or kicked in the NFL but were not drafted specifically for that purpose. One of those SEC specialists is Butler’s father, Kevin Butler, who was drafted in 1985′s fourth round by the Bears. He’s one of six Georgia place-kickers who’ve been drafted, joining Brandon Coutu, Todd Perterson, John Kasay, Rex Robinson and Allan Leavitt. Walsh, the SEC’s all-time scoring leader, could join the list, if an NFL team can get over the 14 field-goal attempts that he missed in his senior season. Purdue’s Carson Wiggs and Texas A&M’s Randy Bullock are other place-kickers thought to have draft potential. Butler and California’s Bryan Anger are punters under consideration. The highest that an SEC specialist has been drafted is with the 65th pick, which is where the 49ers took Ole Miss P Jim Miller in 1980. The highest that an SEC place-kicker has been drafted is with the 90th pick, which is where the Falcons took Leavitt in 1977. Here’s a list of SEC specialists who have been drafted, arranged by year: 2009: South Carolina PK Ryan Succop 2008: Georgia PK Brandon Coutu 2005: Tennessee P Dustin Colquitt 2004: LSU P Donnie Jones 2002: Florida PK Jeff Chandler 2001: Tennessee P David Leaverton, Vanderbilt PK John Markham 1999: Tennessee PK Jeff Hall 1995: Alabama P Bryne Diehl 1993: Georgia PK Todd Perterson, Kentucky PK Doug Pelfrey 1991: Georgia PK John Kasay 1990: Tennessee P Kent Elmore 1989: Alabama P Chris Mohr, Auburn P Brian Shulman 1987: Ole Miss P Bill Smith, Tennessee PK Carlos Reveiz 1986: Auburn P Lewis Colbert, Florida P Ray Criswell 1985: Georgia PK Kevin Butler, Tennessee PK Fuad Reveiz, Vanderbilt PK Ricky Anderson 1983: Vanderbilt P Jim Arnold 1982: Florida PK Brian Clark 1981: Georgia PK Rex Robinson, Tennessee PK Alan Duncan 1980: Ole Miss P Jim Miller 1978: Florida P Alan Williams, Tennessee P Craig Colquitt 1977: Auburn PK Neil O’Donoghue, Florida PK David Posey, Georgia PK Allan Leavitt 1975: Tennessee P Neil Clabo, Tennessee PK Ricky Townsend 1974: Alabama PK Greg Gantt 1972: Tennessee PK George Hunt 1970: Auburn PK Don Riley, Florida P Spike Jones, Ole Miss P Julian Fagan, Tennessee P Herman Weaver 1969: Tennessee PK Karl Kremser 1968: Auburn PK Tony Lunceford 1967: Tennessee P Ron Widby The fine print This look at the SEC’s draft numbers includes only players picked in the regular NFL draft — no special supplemental, underclassman, non-NFL or separate dispersal drafts are included in the tabulations. For Arkansas and South Carolina, which joined the league in 1992, the numbers include only players drafted since 1993. For former member Georgia Tech, players drafted from 1936 to 1964 are included. For former member Tulane, it’s through the 1966 draft. Incoming SEC members Missouri and Texas A&M aren’t included, since they haven’t played in the conference yet. Former SEC member Sewanee has had only one player drafted — RB William Johnson by the Falcons in 1966, long after the school left the conference after the 1940 season.

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