Last year at this time, LSU coach Les Miles set off a firestorm of college football debate when he told a group of local radio advertisers that the talent level in the Southeastern Conference was tougher than the Pacific-10 Conference. Miles also said that it was easier to get to the BCS Championship game from the Pac-10 than the SEC due to the easier conference schedule and not having to play a conference championship game.
While teams and conferences change from year to year, I thought that Miles’ comments were right on target. If you consider the players from those two conferences that entered the NFL the past six to eight years, Miles has a lot of ammunition to back up his statements.
The NFL regular season is about two months away and I figured that a good way to gauge the college talent level was to breakdown the projected starters from the 32 NFL teams and find out where they come from.
This list of projected starters will change by September due to injuries, possible retirements, and performances, good or bad, in practice and pre-season games, but this conference breakdown does give you a strong indication of where the starters for the 2008 season come from.
It is a little bit of a surprise, but the SEC leads the NFL in projected starters with seven. Eli and Peyton Manning are the headline performers, but a contingent of young arms like Jay Cutler (Denver Broncos), JaMarcus Russell (Oakland Raiders) and Jason Campbell (Washington Redskins) are on the verge of becoming impact quarterbacks in the NFL.