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Which College Conferences Dominate the NFL Draft?

On Sunday, I used my draft value chart to determine how NFL teams valued various positions. Today, I’ll use the same method to see which schools and conferences dominate the NFL Draft. You are not going to be surprised to discover that USC Trojans have dominated the draft over the last ten years. You’ll be even less surprised to see that SEC teams have accumulated the most draft value, and the most value per team, of any conference. But let’s put some numbers on what we all know. Here’s what I did:

1) Using these draft values, assign a value to every pick in every draft from 2004 to 2013.

2) Calculate the amount of draft capital assigned to each college team by summing the values from each draft pick for each player from that college.

3) Sum the values for each school in each conference. Note: I am using the school-conference affiliations as of the 2013 season, so the SEC gets credit for the last ten years of Texas A&M, and the ACC gets a decade worth of Pitt draft picks. (Speaking of Pitt, regular readers may recall last year’s two posts on college and NFL team connections). On the other hand, Maryland and Rutgers are not credited to the Big Ten… yet. This is almost certainly not the ideal way to handle the situation, but any other approach would be too time consuming and as a reminder, nothing about college football makes any sense, anyway.

Based on that methodology, the table below shows the 100 schools that have produced the most draft value from 2004 to 2013. By default, I’m listing only the top 10, but you can change that in the dropdown box to the left:

4OklahomaBig 1250432.8
5Ohio St.Big 1054420.7
6Miami (FL)ACC51400.7
7TexasBig 1244390.7
8Florida St.ACC50373.7
12WisconsinBig 1038258.6
14IowaBig 1038240.1
15MichiganBig 1030240
19Virginia TechACC39219.9
20Notre DameInd34219
21North CarolinaACC30210.6
22Penn St.Big 1032205.4
25North Carolina St.ACC28188.5
26South CarolinaSEC26181.5
27NebraskaBig 1032173.9
29Boston Col.ACC15166.9
31IllinoisBig 1021163.7
32PurdueBig 1027152.5
33Oklahoma St.Big 1217152.3
34Texas A&MSEC22152.2
38Georgia TechACC21146.2
39BaylorBig 1215142.7
42West VirginiaBig 1220124.1
43Boise St.MWC18121.7
47Oregon St.P1223106.4
49Michigan St.Big 102590.5
50Fresno St.MWC1890.1
51Mississippi St.SEC1788.6
53South FloridaAmerican1385.5
54Wake ForestACC1683.9
57TCUBig 122382.6
58Arizona St.P121978.8
60San Diego St.MWC1774.3
62Kansas St.Big 121369.2
64Central MichiganMAC866.5
66IndianaBig 10859.5
67Texas TechBig 121159.1
70Central FloridaAmerican1051.7
73West. MichiganMAC544
74KansasBig 121042.6
75MinnesotaBig 10942.5
78Utah St.MWC839.9
79Miami (OH)MAC639.8
80Appalachian St.non-FBS937.2
82East CarolinaCUSA735.8
83NorthwesternBig 10835.5
84Washington St.P121135
85New MexicoMWC833.2
86Texas-El PasoCUSA832.9
88Southern MissCUSA931.4
89Louisiana TechCUSA729.9
91Northern IllinoisMAC429.1
92Arkansas St.Sun628.6
94San Jose St.MWC627.9
98Iowa St.Big 12624.4
99Florida InternationalCUSA523.3

And the top conferences:

Big 10122083174
Big 12101521152
Sun Belt811614

Seeing the ACC rank just behind the SEC is probably jarring to most college football fans; after all, FSU’s 2013 season excluded, the conference has been known more for mediocrity and disappointment than success over the last decade. But the ACC does very well on draft day, including at the top of round one: top-five picks over this period include Mario Williams, Chris Long, Calvin Johnson, Matt Ryan, Aaron Curry, Gaines Adams, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Philip Rivers, Sean Taylor… and, uh, Larry Fitzgerald. And the ACC’s grade is also weighed down by Duke, who couldn’t even crack the top 200 schools (no Blue Devil has been drafted in the top 200 since 1999). But while the ACC has had its struggles on the field, Miami and Florida State have continued to send top talents to the NFL, with Clemson and Virginia Tech also becoming top feeder schools.

In the Big 10, the biggest surprise to me is seeing Iowa come in third in the conference. It must be that Kirk Ferentz magic touch we keep hearing about. The Hawkeyes have had just one player selected in the top half of the last ten first rounds, and it was Robert Gallery. But 16 other players have been drafted in the top 100 of the last ten drafts, with Bob Sanders probably being the most notable.

The Big 12 and Pac 12, despite lots of success, have not managed to dominate NFL drafts. Outside of Texas and Oklahoma, which remain Texas and Oklahoma, the Big 12’s impact is largely limited to Saturdays. Even as nouveau riche schools like Oklahoma State and Baylor have risen in the polls, they rarely send top prospects to the NFL. And West Virginia, a Big East school for most of the past decade, even manages to rank as the 5th best Big 12 school by this measure.

The Pac 12 is only sustained by the success of USC: the top teams in recent years, Oregon and Stanford, rank 17th and 28th, respectively (California, which has fallen on very hard times, ranks third among Pac-12 schools at 18th). One would think that will surely change soon: Dion Jordan and Kyle Long, top twenty picks in 2013, represent half of all first round Ducks from the past decade (Haloti Ngata and Jonathan Stewart). On the other hand, most mock drafts don’t have any Oregon players going in the first three rounds of this year’s draft (and on the, uh, third hand, De’Anthony Thomas, Marcus Mariota, Colt Lyerla, and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu were projected to be 2014 first round picks at some point).

