Which Pac-12 programs have the most players currently in the NFL?

Ryan Kostecka

When the NFL kicks off Thursday night with a primetime showdown between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans, it means that 10 former Pac-12 football players will be back on the field.

And come Sunday, over 180 other former Pac-12 players will take the field to begin the 2020-21 NFL season.

The Pac-12 boasts an average of 15.9 conference players per NFL team, with 29 rookies who've made the 53-man rosters.

But that begs the question, which Pac-12 teams boast the most NFL talent and can that be traced back to the most success on college football fields?

I think it's first smart to break down the Pac-12 teams into three tiers; leaders, contenders and pretenders.

LEADERS
1.) Oregon = Most recent Pac-12 champs, conference's top recruiting class
2.) Utah = Back-to-back South Division titles, most rookies on NFL rosters
3.) Washington = Always a threat with a balanced offense and defense

CONTENDERS
4.) USC = Expectations always high but rarely ever live up to them
5.) Arizona State = Trending upwards under Herm Edwards
6.) Washington State = Was always a dangerous offense under former HC Mike Leach
7.) Stanford = Ground-and-pound style is the closest to NFL-ready in the conference
8.) Cal = Trending upwards bookend by solid defense and improving offense

PRETENDERS
9.) Colorado = One good year, many more mediocre ones
10.) UCLA = Has the big name but forgets to show up under the bright lights
11.) Arizona = Fall from supremacy has been painful
12.) Oregon State = "Little Brother" syndrome they can't seem to outgrow

Washington and Stanford lead the way with 27 former players each on NFL rosters, followed by UCLA (24), USC (23) and Utah (20). 

It comes as no surprise that the Huskies and Cardinal lead the way as both programs have been sensational this past decade and have arguably the most pro-ready players — Utah can make this argument as well as far as pro-ready systems.

USC and Utah are right where you would expect them to be, albeit it getting there in much different manners. The Trojans attract a lot of the top talent in the nation, while the Utes are the best program in the nation by taking in 3-star recruits and turning them into future NFL players.

What's shocking has got to be Oregon, with only 11 former players in the NFL — which is tied with Oregon State for 8th in the conference.

Here'e the full list of NFL players from the Pac-12 with it's most prominent player...

1.) Washington = 27 / Budda Baker (Arizona) and Marcus Peters (Baltimore) 
1.) Stanford = 27 / Christian McCaffrey (Carolina) and David DeCastro (Pittsburgh)
3.) UCLA = 24 / Myles Jack (Jacksonville)
4.) USC = 23 / Tyron Smith (Dallas) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (Pittsburgh)
5.) Utah = 20 / Alex Smith (Washington) and Marcus Williams (New Orelans)
6.) California = 18 / Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay) and Alex Mack (Atlanta)
7.) Colorado = 12 / Jimmy Smith (Baltimore) and Phillip Lindsay (Denver)
8.) Oregon = 11 / DeForest Buckner (Indianapolis) and Arik Armstead (San Francisco)
8.) Oregon State = 11 / Isaac Seumalo (Philadelphia) and Brandin Cooks (Houston)
10.) Arizona State = 7 / N’Keal Harry (New England)
10.) Washington State = 7 / Gardner Minshew (Jacksonville)
12.) Arizona = 4 / Nick Foles (Chicago) and Rob Gronkowski (Tampa Bay)

Utah leads the Pac-12 with seven rookies on the 53-man roster.

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