For many college football players, the goal is to have success at school to earn a spot in the NFL. Most players who turn pro after college enter the league via the NFL Draft.
With this year seeing a host of Ohio State players drafted in the first three rounds, I was curious which schools have the best track record for sending players to the next level. Not just getting them there, but producing players that go high up in the draft. I set up a scoring system for player selections in each round and then scored the last five NFL Drafts to come up with our first ever Pro Potential Power Rankings. This is college football we are talking about, so here is the top 25.
The scoring system is as follows:
1st round-10 points
2nd round-7 points
3rd round-5 points
4th round-4 points
5th round- 3 points
6th round- 2 points
7th round- 1 points
1. Alabama Crimson Tide- 225 points
Highest Drafted Player– Trent Richardson, 3rd Overall, 2012
This should come as no surprise. Alabama has become a football factory under Nick Saban. They have the most first rounders of any team over the past five years and are one of only a few teams to have a first rounder in each year I looked at.
2. Florida State Seminoles- 183 points
Highest Drafted Player– Jameis Winston, 1st Overall, 2015
There is a sizable drop off from number one to number two, but that’s Alabama for you. Jimbo Fisher has done well at producing high profile draft picks though with first rounders going in each of the last four drafts.
3. Ohio State Buckeyes- 166 points
Highest Drafted Player- Joey Bosa, 3rd Overall, 2016
Something tells me that these guys are going to challenge Alabama next year. The Buckeyes had 10 players drafted in the first three rounds this past year with plenty more pro prospects expected in the next few years.
4. LSU Tigers- 160 points
Highest Drafted Player– Barkevious Mingo/Morris Caliborne, 6th Overall, 2013/2012
It has been two years now since Les Miles’ club has produced a first rounder, but with Leonard Fournette on the horizon, next year LSU should expect another one. These guys will be staying in the top ten for a while.
5. Notre Dame Fighting Irish- 151 points
Highest Drafted Player– Ronnie Stanley, 6th Overall, 2016
The Fighting Irish are one of the most high-profile teams in college football. That reflects in the draft as well. Notre Dame continually produces players going in the first three rounds. 2015 was the only season they did not produce a first round selection.
6. Florida Gators- 145 points
Highest Drafted Player– Dante Fowler Jr., 3rd Overall, 2015
It hasn’t always lead to on the field success, but Florida has continued to produce elite level college prospects. 2012 was the only year the Gators didn’t have a players selected in the first round.
7. Stanford Cardinal- 137 points
Highest Drafted Player– Andrew Luck, 1st Overall, 2012
Don’t be surprised if Stanford takes a dip in next year’s rankings. They are still riding a 2012 draft that saw four players go in the first two rounds. However, Christian McCaffrey seems like a lock for a first round pick next year, so they shouldn’t drop too far.
8. Clemson Tigers- 134 points
Highest Drafted Player– Sammy Watkins, 4th Overall, 2014
This is another team we should see continue to rise up the rankings. Clemson has had a player drafted in the first round each of the last four years. Next year should make it five with DeShaun Watson a projected top five pick.
9. Georgia Bulldogs- 125 points
Highest Drafted Player– Todd Gurley, 10th overall, 2015
Another SEC team in the top ten should be no surprise. Georgia has a strong tradition of producing NFL-caliber players. If we went back further, Georgia might have been higher up on this list.
10. Texas A&M Aggies- 108 points
Highest Drafted Player– Luke Joeckel, 2nd Overall, 2013
Why not have another SEC in the top ten? A&M is another one of those schools to have a first rounder in each of the past five years. They should be locked in as a top 15 school with the recruits they continue to attract.
11. USC Trojans- 107 points
Highest Drafted Player– Matt Kalil, 4th Overall, 2012
10 years ago, USC likely would have topped this list. Just goes to show how far USC has fallen since the Reggie Bush scandal broke. The Trojans will eventually regain composure, but they need to solve their coaching debacle first.
12. Oklahoma Sooners- 106 points
Highest Drafted Player– Lane Johnson, 4th Overall, 2013
Oklahoma is a traditional football power but that doesn’t always translate to high draft picks. In fact Johnson, is the only Sooner in the last five years to go in the first round. Oklahoma has thrived off players being selected in the second through fourth rounds.
