Ranking the top 25 college football programs with the most first round NFL draft picks

·8 min read

There are certain college programs out there that are known as NFL factories. Teams like Notre Dame, USC, Ohio State, and Alabama come to mind, just to name a few of the blue bloods that attract and develop some of the best talent that plays at the next level.

Even more than that, there are programs that seem to churn out the best of the best as first-round NFL draft picks. But the divide is great. Kids these days want to play for a national title and be developed in such a way that will result in playing in some big ‘ole stadiums on Sundays (and Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays in winter). Those are the two defining characteristics that seem to attract the top high school prospects on a yearly basis.

But it’s not just about that. A program has to develop that talent on and off the field so that NFL teams see a player as someone it wants to throw a lot of money at. Being a first-round NFL draft pick is a very, very select group that nobody can take away from you.

So what college programs have been the best at getting that done? Which of the blue bloods attract and develop talent that ends up hearing their names called in the first round of all the shenanigans that is known as the NFL draft.

Here’s a ranking of the top 25 college programs and how they rank at making players go in the first round. As usual, we start at No. 25 and work our way down to the top spot. We take our data from Winsipedia.

No. 25 (tie) - Stanford Cardinal

Nov 20, 2021; Stanford, California, USA; General view of the Stanford Cardinal helmet during the third quarter against the California Golden Bears at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

25

No. 25 (tie) - Pittsburgh Panthers

Sep 25, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; A Pittsburgh Panthers helmet sits on the sidelines against the New Hampshire Wildcats during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

25

No. 25 (tie) - North Carolina Tarheels

Oct 30, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; A detailed view of a North Carolina Tar Heels football helmet during warmups before the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium. Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

25

No. 24 - Arizona State Sun Devils

Apr 13, 2018; Tempe, AZ, USA; Detailed view of Arizona State Sun Devils helmets on the field during the team’s spring game scrimmage at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

26

No. 22 (tie) - Washington Huskies

Nov 23, 2018; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington Huskies helmet sits during a football game against the Washington State Cougars in the second half at Martin Stadium. The Huskies won 28-15. Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

27

No. 22 (tie) - California Bears

Nov 3, 2018; Pullman, WA, USA; California Golden Bears helmet sits during a football game against the Washington State Cougars in the second half at Martin Stadium. The Cougars won 19-13. Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

27

No. 21 - Wisconsin Badgers

Nov 9, 2019; Madison, WI, USA; A Wisconsin Badgers helmet during the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Camp Randall Stadium. Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

30

No. 20 - Auburn Tigers

Auburn Tigers helmet on the sideline during the A-Day spring practice at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, April 9, 2022. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

32

No. 19 - Nebraska Cornhuskers

Oct 6, 2018; Madison, WI, USA; A Nebraska Cornhuskers helmet sits on the sidelines during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

34

No. 18 - Texas A&M Aggies

Oct 23, 2021; College Station, Texas, USA; Texas A&M Aggies helmet on the sideline during the game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Kyle Field. Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

35

No. 16 (tie) - UCLA Bruins

Sep 25, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; Detailed view of UCLA Bruins helmets on the sidelines against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

36

No. 16 (tie) - Michigan State Spartans

November 19, 2011; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartan helmet on the sideline during the game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Spartan Stadium. Michigan State won 55-3 to clinch the Legends division of the Big Ten. Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

36

No. 15 - Clemson Tigers

The Clemson football helmet near the Fiesta Bowl trophy at the coaches’ press conference in Scottsdale, Arizona Friday, December 27, 2019. Credit: USA TODAY Sports Network

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

37

No. 13 (tie) - Penn State Nittany Lions

Nov 16, 2013; University Park, PA, USA; General view of a Penn State Nittany Lions helmet prior to the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Beaver Stadium. Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

39

No. 13 (tie) - Georgia Bulldogs

Dec 12, 2020; Columbia, Missouri, USA; A detailed view of a Georgia Bulldogs helmet during the second half against the Missouri Tigers at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

39

No. 11 (tie) - Texas Longhorns

Nov 10, 2018; Lubbock, TX, USA; A Texas Longhorns helmet on the sidelines during the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Jones AT&T Stadium. Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

45

No. 11 (tie) - Florida State Seminoles

Sep 8, 2018; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles had a special sticker on their helmets to honor former FSU player Burt Reynolds who died this past week. The Florida State Seminoles host the Samford Bulldogs at Doak Campbell Stadium. Credit: Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

45

No. 10 - Tennessee Volunteers

Nov 23, 2019; Columbia, MO, USA; A general view of a Tennessee Volunteers helmet during the second half against the Missouri Tigers at Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field. Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

46

No. 8 (tie) - Michigan Wolverines

Michigan analyst Ryan Osborn was allegedly coaching against NCAA rules
Michigan analyst Ryan Osborn was allegedly coaching against NCAA rules

Nov 18, 2017; Madison, WI, USA; An Michigan Wolverines helmet during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

48

No. 8 (tie) - LSU Tigers

LSU cornerback enters transfer portal, lists Ohio State in top 4
LSU cornerback enters transfer portal, lists Ohio State in top 4

Oct 6, 2018; Gainesville, FL, USA; A detailed view of LSU Tigers football helmets against the Florida Gators during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

48

No. 7 - Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma helmets are seen before a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the West Virginia Mountaineers at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

49

No. 6 - Florida Gators

Nov 20, 2021; Columbia, Missouri, USA; A general view of a Florida Gators helmet against the Missouri Tigers during the game at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

56

No. 5 - Miami (FL) Hurricanes

Oct 30, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Miami Hurricanes helmets sit on the sidelines against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the third quarter at Heinz Field. Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

67

No. 4 - Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Jan 1, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Detailed view of a gold Notre Dame Fighting Irish helmet during the 2022 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

69

No. 3 - Alabama Crimson Tide

Jul 18, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; An Alabama Crimson Tide helmet is shown on the main stage during SEC football media day at the College Football Hall of Fame. Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

74

No. 2 - USC Trojans

Dec 29, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; General overall view of the 2017 Cotton Bowl logo on the back of the helmet of Southern California Trojans long snapper Jake Olson at AT&T Stadium. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

83

No. 1 - Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State Buckeye legend Charles Csuri passes away at age 99
Ohio State Buckeye legend Charles Csuri passes away at age 99

Sat., Jan. 1, 2022; Pasadena, California, USA; A special rose helmet stripe adorns Thayer Munford’s helmet before the start of the 108th Rose Bowl Game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Utah Utes at the Rose Bowl. Credit: USA TODAY Sports Network

No. of first-round NFL draft picks

85

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