College Football

Ranking College Football Programs That Produced the Most 2014 NFL Draft Picks

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistMay 13, 2014

Ranking College Football Programs That Produced the Most 2014 NFL Draft Picks

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    Does college success translate directly into the NFL draft?

    Yes and no. A team like Auburn, for example, was one of the biggest success stories in the country last season and came within seconds of winning the national title. But because they return so much talent in 2014, the Tigers had only four players selected in the draft.

    At the same time, perennial powers such as Florida State and Alabama, which have won the last three national championships, both saw at least seven players drafted—and many came toward the top.

    There is a definite correlation between college success and having NFL players drafted, but it is not an exact science.

    Teams wax and wane from year to year, and one school—which I outlined in depth before the draft—continued producing NFL talent despite mediocre college success.

    Here's how things shook out in 2014.

T-7. Baylor

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Overall Picks: 5 (t-7th)

    First Round: 0 (n/a)

    Top 100: 0 (n/a)

    Baylor makes this list, but only technically. It was one of just 11 teams to have five players drafted, but a closer look at where those players were selected reveals that other schools had a better weekend.

    No former Bear was taken until guard Cyril Richardson in the fifth round at No. 153 overall (Buffalo Bills). The next-highest pick was running back Lache Seastrunk at No. 186 (Washington Redskins), and every other Baylor draftee was taken outside of the top 195.

    At the same time, this is Baylor we are talking about. There is no need to get too picky. Making this list is enough for a long-downtrodden program on the rise. Baby steps.

T-7. Wisconsin

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    Andy Manis/Associated Press

    Overall Picks: 5 (t-7th)

    First Round: 0 (n/a)

    Top 100: 2 (t-9th)

    Linebacker Chris Borland (San Francisco 49ers) dipped to the third round when many thought he would be a second-round pick, but safety Dezemen Southward (Atlanta Falcons) cracked the top 70 when many thought he would be closer to 90 or 100.

    Together, that rise and fall offset itself and helped forge a successful weekend for the Badgers. Even though skill players James White (No. 130, New England Patriots) and Jared Abbrederis (No. 176, Green Bay Packers) fell out of the top 125, they both went to favorable situations at winning organizations.

    The same goes for seventh-round nose tackle Beau Allen (Philadelphia Eagles), who should see a chance to contribute early despite going with the No. 224 overall pick.

T-7. North Carolina

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Overall Picks: 5 (t-7th)

    First Round: 1 (t-6th)

    Top 100: 2 (t-9th)

    Eric Ebron (Detroit Lions) went with the No. 12 overall pick, following an esteemed and surprising tradition of Tar Heels going in the top half of Round 1. Guard Jonathan Cooper went No. 7 last season, defensive end Quinton Coples went No. 16 the season prior and defensive end Robert Quinn went No. 14 the season before that.

    This makes four years running.

    But UNC also had depth in this year's draft class, with three other players getting drafted in the top 130 picks.

    Defensive end Kareem Martin (No. 84, Arizona Cardinals), center Russell Bodine (No. 111, Cincinnati Bengals) and safety Tre Boston (No. 128, Carolina Panthers) are all poised to compete for playing time on teams that won 11 or 12 games last season.

    Not a bad situation to go to.

T-7. Clemson

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Overall Picks: 5 (t-7th)

    First Round: 1 (t-6th)

    Top 100: 2 (t-9th)

    No team on this list had a player drafted higher than receiver Sammy Watkins (Buffalo Bills) at No. 4 overall.

    However, the Tigers barely had another player taken inside the top 100, as injured offensive guard Brandon Thomas (San Francisco 49ers) was the No. 100 pick to close out the third round.

    He was followed shortly after by cornerback Bashaud Breeland (No. 102, Washington Redskins) and receiver Martavis Bryant (No. 118, Pittsburgh Steelers) Quarterback Tajh Boyd (No. 213, New York Jets) took a tumble before sneaking into the end of the sixth round.

T-7. UCLA

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Overall Picks: 5 (t-7th)

    First Round: 1 (t-6th)

    Top 100: 2 (t-9th)

    It was a great draft for UCLA, which had two players drafted inside the top 100 and four inside the top 115.

    The leaders of the pack were first-round outside linebacker Anthony Barr (Minnesota Vikings) and second-round guard Xavier Su'a-Filo (Houston Texans). Su'a-Filo was the first player taken Friday, and both were among the highest-drafted players at their positions.

    Defensive end Cassius Marsh (Seattle Seahawks) and wide receiver Shaq Evans (New York Jets) followed up in the top end of the fourth round, and linebacker Jordan Zumwalt (Pittsburgh Steelers) brought up the rear in Round 6.

T-5. Stanford

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Overall Picks: 6 (t-5th)

    First Round: 0 (n/a)

    Top 100: 1 (t-23rd)

    Like Baylor at the bottom of the previous ranking, Stanford's draft is far more impressive in terms of overall picks than anything else. Closer examination impugns this as a down year for the Cardinal.

