SEC Extra Points: NFL Draft Will Again Prove SEC's Power

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterApril 28, 2016

Former Alabama RB Derrick Henry
Former Alabama RB Derrick HenryJoe Robbins/Getty Images

The dreams of many will come true this weekend, when football players from around the country will receive phone calls from professional football organizations and offers to play the sport they love for a living.

Many of them have been starring in the SEC for years.

The first round of the NFL draft will be littered with former stars from the nation's deepest football conference, including former Ole Miss stars Laquon Treadwell, Robert Nkemdiche, Laremy Tunsil; Alabama's Ryan Kelly and Reggie Ragland; Florida's Vernon Hargreaves III; and Georgia's Leonard Floyd—all of whom are listed in Bleacher Report senior NFL draft writer Matt Miller's first-round mock draft. 

What's more interesting—and more telling of the SEC's power—is the number of stars who likely won't hear their names called on Thursday night.

All former Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry did during his junior year in 2015 was set the conference's single-season rushing record with 2,219 yards and become the third running back since 2000 to win the Heisman Trophy. Yeah, he is a one-direction running back who doesn't really create behind the line.

Guess what? He doesn't have to. At 6'3" and 242 pounds with speed, Henry will be a problem at the NFL level just as he was in college.

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He isn't the only former star who will have to wait.

Former Florida defensive tackle Jonathan Bullard and safety Keanu Neal are battle-tested, bona fide studs who, while not "first-round material" have the talent to make Pro Bowls—yes, plural. Former LSU standout Jalen Mills played cornerback and safety during his college career, and that versatility will come in handy wherever he lands. Former Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry is a matchup nightmare who has the size and hands to be one of the next great tight ends at the NFL level.

These are just a few of the stars who will hear their names called over the weekend. As John Hayes, producer of the Paul Finebaum Show on SEC Network noted on Twitter, there are former SEC standouts at or near the top of virtually every position.

Prepare for that "S-E-C" chant, because you're going to hear it all weekend.

Bret Being Bret

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema
Arkansas head coach Bret BielemaWesley Hitt/Getty Images

When Bret Bielema was hired by Arkansas, he immediately made waves on the "rubber chicken circuit" while speaking to booster clubs.

"The reason the SEC is talked about all the time is one team, because of their dominance," he said in April of 2013. "But I didn't come here to play Alabama. I came here to beat Alabama. You can take [Nick] Saban's record when he was at Michigan State and when he was a coach in the Big Ten and put it against mine, and he can't compare."

That caused a mini-uproar to the point where he took to Twitter to quell the firestorm.

Compare that to what he said on Tuesday night, according to Tom Murphy of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

"I know this: Before we win an SEC title, we've got to beat [Alabama]," he said. "It's on my daily agenda."

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema
Arkansas head coach Bret BielemaJoe Robbins/Getty Images

How different is the recent quote, really?

Not much. Yes, Bielema has toned it down a bit, but fans of other SEC teams seem to have accepted Bielema for who he is—a quote machine who isn't afraid to tell it like it is and be honest, even if some quotes can be categorized as "shots."

Later in the booster club meeting, Bielema commented on Arkansas' 31-14 win over LSU in November.

"To be at LSU's stadium in the third quarter and see it mostly empty was a hell of a lot of fun," he said.

Four years ago, that would have been front-page news. Today, that's just Bielema "being honest."

In a conference that lost the always fun Steve Spurrier last October, Bielema is in line to take his place. Quotes like this will do the trick.

On The Mend

Auburn DB Carlton Davis
Auburn DB Carlton DavisBob Levey/Getty Images

Lost in the jokes pertaining to Auburn's defense last year was that then-freshman defensive back Carlton Davis became a star.

The 6'1", 190-pounder from Miami earned SEC All-Freshman accolades when he picked off three passes, broke up eight and notched 56 tackles for a defense that needed a lockdown corner to step up.

Davis missed the spring game with a finger injury that, according to defensive coordinator Kevin Steele (via Brandon Marcello of SEC Country), won't require surgery. 

"His skill set is high-level, and he improved daily," Steele said according to Marcello. "He probably, if it had been a game, could have played, but it was not something…[there was] no sense on doing surgery on a finger just because of a spring game."

That's important news, because Davis is being counted on to be one of the leaders of a defensive backfield that also includes veteran safeties "Rudy" Ford and Tray Matthews. On top of them, the Tigers defensive backfield also includes seniors Josh Holsey and T.J. Davis—both of whom have played plenty of football over the years. 

Don't sleep on this Tiger defense. 

The front is loaded with stars including Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams, and the back end is littered with talented veterans. That's a recipe for success for new coordinator Kevin Steele.

Next-Level Trash Talk

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones (left) and Florida head coach Jim McElwain (right)
Tennessee head coach Butch Jones (left) and Florida head coach Jim McElwain (right)John Raoux/Associated Press

We touched on the ongoing back-and-forth between Florida and Tennessee players last week in Extra Points, which has included Twitter jabs between stars such as Gator defensive back Jalen Tabor and Vol running back Jalen Hurd.

Junior college transfer defensive end Jonathan Kongbo is the latest to jump in.

Kongbo, who has not arrived on Tennessee's campus yet, fired back at Tabor in an interview with Stephen Kasper of RockyTopInsider.com.

"Well I mean, I just kind of laughed at it because I know we’re going to beat Florida," Kongbo said. "I know we’re going to beat Alabama. We’re going to beat all those teams. So I’ll say right now, we’re going to beat every team we play next year."

Well hello, Mr. Kongbo.

While Tabor, Hurd and many of the other players who have taken to Twitter to talk a little trash know what it's like to be in the SEC and how close the Florida-Tennessee rivalry has been over the last couple of years, Kongbo—who hails from Arizona Western College—doesn't.

The shot at Florida and Alabama will get fans fired up, for sure. But this is the kind of quote that will be featured prominently during game weeks in Gainesville and Tuscaloosa. The other stuff? That's nothing compared to this.

Saying Goodbye

Former Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott will likely be drafted this weekend, fulfilling his dream of a shot at the NFL as a quarterback.

Before that, though, the Mississippi State community said goodbye to the greatest Bulldog football player in program history.

According to the school, Prescott owns a whopping 38 school records including career records in total offense (11,897 yards), total touchdowns (114), quarterback rushing yards (2,521) and completion percentage (62.8 percent).

He doesn't fit the mold of an NFL quarterback, but if there's anybody capable of changing that mold, it's Prescott. 

After all, he has already changed the perception of Mississippi State football.

Quick Outs

  • Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has discovered bitmoji, which makes this the greatest week in Internet history. 
  • Tunsil's stepfather, Lindsey Miller, has filed suit against the former Rebel tackle for the incident last June that led to domestic violence charges for both parties, according to Daniel Paulling of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. 
  • Here's Georgia cornerback commit William Poole III dropping the mic on fellow Class of 2017 players who are upset about their recruiting ranking.

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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