Pac-12 Football

The Pac-10, Not the SEC, Is the Best Place for NFL Talent

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 13:  Tony Gonzalez #88 of the New Orleans Saints against Will Smith #91 of the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on December 13, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Steven ResnickSenior Writer IJanuary 14, 2010

After reading articles complaining about Lane Kiffin leaving Tennessee for the University of Southern California, I decided that it was time to compare the two conferences in terms of the talent currently in the NFL.

According to, there are a total of 177 players in the NFL from the Pac-10. For the SEC there's a total of 254 players. On one hand it looks nice that the SEC has 77 more players in the NFL then the Pac-10 does.

The question is, does having more players in the NFL mean that they are producing more on the field? Well here's a look:


Starting Quarterbacks

Peyton Manning, Tennessee

Eli Manning, Mississippi

Jay Cutler, Vanderbilt

Jason Campbell, Auburn

Matthew Stafford, Georgia

JaMarcus Russell, LSU

Aaron Rodgers, California

Carson Palmer, USC

Matt Cassell, USC

Mark Sanchez, USC

There are six quarterbacks that were starters from the SEC that played in at least 10 games and the Pac-10 had four quarterbacks that started at least 10 games.

Only one out of the six teams that employed an SEC quarterback got to the playoffs this year while three of the four quarterbacks from the Pac-10 made it to the playoffs.

Advantage: Pac-10


Starting Running Backs: At least 800 yards rushing.

Knowshon Moreno, Georgia

Joseph Addai, LSU

Carnell Williams, Auburn

Steven Jackson, Oregon State

Maurice Jones-Drew, UCLA

Jonathon Stewart, Oregon  

Jerome Harrison, Washington State

There were three running backs for the SEC that rushed for over 800 yards and there were four Pac-10 players who rushed for over 800 yards. No SEC player rushed for over 1,000 yards, yet three Pac-10 players Jones-Drew, Jackson, and Stewart rushed for over 1,000 yards.

Advantage: Pac-10


Starting Wide Receivers: At least 75 catches or 1,000 yards

Sidney Rice, South Carolina

Hines Ward, Georgia

Steve Smith, USC

Desean Jackson, California

Chad Ocho Cinco, Oregon State

T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Oregon State

Again, the Pac-10 has more players contributing for their teams. This time it's four to two.

Advantage: Pac-10


Tight Ends : Minimum 50 catches

Jason Witten, Tennessee

Tony Gonzalez, California

Zach Miller, Arizona State

Todd Heap, Arizona State

Pac-10 holds the advantage with three players cracking at least 50 receptions on the season compared to only one for the SEC.  

Advantage: Pac-10


Defensive Line: Minimum Seven Sacks

Antwan Odom, Alabama

Andre Carter, California

Tully Banta-Cain, California

Clay Matthews, USC

Advantage: Pac-10


Linebackers: Minimum 100 tackles

Patrick Willis, Mississippi

DeMeco Ryans, Alabama

Bradie James, LSU

Karlos Dansby, Auburn

Jerod Mayo, Tennessee

Mike Peterson, Florida

Brian Cushing, USC

Lance Briggs, Arizona

Nick Barnett, Oregon State

Really no contest here the SEC has plenty of linebackers making tackles. Six SEC players to three from the Pac-10.

Advantage: SEC

Cornerbacks: Minimum five interceptions

Jairus Byrd, Oregon

Terrell Thomas, USC

Sheldon Brown, South Carolina

Jonathon Joseph, South Carolina

Andre' Goodman, South Carolina

The SEC squeaks by with three players with at least five interceptions.

Advantage: SEC



Roman Haper, Alabama

Gibril Wilson, Tennessee

Eric Coleman, Washington State

Dashon Goldson, Washington

A tie again, but the Pac-10 safeties made more plays in terms of interceptions and sacks.

Advantage: Pac-10


Looking at the rankings of the Pac-10 players compared to the SEC players, it becomes clear that the Pac-10 is the conference that creates the NFL talent on both sides of the ball.

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