2023 NFL Draft: Picks by conference during first round

On3 imageby:Sam Gillenwater04/28/23

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2023 NFL Draft
Kevin Sabitus | Getty Images

The first round of the NFL Draft had it all from chalk to surprises to big moves in between. However, as far as conferences go, there wasn’t much of a shock as two of college football’s best leagues dominated the numbers on Thursday night.

The SEC and Big Ten tied for first place in the first round with nine picks apiece. With almost 60% of the selections coming from that pair, the rest of the Power Five combined to give us the remaining 13 picks last night.

  • SEC: 9
  • Big Ten: 9
  • Big 12: 6
  • ACC: 4
  • Pac-12: 3

The SEC predictably struck early as eight of their nine selections were all gone after the draft’s 16th pick. That included Alabama’s Bryce Young (1st), Will Anderson Jr. (3rd), and Jahmyr Gibbs (12th) all going in the Top-12, Florida’s Anthony Richardson (4th) also making the top five, and Georgia’s Jalen Carter (9th) and Broderick Jones (14th) finishing in the Top-15. The ‘Dawgs also had Nolan Smith (30th) join Carter in Philly. In the end, Tennessee (Darnell Wright10th) and Mississippi State (Emmanuel Forbes16th) rounded things out with one pick apiece.

The Big Ten put up similar numbers in the NFL Draft with their nine picks all gone by No. 26. That effort was led by Ohio State who saw CJ Stroud (2nd) and Paris Johnson (6th) go quickly while Jaxon Smith-Njigba (20th) brought up the rear. Then it was Iowa next with two picks (Lukas Van Ness at 13, Jack Campbell at 18) as well as Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon going top five and Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski almost cracking the Top-10. Michigan’s Mazi Smith closed things out by going to Dallas at No. 26.

Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson was the first non-SEC or non-Big Ten selection at No. 7 for the Las Vegas Raiders. His fellow Big 12 competitor, Texas’ Bijan Robinson, followed right behind to Atlanta at No. 8. Iowa State’s Will McDonald managed to crack the draft’s Top-15. From there, TCU’s Quentin Johnson, Oklahoma’s Anton Harrison, and Kansas State’s Felix Anudike-Uzomah all went past the Top-20.

Things went similarly for the ACC and Pac-12 in the first round of the NFL Draft. The first Pac-12 member wasn’t taken until No. 17 in Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez to New England. The ACC was then the last league to see their first selection in Pittsburgh’s Kalijah Cancey at No. 19. From there, they combined to have five of the last nine picks. That run featured a pair of Clemson defenders and three pass catchers.

The NFL Draft is always a life-changing night for the prospects, their families, and their respective programs. Even so, the SEC and Big Ten flexed their muscle once again as the two leagues that dominated the conversation in the first round.