Since the NFL Draft concluded earlier this month I have spent some time researching the past three drafts. I wanted to see the hard numbers of where the talent was coming from.
Now it's time to take a look at what college football programs have excelled at developing the talent for the NFL Draft.
It should not come to anyone's surprise that the Southeastern Conference has the most NFL Draft picks if you add up the 2012, 2013 and 2014 draft classes. In all, the SEC has produced 160 draftees over the past three years. There's a reason why they have had so much success over the past decade.
Coming in at No. 2 is the Atlantic Coast Conference. This conference has produced 112 draft picks over the past three years. Next comes the Pac 12 (90), who narrowly edged the Big 10 (89). Checking in at No. 5 is the Big 12 (67), followed by the American Athletic Conference (47), the Mountain West Conference (46), Conference USA (26), the Mid-American Conference (18) and finally the Sun Belt Conference (15). Notre Dame (18) and BYU (2) had a combined 20, including five first round picks.
Now lets look at the top teams overall. Three teams have produced 20 plus draftees over this time in Alabama (25), LSU (23) and Florida State (22). Times have been much better in South Bend, as Notre Dame has produced the fourth highest total with 18. They are followed by Georgia (17), Oklahoma (16), South Carolina (15) and Florida (14). Clemson, Miami, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Oregon, and Stanford each had 13.
Of the SEC's 160 draft picks over the past three years, 33 have been in the first round. The next closest conference was the ACC with 14. Alabama is the leader of this league in terms of producing drafts picks with 25.
There has been resurgence in Tallahassee and Florida State is back and in a big way. They are the defending national champions, as Jimbo Fisher has done a masterful job of reloading their roster. The Seminoles finished just behind Alabama and LSU with the third most draft picks over the last three seasons with 22. Their nearest competitors in the ACC are Clemson and Miami with 13 apiece. North Carolina had 12 while N.C. State and Boston College each had 10.
The ACC has produced 14 first round picks over the past three years.
One of the great stories in college football has been the play of Stanford over the past few years. They are winning and they are producing NFL talent. The Cardinal and Ducks are the co-Pac 12 leaders in terms of draftees over the past three seasons. They each have 13. Cal is next with a dozen followed by USC (9) and UCLA (8).
The Pac 12 has had 11 first round draft picks over the last three years.
No team in the Big 10 ran away with draft production over the last three years. Ohio State and Wisconsin finished at the top with 13 apiece. This might not be the case in a few years with Urban Meyer running the show in Columbus but that's how things stand now.
Penn State has the third most with 11, followed by Iowa and Michigan State who each had 10. Nebraska finished with nine while Michigan and Illinois both had eight. Purdue finished with five while Indiana, Minnesota and Northwestern all had two.
The Big 10 has had nine first round draft picks in the last three years.
The Sooners lead the way in the Big 12 with 16 draft picks over the last three years. Art Briles has done a terrific job with the Bears and it's evident with how Baylor is developing players. They had 11 draft picks to finish second in the league over this time. It's surprising to see that they are the only two schools in double figures.
The Big 12 has produced a dozen first round draft picks over the last three years.
So who's the leader in the AAC? It's actually departing Rutgers and UConn. They each had eight. Louisville, who had three first round draft picks earlier this month, finished with only four. Cincinnati and USF each had five. UCF had four players drafted, including Blake Bortles as the No. 3 overall pick.
The AAC had four first round picks in this past draft.
The Mountain West had two teams in double digits with Boise State and San Diego State both finishing with ten. Utah State and Nevada both finished with seven. Fresno State and San Jose State each had three while Colorado State had two.
Boise State produced two first round draft picks in 2012.
The MAC may not have the numbers as some of the power conferences but they produced the No. 1 overall pick last season in Eric Fisher (Central Michigan) and the No. 5 overall pick this year in Khalil Mack (Buffalo). Jimmie Ward (Northern Illinois) was also selected in the first round earlier this month. All are former MAC stars.
Did you know?
Did you know the SEC alone has accounted for 20.9% of all draft picks over the last three years?
Did you know that Alabama has had nine first round draft choices over the past three years? That's more than the total number of draftees for 42 programs in the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, and AAC. This list includes teams like Michigan, Tennessee, Auburn, Oklahoma State and Texas.
Speaking of Texas, did you know they had less draft picks over this time than Boise State, San Diego State, Nevada and Utah State... of the Mountain West Conference?
Coming tomorrow in this series of looking at the past three NFL Drafts is part five. On Friday I will look at the University of Texas and their decline in the NFL Draft over this time.