Ranking college football teams with most NFL Draft picks all-time

The college football factories where NFL teams turn for their draft talent.
Scenes from a college football game.
Scenes from a college football game. / © Joshua L. Jones via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Talent is the lifeblood of any college football program and the ability to recruit the best players, develop their potential, and ship them off to the NFL Draft has long been a big way we judge the health of any football program over time.

And, as is usually the case, that talent tends to consolidate into the hands of a very lucky few. 

Which schools have done the best job of turning out pro football talent, and what teams have done the best in more recent years?

Scroll through to see which schools have produced the most NFL skill.

College Football Teams With Most NFL Draft Picks All Time, Ranked

15. UCLA

NFL Draft picks: 337

Westwood has produced 36 total first-round draft picks in school history, starting in 1946 with Cal Rossi, who was actually the first player to be drafted twice, going again in the opening round in 1947.

Troy Aikman, who transferred to UCLA from Oklahoma, was and remains UCLA's single No. 1 overall draft pick, going in 1989 to the Dallas Cowboys, where he went on to win three Super Bowl championships. Six former Bruins were selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, with tight end Greg Dulcich being the school's highest pick, and four more were taken in 2023.

14. Texas

NFL Draft picks: 357

Four former Longhorns who were taken in the NFL Draft went onto Hall of Fame careers, including the likes of Tom Landry, a former defensive back who won two Super Bowls and an NFL championship as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

Running back Earl Campbell was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 1978, taking his aggressive running style to the professional ranks, rushing for over 1,300 yards in five of his six seasons with the Houston Oilers, and was named a State Hero of Texas by the state legislature. Vince Young, who famously led Texas to its most recent national championship, was the No. 3 overall draft pick in 2006 to the Tennessee Titans.

13. Miami

NFL Draft picks: 358

An astounding eight former Hurricanes that were taken in the NFL Draft were eventually selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Ted Hendricks (1969), Jim Kelly (1983), Michael Irvin (1988), Cortez Kennedy (1990), Warren Sapp (1995), Ray Lewis (1996), Edgerrin James (1999), and Ed Reed (2002). A ninth, Jim Otto, was taken in the 1960 AFL Draft. At least one Miami player has been taken in a draft for 49 straight years and the 2001 national championship team made a record with an eventual 16 first round draft selections.

12. Tennessee

NFL Draft picks: 360

Two future Hall of Famers went through the NFL Draft from Rocky Top, including defensive end Doug Atkins, the No. 11 overall pick by Cleveland in 1953 and made his impact during a legendary career with the Chicago Bears, helping to forever change the edge rusher position for the modern era.

Tennessee produced another revolutionary player in quarterback Peyton Manning, the No. 1 overall pick in 1998, winning two Super Bowl championships, claiming five NFL MVP honors, seven First-Team All Pro honors, 14 Pro Bowl selections, and earning three records: most TD passes in a season (55), in a game (7), and passing yards in a season (5,477).

11. Nebraska

NFL Draft picks: 368

This may not be the college football powerhouse it was in the 90s or the 70s — Nebraska hasn't produced a first-rounder since Prince Amukamara in 2011 — but the Cornhuskers are still among the very best in terms of total NFL Draft output. Notably, Nebraska turned out both the No. 1 and No. 2 pick in 1984. The Huskers put out a pair of second-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.

10. Georgia

NFL Draft picks: 371

Georgia boasts five No. 1 overall draft picks all time, including two in the 21st century: quarterback Matthew Stafford in 2009 and defensive end Travon Walker in 2022, a year of some history by the resurgent Bulldogs program.

In 2022, defending national champion Georgia produced 15 total NFL Draft selections, establishing a new all-time record and breaking the former mark held by Ohio State in 2004 and LSU in 2020, with 14 players taken those years. As repeat national champs in the 2023 draft, the Bulldogs shared the national lead with 10 players selected.

9. Florida

NFL Draft picks: 372

Florida produced a pair of top-five picks in the last few years, including Kyle Pitts, who went to Atlanta with the No. 4 last spring. Dante Fowler was the third-overall selection to Jacksonville in 2015. Florida had eight total draft picks in 2021, the program's most in six years., and it was third in the SEC with six picks in 2023. NFL all-time rushing yards leader Emmitt Smith came out of Gainesville as the No. 17 overall pick in 1990. UF had three picks in 2022, including first-round cornerback Kaiir Elam.

8. LSU

NFL Draft picks: 375

Whether the Tigers or national title contenders or not, you can always count on this program acquiring not only some of the fastest skill players, but also the most physical players at the line of scrimmage. 

LSU has produced 17 first-round draft picks in the last decade alone, five of which came off its 2019 national championship team. LSU placed second overall with 10 selections in 2022, behind only Georgia.

7. Penn State

NFL Draft picks: 381

NFL teams took a chance on six former Penn Staters in the 2021 Draft, including Micah Parsons, the latest in a long line to come out of Linebacker U, and who emerged as one of the top defensive players in football in recent years. Penn State was second in the Big Ten, tied with Ohio State, with six draftees in 2023.

Running back Saquon Barkley was the No. 2 overall pick in 2018, the first first-rounder for PSU in eight years. Washington took Lions wideout Jahan Dotson in the first round in 2022, one of eight selections, the Big Ten's best mark.

T-5. Alabama

NFL Draft picks: 401

Bama produced a school-record six first-round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, and had 10 players go overall in each of the 2022 and 2023 drafts, sharing a lead with Georgia with the most players taken in the '23 event. 

Nick Saban has produced 47 first-round picks in his career, 41 at Alabama, which is more than Joe Paterno, who had 33 first-round picks over several decades. Alabama has totaled 46 first-round selections since 2000. Quarterback Bryce Young was the Crimson Tide's first No. 1 overall selection in the common draft era.+3

T-5. Michigan

NFL Draft picks: 401

Seven-time Super Bowl champion — and the consensus greatest player in NFL history — Tom Brady highlights Michigan's all-time NFL Draft class since being taken in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft.

But the Wolverines have also produced 28 other selections in the last three seasons, including eight in the 2021 event and led the Big Ten with nine selections in the 2023 NFL Draft. Michigan is top-10 all-time with 49 first-round picks.

4. Oklahoma

NFL Draft picks: 414

Six former Sooners have been taken at No. 1 overall, including three quarterbacks since 2010 (Sam Bradford, Baker Mayfield, and Kyler Murray). Other first-overall picks including running back Billy Sims and defensive end Lee Roy Selmon. Oklahoma is top-10 among college football programs with 50 first-round picks all-time.

3. Ohio State

NFL Draft picks: 485

One of the college football programs that has consistently turned out NFL Draft talent for decades, the Buckeyes saw 10 players go in the 2021 NFL Draft, and the scarlet and gray has produced first-rounders in every event since 2015. Ohio State also came out of the 2023 NFL Draft with the distinction of having produced the most first-round picks ever (90).

2. USC

NFL Draft picks: 523

One of two programs to turn out more than 500 draft picks all-time, USC is also second with 84 first-round selections, and has produced five No. 1 overall picks. Carson Palmer, O.J. Simpson, Keyshawn Johnson, Rickey Bell, and Ron Yary hold the distinction of going No. 1 overall out of Troy.

1. Notre Dame

NFL Draft picks: 525

Notre Dame has built a football pedigree over generations that still leads the pack in producing NFL talent, just edging rival USC in the total number of players taken. Five former Irishers have gone No. 1 overall, but the last was in 1972. ND has turned out a draft class of six or more players six times in the last decade, and tied with Georgia for third overall with nine selections in the 2021 NFL Draft.

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James Parks

JAMES PARKS

James Parks is the founder and publisher of College Football HQ. He previously covered football for 247Sports and CBS Interactive. College Football HQ joined the Sports Illustrated Fannation Network in 2022.