By Shane from Centerpoint
After watching National Football League draft experts make Southeastern Conference players their choice in eight of the first twenty-five picks, I remain convinced that no other college football conference compares to the SEC in its ability to consistently produce NFL-prototype athletes.
Georgia Bulldog quarterback Matthew Stafford was the first player taken in the 2009 draft, not only because of his 6â€™3â€ 230 lbs. size and â€œcannonâ€ arm, but also because he has three solid years experience playing against the best defensive minds in football. The SEC is the ultimate proving ground for young signal-callers and Stafford is one of the best to come out of the conference in years.
LSUâ€™s Tyson Jackson, a 6â€™5â€ 290 lbs. defensive end, getting picked third overall should come as no surprise to those who understand the importance of a great pass-rushing specialist who also has the size and strength to play the run. Jackson comes from a long line of superior defenders at LSU and played a major role in the Tigersâ€™ 2007 National Championship run.
The sixth pick, Alabamaâ€™s Andre Smith â€“ in spite of the perceived difficulties he had in the pre-draft â€“ is the best player in the SEC. He is a very quick, agile â€œgiantâ€ who has unlimited potential. Smith could quickly dominate at the next level. Andreâ€™s run-blocking is devastating â€“ he is a â€œbull dozerâ€ â€“ and he provides the finest pass-protection on a quarterbackâ€™s blind side in the business.
The twelfth selection, Georgia running-back Knowshon Moreno, has unlimited potential. His energy level and ability to run through tackles using acrobatic leaps are uncanny. He has the size and speed to fit in with any NFL scheme and is durable as well. Moreno is a threat to go all the way every time he touches the ball. He leads by example and really enjoys playing the game.
The eighteenth pick, Tennesseeâ€™s Robert Ayers, is a superior defensive down-lineman who is the total package. He is a very good run-stopper and excellent pass-rusher too. His position could change when he gets to the NFL, mainly because his quickness may allow him to give the linebacker position a try.
The twenty-second choice, Floridaâ€™s Percy Harvin, blew a chance to go much higher in the draft because he chose to smoke pot and got nailed by the NFL drug screen. Percy is perhaps the best offensive player available in this yearâ€™s draft. He has blazing speed, great hands, and is a very powerful runner. He can play any offensive skill position and return punts and kick-offs as well. Percy is a â€œlethal weaponâ€.
Mississippiâ€™s Michael Oher, taken twenty-third pick, is another super left tackle who dominated his opponents in every aspect. Oher, like Alabamaâ€™s Smith, was born to play left tackle and will contribute very quickly to his new team. Oher and Smith are two of the finest offensive linemen to come out of the SEC in the same year â€“ ever.
The final SEC athlete picked in the top twenty-five of this yearâ€™s draft is another Ole Miss player named Peria Jerry. A defensive monster, whose quickness off the ball rivals that of former LSU great Glen Dorsey, Jerry has the ability to disrupt the run or create nightmares for an opposing quarterback who is looking to pass.
Having eight of the first twenty-five players chosen in this yearâ€™s draft is self-explanatory, and leaves no doubt which conference dominates when identifying the college systems that supply the NFL with top-level talent. The SEC is definitely at the top of the supply chain.
â€”Shane writes a weekly column for the Capstone Report.