13. Oregon Ducks- 101 points
Highest Drafted Player– Marcus Mariota, 2nd Overall, 2015
Oregon’s success in the NFL Draft is mostly a testament to Chip Kelly’s time in the Pacific Northwest. Mariota is the biggest name taken, but Oregon has several other first round draft picks, mainly over the past three years. The Ducks aren’t going away any time soon.
14. Miami Hurricanes- 92 points
Highest Drafted Player– Ereck Flowers, 9th Overall, 2015
Miami isn’t the same football factory it was back in the late 90s and early 2000s, but the U is on it’s way back. Brad Kayaa is a projected top five pick next season. The Hurricanes could be moving up these rankings very quickly.
15. Wisconsin Badgers- 92 points
Highest Drafted Player– Melvin Gordon, 15th Overall, 2015
Despite having the same score as Miami, Wisconsin loses out because Flowers was drafted earlier. The Badgers are in for a drop on this list next year with a stellar 2012 class doing most of the heavy lifting in their score. Still, top 15 is very good for Wisco.
16. West Virginia Mountaineers- 90 points
Highest Drafted Player– Kevin White, 7th Overall, 2015
We are not grading schools based on pro success, because that might be a category where West Virginia struggled. Or at least living up to expectations. Either way, the Mountaineers have done really well producing players in the first three rounds of the draft.
17. UCLA Bruins- 90 points
Highest Drafted Player– Anthony Barr, 9th Overall, 2014
Another PAC 12 team makes the list. UCLA has had mixed results over the past few season in terms of draft success. The Bruins seem to do well at sending players to the NFC North (Barr, Brett Huntley, Datone Jones). They lose out to West Virginia because White was drafted higher than Barr.
18. Louisville Cardinals- 88 points
Highest Drafted Player– Sheldon Rankins, 12th Overall, 2016
This is probably the most surprising team on the list. Louisville is not a traditional top 25 team, but they have had a player drafted in the first round each of the past three years. They are helped mainly by the three that came out in 2014.
19. South Carolina Gamecocks- 87 points
Highest Drafted Player– Jadeveon Clowney, 1st Overall, 2014
Still riding a strong 2012 draft class featuring Stephon Gilmore, Melvin Ingram and Alshon Jeffrey, South Carolina is likely in for a drop off next season. However, the SEC often finds ways to produce pro-ready players out of nowhere, so the Gamecocks will be interesting to watch.
20. Michigan State Spartans- 87 points
Highest Drafted Player– Jack Conklin, 8th Overall, 2016
Michigan State has been one of the most successful college football teams in the country over the past few years. That is beginning to translate into draft success. Sparty is another program we could see rising up the rankings in the near future.
21. Missouri Tigers- 81 points
Highest Drafted Player– Sheldon Richardson, 13th Overall, 2013
Only two Missouri players have gone in the first round since 2012, but a solid number of mid-round selections pushes them onto the list. Just goes to show that even some of the middling teams in the SEC produces high draft picks.
22. UNC Tar Heels- 74 points
Highest Drafted Player– Eric Ebron, 10th Overall, 2014
There were a couple of players that I was surprised to discover went to North Carolina. Giovani Bernard was one, Sylvester Williams another. Either way, the Tar Heels haven’t produced a tremendous amount of prospects, but the ones they do churn out, tend to go high in the draft.
23. Penn State Nittany Lions- 74 points
Highest Drafted Player– Donovan Smith, 34th Overall, 2015
Penn State was the only team to make the list without a player selected in the first round over the past five years. Happy Valley continues to churn out mid round selections, particularly second rounders.
24. Baylor Bears- 73 points
Highest Drafted Player– Robert Griffin III, 2nd Overall, 2012
Because I am only looking at the last five years of draft history, Baylor is a popular bet to drop out of the rankings next year. Most of Baylor’s points come from a strong 2012 class, but the 2016 group wasn’t bad. The recent scandal unfolding in Waco doesn’t bode well for the future though.
25. Washington Huskies- 71 points
Highest Drafted Player– Danny Shelton, 12th Overall, 2015
A 2015 draft featuring three Washington players sneaks the Huskies into the top 25. Washington is very top heavy, not having produces many draftees, but placing a lot of them in the first round.
Others Receiving Votes: Arkansas- 69 points, Boise State- 68 points, Mississippi State– 66 points, Auburn– 66 points, Cal- 61 points
Note: All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Chris McGlynn