Another NFL draft came and went, and another crop of SEC players went off to the professional ranks.
And when it comes to producing future pros, the SEC is again near the top of the heap.
The SEC had 33 players among the 252 selected this weekend, tied with the ACC for second behind the Pac-10's 34.
The ACC had seven first-round picks, ahead of the SEC and Pac-10, which each had six.
And that qualifies as a pretty average year for the SEC, which had 11 first-round selections a year ago.
Still, the SEC led the way with four picks in the top 10 - double the Pac-10, Big Ten and ACC's total - including Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo. Add Vanderbilt offensive lineman Chris Williams at No. 14 overall, and one third of the first 15 picks played in the SEC.
It's no surprise to Mayo, who went 10th overall to the New England Patriots.
"That's pretty much the minor leagues for the NFL," Mayo said of the SEC.
The same can be said for most of the six BCS conferences, which combined to produce 174 of the 252 picks and 26 of 31 first-round players.
Level of competition was a major factor for Patriots coach Bill Belichick in selecting Mayo, the first time he's drafted a linebacker higher than the fifth round since becoming New England's head coach in 2000.
"That is a top conference and it's against a lot of good players," Belichick said Saturday. "The (Darren) McFaddens, the Georgias and the Floridas. They play a lot of good football teams, and I don't think you have a problem finding him (Mayo) in any of those years in any of those games. He was there for all of them."
LSU is the league's gold standard of late when it comes to producing pros.
The Tigers have had a player selected in the first round for each of the last five years, and had four players picked in the first round of last year's draft, including No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell.
Pedigree was important as well for the Kansas City Chiefs, which took LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey with the fifth overall pick, the second year they've taken an LSU player in the first round.
"All those things, with the fact that he comes out of a program that knows how to win, are important too," Chiefs coach Herman Edwards said. "(Former LSU receiver) Dwayne Bowe came out of the same program and they know how to win. You want to get players like that. He played in big games and won a national championship, so I think those things factor in, too, to the type of players you are trying to bring in."
Of the 12 SEC schools, Arkansas and LSU led the way with six players picked, and the Razorbacks had two first-rounders in Darren McFadden (4th overall to Oakland) and Felix Jones (22nd to Dallas).
Auburn had the second-most players picked with five, followed by Georgia (4), Kentucky (4), Tennessee (3), Vanderbilt (3), Florida (2) and South Carolina (1). Alabama, Ole Miss and Mississippi State did not have a player selected.
Free Agent Signings: In addition to the three players drafted, at least five UT players signed free-agent contracts following this weekend's NFL draft.
Defensive back Jonathan Hefney signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and offensive lineman Eric Young signed with the Cleveland Browns.
Both will attend rookie mini-camps this weekend, however Young will not be able to participate because of continuing rehab on his knee.
The 5-foot-9 Hefney was projected by many as a second-day pick in the draft, however size concerns likely kept him from being among the 252 players selected.
Also signing free-agent deals following the draft were tight end Chris Brown (Jacksonville), defensive end Antonio Reynolds (New York Giants) and defensive end Xavier Mitchell (Cleveland).
Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.