SEC Could Break Longstanding NFL Draft QB Record, Which Will Certainly Agitate ‘Bias’ Crowd | Trey Wallace

Videos by OutKick

It’s not SEC bias, let’s get that mindset out of the picture. It’s not Bryce Young, Will Levis, Anthony Richardson or Hendon Hooker’s fault they’re getting so much love for the NFL Draft. You can blame that on the teams picking in the first round.

I don’t know how many people in the NFL thought before the 2022 season began that the SEC would potentially have the most quarterbacks from one conference taken in the first round. But, this is where we stand heading into Thursday night in Kansas City.

No other conference in college football has had more than two first-round quarterbacks in one year, according to one report. The SEC has done it three times, in 1948, 1952 and 2020, led by Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa. It should be noted that the Big 12 technically did have three QB’s taken, if you count Texas A&M in 2012. Ryan Tannehill, Robert Griffin III and Brandon Weeden all went in the first round.

The Big Ten has only produced three first-round QB’s taken since the 1995 draft. I know, shocking.

The SEC could break an NFL draft record on Thursday night, with the potential of having three or possibly four QBs taken in round 1. Bryce Young (Alabama), Will Levis (Kentucky) and Anthony Richardson (Florida) feel like locks. Hendon Hooker (Tennessee) could also hear his name on Thursday too.

Will every single one of these guys turn out to be Pro Bowl quarterbacks? History says no. So as we prepare for a night that centers around the SEC and coaches being able to puff out their chest, just be ready for a lot of chatter about the conference.

Bryce Young
Alabama QB Bryce Young could go first overall in the NFL Draft. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The biggest problem that comes to mind for some NFL teams is the risk they’re about to take with a few. Sure, these general managers and scouts have been dissecting film, while talking themselves into taking the guy that could lead their organization into the future.

Bryce Young seems to have the No. 1 selection in the bag, but there are those last-minute rumors that could cause chaos.

Besides Bryce Young, Who’s The Sure Thing For The NFL?

This is the question that is currently driving NFL GMs crazy, as they watch every single piece of footage they can find on their supposed guy. Does Will Levis jump off the page with his arm talent? Absolutely, but that doesn’t mean you take him within the first five picks and make him the face of your team.

I’ve watched Levis play for two years straight, with two different offensive coordinators. He didn’t look like a first pick when Kentucky won at Florida in early 2022 or during the losses in the back half of a dreadful season for Mark Stoops. But, he’s got the size and arm strength, which I guess accounts more than being able to successfully lead a team for a full season.

Kentucky quarterback Will Levis sees Josh Allen as his NFL comparison. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Will Levis won 17 games as Kentucky’s starting QB in his two seasons in Lexington. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

We have all seen the tape on Anthony Richardson, with his dynamic plays against Utah to open the 2022 season. But besides an athletic run against LSU, it felt as if something was missing. Maybe it was his time at Florida, having two different coaches during his short tenure. We saw flashes under Dan Mullen, then NFL scouts saw a first-round pick under Billy Napier.

The real shame is that we didn’t get to see Richardson for one more season in Gainesville, but the NFL came calling.

‘He’s an athletic freak, who can sling the football. Richardson might need some work on reading a complex defense under pressure, but he has the tools,” one NFL assistant told me.

Anthony Richardson
Anthony Richardson #15 of the Florida Gators looks to pass in the first quarter against the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field on November 05, 2022 in College Station, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Is Hendon Hooker Going To Be The First-Round Surprise?

That same NFL assistant brought up another quarterback that caught his attention, not named Bryce Young.

“Don’t sleep on Hendon (Hooker),” the NFL assistant brought up. “He’s getting a lot of well-deserved love right now and the reason you’re seeing him rise up some boards is because teams are talking. Hooker has the ability to read a defense, which obviously he showed at Tennessee. It’s not all smoke and mirrors in the Heupel offense, that man prepared Hendon for the next level.”

Could the biggest win come late in the first round, or early second? There’s certainly a possibility that Hendon Hooker makes a splash in the opening round. Teams are looking for a leader, along with all the quarterback intangibles. After seeing Hooker play the past two seasons for Tennessee, it’s obvious the young man can lead an offense, or an entire team.

“Go watch that final 15 seconds against Alabama, that one piece of footage has shown NFL GMs they can trust this guy,” another NFL assistant mentioned about Hendon Hooker.

I think it’s obvious to say that if Tennessee did not have Hendon Hooker the past two seasons, that team would not be in this position of extensive success in coach Josh Heupel’s third season. Besides CJ Stroud, who will go very early, Hendon Hooker might be the most sure thing in the NFL draft.

Please don’t misconstrue my words. I am talking about overall, a year or two of learning the system, then one team will truly benefit from taking Hooker.

But somebody has to be willing to take a chance on something that should be so obvious.

The SEC Will Take Center-Stage At NFL Draft, Again

In some years it might be the defense, which Will Anderson Jr., along with Jalen Carter, Nolan Smith, Emmanuel Forbes will take care of. But this draft could be remembered for all of the talent the SEC has sent off to the NFL at the quarterback position.

Nothing against the defense, but the SEC produces first round talent from that side of the ball every single year, which won’t change in 2023.

Will Anderson Jr. speaks during SEC Media Days
Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31) reacts following the conclusion of the SEC Championship. (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

If Stetson Bennett is drafted, which there’s a chance he could be, that would send the overall number of quarterbacks drafted to five. Can you imagine SEC coaches on the recruiting trail selling that particular number to recruits? This doesn’t even include the number of players drafted on the first day from the defensive side.

Either way, Thursday night is setting up to be historical, at one position. Heading into the 2022 season, I’d have called you crazy if that number had been thrown out. But this is the reality we’re currently sitting in, with teams about to make some massive decisions regarding their future.

It’s not the SEC’s fault that they could set an NFL record tomorrow night and grab all the attention away from the Draft. They’ve just doing what the always do, which is produce NFL talent, but this time it’s pretty rich at the quarterback spot.

That damn Greg Sankey, just taking over college football again.

Written by Trey Wallace

Trey Wallace is the host of The Trey Wallace Podcast that focuses on a mixture of sports, culture, entertainment along with his perspective on everything from College Football to the College World Series.

Wallace has been covering college sports for 15 years, starting off while attending the University of South Alabama. He’s broken some of the biggest college stories including the Florida football “Credit Card Scandal” along with the firing of Jim McElwin and Kevin Sumlin. Wallace also broke one of the biggest stories in college football in 2020 around the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations against Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

Wallace also appears on radio across seven different states breaking down that latest news in college sports.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply