In honor of the 2013 NFL Draft, which begins this Thursday, we thought we’d take a look at the top college football programs around the country since the year 2000, in terms of producing first round talent.
There have been a total of 87 different schools which have had at least one player drafted in the first round since 2000, but only 14 which have had ten or more players selected. One interesting discovery was how far out in front the No. 1 school was from the rest – eight picks. But the most surprising fact we learned was that none of the top five teams are from the SEC.
Without further ado, here are the top 14 college football programs with the most first round draft picks since 2000:
Penn State may be “Linebacker U”, but the school has produced standouts at a number of other positions as well. The highest overall selection of a Nittany Lion was Courtney Brown at No. 1 in 2000, but the most notable players are probably linebacker LaVarr Arrington and running back Larry Johnson. Seven of PSU’s 10 first round draft picks played on the defensive side of the ball.
Cal might seem like a surprising inclusion on this list, but after a closer look, the Bears have produced some serious talent. Aaron Rodgers is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL. Marshawn Lynch has been an absolute beast since he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks. And Nnamdi Asomugha has been a shut-down cornerback for years. Throw in cornerback Deltha O’Neal and quarterback Kyle Boller, who were both serviceable players in the NFL, and you’ve got a sneaky-good set of players hailing from one of the Pac-12’s also-rans.
The Badgers have seen players at a number of different positions drafted in the first round. The most notable is clearly J.J. Watt, who won the AP’s Defensive Player of the Year award this past NFL season. Other college stars who did decently in the pros include running back Ron Dayne, wide receiver Lee Evans and running back Michael Bennett. Offensive tackle Joe Thomas, the third overall pick in 2007, has notched six Pro Bowls to his name.
The Bulldogs have had four players drafted in the top six overall picks, including Richard Seymour, Johnathan Sullivan, Matthew Stafford and A.J. Green. While Sullivan was a bust in the NFL, Seymour is a seven-time Pro Bowl selection in stints with the Patriots and Raiders. Stafford, the No. 1 overall pick in 2009, is the starting quarterback for the Detroit Lions, while Green has excelled at the wide receiver position for the Cincinnati Bengals. Other notable draftees include tight end Ben Watson and now-ESPN analyst David Pollack, who suffered a career ending injury in his second NFL season.
Like Cal, Tennessee has produced a sneaky amount of talent. Running back Jamal Lewis was the fifth overall pick in 2000, and was one of the league’s best rushers for a handful of years (over 2,000 yards in 2003). Defensive end Shaun Ellis was named to two Pro Bowls. Jerod Mayo and Eric Berry, two outstanding defensive players, have also been named to two Pro Bowls in their short time in the NFL. The Vols also boast (a debatable term) Albert Haynesworth, who was arguably the top defensive tackle in the country before attitude problems interfered with his production on the field.
The Sooners are one of only two Big 12 teams on our list (you can probably guess the other). Of course, running back Adrian Peterson is the most famous offensive alum, while former Dallas Cowboys safety Roy Williams was a stud on the defensive side of the ball, tallying five Pro Bowls to his name. Quarterback Sam Bradford was taken No. 1 overall by the St. Louis Rams in the 2010 NFL Draft, and has had an up-and-down career thus far. Defensive tackle Tommie Harris also had a nice career, making three straight Pro Bowls in the mid-2000s.
The Tigers have produced some solid NFL talent recently, including cornerback Patrick Peterson, safety Laron Landry and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. Unfortunately, the school also produced arguably the biggest NFL bust of the 21st century in quarterback JaMarcus Russell, who lasted just three seasons before exiting the league. Running back Joseph Addai and wide receiver Michael Clayton are a few other notable names to find success in the league.