Justice Cunningham might be Mr. Irrelevant to NFL fans, but he's also part of the most-storied SEC-to-NFL class in draft history.
Cunningham wasn't the straw that broke the camel's back as the 254th and final pick, but he was the cherry on top of the 2013 NFL draft for the SEC. The conference finished with 63 players selected on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, shattering the old conference record by eight.
ESPN's Stats & Info had the tweet:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Justice Cunningham is the 63rd (and final) SEC player taken in the NFL Draft ... a record for most players picked from one conference4/27/2013, 11:32:15 PM
Four of the top 10 picks in the draft were from the SEC, highlighted by Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel (No. 2 to the Jacksonville Jaguars) and LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo (No. 6 to the Cleveland Browns) being the first two SEC players selected this year.
Alabama then had three players selected in a row in the middle of the first round, as cornerback Dee Milliner, guard Chance Warmack and tackle D.J. Fluker went at Nos. 9, 10 and 11.
Other players of note include former Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones (Pittsburgh Steelers), former Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (Minnesota Vikings) and Florida safety Matt Elam (Baltimore Ravens).
Alabama running back Eddie Lacy will be joining Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, the Arizona Cardinals picked up Tyrann Mathieu to pair with former teammate Patrick Peterson, and safety Eric Reid (LSU) will be joining the defending NFC champions in San Francisco.
Alabama, LSU and Florida finished in a three-way tie for most players selected from one SEC school with nine. ACC participant Florida State sent 11 players to the NFL this year, the highest total for any one university.
Overall, the 63 players make up 24.8 percent of the 254 total picks. For a point of reference, an SEC player was coming off the board nearly every four picks in this record-breaking draft.
As noted by Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel, the SEC must have taken only beating the Big Ten last year by the smallest of margins personally:
Stewart Mandel @slmandel
Hard to believe just last year the SEC edged the B1G for most picks, 42-41. This year's gap: 63-22.4/27/2013, 11:50:04 PM
Mandel then noted that even splitting the two divisions of the SEC (East and West) in half wouldn't take either mini-conference out of the top spot:
Stewart Mandel @slmandel
RT @jonsol: Final "conference" draft picks: SEC East 32, SEC West 31, ACC 31, Pac-12 28, Big 12 22, Big Ten 22. http://t.co/ldAfXSuzVW4/27/2013, 11:48:52 PM
With seven straight BCS championship trophies and a mega TV deal in place, it's hard to argue against the SEC being the top college football conference.
This display at the draft cements that fact and should give the 14 SEC schools an added boost in 2014 recruiting it likely never needed.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!