Where Do The NFL Prospects Come From?


Everyone focuses on where NFL draft prospects go after they are drafted, but rarely focus on what college they came from to get to this point. The primary entity tasked with getting young men ready for the rigors of the NFL are the colleges that each athlete attends after high schoo.

When you take a look at which colleges have been the most successful at getting their athletes ready for the NFL, you will see that a majority of them come from three particular states: California, Texas and Florida. The colleges in each of the three states have done a great job of not only recruiting the best talent, but also developing that talent in a way that they are worthy of an NFL draft pick.

With that being said, let’s take a look at the draft successes in each of these three states.


When you look for draft successes in the state of California, there is only one place where you can start, the University of Southern California. With 493 total draft picks in its history, players from USC have been selected more than any other college in the history of the NFL.

From O.J. Simpson to Leonard Williams, USC has seen a plethora of draft successes in its illustrious history. The biggest recent success for USC has to be Tyron Smith. He was selected at No. 9 overall in 2011 and he has developed into a top-three offensive tackle in the NFL.

Another school that has had a lot of draft success is UCLA. With 303 draft picks, UCLA has shown a great ability to get their players ready for the NFL. This year, they had players such as Eric Kendricks and Owamagbe Odighizuwa get drafted and both appear ready to make a splash in the NFL.

We would be remiss to talk about draft success in California and not discuss how well Stanford has done. Stanford’s alumni are filled with 249 NFL draft picks, which is incredible. Stanford has seen a great deal of success at the most important position on the field. With John Elway, Jim Plunkett and Andrew Luck hailing from Stanford, they have shown a history of developing fantastic signal callers for the NFL.

The last California school that deserves recognition is the University of California. They are right behind Stanford with 228 draft picks, which showcases their ability to develop talent. Their most well-known draft pick may be the best player in the NFL right now, Aaron Rodgers. Furthermore, they have other top-tier players in the NFL such as Marshawn Lynch, DeSean Jackson and Cameron Jordan.


Texas is well known for being a hotbed for football in the United States and it shows in their draft successes throughout its history. The University of Texas has seen the most success as they have had 337 draft picks in its history. From their first draft pick in 1938 to their most recent selection in 2015, Texas has a knack for getting their players to the NFL. Excellent players such as Jamaal Charles, Earl Thomas and Derrick Johnson honed their craft with the Longhorns.

They may not have had much recent success from a college football standpoint, but they have shown that they can develop individual players for the NFL as they have had 21 draft picks since 2010.

A team that isn’t known as a college football powerhouse, but has seen a lot of NFL success is Texas A&M. Recently, Texas A&M has become a sort of a hotbed for offensive tackle prospects. In the last three NFL drafts, they have had three first-round picks from the offensive tackle position, which points to their developmental processes at that position. Recently, Texas A&M has had a ton of success in the NFL with players such as Von Miller, Ryan Tannehill and Mike Evans.

The last school to have significant draft success in the NFL draft is TCU. They have seen a lot of recent success in college football, but they have a long history of sending players to the NFL dating back all the way to 1936. LaDainian Tomlinson is probably the most accomplished player from TCU as he showcased that he is one of the best running backs in the history of the NFL.


The last state that has seen a ton of draft success is Florida, which has been a hotbed for some of the most athletic and talented football players in all of the United States.

The school that historically has had the most success is the Miami Hurricanes. When you look at Miami’s alumni, especially from the 1980s to the 2000s, you see a who’s who of truly elite players in the NFL. With Hall of Famers such as Michael Irvin, Warren Sapp and Jim Kelly and future Hall of Famers like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed; the Hurricanes have a proven method to NFL success. Furthermore, their win-loss success may have dropped recently, but their NFL success has continued to plug along with 30 draft picks since 2010 (325 in its history).

The team that has had the most recent success in NFL terms has been Florida State. They got a great deal of publicity recently for their success in college football, but they have transferred that success to the NFL. In the last three NFL drafts, Florida State has had no less than seven players drafted in each with 11 draft picks in 2013 and 2015 with Jameis Winston, the 2015 No. 1 overall pick, the biggest name of the bunch. The Seminoles aren’t just a recent phenomenon though, as they have Hall of Famers like Deion Sanders and Derrick Brooks among their alumni.

The last school with a ton of draft successes is the University of Florida. In their long history that have had 324 draft picks, just one pick behind the University of Miami. The enormous success of Florida can date back to the days of Jack Youngblood and has grown all the way to present day. Emmitt Smith may be the best player to hail from the Gators, as he became the leading rusher in the history of the NFL. Tim Tebow gets the most publicity, but Joe Haden has been the best recent draft pick as he has become one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.

About John Owning

John Owning

John Owning is a NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has years of experience covering the NFL, NFL draft and NCAA football. John's work has been featured on the Bleacher Report and