Asked about the leap from the Southeastern Conference to the NFL, Trent Richardson said he didn’t expect it to be too much of a change.
He may have a point – most of the SEC seems to be coming with him.
Through the first three rounds of the NFL draft, 16 players from the SEC were taken, from Alabama running back Richardson (third overall to the Cleveland Browns) to Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette, who went 90th to New England.
Richardson excelled at Alabama, where he won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back. Being the class of the best league in college football was a selling point.
Fans of the league’s teams take pride in noting its accomplishments, among them winning the past six BCS titles.
The BCS championship game was an all-SEC affair this year, and that game between Alabama and LSU alone sent nine players to the NFL – so far. There’s four more rounds today.
Seven of the 12 SEC teams had players chosen in the first three rounds. Auburn, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida did not.
Alabama had five players picked. It’s no surprise, coming from a program with two national titles in the past three seasons, coached by Nick Saban, a former star assistant in the NFL before a stint in college and then a brief stay as head coach of the Miami Dolphins before coming to Alabama.
In addition to Richardson, defensive backs Mark Barron and Dre Kirkpatrick, and linebacker Dont’a Hightower went in the first round, and linebacker Courtney Upshaw followed quickly on Friday night.
“Coming from the program I come from, it’s kind of just the mindset that I have,” Barron said. “You want to be the best at everything we do. Every day we go out to practice (at Alabama), we’re just working at being the best. … I think that’ll make it an easy transition for me to come in and have a great impact.”
The Pacific-12 Conference was tied for second with the Big Ten with 14 players drafted in the first three rounds, despite the fact no one has been picked yet from Washington or Washington State.
A PUNTER, REALLY?
The Jaguars made one of the draft’s biggest surprises, selecting California punter Bryan Anger in the third round Friday.
He’s the highest punter drafted since 1995, when the Chicago Bears chose Todd Sauerbrun in the second round.
Anger averaged more than 44 yards a punt in 2011, and had at least one punt of 50 yards or more in 11 games.
But is he good enough to go in the third round? Over players who would get on the field more often? The Jaguars believe so, with general manager Gene Smith saying Anger “clearly will make an impact on our football team.”
The Jaguars compared Anger to Oakland’s Shane Lechler and NFL great Ray Guy, the best in the league today and arguably the NFL’s best all time.
There were 10 trades in the second and third rounds, after teams swapped eight times in the first round the night before … Through three rounds, no player from Texas, Florida or Florida State was chosen. But SMU, Midwestern State, Montana, Utah State and the University of Regina, in Canada, all were represented.