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SEC, Pac-12 dominate First Round of 2024 NFL Draft

Stephen Samraby:Steve Samra04/26/24



During Thursday’s Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft, a myriad of tremendous talents found out where the next stop in their football journey would take place.

However, we can’t look ahead without looking at where the NFL’s latest crop of stars came from. From Caleb Williams to Jayden Daniels, to Marvin Harrison Jr. and Malik Nabers, each of the 32 players selected on Thursday have fascinating backstories, with their college football journey playing a huge role.

After the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, and ahead of Round 2, it’s prudent to take a look at which conference each player came from, and which group reined supreme in Round 1. Here’s a breakdown of which conferences did the most celebrating throughout the first round on Thursday’s draft.

SEC: 11 Draftees

LSU QB Jayden Daniels (Photo: USA Today)
LSU QB Jayden Daniels (Photo: USA Today)

Leading the way per usual when it comes to the 2024 NFL Draft, the SEC had the most players selected during the first round. Two former LSU Tigers were off the board first for the conference, as Jayden Daniels became the face of the Washington Commanders, while Malik Nabers gives the New York Giants’ wide receiving corps a major boost.

The SEC only had four players picked within the first half of Round 1, but the conference dominated the back half of the round. Seven of the final 16 picks in Round 1 went to the SEC, including some unexpected ones, like the San Francisco 49ers picked wide receiver Ricky Pearsall out of Florida with No. 31 overall.

2) Washington Commanders: Jayden Daniels, QB – LSU
6) New York Giants: Malik Nabers, WR – LSU
7) Tennessee Titans: JC Latham, OT – Alabama
13) Las Vegas Raiders: Brock Bowers, TE – Georgia
17) Minnesota Vikings (via JAX): Dallas Turner, OLB – Alabama
18) Cincinnati Bengals: Amarius Mims, OT – Georgia
23) Jacksonville Jaguars (via MIN, HOU, CLE): Brian Thomas Jr., WR – LSU
24) Detroit Lions (via DAL):  Terrion Arnold, CB – Alabama
27) Arizona Cardinals (via HOU): Darius Robinson, DL – Missouri
31) San Francisco 49ers: Ricky Pearsall, WR – Florida
32) Carolina Panthers (via BUF, KC): Xavier Legette, WR – South Carolina

Pac-12: 8 Draftees

USC QB Caleb Williams
Jason Parkhurst | USA TODAY Sports

For what seemed like forever, the world knew the Pac-12 was going to capture the first overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. From the moment the Chicago Bears gained the selection, it was evident Caleb Williams of USC was going to be their guy.

However, the Atlanta Falcons shocked the world, going with Michael Penix Jr. with the No. 8 overall selection. Elsewhere, fellow Pac-12 quarterback Bo Nix snuck into the first round, the Denver Broncos believing in him enough to go with the former Oregon signal-caller at No. 12.

1) Chicago Bears (via CAR): Caleb Williams, QB – USC
8) Atlanta Falcons: Michael Penix Jr., QB – Washington
9) Chicago Bears: Rome Odunze, WR – Washington
12) Denver Broncos: Bo Nix, QB – Oregon
14) New Orleans Saints: Taliese Fuaga, OT – Oregon State
15) Indianapolis Colts: Laiatu Latu, OLB – UCLA
20) Pittsburgh Steelers: Troy Fautanu, G – Washington
25) Green Bay Packers: Jordan Morgan, OT – Arizona

Big Ten: 4 Draftees

Michigan QB JJ McCarthy

The Big Ten only had four draftees on Thursday evening, but it was an interesting dichotomy between some of their selection. One of the more slam-dunk picks included former Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. heading to the Arizona Cardinals, but the Big Ten one of the more polarizing pick.

Since leading Michigan to a national title, many wondered if J.J. McCarthy was worth a first round selection, after being more of a game-manager for the Wolverines. Well, wonder no more. It’s evident the Minnesota Vikings believed in him enough, as he was selected with the No. 10 overall pick.

4) Arizona Cardinals: Marvin Harrison Jr., WR – Ohio State
10) Minnesota Vikings (via NYJ): J.J. McCarthy, QB – Michigan
11) New York Jets (via MIN): Olu Fashanu, OT – Penn State
21) Miami Dolphins: Chop Robinson, OLB – Penn State

ACC: 4 Draftees

Drake Maye-North Carolina
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

The ACC only had four players selected in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, which is a little light by their standards. However, the conference still had a major impact, with some highly-touted talents coming from the ACC.

The New England Patriots found their quarterback of the future, as they made former North Carolina star Drake Maye their pick at No. 3. Later, the Baltimore Ravens grabbed someone they believe can be a major star for their defense, choosing Nate Wiggins out of Clemson with No. 30.

3) New England Patriots: Drake Maye, QB – North Carolina
19) Los Angeles Rams: Jared Verse, DE – Florida State
26) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Graham Barton, OL – Duke
30) Baltimore Ravens: Nate Wiggins, CB – Clemson

Big 12: 3 Draftees

xavier worthy Patrick mahomes draft
Sara Diggins/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWOR

The Big 12 had three draftees on the evening, but there’s an interesting caveat regarding their contributions. Each player selected came from either Texas or Oklahoma, the two teams headed to the SEC in 2024.

Regardless, players like Byron Murphy II, Xavier Worthy and Tyler Guyton made their names in the Big 12. As they move onto the NFL, they’ll represent the final group of players eligible from Texas and Oklahoma’s time in the conference.

16) Seattle Seahawks: Byron Murphy II, DT – Texas
28) Kansas City Chiefs (via BUF): Xavier Worthy, WR – Texas
29) Dallas Cowboys (via DET): Tyler Guyton, OT – Oklahoma

Group of 5, Independent: 2 Draftees

Joe Alt
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

Alas, the first round also had some representation from the Group of 5 and Independent programs, like the Toledo Rockets and Notre Dame Fighting Irish. It was offensive lineman Joe Alt leading the way for the latter, as he’ll join a group hoping to keep Justin Herbert upright in Los Angeles.

Elsewhere, Quinyon Mitchell fell a bit, but the Philadelphia Eagles were privy to his slide. The former Rockets defensive back will slot in nicely with the NFC East team’s unit, as there’s plenty of offensive talent to cover within the division.

5) Los Angeles Chargers: Joe Alt, OT – Notre Dame
22) Philadelphia Eagles: Quinyon Mitchell, CB – Toledo

As you can see, the SEC and Pac-12 led the way during Thursday’s Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft, but the rest of the conferences made their mark. We’ll see who’s turn it is to hear their name called when the draft resumes on Friday evening.