The NFL Network culminated its 7th edition of the Top 100 players on Monday, and to no surprise, the SEC was well represented.
A total of 21 players from the SEC made the list, the most of any conference and the highest total the SEC has had on this particular list since it began back in 2011.
PLAYERS FROM THE SEC
No. 3 – Atlanta WR Julio Jones (Alabama)
No. 8 – New York WR Odell Beckham Jr. (LSU)
No. 13 – Kansas City S Eric Berry (Tennessee)
No. 14 – Dallas QB Dak Prescott (Mississippi State)
No. 17 – Cincinnati WR A.J. Green (Georgia)
No. 19 – Arizona CB Patrick Peterson
No. 28 – New York S Landon Collins (Alabama)
No. 29 – Tampa Bay WR Mike Evans (Texas A&M)
No. 31 – Detroit QB Matthew Stafford (Georgia)
No. 38 – Philadelphia DL Fletcher Cox (Mississippi State)
No. 42 – Miami WR Jarvis Landry (LSU)
No. 44 – Carolina QB Cam Newton (Auburn)
No. 49 – Houston DL Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina)
No. 53 – Oakland WR Amari Cooper (Alabama)
No. 64 – Los Angeles CB Casey Hayward (Vanderbilt)
No. 65 – Washington TE Jordan Reed (Florida)
No. 68 – Cincinnati DT Geno Atkins (Georgia)
No. 76 – Kansas City LB Justin Houston (Georgia)
No. 77 – Green Bay CB Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Alabama)
No. 89 – Carolina LB Thomas Davis (Georgia)
No. 94 – New England LB Dont’a Hightower (Alabama)
It comes at no surprise that Julio Jones is the highest ranked player from the conference on this list. He’s a physical freak of nature and easily the most dynamic wide receiver in football, capable of turning every pass into a monster play.
Dak Prescott, fresh off the greatest rookie season for any quarterback ever, ranked as the highest SEC quarterback. The fourth-round pick topped Detroit’s Matthew Stafford (a former No. 1 overall pick out of Georgia) and Carolina’s Cam Newton (a former No. 1 overall pick out of Auburn and the 2015 MVP).
But the position that really shined the most was the wide receiver spot, with six total making the final cut.
When dissecting this list from top-to-bottom, the inclusion of 21 SEC players provides us with information we already knew. The SEC is the top talent export, but the NFL still remains immune to college success.
No conference has experienced more success over the past 15 years than the SEC when it comes to championships, awards, and draft picks. Given their domination on the recruiting trails, the SEC simply has an inherent advantage over other conferences.
But that advantage still hasn’t resulted in players from the SEC taking over the league. Although no conference was represented more on this list, the minimal gap in professional talent between conferences is exactly why the NFL is adored by so many. Any player, regardless of draft status or their college selection, can find success. Just ask Tom Brady, who topped this list despite being a sixth-round draft pick. Antonio Brown and Khalil Mack round out the top 5 despite attending Central Michigan and Buffalo, respectively. A player who went to William Penn made the list.
This isn’t the NBA where very few players selected outside of the top 10 make a splash. Players drafted from rounds one through six made this list, further proving that the level of competition in the NFL remains the highest than any other professional league.
Although this list always ends up stirring controversy (seriously, how is Aaron Rodgers that low?), it’s also exactly why the NFL dominates the ratings. The league has mastered the art of creating headlines even when actual football isn’t being played. Their keen sense of adding manufactured narratives to further hype up the upcoming season is second to none, and it’s exactly why the NFL Top 100 Players is such a potent tool for them.