The geography of the NFL Draft's first round
With the NFL Draft starting Thursday night, it should be a return to prominence for the colleges of the Sunshine State, who combined for an inexplicable zero first-round draft picks last year, but could have as many as six in 2013, based on mock-draft projections.
If the state has six first-rounders, that would match the most since 2002, when there were seven; a year earlier, there were eight. What's clear is the state has been comparably quiet in producing first-rounders -- in the last five years, there have been 11 total (six from Florida). In the previous five drafts, there were 25, and in the first before that (1998-2002), there were 29.
Why? Obviously Miami has gone from extended streaks of first-rounders every year to having none in the last four drafts -- that will almost certainly continue this weekend. FSU hasn't been nearly as prolific in cranking out first-rounders -- in the last five years, USF has just as many as the Seminoles, with Jason Pierre-Paul and Mike Jenkins matching FSU's two. And while Florida is the only traditional state power to continue with a real first-round presence, it hasn't been what it was a decade ago.
In the interests of sheer trivia, we'll step back and ask you to guess which states' colleges have produced the most first-rounders in the last five years. There are four that produced 10 or more, and well, we've already belabored one of them. At this point, I'm just writing to provide a buffer between the question and the answer, to reduce the risk of a "spoiler" just from your eyes naturally wandering down the paragraph as you think to yourself what the correct answers might be.
California, to no surprise, leads the nation with 17 first-rounders in the last five drafts -- USC has 10 to lead the way, with Cal getting four, Stanford two and Fresno (not UCLA) getting one. Alabama is next with 13 -- 10 in the last two drafts, with Alabama getting 11 of those 13 and Auburn the other two. And Texas can match Florida at 11 first-rounders -- Baylor has five, with Texas and Texas A&M each getting two, and TCU and Texas Tech one each.
The rest of the nation, just to satisfy your curiosity: Oklahoma 9, Tennessee 7; North Carolina, Louisiana and Illinois 6; Virginia, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Missouri 5; Ohio, Indiana, Mississippi 4; New Jersey, South Carolina, Iowa and Wisconsin 3; Nebraska, Colorado, Michigan, Kansas and Arkansas 2, and West Virginia, New York, Washington, Maryland, Connecticut, Kentucky, Oregon, Delaware and Arizona with one each.
That's 36 states with a school getting a first-round pick in the last five drafts, spreading out over more of the United States than you might think.
The 14 that haven't had one? They include seven of the lowest eight states by population: Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, Alaska, Montana, Rhode Island and South Dakota. (Congrats to Delaware for getting a first-rounder from No. 48) ... Then five others in the next eight lowest by population: Hawaii, New Hampshire, Maine, New Mexico and Utah. The last two without a first-rounder in the last five years? Not exactly powerful football states: Nevada, which ranks 27th in population, and Minnesota, which is 22nd.
Out of those 14, Utah could have two guys in the top 10 on Thursday, but the rest are likely to see their first-round droughts continue.