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Development at Key Positions Powers Without a First Rounder

NFL Development

NFL Development

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The first round showed quite a lot about the way NFL teams feel about the development of certain position groups by specific schools and position coaches. For example, despite the lack of tape out there, Derek Stingley Jr. being coached by now Florida DB coach Corey Raymond while at LSU was clearly bought into by the Texans who selected Stingley third overall. Let’s look at 5 schools that clearly have set themselves apart at these positions, as their stories are being told again this draft year.

Ohio State Wide Receivers

Jameson Williams may have transferred to Alabama, but the Buckeye trio from the 2021 season of Garrett Wilson, Williams, and Chris Olave going 10, 11, and 12 is one of the most interesting storylines of this draft cycle. This is also a new trend for the Buckeyes as their last WR to go in the first round was Anthony Gonzales. He joined Ted Ginn Jr. in that 2007 NFL draft. The Ohio State University has bolstered its respect at the position, with the play of former players like Michael Thomas and Terry McLaurin. While the Buckeyes also have quite the expansive list of DEs, it's the receivers that they're known for at this point. Next year, Jaxon Smith-Njigba will join the party and the recruiting in Columbus isn’t slowing down with WR coach Brian Hartline.

Alabama Wide Receivers

Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Amari Cooper, Devonta Smith… the list goes on forever. The Tide know what great WR play looks like and they have no qualms about getting them and developing them from high school or the transfer portal and sending them to a new place as a 1st round draft choice when they are all done. Jameson Williams is just the most recent in a long line of Tide pass-catchers to go in round 1. If trends continue the Lions just got themselves a hell of a football player, and WRs why would you not consider the tide out of high school?

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Michigan Defensive Ends

This is a somewhat new development but starting in 2019 with Rashan Gary, 2020 with Kwity Paye, and now with Heisman runner-up Aiden Hutchinson, defensive ends are being developed and helping teams in the NFL right away and earning 1st round treatment. If you are a DE why would you not consider heading to Harbough mania in Ann Arbor? You will be surrounded by a lot of talent at other defensive positions like Dax Hill or Devin Bush and also be developed by a program that now has quite the respect of the NFL scouting department. David Ojabo who unfortunately suffered an injury while testing for the NFL draft will likely be taken tonight in the 2nd round but would have also been a first-rounder had he not. Good things are happening in Michigan.

Washington Defensive Backs

The Huskies may not be your traditional power, but they have found their way to sending some stellar defensive backs to the league over the years. Starting with Arizona Cardinals stalwart Budda Baker or Marcus Peters, Desmond Trufant, and more. UW DBs are big-time at the next level, and Trent McDuffie joined the ride last night, teammate Kyler Gordon isn’t far behind. When it comes to developing defensive back talent, there are not a lot better than the Huskies.

Georgia Defensive Line

Wow! What a draft it's been for the Bulldogs and it's not over yet. The Dawgs have seen Travon Walker go 1st, alongside Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt who were both also selected in the first round. Not to mention Jermaine Johnson could not consistently see play in Athens, transferred to Florida State, and got selected in the first round as well. Georgia's Azeez Ojilari went in the 2nd round a season ago, and there are more Dawgs in the circle waiting for their turn next season. The defending champions have even more ammo to use on the trail, and it looks like they are stockpiling even more.

Oklahoma and Texas Need to Start Sending First-Rounders

The new SEC pair from the Big 12 has lacked 1st round draft picks in recent years. Oklahoma has had just 1 defensive player (Kenneth Murray) go in the first round of the NFL draft since 2010. That is quite frankly not good enough, especially with the talent the Sooners bring in, and the players that will be drafted today, that had loftier expectations in the summer. Oklahoma was supposed to have 3 or more players drafted this round according to the scouting last summer. In fact, they have had none, Creed Humphrey who was slated to be a first-rounder for years didn't even go in round 1 in 2021. Things will have to change, and with Jerry Schmidt returning to Oklahoma as the S&C it should be expected. Texas hasn't had a single first-round pick since 2015 and hasn't had an offensive player go in the first round since Vince Young. This is a tag team scenario, Mack Brown, Charlie Strong and Tom Herman have all been ineffective in this regard. Steve Sarkisian must find a way to change the slant and fast.

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