College football takeaways from the 2020 NFL draft

Smart reinforces importance of recruiting in SEC (1:07)

Kirby Smart explains how important a recruiting base has been in getting his Georgia Bulldog football program off to such a hot start. (1:07)

The first virtual NFL draft has come and gone. But no matter what the draft looks like, it provides countless college football storylines to break down.

You can read draft grades for all 32 NFL teams, but let's examine the most compelling draft notes from a college football perspective:

The SEC: It just means more draft picks

You might be tired of talking about the SEC, but it keeps giving all of us things to talk about. We know the SEC is always going to give the draft a high quantity of picks, but that quality is up there, too. The conference set a record with six players selected in the top 10.

The SEC love didn't stop there; the conference had 40 players picked in the first three rounds. It tied the all-time record for the most selections from a conference through the first four rounds, which the SEC previously set in 2013. The 40 players selected in the first three rounds was one short of the total for the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 in that same span.

It wasn't until Picks 132-141 when the draft finally had 10 consecutive picks without a player from the SEC. Of the 255 players selected, 63 were from the SEC, making it six consecutive years the conference had 50 or more players taken.

Ole Miss was the only SEC school without a selection this year after having six selections in 2019, its most ever in a seven-round draft. And in case you're curious (you are), the last time the SEC didn't have the most picks in a draft was in 2006, when the ACC had 51. Jay Cutler was the first SEC player taken off the board that year, at No. 11 overall by the Denver Broncos.

The real Tiger Kings

There's a good argument to be made that LSU's 2019 squad was the best college football team of all time, and the amount of players from that team who had their names called during the NFL draft certainly helps its case.

LSU tied Ohio State's 2004 NFL draft record of 14 players selected in seven rounds. The only team with more was the 1984 Texas Longhorns, who had 17 players drafted in 12 rounds. The Tigers' 14 picks tie the 1975 USC Trojans for the most in the common draft era by a reigning national champion. However, in that draft, there were 442 picks and 17 rounds. In the 2020 draft, there were 255 picks and seven rounds. That's efficiency.

We're going to talk about this LSU team for a long time because we'll remember how punishing the Tigers were on the field. But when we want to remember them in the simplest of terms, we can point to how many future professionals took the field for them. That legend will probably only grow as we see what NFL careers come from this group.

Alabama is still here

A season that ended in a Citrus Bowl appearance didn't stop Alabama from feeding the NFL plenty of talent. Nick Saban's team had nine players drafted, snapping its streak of having at least 10 players selected in each of the previous three drafts.

Tua Tagovailoa was its top pick, at No. 5 overall to the Miami Dolphins. His selection made Saban the first college head coach to have a first-round draft pick at every non-specialist position during the common draft era.

Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots stuck their hands in the Alabama cookie jar, selecting linebacker Anfernee Jennings. Jennings became the 10th player Belichick has drafted who played under Saban in college. That pick set the record for the most selections by one NFL coach of players who served under one college coach in the common draft era.

In conclusion: Even in a "down" year, the Crimson Tide are still really, really good.

You can nearly make a 22-man lineup from LSU's and Alabama's draft picks

The one position missing from a complete roster is a guard. Otherwise, the Tigers and Tide can put together a pretty mean roster. You can even have your choice of a top-five quarterback! And a long snapper!

Speaking of turning two really good teams into one superteam ...

The Raiders really enjoyed that Clemson-Alabama title game

The Las Vegas Raiders selected three Clemson players in the 2019 draft -- Clelin Ferrell, Hunter Renfrow and Trayvon Mullen -- following the Tigers' national championship. They also took Alabama's Josh Jacobs to help bolster their offensive arsenal. In 2020, the Raiders added three more players from that championship game in Henry Ruggs III, Tanner Muse and John Simpson. It's hard to hate on that strategy, because those were two great teams. Being good in college translates rather well into being good in the pros.

Transfer quarterbacks remain in style

Joe Burrow is the third straight transfer quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy and then be selected No. 1 overall in the NFL draft, following Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield. But those transfer quarterbacks aren't exclusive to the top pick (see: Jalen Hurts and Jacob Eason). Unless Justin Fields has a poor 2020 season -- that's assuming we have one -- he has a good chance of being the fourth consecutive quarterback to improve his situation in such a way that it turns into NFL spoils.

As easy as 1-2-3 in Columbus

The top three players selected in the draft -- Burrow, Chase Young and Jeff Okudah -- were all teammates at Ohio State during the 2017 season. While Burrow ended up having success elsewhere, Urban Meyer knew how to pick them. Though that shouldn't come as a shock to anybody who has watched college football the past two decades.

Lincoln Riley's quarterback factory

Oklahoma became the first school to have quarterbacks taken in the first two rounds three years in a row, when the Eagles took Hurts No. 53 overall. The two prior, of course, were the aforementioned Mayfield and Murray, who each went No. 1 overall in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

FIU outdoes FSU and more non-SEC observations

The Big Ten had 48 selections in 2020, the second most of any conference, while the Pac-12 had 32. The ACC had 27 players drafted, one of its least fruitful years in some time. Through the first three rounds, ACC schools produced eight picks, their fewest since 2003.

And while we understand how the 2019 season went for the Seminoles, it still feels weird to say the following: Florida State had just one player drafted, while Florida International had two.

For the ninth straight year, the Big 12 (10 schools, the fewest of any Power 5 conference) tied for or had outright the fewest draft picks from a Power 5 conference. After having 26 players selected in the 2019 draft -- including No. 1 overall pick Murray -- the conference posted 21 selections this year, one below their average since 2012, with three schools being left out of the draft entirely. More on those right now.

Social distancing, NFL draft edition

There were nine Power 5 schools that didn't have a player selected: Ole Miss, Arizona, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Illinois, Northwestern, Rutgers and Duke.

Some of the "basketball school" claims are going to be an easier sell than others.

Kingsbury's landing

Kliff Kingsbury was fired by Texas Tech in November 2018. He would be hired two months later by the Arizona Cardinals (after being hired by USC to be its offensive coordinator), which is a solid transition, all things considered. But that upgrade might not have been so obvious until the Cardinals showed us his draft setup at his home.

With all due respect to Lubbock, Texas, I don't think Kingsbury misses it too badly. That grass is so neat, you could eat off it.

Let's see the cool video LSU made

Besides the product the Tigers were putting on the field, LSU's video department was also producing high-quality work all year. Here's what it had in store for Burrow.

And last but not least ...

Texas A&M punting prodigy Braden Mann was drafted by the New York Jets with the 191st overall pick.

Congrats to the Jets for being able to flip the field at will for the next 15 years.

The most honorable of mentions

Congratulations to the Indianapolis Colts on making one of the most important undrafted free-agent signings in recent memory.