Winning teams in the NFL have one thing in common. They draft wisely.
The Southeastern Conference (SEC) set the NFL record for the most players drafted in the first round with 15 selections.
The previous record for the most players drafted in the first round by conference came in 2006. A record set by the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) with 12 players. The SEC tied the record twice, once in 2013 and again in 2017.
The SEC not only had the most picks but also boasted in the first overall pick with LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. In fact, the SEC was so loaded that two of the top three players came from the conference. The New York Giants selected Georgia tackle, Andrew Thomas, with the third pick.
With the 5th overall pick, the Miami Dolphins wasted no time getting in on the action, selecting Tua Tagovailoa.
When it was all said and done, seven of the first ten players selected were from the SEC. In hindsight, this should not have been a surprise. Pre-draft projections listed top players of positions quarterback, tackle, running back and wide receiver to all be from the SEC.
What does this mean for Miami moving forward?
To delve into this question, we must first look at the recent history of successful NFL teams and their ties to SEC players. In 2019, the SEC led the league in players on active rosters by a landslide. 339 players came from the conference, most notably 56 from Alabama. The Big 10 ranked second with 253 players.
In “What Should Be Miami’s Draft Strategy,”, I noted how Miami had only selected five SEC players in the previous five drafts. Meanwhile, the New England Patriots drafted five in the last two drafts alone. Well, Miami stepped it up a notch in what may prove to be one of the best draft classes in the team’s history.
The Dolphins came into the draft with league-high 14 picks. Before the end of the first round, the Dolphins raised that number to 15. The Fins ultimately used 11 of their draft selections, six of which came from the SEC.
Many in the media began the narrative that Miami was “tanking” in 2019. If you bought into that narrative or not, the so-called tanking is over now. Consider the Dolphins.. rebuilt!
It’s about time, Miami!
To put it in perspective, some of the top teams in the 2019 playoffs had the most players from SEC schools. Seattle, Philadelphia, New England, Baltimore, and Buffalo all rank in the top half of the league with SEC players. The Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs had a whopping 24 SEC players on their roster. There seems to be a winning pattern and Miami has started to follow.
There are obviously many talented players from various NCAA conferences, but polished NFL ready talent seems to constantly pour out of SEC programs. Since 2000, the SEC has crowned 13 of the last 20 National Championships. A staggering number considering teams have to be nearly perfect to reach the College Football Playoffs.
Miami not only addressed every team need in the 2020 draft, but they also added primed and ready for battle SEC talent.
Excitement is in the air along with the early spring breeze in South Beach. The winds of change are being felt by everyone including executives, players, and fans. There have always been millions of boats in Miami but make room, there are large Ships heading down south now.