The NFL Draft is coming up in early May. Each year, the ACC releases statistics showing how favorably its recent draft history compares to other leagues.
Going into last year's draft, the ACC had 281 players chosen since 2005, just 34 fewer than the SEC.
Are the talent levels of the two conferences really as close as the NFL Draft implies? And is the ACC narrowing that gap on the nation's most-talented conference?
Looking at the other end of the talent pipeline, the gap is significantly wider. We looked at what happens when ACC schools go head-to-head against SEC schools, to see who's more likely to get a prospect.
We looked at the two most recent signing days, as well as the current recruiting period, even though, obviously, plenty can change between verbal commitment and signing day. We included both Maryland and Louisville in the ACC numbers, as well as Notre Dame and kept track of wins and losses for teams that offered a player a scholarship. If a player is offered by Clemson and four SEC schools and chooses Clemson, the Tigers get credited with four wins. Each SEC school gets tagged with a loss
Here's the ACC's winning percentage against its SEC rivals:
Setting aside number of offers and just looking at players, the numbers don't look any better. (In other words, Clemson gets credited with just one win, regardless of whether the Tigers beat one SEC school for a prospect or all 14.)
So, if the recruiting battles are so lopsided, how does the ACC come so close to matching the SEC a few years later, at NFL Draft time? It could be player development, or it could be that the recent recruiting advantage will change those tight draft numbers as time goes by. Last year's draft seems to be an indicator in favor of the latter theory. Each SEC division had as many players drafted as the ACC.