Gutekunst Values College Football’s Top Conferences

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Jaire Alexander

I’ve said on more than one occasion, including here, that if you want to get the most usage out of a draftee, you want him to be ready to play as soon as possible. It’s also a great dollar value, as those four-year rookie contracts are very undervalued.

This goes against the Ted Thompson theory that you should draft players with good potential and then spend years developing them before getting any returns on the investment.

How do you determine who are the most NFL-ready college players? One simple guideline is to find the players who have played against the toughest competition. How do you do that? You look to the Big Five college conferences: SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 – and arguably in that order.

By the way, when I introduced the “Big Five” notion on March 22, swear to God I thought I invented the term. I independently examined the schools of all the top picks in the most recent years and concluded that five conferences separated themselves from the rest. I put them in order. Now I see that the term “Power Five Conferences” was coined in 2014 when a bunch of the traditional conferences split up. Hey, I’m a Green Bay Packers’ guy, not a devotee of college ball.

With all that in mind, how did new general manager Brian Gutekunst do? Let’s ignore the round seven choice, linebacker Kendall Donnerson, from Southeast Missouri State in the Ohio Valley Conference. If he does make the team, he’ll be seeing little or no action in 2018.

Of the 10 top picks, four are from an SEC school: Oren Burks, Vanderbilt; J’Mon Moore, Missouri; J.K. Scott, Alabama; and Hunter Bradley, Mississippi State

Three are from the ACC (more or less): Jaire Alexander, Louisville; Marquez Valdes-Scantling, South Florida; and Equanimeous St. Brown, Notre Dame. While Notre Dame is called an independent, it has uniquely contracted to play five ACC teams annually through 2037. Notre Dame definitely plays a competitive schedule every year.

Next up is the Pac-12, represented by Washington State’s Cole Madison and Cal’s James Looney.

The tenth and last player is from the Big Ten: Iowa’s Josh Jackson.

For people trying to keep up with conference changes, the ACC currently has 15 teams (including Notre Dame, which the ACC website includes), the SEC and Big 10 have 14, the Pac-12 actually has 12, and the Big 12 has 10.

The scorecard shows that the 65 teams in these five conferences produced all ten of Green Bay’s top 10 draft choices. That leaves 64 FBS football schools not in the Big Five and Gutekunst didn’t pick a single player in his first ten from these 64 schools. Hmmm.

I dare not suggest that Gutekunst is taking heed of my theories, as I’d be accused of (1) being egotistical, and (2) stealing the ideas of others. So, let’s just say it’s a happy coincidence that Gutekunst and I were thinking along the same lines. Since I unveiled my theories on March 12 and 22 and Gutekunst made his picks four to six weeks later, does that absolve me of claims of (clever, I admit) “Rob-bery”?

Sometimes gr— mi— think alike.

About The Author

Rob is currently twiddling his thumbs on Whidbey Island in Washington. He likes to do research, although he has no shortage of opinions. He saw his first live Packers game in 1958, the only win of the year.

8 Comments on "Gutekunst Values College Football’s Top Conferences"

  1. Deepsky

    I agree with your assessment that something is very different this year with the criteria used to select players and, in fact, it worries me.

    Not only have the Packers drafted from larger schools, they have drafted players with college stats to back up combine results. They also drafted players for the positions they played in college rather than trying to move a safety to a cornerback or defensive end into an outside linebacker. This is all very different than in past years.

    Here’s why it worries me.

    This is the kind of drafting behavior you find when a coach is in charge of drafting. It’s the kind of drafting based on “flash”, on college record, stats and combine results rather than breaking down a players positional traits and grading them accordingly as a scout would do. Coach style drafting tends to ignore the negatives. Scout style drafting considers the negatives.

    Take Ahmad Carroll. SEC school, incredible combine results, won several college awards, drafted by a coach. He was also short and had a bad tendency to grab receivers, which was ignored by Sherman.

    This draft further indicates to me that McCarthy has been given a lot more say in the draft and I can’t see that as being good.

    But who knows, Ron Wolf and his disciples never could draft corners anyway. Maybe drafting for flash will produce a good corner.

  2. Hinder

    Your last sentence sums up my feelings. Throwing a dart at a board might work better than what they’ve done in the past.

  3. Ferris

    Senile Ted just picked the wrong players from the big schools…We have Ha’Sean (barf) from 2014, then he picked Da can’t cover anyone Randall in 2015….3 picks later the Giants took Landon Collins…. oops.

    • MJ

      That’s precisely an aspect that is overlooked when evaluating a draft, having given the picks time to evolve. A way of patting themselves in the back is saying “well, we picked A,B and C, who are still with the team and are acceptable starters, that means we had a successful draft”. Yeah, but what other players have we passed on, who may now be regarded as stars, not just ‘acceptable’ talent? The Landon Collins example you brought up makes the point clear. A more comprehensive way of looking at the success or failure of a draft would be to see how many of today’s stars have we passed on while drafting the Carl Bradfords, Datone Jones and Khiry Thorntons of the world.

      • Ferris

        A lot of teams miss, but as Ted went Senile he missed a lot more. He had genius picks too, Rodgers (luck) Nick Collins…when he was drafted everyone said..WHO? Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, Clay Matthews, Bakhtiari, there are more. Bust his last few drafts….really bad.

  4. Keith

    South Florida is in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) which also includes UCF and Houston, for example, not the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) which includes Florida State and Clemson.

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