    The only top-100 pick from David Shaw's team was outside linebacker Trent Murphy (Washington Redksins), whom many feel was over-drafted at No. 47 overall.

    No other former Cardinal player was selected until the final pick of the fourth round, when tackle Cameron Fleming (New England Patriots) was taken at No. 140 overall. Only then did the run of David Yankey (No. 145, Minnesota Vikings) and Ed Reynolds (No. 162, Philadelphia Eagles) kick in to give Stanford four top-200 picks.

T-5. Ohio State

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Overall Picks: 6 (t-5th)

    First Round: 2 (t-3rd)

    Top 100: 4 (t-3rd)

    They finished with the same number of players drafted (six), but Ohio State and Stanford could not have been more different in how they went about it.

    The Buckeyes placed two defenders in the first round with linebacker Ryan Shazier (Pittsburgh Steelers) and cornerback Bradley Roby (Denver Broncos). They followed that up with two offensive players in the back part of the second round with running back Carlos Hyde (San Francisco 49ers) and tackle Jack Mewhort (Indianapolis Colts).

    OSU had as many top-60 draft picks as Stanford had top-200. Don't fall for the tie in the "total" column—these teams were not equal in 2014.

4. Florida State

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    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    Overall Picks: 7 (4th)

    First Round: 1 (t-6th)

    Top 100: 4 (t-3rd)

    The national champs snuck only one player, receiver Kelvin Benjamin (Carolina Panthers), into the first round, but that is a misleading total. Florida State was stacked with high-end talent.

    To wit, after Benjamin went at No. 28 overall, five more Seminoles were taken in the top 105. No team in the country had more.

    Those players were defensive back Lamarcus Joyner (St. Louis Rams), defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (Baltimore Ravens), safety Terrence Brooks (Baltimore Ravens), running back Devonta Freeman (Atlanta Falcons) and center Bryan Stork (New England Patriots).

    The last Seminole drafted was linebacker Telvin Smith (Jacksonville Jaguars), who went at No. 144 overall. Not a single FSU player who was drafted went outside the top 150.

    That's pretty darn good.

T-2. Alabama

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    Overall Picks: 8 (t-2nd)

    First Round: 2 (t-3rd)

    Top 100: 3 (t-6th)

    Alabama didn't dominate this draft as it had in some years past, but it was still easily one of the most impressive programs.

    Linebacker C.J. Mosley (Baltimore Ravens) and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Green Bay Packers) both went in the middle part of the first round and ended up on teams with a rich history of winning—much like the team they played for in college.

    Tackle Cyrus Kouandijo (No. 44, Buffalo Bills) was the only other top 120 pick from the Crimson Tide, but receiver Kevin Norwood (No. 123, Seattle Seahawks), defensive end Ed Stinson (No. 160, Arizona Cardinals), quarterback AJ McCarron (No. 164, Cincinnati Bengals) and safety Vinnie Sunseri (No. 167, New Orleans Saints) all went in the top 170, which was a decent consolation.

    This was still an impressive draft class. 

T-2. Notre Dame

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Overall Picks: 8 (t-2nd)

    First Round: 1 (t-6th)

    Top 100: 5 (t-1st)

    They had the same total number of draft picks, but Notre Dame had a more impressive draft than Alabama—rejoice, Irish fans!—because of how it fared in the first three rounds.

    Not even the top team on this list had as many players selected in the top 90 as the Irish, which sent guard/tackle Zack Martin (Dallas Cowboys) to the first round, defensive end Stephon Tuitt (Pittsburgh Steelers) and tight end Troy Niklas (Arizona Cardinals) to the second round and defensive tackle Louis Nix III (Houston Texans) and guard Chris Watt (San Diego Chargers) to the third round.

    Linebacker Prince Shembo (No. 139, Atlanta Falcons), cornerback Bennett Jackson (No. 187, New York Giants) and receiver T.J. Jones (No. 189, Detroit Lions) provided the necessary depth on the back end to make this the second-most impressive draft class in the country.

1. LSU

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Overall Picks: 9 (1st)

    First Round: 1 (t-6th)

    Top 100: 5 (t-1st)

    This one was bittersweet for LSU fans.

    On one hand, the Tigers had nine players drafted for the second consecutive season, more than any other team in America. On the other, a second straight exodus of underclassmen was responsible for those numbers, thinning their ranks even further for 2014.

    Still, folks in Baton Rouge should be proud of their five top-95 draft picks: receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (New York Giants), defensive tackle Ego Ferguson (Chicago Bears), running back Jeremy Hill (Cincinnati Bengals), receiver Jarvis Landry (Miami Dolphins) and offensive guard Trai Turner (Carolina Panthers).

    They should be equally proud of their four later-round draft picks. The real problem is with someone like defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, who declared early and went undrafted when he could have been an All-SEC-type defender next season.

    "Some guys are going to go because it makes great sense," said head coach Les Miles back in December, according to Chase Goodbread of NFL.com. "Some guys are not, and that makes great sense, too."

    Whatever Johnson did, even Miles would have to agree did not make great sense. But hindsight is 20/20.

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