SEC continues first-round dominance with 10 draft selections

Minkah Fitzpatrick, picked 11th overall by the Dolphins, was the second of 10 SEC players selected in Thursday's first round of the NFL draft. David J. Phillip/AP Photo

Another first round in the NFL draft, another banner night for the SEC.

While continued talk of the SEC fills people above the Mason-Dixon Line with unrelenting rage, there's just no escaping the conference's draft dominance, and Thursday was no different.

In the past 10 years, the SEC led all conferences with 90 first-round picks, 40 more than any other league, and left Thursday night with 10 more first-rounders. There have been only six times in NFL draft history where a conference had 10 or more first-round selections. The SEC is responsible for five of those and has now led all conferences in first-round picks for the seventh time in eight years.

Things actually started off slowly for the SEC. A year after watching three players get drafted in the first 10 picks, the SEC didn't hear one of its players' names called Thursday until Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith was selected by the Chicago Bears with the eighth pick. The SEC really picked up steam toward the back end of the first round, as seven SEC players were selected among the final 13 picks.

Here's a list of the SEC's first-round selections:

8. Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia -- Chicago Bears

11. Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama -- Miami Dolphins

13. Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama -- Washington Redskins

20. Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas -- Detroit Lions

22. Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama -- Tennessee Titans

23. Isaiah Wynn, OT, Georgia -- New England Patriots

25. Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina -- Baltimore Ravens

26. Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama -- Atlanta Falcons

29. Taven Bryan, DT, Florida -- Jacksonville Jaguars

31. Sony Michel, RB, Georgia -- New England Patriots

And if the SEC is doing well in the draft, you know that Alabama is a major part of that. The Crimson Tide entered the night with 22 first-round picks over the past 10 years, eight more than any other school, and led all schools Thursday night with four first-rounders. Alabama has now gone 10 consecutive drafts with at least one player being taken in the first round.

Naturally, SEC foe Georgia, which lost to Alabama in last season's College Football Playoff National Championship, was second behind the Crimson Tide with three first-round selections.

As for the conferences (still) chasing the SEC, the ACC was second with six picks, including much-talked-about Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. The former Heisman Trophy winner was taken by Baltimore with the final pick in the first round.

Here are the ACC's first-round picks:

5. Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State -- Denver Broncos

16. Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech -- Buffalo Bills

17. Derwin James, S, Florida State --Los Angeles Chargers

18. Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville -- Green Bay Packers

28. Terrell Edmunds, S, Virginia Tech -- Pittsburgh Steelers

32. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville -- Baltimore Ravens

Here's how the rest of the first round played out by conference:

  • Big Ten -- 4

  • Pac-12 -- 4

  • Mountain West -- 3

  • Independent -- 2

  • American -- 1

  • Big 12 -- 1

  • Conference USA -- 1

Biggest disappointment: Big 12

The Big 12 entered the night with only 11 first-round picks over the previous five drafts, the fewest of the Power 5 conferences and only two more than the American Athletic Conference has in that span.

Well, things certainly started with a bang when Oklahoma quarterback -- and reigning Heisman winner -- Baker Mayfield was selected first overall by the Cleveland Browns. He became the ninth Big 12 quarterback taken in the first round, and the seventh taken in the top 10 overall, but that was it for the Big 12 on the night.

Not many mock drafts saw much going for the Big 12 on Thursday, but it had to hurt the conference's pride some to see that the Mountain West and Notre Dame both had more total picks.

This will do little to quiet the Big 12 haters.

Biggest winners: Group of 5

Sure, the SEC dominated the draft, but that's to be expected (sorry). The Group of 5 made a bit of statement with five players drafted, more than both the Big Ten and Pac-12 (four each).

We all expected to see UTSA defensive end Marcus Davenport selected (the New Orleans Saints traded up to No. 14 to snag him), but the Group of 5 got a major victory when San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny went to the Seattle Seahawks with the 27th pick. Penny led the nation with 2,248 rushing yards and was second with 23 touchdowns in 2017, but he was projected as a second-round pick at best.