Which college football programs produce the most NFL players?
The NFL draft is a crucial event for both teams and prospective college players, but which college provides the most NFL talent?
Second in importance only to the Super Bowl itself, the annual NFL draft is a vital part of any NFL season. Not only does it allow NFL teams to bolster their ranks with up-and-coming talent, but for college players, it’s their first opportunity to really put their sporting names out there.
Of course, for the colleges and cities that provide NFL talent, having the majority of their college team players selected for the draft is certainly a point of pride, and is often a key factor in attracting future players to their ranks thanks to their reputation for talent cultivation.
But just which US college has produced the most NFL talent over the years? To find out, Betway has taken a look at the total number of active players in the league at the moment, the NFL drafts picked from all state colleges and compared it to those players now sitting in the NFL Hall of Fame, to see which colleges have provided the best draft candidates overall.
The Top 10 college football teams with most active players in the NFL
The Top 5 colleges with most active players in the NFL
The following are the top 5 US colleges that new NFL players should consider if they’re looking to take their first steps into an official sporting career:
Current active players: 70
Total earnings: $1,120,704,800
Top earner: Amari Cooper ($96,672,334)
Total number of NFL draft picks: 391
Hall of Famers: 8
Perhaps coming as no surprise for major NFL fans, the most popular college for NFL talent is Alabama. Boasting the most active players, and the highest overall earnings, Alabama is home to the likes of Julio Jones, who made his name covering over 1,000 receiving yards in 7 of his 10 seasons with the Falcons. Since then, he has only enhanced his reputation on the pitch further, having now signed on with the Buccaneers.
- Ohio State
Current active players: 60
Total earnings: $1,059,549,430
Top earner: Joey Bosa ($103,894,417)
Total number of NFL draft picks: 479
Hall of Famers: 10
Counting numerous Hall of Famers amongst their ranks, as well as some of the top earnings out of all the colleges we looked at, Ohio State’s most well-known current player is arguably Joey Bosa.
At just 27, and with only seven seasons under his belt, Bosa has already become Ohio State’s highest earner and is one of only 2 of the Charger’s defensive players picked to play in four Pro Bowls in the first 5 seasons of their career.
- Louisiana State
Current active players: 58
Total earnings: $1,054,408,700
Top earner: Patrick Peterson (106,757,324)
Total number of NFL draft picks: 369
Hall of Famers: 6
Another popular state college for the NFL, Louisiana falls just behind Ohio for active players and earnings but still calls many rising stars their own. Their highest earner, Patrick Peterson, for example, has been an incredibly reliable player for the Cardinals in the past, and prior to joining the Steelers this year, made the Hall of Fame’s All-2010s team during his tenure with the Vikings.
Current active players: 49
Total earnings: $710,588,302
Top earner: Matthew Stafford ($300,806,037)
Total number of NFL draft picks: 361
Hall of Famers: 4
Although Georgia doesn’t place highest for any of the above stats, their well-rounded values make them one of the best places for NFL college players to get started. Their top earner, Matthew Strafford, is still playing for the Rams and became the 12th quarterback in history to reach 50,000 career passing yards, while also being tied with Drew Brees for being the fastest quarterback in history to reach the mark.
- Notre Dame
Current active players: 48
Total earnings: $630, 599, 890
Top earner: Ronnie Stanley ($88,645,183)
Total number of NFL draft picks: 522
Hall of Famers: 13
Having slumped down the rankings for NFL colleges in previous years, Notre Dame is once again earning a reputation for producing excellent NFL talent. One of their most famous graduates, and highest earner, Ronnie Stanley, was named the best pass-blocking tackle in the NFL back in 2019 and later earned his First-team All-Pro slot.
Still with the Ravens, and the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL in 2020, Stanley might currently be on the injured reserve list, but that is likely only to be temporary.
The bottom 5 colleges for NFL talent production
It likely goes without saying that those colleges that came in at the bottom of our list are not exactly colleges known for their focus on producing excellent NFL players. As a result, those colleges that sit in our bottom five all share similar player draft and Hall of Fame stats.
Having just one active player each, as well as minimal draft picks, low overall earnings, and zero Hall of Famers, Wisconsin-Platteville, Western Washington, Western State Colorado, Western Carolina, and West Georgia are all colleges new NFL players should avoid if they want to make football their career.
And there you have it, those are the top colleges in 2023 for producing NFL talent. Of course, there’s more to cultivating excellent junior players than reputation alone, and many players have proved that even non-sporting colleges have good odds of producing great players.
To find the detailed list of all the 280 colleges of our research here and for more insight into NCAAF and plenty of other sporting stats, head over to Betway to see our coverage and odds of all the latest sporting events.
This dataset reveals the colleges producing the most NFL talent based on the number of active players at the moment. This was accompanied by the number of the total NFL draft picks by college and the number of Hall of Famers.
You can also find the detailed list of all the 280 colleges of our research here.
All data is correct as of 04/18/23
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