2021 NFL Draft picks by college team, school: Alabama ties record with six first-round picks, SEC on top again

The 2021 NFL Draft kicked off on Thursday night, and after the as-expected start of Trevor Lawrence going No. 1 and Zach Wilson going No. 2, an eventful night unfolded. The national championship-winning Alabama Crimson Tide found themselves as the stars of the evening among college programs with an NFL Draft record-tying six first-round picks. 

Miami set the record in the 2004 NFL Draft when Sean Taylor, Kellen Winslow II, Vince Wilfork, Jonathan Vilma, D.J. Williams and Vernon Carey all went off the board in the first 21 picks. Alabama had five of the first 17 picks on Thursday, then Najee Harris was added at No. 24 to give the Tide a record-tying class of first-rounders. Jaylen Waddle got things started at No. 6 to the Dolphins, followed by Patrick Surtain at No. 9 (Broncos), DeVonta Smith at No. 10 (Eagles), Mac Jones at No. 15 (Patriots), Alex Leatherwood at No. 17 (Raiders) and Harris (Steelers). 

It’s the fourth time in the last five years that coach Nick Saban has seen at least four players selected in first round of the NFL Draft, and it’s the second straight year that the Tide had multiple wide receivers selected among the top 15 picks in the first round. Previously, only Ohio State (2007), LSU (2007), Miami (2001) and Florida (1997) have seen multiple wide receivers selected at any point in the first round.

The college angles to the draft included not only the number of picks of the different ways we saw teammates reunite. Joe Burrow is back with LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase on the Bengals, former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa saw the Dolphins select Jaylen Waddle, the Jaguars selected two Clemson players with Lawrence at No. 1 and Travis Etienne at No. 25, and Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith linked back up with former Tide teammate Jalen Hurts on the Eagles. 

The SEC, thanks not only to Alabama but 2020 SEC East champion Florida, led the way among all conferences with 12 first-round picks. The record for first-round picks from one conference was actually broken last year,when the SEC had 15 players picked in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. The previous record was at 12 first round picks, hit by the ACC in 2006 and the SEC in both 2013 and 2017. 

The Big 12 made the kind of history you don’t want to make on Thursday night, becoming the first Power FIve conference to not have a first-round pick since the Big East in 2006. Tulsa, Houston, BYU and North Dakota State each had more picks than the Big 12 in the first round, which will provide plenty of good conversation throughout the conference’s footprint. 

Here’s 2021 NFL Draft broken down by school at the conclusion of the first round.

2021 NFL Draft picks by college, conference

SEC (12)

Big Ten (7)

ACC (6)

Pac-12 (3)

AAC (2)

Other (2)

  • BYU — 1 (Independent)
  • North Dakota State — 1 (FCS Missouri Valley)

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