Apr 27, 2020 - Sports

SEC dominates NFL draft, while FCS players hurt by coronavirus pandemic

Data: Axios research; Chart: Axios Visuals

For the 14th straight year, the SEC led all conferences with 63 NFL draft picks, tied for the second-most ever in the modern draft era behind last year's 64.

The other side: Entering Thursday, FCS schools had produced an average of 18 picks per draft since the NFL shifted from 12 to seven rounds in 1993, with a high of 29 (1996) and a low of 12 (2003). This year, they produced just six.

  • LSU had 14 players selected, matching Ohio State's mark from 2004. Trailing them were Ohio State (10), Michigan (10) and Alabama (9).
  • 86 of the 130 FBS teams had at least one player drafted, and just nine Power 5 teams did not produce a draft pick.

The six FCS draftees:

  • S Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois (64th pick)
  • TE Adam Trautman, Dayton (105th)
  • WR Isaiah Coulter, Rhode Island (171st)
  • OL Lachavious Simmons, Tennessee State (227th)
  • QB Ben DiNucci, James Madison (231st)
  • DE Derrek Tuszka, North Dakota State (254th)

The state of play: The cancellation of pro days and general chaos created by coronavirus appears to have hurt FCS prospects, with teams favoring the "less risky" FBS prospects who they likely had much more information about.

The bottom line: Some FCS players will sign as undrafted free agents or join practice squads, but plenty of talented players who may have realized their dreams this weekend if not for the pandemic are left with no clear next step.

  • Unlike basketball, there are no opportunities to play overseas. And unlike baseball and hockey, there is no robust minor league system. Simply put, they're on the outside looking in — and there's only one company hiring.

Elsewhere:

  • D-II: The Patriots used the 37th pick on Lenoir-Rhyne (N.C.) safety Kyle Dugger, making him the highest D-II draft pick since 1999 (Saginaw Valley State's Lamar King). With the third-t0-last pick, the Vikings took Washburn (Kan.) OG Kyle Hinton.
  • D-III: St. John's (Minn.) OT Ben Bartch was taken in the fourth round (116th overall) by the Jaguars, becoming the first MIAC draftee since 2003.
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