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Cleveland Browns’ roster has 11 players from powerful SEC

Posted Jun 5, 2014

Besides star power, SEC’s real strength is its depth

The SEC.

It has a certain prestige to its name. Like Ferrari. Like Louis Vitton. Like Nike.

When you hear the SEC, it’s the standard. It’s what all college football conferences strive to be.

The Cleveland Browns, like all NFL teams, have player-personnel people who reside in that part of the country and they frequently visit SEC schools. It is not unusual for at least one club representative to stop at each of the 14 schools in the conference three times a season, or a minimum of 42 visits, to watch practices and games. And that doesn’t even include thousands of hours of watching film by multiple members of the scouting staff.

As any NFL scout will tell you, when you go to watch practice at Georgia, LSU, or Alabama, the players look the part. They’re big, they’re fast, they’re athletic … and they hit hard.

Never mind the star power, although there is plenty. The SEC’s real strength is the considerable depth that its members routinely have. In many cases, scouts will say backups would be starters in other programs. Virtually every player that makes a roster has the tangible and intangible qualities that NFL teams desire.

When the Browns were preparing to draft Joe Haden in 2010, they were blown away by the fact that he was able to start as a true freshman at the University of Florida. He was immediately on the Browns’ radar because of that. While Cleveland loved his ball skills in coverage, it was actually his toughness that won the organization over. Haden wasn’t a shoestring tackler. He was someone that wanted to level ball carriers.  

Haden’s the big name of the list. But currently, the Browns possess 11 SEC players on their roster.

Name

School

Position

Years Pro

Karlos Dansby

Auburn

Linebacker

11

Quentin Groves

Auburn

Linebacker

7

Ben Tate

Auburn

Running Back

5

Joe Haden

Florida

Cornerback

5

Chris Faulk

LSU

Offensive Guard

2

Barkevious Mingo

LSU

Linebacker

2

Spencer Lanning

South Carolina

Punter

2

Connor Shaw

South Carolina

Quarterback

R

Johnny Manziel

Texas A&M

Quarterback

R

Earl Bennett

Vanderbilt

Wide Receiver

7

Jonathan Krause

Vanderbilt

Wide Receiver

R

Believe it or not, the Browns are actually on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to SEC players on a roster.

As of June 5th, 2014, there are 467 former SEC players in the NFL. Each team is carrying 90 players right now, which equates to 2,880 players. That means currently the SEC possesses a 16.52 percent chunk of the NFL pie. The Bengals currently carry 23 SEC players. The Dolphins and Chiefs have 20 each.

This year alone 49 of the rookies drafted were from the SEC. A whopping 11 of those were in the first round. There was a record 63 SEC players picked in 2013. The conference has averaged 48.9 players since 2006.

Why?

Winning national championships helps attract recruits and the SEC won six straight BCS titles from 2006-2012. High profile passers are considering the conference now more than ever, thanks to multi-threat quarterbacks Cam Newton and Johnny Manziel bringing home Heisman Trophy awards to their respective schools. And of course, those statistics listed above. SEC coaches can almost guarantee if a player works his tail off, he will get a sniff at the NFL.

Browns players answered why the SEC is so prevalent at the professional level in one word. 

Ben Tate: “Dominant. The SEC prepared me pretty well for the NFL. It’s not just the size of the lineman and the linebackers. It’s their speed.”

Joe Haden: “Athletic. So many dudes come out of the SEC and they are NFL-ready. The SEC has a lot of dudes that just know how to play football.”

Connor Shaw: “Competitive. In my opinion it’s the toughest conference in America.” 

Spencer Lanning: “Tough. It’s the depth too, man. The backups at South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia are all as good as the first-teamers. Not many teams can hang for four quarters.”

College football programs rise and fall. The University of Miami and the University of Texas are good examples. They play in conferences that aren’t as a competitive, so some major recruits are shying away from the schools.

It’s entirely possible we may never see the SEC’s reign on college football end. Location has plenty to do with it. High school football in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida is so rich with talent, it’s hard to see the SEC passing the torch to another conference.

It is hard to imagine any college team beating an NFL team, but the SEC is the only reason that topic can even be discussed.