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LSU Is the New Defensive Back U.

We crunched 10 years’ worth of data to determine—based solely on the numbers—which college programs have the right to brand themselves the modern ‘U.’ The eighth and final part of our Position U. series: DBU.
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We determined each “Position U.” by measuring what every college should strive to do, in sports and beyond: Prepare students for professional careers. For the full explanation of our scoring system, scroll to the bottom of this article.

Is there truth in Jamal Adams’s and other’s branding of LSU as “DBU”: The Tigers have produced four All-Pro players since 2010 (Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, Adams and Tre’Davious White), with a combined seven All-Pro honors between them.

However, LSU had only five first-round picks in the past decade, fewer than Alabama (seven) and Ohio State (six). And while, if you split DBU into cornerbacks and safeties, LSU would be Cornerback U., Alabama would be Safety U. (We included Mark Barron among the safeties even though he’s now played more linebacker over the course of his career—however, taking Barron out of the equation would not knock Alabama off their Safety U. perch.)

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WELCOME TO POSITION U.: Quarterback U. | Linebacker U. | Wide Receiver U. | Offensive Line U. | Running Back U. | Tight End U. | Defensive Line U.

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Tyrann Mathieu

Tyrann Mathieu

1. LSU, 103 points
2. Alabama, 96
3. Florida, 71
4. Florida State, 66
5. Ohio State, 59
6. Virginia Tech, 49
7. Washington, 48
8. Texas, 47
9. Clemson, 42
10. South Carolina, 41

Cornerback U.: LSU, 62; Florida State, 52; Alabama, 46; Ohio State, 38; Washington, 36.

Safety U.: Alabama, 50; LSU, 40; Florida, 38; Texas, 30; Ohio State and Virginia Tech, 21.

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Patrick Peterson (2011 5th overall, 138 starts, 3x All-Pro)
Tyrann Mathieu (2013 third round, 89 starts, 2x All-Pro)
Jamal Adams (2017 6th overall, 46 starts, All-Pro)
Tre'Davious White (2017 first round, 47 starts, All-Pro)
Morris Claiborne (2012 6th overall, 74 starts)
Eric Reid (2013 first round, 98 starts)
Donte Jackson (2018 second round, 26 starts)
Jalen Collins (2015 second round, 8 starts)
Jalen Mills (2016 seventh round, 34 starts)
Greedy Williams (2019 second round, 12 starts)
Delvin Breaux (2012 undrafted, 22 starts)
Ron Brooks (2012 fourth round, 8 starts)
Rashard Robinson (2016 fourth round, 15 starts)
Brandon Taylor (2012 third round, 1 start)
Chad Jones (2010 third round)
Danny McCray (2010 undrafted, 10 starts)
Tharold Simon (2013 fifth round, 5 starts)
Kevin Toliver (2018 undrafted, 2 starts)
Chris Hawkins (2010 undrafted)
Craig Loston (2014 undrafted)
Roland Martin (2015 undrafted)

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Mark Barron (2012 7th overall, 102 starts)
Landon Collins (2015 second round, 74 starts, All-Pro)
Minkah Fitzpatrick (2018 first round, 27 starts, All-Pro)
Marlon Humphrey (2017 first round, 28 starts, All-Pro)
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (2014 first round, 90 starts)
Kareem Jackson (2010 first round, 137 starts)
Eddie Jackson (2017 fourth round, 46 starts, All-Pro)
Dre Kirkpatrick (2012 first round, 67 starts)
Dee Milliner (2013 first round, 14 starts)
Ronnie Harrison (2018 third round, 22 starts)
Javier Arenas (2010 second round, 12 starts)
Cyrus Jones (2016 second round, 2 starts)
Levi Wallace (2018 undrafted, 23 starts)
Anthony Averett (2018 fourth round, 3 starts)
Deionte Thompson (2019 fifth round, 2 starts)
Tony Brown (2018 undrafted, 3 starts)
Marquis Johnson (2010 seventh round)
Robert Lester (2013 undrafted, 4 starts)
DeQuan Menzie (2012 fifth round)
Vinnie Sunseri (2014 fifth round)

Joe Haden (2010 7th overall, 123 starts)
Matt Elam (2013 first round, 26 starts)
Vernon Hargreaves III (2016 first round, 36 starts)
Keanu Neal (2016 first round, 34 starts)
Major Wright (2010 third round, 51 starts)
Marcus Maye (2017 second round, 38 starts)
Josh Evans (2013 sixth round, 37 starts)
Quincy Wilson (2017 second round, 10 starts)
Duke Dawson Jr. (2018 second round, 3 starts)
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (2019 fourth round, 7 starts)
Marcell Harris (2018 sixth round, 9 starts)
Will Hill (2011 undrafted, 32 starts)
Brian Poole (2016 undrafted, 31 starts)
Teez Tabor (2017 second round, 5 starts)
Jaylen Watkins (2014 fourth round, 8 starts)
Ahmad Black (2011 undrafted, 3 starts)
Marcus Roberson (2014 undrafted, 6 starts)
Loucheiz Purifoy (2014 undrafted)

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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 did run an unofficial 20-year data set for the quarterback position, which you can read about at the bottom of this article.)

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, and for non-quarterbacks, Offensive/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.)

For all positions in this series, 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:

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

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

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

Research by Reid Foster and Gary Gramling.

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