SvoNotes: Draft Shows Southeast's Talent Edge

With six players drafted, including two first-rounders, Ohio State had a successful NFL draft weeekend. But the overall results showed yet again that the most talent is in the southeast, a worrying sign for Midwest football.

For years, people have been saying that the SEC dominance of college football is cyclical.

I'm starting to wonder if that's the case.

Yet again, the SEC led the NFL draft with 49 choices, besting the ACC by seven picks. The Big Ten checked in with 30 choices including four first-rounders.

That's just the continuation of a trend that has to have football fans in the Big Ten states worried. Simply put, the NFL has spoken yet again – and it says the SEC has the most talent, even accounting for the fact the league has two more teams than the Big Ten.

Take a look, for example, at the past couple of NFL drafts. One year ago, the SEC led the way with 63 overall draft picks – 32 in the East Division and 31 in the West. The ACC followed with 31, with the Big Ten checking in fifth among conferences with 22.

In addition, SEC states were well ahead when it came to drafted players. California was first last year with 28, with five of the next six SEC states. Florida was second with 27 drafted players – two ahead of Texas – followed by Georgia (19), South Carolina (13) and Louisiana (11). Ohio also had 11 and Pennsylvania nine, but Alabama checked in next with eight.

This year, the first-round data was stark. While the Big Ten did have four players drafted in the first round, its (to be fair, arbitrary) streak of not having a top-10 pick continued. That run began in 2009.

According to figures, the SEC led the way this year with 11 first-round picks, but the data is even more stark if you look at players' home states. Eight native Floridians were selected in the first round, with Texas, California and Georgia next with four. Alabama added three and Louisiana two; in all, 22 of the 32 first-round picks hail from SEC states.

Meanwhile, there were zero first-round picks from Ohio. Of the Buckeyes' two first-day picks, linebacker Ryan Shazier (15th to Pittsburgh) hails from South Florida while cornerback Bradley Roby (31st to Denver) is from Georgia.

In fact, dating back to 2000, just nine of the Buckeyes' 19 first-round picks have hailed from Ohio. The last two were wideouts Anthony Gonzalez and Ted Ginn Jr., who both attended high school in Cleveland and went in the 2007 draft. In that same span, five of the Buckeyes' first-round picks were Floridians, two hailed from Georgia, and one each were from New Jersey, New York and Michigan (props if you can name all three).

When this year's draft was done, 44 of the players hailed from Florida, by far the most of any state, while Texas checked in third with 25 and Georgia was next with 17. Ohio was fifth with 11.

You can see the same thing in Scout's annual recruiting rankings. Last year, there were six SEC teams in the top 10 of our ratings; just three Big Ten teams made the top 25.

That's, in part, because Scout's rankings have much more talent in the southeast than the Midwest. Now that the SEC has moved into Texas with its addition of Texas A&M, 27 of the top 50 players in the Scout 2013 rankings hail from states with an SEC school in them.

Even adding Maryland and New Jersey into the Big Ten footprint, just 19 of the top 100 kids hail from Big Ten states. The league did much better keeping those players home – just two headed to SEC country this year, and 14 of those 19 signed with Big Ten schools – than in the past, but it's hard to compete when just 20 percent of the nation's talent is in your footprint and more than half of the best players are in the SEC's.

Some would say the recruiting rankings are a bit biased, and they might be. The NFL figures, however, are telling.

Why is this difference in the numbers so stark? Some will point to population shifts, while there's also the case to be made that better weather and things like spring football allow football players to develop better in the southeast. Others will point to oversigning, as well, or the prevalence of bag men used in the SEC.

That's not to say this is totally a crisis. Pro Football Reference listed 79 Ohioans in the NFL in 2013, and that's before the rookie class is even added in. There's still plenty of football talent in the Midwest and in the Buckeye State – including more than enough for Ohio State to win championships.

But let's call a spade a spade: It's hard to argue the southeast has the most talent, and it's hard to see that changing anytime soon.

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