As for the SEC, there are no real surprises. LSU narrowly edges Alabama, although that would change if we just looked at the Nick Saban era. The craziest stat? Alabama has 11 first round picks in just the last three years. See how many you can guess:

  • Tanner

    Mark Barron, Dj Fluker, Dee Milliner, chance warmack, Trent Richardson, Dre kirkpatrick, Donta, Julio, mark ingram. And I can’t remember number 11

    • Tanner

      Marcell Dareus… got it

  • James

    “as a reminder, nothing about college football makes any sense, anyway.”

    Ain’t that the truth.

  • Bama’s draft dominance reminds me of those turn of the century Miami teams that seemed to put half their roster in the NFL. Anyone know the best 3 year draft performance from a college team? (that’s not rhetorical; I have no idea)

    • Bob

      Three-year span, first round: Miami (FL) had nineteen first-round picks over a span of four years. Their top three-year span included fifteen players selected in the first round.

      ^I don’t know if that is the highest total, but it’s the one that comes to mind immediately.

      Three-year span, all rounds: 31, Texas 1982-1984

      The Texas Longhorns had seventeen (17!) players selected in the 1984 NFL Draft: http://pfref.com/tiny/foHFb

      ^I don’t know if those are those are records, but I’d imagine they’re close.

      • I don’t know if it is recruiting power, coaching, or what, but all the numbers you cited just show an embarrassment of riches for some teams. Just incredible. Pretty sure my alma mater has produced six draft picks ever.

      • Richie

        The Texas Longhorns had seventeen (17!) players selected in the 1984 NFL Draft:

        That’s impressive. Perhaps more impressive, is that I don’t recognize any of them.

  • prowrestlingisstrong

    What I have found interesting recently is the lack of production relative to draft status for a lot of the SEC defensive line men. We hear all the time how this conference is head and shoulders above others in terms of defensive line dominance but it’s highest touted players have frankly flopped when they get to the next level.

    Lets review the first round picks since 2004 (note unlike Chase I am not counting A&M and Mizzou players as none of them who have been drafted were recruited while their teams were in the SEC).

    2004: No picks
    2005: Marcus Spears (20th) No Pro Bowls, No All Pros, Career AV 35
    2006: No Picks
    2007: Jamal Anderson (8th) No pro bowls, no all pros Career AV 22
    Justin Harrell (16th) No pro Bowls, no all pros Career AV 3
    Jarvis Moss (17th) No Pro Bowls, no all pros Career AV 2
    2008: Glenn Dorsey (5th) No Pro bowls, no all pros Career AV 33
    Derrick Harvey (8th) No Pro bowls, no all pros Career AV 14
    2009: Tyson Jackson (3rd) No Pro Bowls, no all pros Career AV 25
    Robert Ayers (18th) No Pro Bowls, no all pros Career AV 17
    Peria Jerry (24th) No pro bowls, no all pros Career AV 15
    2010: Dan Williams (26th) No pro bowls, no all pros Career AV 18
    2011: Marcel Dareus (3rd) 1 Pro Bowl, no all pros Career AV 22
    Nick Fairley (13th) No pro bowls, no all pros Career AV 14
    2012: Fletcher Cox (12th) No Pro Bowls, no all pros Career AV 12
    Michael Brockers (14th) No pro bowls, no all pros Career AV 19
    2013: To early to judge but Sharif Floyd did not exactly light the world on fire his rookie year.

    That is exactly one pro bowl amongst 15 players over 10 years. That is a pretty high bust rate relative to draft status. Overall the conference in general has not put out the level of pass rusher they purport to either. Jarvis Jones was a ghost this year, and Sharif Floyd had 2.5 sacks. The only dominant pass rusher they have produced in the last 3 years in Greg Hardy. This is not to say they have not produced good players, it’s just not to the level that general perception has them at.

    I think that many SEC pass rushing stats get inflated by offensive scheme and a lack of emphasis on QB play. Many SEC offenses favor heavier powerful O Linemen that can push guys around, but are not light on their feet. (This is changing especially with what A&M has brought tot he league) These O Lineman are much easier to beat in pass protection.

    Second. I feel QB play in the SEC is generally below conferences such as the Pac 12 and Big 12. Many SEC offenses let their qb’s running skills be a large part of their offenses and SEC qb’s are generally worse at avoiding pressure, recognizing blitzes and diagnosing defenses. The qb play at schools such as Mississippi st, Florida, Kentucky and Arkansas was horrendous this year. I feel many SEC defensive line men get sacks against QB play of this caliber, that they would not get against the better passing attacks and better coached qb’s of the Pac 12 or Big 12.

    Side Note: I know Alabama has put an absurd number of Draft choices in the NFL recently, but for all of their hype the results have been pretty meh. Outside of Julio Jones, which recent Alabama player has come in and exceeded draft pick expectation?

    • Chase Stuart

      Interesting points. Re: SEC QBs, 2013 was a banner year for the conference. In general, I think QB play has been pretty mediocre in that conference for most of the last decade.

    • Kibbles

      My takeaway has always been that it’s not that the SEC’s best players have been better than the best players in any other conference, it’s that their 3rd, 4th, and 5th best players have been. The top guys might not have turned into the studs that many thought they would be, but from 2003-2012, 20% of all defensive linemen that have been drafted into the NFL have hailed from the SEC. That’s an absurdly high percentage. Other than specialists, no other conference accounted for more than 17% of a single positional group over that span- and most fell FAR short of that mark (even 12% is a relatively strong showing for most conferences). The only other exception also comes from the SEC, which also produced 18% of the drafted RBs over that stretch. So the true measure of the SEC’s dominance lies not in the number of pro bowlers it produces, but simply in the number of players it puts in the league.

      Again, this data only spans from 2003-2012, but adding 2013 would only make it more lopsided, as the SEC set a record with 63 players drafted in the 2013 NFL draft- more than double the total from any other conference.

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