The 2019 NFL draft has come and gone, and once again the SEC was the winner. The SEC has produced the most draft picks by any conference for each year since 2007, but 2019 was extraordinarily successful.

In raw numbers, the Big Ten came in second with 40 selections, followed by the Pac-12’s 33, the ACC’s 28 and the Big 12’s 26.

However, it’s worthwhile to judge each league on a per capita basis, given that the Power 5 populations vary by 40 percent from largest to smallest.

1. SEC – 4.57
2. Big Ten – 2.86
3. Pac-12 – 2.75
4. Big 12 – 2.60
5. ACC – 2.00

Now let’s take previous years’ figures and see what we find, shall we?

NFL Draft picks per capita since…

Since 2018
1. SEC – 4.17
2. Pac-12 – 2.63
3(t). ACC – 2.61
3(t). Big Ten – 2.61
5. Big 12 – 2.30

Since 2017
1. SEC – 4.05
2. ACC – 2.76
3. Pac-12 – 2.75
4. Big Ten – 2.57
5. Big 12 – 2.00

Since 2016
1. SEC – 3.95
2. Pac-12 – 2.73
3. Big Ten – 2.67
4. ACC – 2.54
5. Big 12 – 2.15

The four-year trend lines show the SEC, while¬†quite so far ahead as it finished in 2019, is still clearly the favorite conference for NFL talent evaluators. The Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC are generally neck and neck, while the Big 12 — thanks in large part to a dreadful 14 selections in 2017 — is a clear fifth.

Now let’s wind the clock back and examine the entire decade, remembering to account for the fluctuating membership of the Power 5 conferences thanks to realignment. (Remember the Big East? They had 21 players taken in 2011.)

NFL Draft picks per capita, 2010-19
1. SEC – 3.85
2. Big Ten – 2.93
3. Pac-12 – 2.70
4. ACC – 2.67
5. Big 12 – 2.31

Pull the microscope back a bit further and the same trend holds — the NFL loves the SEC, the Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC are bunched together, while the Big 12 is a clear fifth.

The NFL is falling more in love with the SEC as time passes, though. In 2011, the SEC barely edged out the ACC for top honors, 38-35. Compare that to 2019’s 64-40 slaughter over the second-place Big Ten.

Finally, the entire point of this exercise is to avoid falling in love with raw numbers in favor of context, but I’d be remiss to avoid laying them all out. Over the decade of NFL drafts that completed this past weekend, 516 players wearing SEC patches heard their names called, followed by the ACC’s 358, the Big Ten’s 343, the Pac-12’s 319 and, lastly, the Big 12’s 236.

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National columnist - Zach joined the staff in 2012...and has been attempting to improve Doug and Scott's writing ability ever since (to little avail). Outside of football season, you can find him watching the San Antonio Spurs reading Game of Thrones fan theories.