Messing with Texas
By now, you’ve probably heard that no player from the University of Texas was drafted. Jackson Jeffcoat was the Big 12 co-Defensive Player of the Year, but that honor wasn’t enough to enable him to hear his named called on any of the three draft days.1 The draft was first instituted in 1936, and not since 1937 had an NFL draft has been Longhorn-free. From 2000 to 2013, players selected from the University of Texas were, in the aggregate, responsible for about 37 points of value per season using the values from my pick value chart. That’s the 10th most of any school during that period, behind only Miami (FL) (51), Southern Cal (49), Florida State (42), LSU (39), Ohio State (39), Georgia (39), Alabama (38), and Florida (38). But UT wasn’t the only school that had a rough weekend:
- Illinois, which ranked 37th in draft value from 2000 to 2013 (14 points), was the next highest-ranked school after Texas to get shut out of the 2014 draft. Hawaii (53rd), Rutgers (59th), and Cincinnati (66th) were other top-70 programs from ’00 to ’13 that did not have a player selected this year. A couple of other schools from power conferences — Northwestern and Kansas — were also left out in the cold.
- For Texas and Illinois, injury was added to insult. No only were no Longhorns drafted, but three Aggies — Jake Matthews, Mike Evans, and Johnny Manziel – went in the first round, while TCU had a first round pick (Jason Verrett), Texas Tech had a second round pick (Jace Amaro) and Baylor had five players drafted. No Illini went in the draft, but Northern Illinois had two players (including 1st round safety Jimmie Ward), Eastern Illinois had a second round pick (Jimmy Garoppolo) and even Illinois State had a player selected (Shelby Harris in the 7th round).
- It was also a rough draft for a few other schools. Miami normally dominates the draft, but only three Hurricanes were selected: two offensive lineman and a punter. Brandon Linder was drafted 93rd overall to Jacksonville, followed by Pat O’Donnell to Chicago at 191 and Seantrel Henderson to the Bills at 237.
- The Georgia Bulldogs had just two players drafted, both in the fifth round: quarterback Aaron Murray and tight end Arthur Lynch.
- Sooners fans probably want to gloat over Texas, but this was a pretty ugly year for Oklahoma, too. The school’s highest-drafted player was Jalen Saunders at 104. That marks the first time since 1997 that no Sooner was drafted in the top 100 picks.
Small Schools Making Draft History
There were four players who came from schools that haven’t had a single player drafted in the last 20 years.
- With the 91st overall pick, the Cardinals selected wide receiver John Brown from Pittsburgh State. To be fair, in 2003, the Eagles drafted Miami (FL) defensive linemen Jerome McDougle, who began his college career at Pittsburgh State, but not since Ronald Moore and Troy Wilson in 1993 had the school in Pittsburgh, Kansas, placed anyone in the NFL draft.
- With the 127th pick the Browns took Pierre Desir – if you haven’t heard of Desir, go read Jeff Pearlman’s draft profile of the Lindenwood product immediately. Desir is instantly going to become a fan favorite, and he will become just the third player from the NAIA school to make it to the NFL (joining ex-Indianapolis running back De De Dorsey and former Browns and Cowboys lineman Brian Schaefering, neither of whom were drafted). Lindenwood wasn’t even a good NAIA school last year, which makes Desir’s ability to stand out even more amazing.
- At pick 198, New England took defensive end Zach Moore out of Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He’s not only the first player ever drafted from the school, but no player from the Division 2 program has ever made it to the NFL. Last year, Concordia only ranked as the 26th best football team in Division 2 through 13 weeks (by reference, Pittsburgh State ranked 8th).
- Finally, Terrence Fede out of Marist was drafted by the Dolphins with the 234th pick. Fede, like Desir and Moore, made history by becoming the first player ever drafted out of his school. Marist, located in New York state, plays in the Pioneer Football League, but ranked as just the 70th best FCS school last year.
The Crimson Tide Reign is Over
For three straight years, more draft capital was spent on Alabama players than those from any other school. The reign is over, as Alabama tumbled all the way down to … fourth place. Texas A&M led the way: while only three Aggies were selected, they were drafted high enough to make College Station the most valuable town for the 2014 draft with 60.3 points of value. Next up was LSU (57.0), which also led the way with 9 players drafted (but only one in the top 50). In third place was Notre Dame (54.7 points, 8 players drafted, three in the top 75), followed by Alabama (54.3, 8 players), Florida State (54.2, 7 players), Auburn (52.4, 4), Louisville (49.9, 4), and Ohio State (49.8, 6).
Texas A&M, Louisville, and Notre Dame had excellent drafts especially by their standards: none of the three ranked in the top 20 from ’00 to ’13 in draft value provided (the Fighting Irish were 21st, the Aggies were 24th, and the Cardinals were down at #50). Other schools that had comparably big years: UCLA, Auburn, Buffalo, Central Florida, South Carolina, and Clemson. Okay, in the case of UCF it was just because of Blake Bortles (running back Storm Johnson, at pick 222, was the only other Knight drafted) and for Buffalo it was Khalil Mack and done. But still, neither program had ever had a player drafted in the top ten before, so a top-five pick is a pretty remarkable accomplishment.
- as Bill Barnwell points out, Jeffcoat’s tumble provided a good counter to those arguing that Michael Sam was going to go undrafted despite being the SEC co-Defensive Player of the Year solely because he was openly gay. As it turns out, being co-DPOY isn’t worth as much as you might think. Jeffcoat landed with the Seahawks, though, so he and Sam will both get a chance to prove their mettle in the NFL’s toughest division. [↩]