Why ACC Football Is an Underappreciated NFL Factory

Ben KerchevalCollege Football Lead WriterMay 12, 2014

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For the 100th* year in a row, the SEC was the king of the NFL draft. 

(*OK, slight exaggeration.)

The SEC had 49 players selected in this past weekend's draft, 11 of which went in the first round. Both numbers were the best among any conference in college football. Per Kevin McGuire over at College Football Talk, Alabama and LSU have been leading the way with the most players drafted over the past four years, with 30 and 29, respectively.

But not far behind Alabama and LSU is Florida State, which has had 25 players drafted over the past four years. That's thanks to head coach Jimbo Fisher returning the Seminoles to an elite level in college football. 

Most NFL Draft Picks 2011-14
Big Ten29412230122
Big 123026221795
The Kansas City Star

For that matter, the ACC, with Florida State's help, has been churning out a lot of NFL draftees over the past few years.

Before going any further, there's some fuzzy math that plays into NFL draft chest thumping that's worth noting. Thanks to conference realignment, conference sizes have increased, and in the Big 12's case, decreased. For example, Texas A&M had three first-round selections—Jake Matthews, Mike Evans and Johnny Manziel—who signed with the Aggies when they were still in the Big 12. 

Nevertheless, they'll count toward the SEC's total. Now, on to the ACC's numbers. 

The ACC finished second among all conferences in the '14 draft with 42 players selected. In fact, the ACC had more players selected through the first four rounds (28) of this year's draft than the SEC (26). 

Since 2005, the ACC has not finished worse than third in total number of draft picks among all conferences. In 2006, the ACC finished with the most draft selections (51), per Blair Kerkhoff of The Kansas City Star.

For the past two years, the ACC has finished with the second-highest number of first-round draft picks (11). 

Suffice to say, the ACC—or, at least, a portion of it—has become its own little NFL factory recently. Florida State, Miami, Clemson and North Carolina have been churning out talent worthy of getting drafted. Still, the conference hasn't quite garnered the recognition in the same way the SEC has. 

That comes with long-term sustainability. The SEC has had the most NFL draft picks for the past eight years. If you want to see the opposite perception, check out Adam Kramer's write-up on B/R about the Big Ten and its struggles producing high draft picks. 

The ACC has been lurking in the SEC's shadow for some time on draft night. As such, the conference has been a bit underrated when it comes being identified as an NFL draft factory. Still, the numbers suggest the ACC can produce NFL-caliber talent with just about any other conference in the country.


Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report.