The SEC’s claim as the best college football conference in the world was strengthened in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft Thursday in New York City.
So was the Atlanta area's reputation as one of the best high school football areas anywhere.
Eleven SEC players — including the selections of top pick defensive end Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina and sixth pick tackle Jake Matthews of Texas A&M, who went to the Atlanta Falcons — went in the first round, one shy of a conference record.
Yes, Johnny Football was picked, too, but there were no players picked from the University of Georgia.
The first round also included the selections of two former Georgia high school stars from the Suwanee area.
Former North Gwinnett standout Ja’Wuan James was selected 19th overall by the Miami Dolphins. James, an offensive lineman, played at the University of Tennessee. The 6-foot-6, 311-pounder is expected to step right in and start at right tackle at Miami.
Peachtree Ridge graduate Bradley Roby, a cornerback who played at Ohio State, was picked No. 31 by the Denver Broncos. At 5-foot-11, 194-pound, Roby runs a 4.34 40-yard dash. Broncos general manager John Elway told the Denver Post, “We think we’ve got a gem.”
Two other Georgia natives were selected: Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard (Twiggs County High, Jeffersonville, Ga.) at No. 24 by the Cincinnati Bengals, and Louisville defensive end Marcus Smith (Hardaway High, Columbus) at No. 26 by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Three Texas A&M players, including quarterback Johnny Manziel, were selected Thursday and two each from Auburn and Alabama.
SEC players drafted in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft:
- DE Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina), No. 1 overall, Houston Texans
- OT Greg Robinson (Auburn), No. 2, St. Louis Rams
- OT Jake Matthews (Texas A&M), No. 6, Atlanta Falcons
- WR Mike Evans (Texas A&M), No. 7, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- WR Odell Beckham (LSU), No. 12, New York Giants
- LB C.J. Mosley (Alabama), No. 17, Baltimore Ravens
- OT Ja’Wuan James (Tennessee), No. 19, Miami Dolphins
- S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Alabama), No. 21, Green Bay Packers
- QB Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M), No. 22, Cleveland Browns
- DT Dominique Easley (Florida), No. 29, New England Patriots