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2022 NFL Draft: SEC ties record, Georgia makes history, more nuggets to know

Jesse Simonton05/01/22
2022-nfl-draft-sec-ties-record-georgia-makes-history-more-nuggets-to-know
Upon the conclusion of the 2022 NFL Draft, the SEC had the most players selected among all conferences for the 16th-straight year. (Photo by Tony Walsh)

The SEC remained the kings of the #DraftSZN, tying the conference’s 2021-record with 65 selections during the 2022 NFL Draft. For the 16th-straight year, the SEC had the most players drafted among all conferences. 

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The reigning national champion Georgia Bulldogs rewrote the record books with 15 players selected over the course of three days, eclipsing 2020 LSU and 2003 Ohio State’s haul of 14 picks each to set a new high for the most selections by a single school in the modern 7-Round era. The Bulldogs ignited the SEC’s draft dominance with a historic five defensive players selected in the Round 1, starting with Travon Walker at No. 1 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Meanwhile, Alabama, Kentucky, LSU, Tennessee and others all had strong showings in Las Vegas, too. 

Here’s a rundown of SEC numbers to know, favorite fits and more. 

BY THE NUMBERS 

13: SEC schools with at least one player selected in the 2022 NFL Draft. Only Vanderbilt did not produce a pick, and that wasn’t unexpected. 

Georgia (15)

LSU (10)

Alabama (7)

Ole Miss (6)

Tennessee (5)

Kentucky (4)

Texas A&M (4)

Florida (3)

Arkansas (3)

South Carolina (3)

Mississippi State (2)

Missouri (2)

Auburn (1)

6: SEC players selected by the Houston Texans. Lovie Smith & Co., clearly had a type in the 2022 NFL Draft, opting for heavy SEC flavor with their nine picks. 

34: SEC players off the board in Rounds 1-3 — second-most all-time, but significantly less than the 2020 draft when the SEC set a record with 40 picks inside the first three rounds.

1: Auburn Tigers player drafted — cornerback Roger McCreary at No. 35 overall (Round 2) to the Tennessee Titans — the school’s fewest selections since 2013. Bryan Harsin didn’t inherit the greatest roster, but he didn’t advance it forward, either. Smoke Monday, Zakoby McClain and Chandler Wooten were three productive SEC players who all went undrafted but quickly inked free agent deals Saturday night. 

50: The SEC’s average number of picks per NFL Draft since 2006.

7: With linebackers Nakobe Dean and Channing Tindall both off the board in Round 3, Georgia set a NFL Draft record with seven defensive players selected in the first three rounds (Travon Walker, Jordan Davis, Quay Walker, Devonte Wyatt and Lewis Cine). The Bulldogs eclipsed the previous record of six set by both LSU (2013) and Alabama (2017). 

9: There was a run on SEC tailbacks the toward the end of Round 2 and throughout Day 3, with Georgia’s James Cook the first of nine to come off the board. LSU’s Tyrion Davis-Price (93rd overall) and Alabama’s Brian Robinson (98th overall) were both 3rd rounders, while Florida’s Dameon Pierce was drafted early in the fourth round (107th overall). Georgia’s Zamir White (No. 122) and Texas A&M’s Isaiah Spiller (108th overall) were selected with back-to-back picks later in the fourth round. Ole Miss’ Snoop Conner went No. 154 to Jacksonville in the fifth round, and South Carolina’s Kevin Harris (No. 183 overall) and Missouri’s Tyler Badie (No. 196 overall) were both six round selections. 

40: Alabama players drafted in the first two rounds since 2016 — with four Tide players coming off the board in the Top 50 picks this year. Georgia owned the weekend, but the Tide remain a stalwart in the NFL Draft by producing an absurd number of early round picks in the Nick Saban era.

Top 5 favorite landing spots for SEC players in Rounds 2-7

1. Georgia tailback James Cook to Buffalo at No. 63 (2nd)

The Bulldogs’ versatile tailback is another dynamic playmaker to complement the Bills’ already explosive offense. Quarterback Josh Allen should be very happy to have the quintessential third-down back. Cook averaged 11.8 yards per reception in 2021 and didn’t drop a pass. He finished his senior year with 1,012 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns. 

2. Ole Miss edge Sam Williams to Dallas at No. 56 (2nd)

The Cowboys need another pass rusher with Randy Gregory no longer in Dallas, and the former Rebels’ standout looks like a solid fit to help plug the hole. The 6-4, 261-pound linebacker was second in the SEC in sacks (12.5) and tackles for loss (16.5) last season.

3. Alabama linebacker Christian Harris to Houston at No. 75 (3rd)

Somehow, four linebackers went ahead of Harris on Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft. That’s a choice. Other teams’ loss became Houston’s gain though, as the Texas landed a likely starter in Round 3. Harris is a do-it-all inside linebacker who can run (4.4 speed), blitz (12.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks) and cover. 

4. Kentucky offensive lineman Darian Kinnard to Kansas City at No. 145 (5th)

The Chiefs overhauled their offensive line in 2021 NFL Draft, and they might’ve landed another starter this weekend. Kinnard had Day 2 grades from lots of teams and was a cog at right tackle (37 straight starts) for the Wildcats for the last three seasons.

5. Missouri running back Tyler Badie to Baltimore at No. 196 (6th)

A decade ago, Badie goes three rounds earlier, but with the tailback position devalued, the SEC’s leading rusher in yards and touchdowns slipped to the 6th Round. At least Badie landed in a great spot. He has a multi-dimensional skill-set as a runner, receiver and returner and the Ravens have an obvious need with their top two tailbacks coming off season-ending injuries in 2021. 

A couple honorable mentions: I think Aggies tailback Isaiah Spiller will find a nice role with the LA Chargers. I also liked the fits in Pittsburgh for Georgia wideout George Pickens and Texas A&M defensive lineman Demarvin Leal.

FINAL NOTES & NUGGETS

* Florida continued its storied streak of having at least one player selected in every NFL Draft since 1967 — 55 consecutive years — something only Michigan and Southern Cal can also say. 

* LSU kicker Cade York became the highest-drafted kicker since 2016, going 124th overall in the fourth round to the Cleveland Browns.

* Georgia’s tight end room looks loaded for 2022, but the Bulldogs still produced a tight end draft pick for the fourth straight year (yet another school record) when John Fitzpatrick went off the board late in the 6th Round to the Atlanta Falcons. 

* Tennessee has some secondary issues to sort out in 2022, but Willie Martinez’s group produced multiple defensive back draft picks (CB/S Alontae Taylor in Round 2 and DB Theo Jackson in Round 6) in the same draft since 2000.