Insiders

Mediocre College Teams That Provided A Cornucopia of Draft Picks

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College football fans won’t soon forget the legendary exploits of the 2014 Washington Huskies. With three players selected in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, all on the defensive side of the ball, it’s clear the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom wasn’t the only unit making history in Seattle last fall.

Why, the Washington defense was so dominant that in one game it was able to limit FCS Eastern Washington to a mere 52 points. Wait, a… what’s that again? 52 points?!? In one game? And they played in a thing called the Cactus Bowl to finish the season? And didn’t win it?

How did this team get three guys drafted in the first round again?

Lest you think we are picking on the Huskies — OK, so we are — Washington was far from being the only mediocre college football team last season able to produce an unusual amount of perceived NFL talent relative to its 8-6 record.

The Florida Gators, your 2014 Birmingham Bowl champions, had eight players taken in this year’s draft. Granted, Florida’s talent was clearly greater than its 7-5 record would indicate, which helps explain coach Will Muschamp’s resignation.

Even more befuddling than Florida is Miami, which produced seven draft picks despite going 6-7 (3-5 ACC). The Hurricanes who were drafted, such as Ereck Flowers, Phillip Dorsett, Denzel Perryman and Duke Johnson, all have very legitimate shots at making it big in the NFL. Despite his underwhelming job of utilizing their talents, coach Al Golden will be back for a fifth season next year.

Golden has proven himself to be a master recruiter in the past — the man won at Temple, for goodness sake. But his greatest success came at a level where his ability to draw in talent could trump any deficiencies he has in game management. Success is tougher to find against a more level playing field in the ACC — the differences in talent are narrower, putting a greater importance on coaching ability.

Perhaps it speaks to the wacky nature of college football, or how much things change from the end of the season up until the draft, or that sometimes talent exceeds its coaching, but Florida and Miami both produced more draftees than the teams that actually played for the national title. Ohio State and Oregon had five players taken each.

We may not know why these mediocre teams produced so much NFL talent for a few years. Did scouts overestimate the ability of these players? Were their coaches unable to properly utilize them? Or did most of their teammates just stink?

For the time being, it’s a head scratcher that teams flirting with .500 were able to churn out this many draftees. But someday, once we’ve seen them all perform at the NFL level, we will be able to say exactly why that’s the case.


About Alex Hickey

Alex Hickey

Alex Hickey can vividly recall most significant NFL events going back to Walter Payton's final game in 1987, including the ones that didn't make him cry. Since 2008, his full-time job has been covering college football, specifically McNeese State, for the Lake Charles (La.) American Press. Free time is spent informing, amusing or annoying you for Football Insiders.