College football: With 53 NFL draft picks, SEC leads nation for 11th straight year
It started with Texas A&M's Myles Garrett going No. 1 overall and ended with Mississippi's Chad Kelly going last as "Mr. Irrelevant."
For the 11th straight year, the SEC led all conferences in number of NFL Draft picks.
The league had 23 players taken during the final four rounds Saturday to increase its three-day total to 53, 11 more than the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The ACC closed with a flurry, with 31 of its 42 drafted players taken on the last day.
The Pac-12 edged out the Big Ten 36-35 in picks.
The Big 12 had only 14 players drafted, the fewest since the conference formed from the merger of the Southwest Conference and Big Eight in 1996. The Big 12 had 26 picks last year, and the previous low was 17 in 2014.
While Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and his current team wrapped up their trip to Italy, the Wolverines set a school record with 11 players drafted. Nine came in the first four rounds, another program record.
Miami (Fla.) led the ACC's charge on Saturday, when six of its eight players went. National champion Clemson finished with six draftees.
Utah, which had four offensive linemen drafted, led the Pac-12 with eight picks.
Ohio State, which led the nation with 12 players taken in 2016, had seven go this year.
The 53 SEC picks were the third-most in conference history, behind only the 63 in 2013 and 54 in 2015.
"I think about the process when it comes to getting guys from high school, developing them and then putting them into the NFL," SEC Network analyst Marcus Spears said. "That's something [recruiters] tell a lot of these guys when they go into their homes: 'You come, you take care of school, do the right thing and develop as a player and you'll have an opportunity to play on the next level.'"
Alabama led the SEC with 10 selections, including four first-round picks. Florida and LSU each had eight players taken.
Eddie Jackson is the 10th Alabama player selected in this draft, the school's most in the Common Draft Era. pic.twitter.com/I14BmS4SiW— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 29, 2017
"It's not a coincidence that these teams have been revered as the top programs when you talk about winning," Spears said. "The type of players they put on the field, it goes directly to the success."
Blue-blood programs Nebraska, Texas and Penn State each had only one player taken.
The Cornhuskers had not had fewer than two players drafted in a year since 1963, the longest streak in the nation.
For Texas, it was the second straight year only one player was picked. Big Ten champion Penn State had its leanest draft since having no players taken in 2005.