FSU a Surprise Sports Illustrated Top-10 'Linebacker U' School?

David Visser

If Seminole football fans have had justifiable gripes about certain position groups recently, that list certainly begins with the offensive line. But the linebacker position has been an issue as well-- of late.

However, our Reid Foster employed a wider lens in examining which programs can legitimately lay claim to the title of "Linebacker U" over the last 10 years, and the Seminoles made the cut. 

And this was objectively scored. Here are the criteria employed, which focus on a player's status coming out of college and his performance in the NFL:

In order to make it modern, we used a 10-year data set. Dipping further back would mean going across different coaching eras at the college level, as well as including a lot of players who are no longer active in the NFL. 

We came up with a scoring system that balanced not just the quantity of players programs put into the NFL, but the quality of those players' careers. One measure we used is draft position—an inexact but still relevant measure of a player's approximate value when he left college. We credited players for career games started. But rather than assigning a point value to every game started, which would weigh too heavily in favor of older players, we lessened that effect by using ranges.

We also awarded points for the highest achievements (MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and All-Pro) and awarded a smaller amount of credit for Rookie of the Year, an indication of a player's preparedness when entering the league. (We made the decision to exclude the Pro Bowl. Between fan voting and the league's need to dig deep into the pool of alternates with so many players dropping out annually, there's been a reduction in the legitimacy of that achievement.)

Scoring is based on alumni who entered the NFL between 2010 and 2019 and were either (1) drafted or (2) undrafted but appeared in at least one game. Players who transferred during their college careers are counted only as part of the last program they played for. Players are only credited for the position at which they were drafted. Our full scoring system:

DRAFT POSITION
Top 10: 4 points
Round 1 (non-top 10): 3 points
Rounds 2-3: 2 points
Rounds 4-7: 1 point
Undrafted: 0 points

NFL GAMES STARTED
80-plus: 5 points
48 to 79: 4 points
16 to 47: 3 points
5 to 15: 2 points
1 to 4: 1 point

NFL AWARDS
Defensive Player of the Year: 4 points
First-Team All-Pro: 3 points
Defensive Rookie of the Year: 2 points

So how does the top-10, over the last 10 years, shape up? With FSU edging Ohio State.

1. Alabama, 47 points
2. LSU, 44
3. Penn State, 42
4(tie). Boston College, 40
4(tie). UCLA, 40
6. Florida, 33
7. Washington, 28
8. Georgia, 27
9. Florida State, 25
10. Ohio State, 24

We compiled a video of the 'Nole LBs drafted since 2010, below, to jog your memory. 

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