15 years represents the timeline equivalent of an eternity in NFL circles.
As such, 15 years have elapsed since the SEC — the nation’s gold-standard conference for stout, super-quick linemen — has produced three first-round picks at defensive tackle.
For that 2001 draft, Florida’s Gerard Warren (3rd overall, Browns), UGA’s Richard Seymour (6th overall, Patriots) and UGA’s Marcus Stroud (Jaguars) all went in the first 13 picks.
Fast forward to the present: The SEC has a chance to replicate the high-profile success of the 2001 threesome, with Ole Miss’s Robert Nkedmiche, Alabama’s A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed each ticketed for first-round stardom.
That momentum carried over to the Sunday session of the NFL Scouting Combine, with Nkemdiche (4.87), Robinson (5.20) and Reed (5.21) posting solid times in the 40-yard dash. For the bench press, Nkemdiche (225 pounds) was one of 15 D-tackle prospects to notch at least 28 reps.
(UGA prospect Chris Mayes, who ran a 5.22 40, led all defensive linemen with 33 reps on the bench press.)
SEC’S FIRST THREE DEFENSIVE TACKLES DRAFTED SINCE 2011
Titans: Angelo Blackson, Auburn (Round 4 — 10th D-tackle selected)
Lions: Gabe Wright, Auburn (Round 4 — 11th D-tackle selected)
Chargers: Darius Philon, Arkansas (Round 6 — 16th D-tackle selected)
Patriots: Dominique Easley, Florida (Round 1 — second D-tackle)
Bears: Ego Ferguson, LSU (Round 2 — fifth D-tackle)
Steelers: Daniel McCullers, Tennessee (Round 6 — 16th D-tackle)
Jets: Sheldon Richardson, Missouri (Round 1 — first D-tackle)
Vikings: Sharrif Floyd, Florida (Round 1 — third D-tackle)
Eagles: Bennie Logan, LSU (Round 3 — seventh D-tackle)
Eagles: Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State (Round 1 — second D-tackle)
Rams: Michael Brockers, LSU (Round 1 — third D-tackle)
Seahawks: Jaye Howard, Florida (Round 4 — 12th D-tackle)
Bills: Marcell Dareus, Alabama (Round 1 — first D-tackle)
Lions: Nick Fairley, Auburn (Round 1 — second D-tackle)
Colts: Drake Nevis, LSU (Round 3 — 11th D-tackle)
At 6-foot-4, 307 pounds, Robinson might have the greatest upside of any D-tackle prospect in the 2016 class — in a year with potentially seven tackles going in Round 1.
Blessed with well-proportioned body, sublime instincts and good lateral quickness, Robinson bears the look of a future Pro Bowler at defensive tackle.
Reed (6-foot-3, 311 pounds, 32-inch arm length) has Round 1 physical acumen, as well. At the NFL level, his greatest contribution might involve stuffing the run on first and second downs — the byproduct of strong gap control and uncanny leverage with the opposition.
In other words, he’s a perfect match for an NFC North team that encounters Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson twice per season.
Of course, each front office has a different color-shade interpretation of red. Some teams assess a half- or full-round penalty for troubled prospects, while others will stubbornly remove at-risk pros from The Big Board altogether.
However, as the saying goes, it only takes one NFL team to fall in love with a dicey prospect. Especially one who looks way too comfortable running a sub-4.90 in the 40 while carrying 294 pounds.
Jay Clemons, the 2015 national winner for “Sports Blog Of The Year” (Cynopsis Media), has previously written for SI.com, The National Football Post, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports.