SEC reigns in Senior Bowl watch list

The SEC has been the king of college football when it comes to winning championships, claiming the past seven BCS titles, and the secret to its success has been rather obvious: No conference has produced more NFL talent than the SEC, which landed 63 players in April's draft, more than double the next-nearest conference.

That point was further illustrated on Tuesday when the Senior Bowl announced its 2014 Watch List of top NFL prospects, selecting 72 players from the SEC, nearly 20 percent of the entire list. The next closest was the ACC with 48 selections, followed by the Big Ten (46) and the Pac-12 (38).

Defending-champion Alabama led all schools with 10 players on the list, highlighted by quarterback AJ McCarron and All-America linebacker C.J. Mosley. Ohio State and Notre Dame tied for second most with eight players each.

Last year the Senior Bowl included 312 prospects, 94 of which were drafted into the NFL.

Former Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher used the weeklong scouting event as a springboard to becoming the No. 1 overall pick by the Kansas City Chiefs last year, as 10 Senior Bowlers were taken in the first round, including former Alabama right tackle D.J. Fluker, former Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel and former Syracuse offensive tackle Justin Pugh.

"With 60,000-plus athletes playing college football, and only 250 or so NFL draft choices each year, we believe there is some legitimate prestige with being placed on our 'official' Watch List," Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage said in a news release.

It wasn't just the major conferences that saw players selected to the 2014 Watch List. Sixty-five "small school" players made the list, headlined by West Texas A&M defensive end and Division II National Defensive Player of the Year Ethan Westbrooks. Eastern Illinois, the same school that produced Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, had its quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, make the list, as well.

The Senior Bowl will be played on Jan. 25 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala.