Who are the best draft picks of the century from the most prominent programs in college football? College Football 24/7 set out to answer this question by ranking the top draft picks since 2000 from the 30 schools that have produced the most picks since that year.
Players were ranked through a formula in which they received points for honors they've acquired in their NFL career, including being selected to the Pro Bowl (including as injury replacements) and being selected first-team All-Pro. Players were also rewarded relative to where in the draft they were selected. First-round picks benefited least because a strong career would be expected; seventh-round picks benefited most. In some cases, a bonus for longevity or outstanding play was granted. See the full formula below the list of top picks.
Penn State has produced 65 draft picks this century, which ranks 17th among all schools, and San Francisco 49ers LB NaVorro Bowman leads the list by a wide margin. PSU's top two picks since 2000 both came out of the 2010 draft (Bowman, Sean Lee), while the next two (Larry Johnson, Tamba Hali) were both chosen by the same club (Chiefs). One notable Nittany Lion not listed is Cameron Wake, who was undrafted in 2009 but has gone on to five Pro Bowls with the Miami Dolphins.
Best picks of the century from Penn State
1. NaVorro Bowman, linebacker
Drafted by:49ers, No. 91 overall pick (Round 3), 2010
Skinny: Bowman, whose draft stock was hurt by durability and character concerns, was a steal of a third-round pick for the 49ers, becoming a full-time starter in his second season (2011). That began a streak of three consecutive first-team All-Pro seasons for Bowman, until a knee injury suffered in an NFC title game against the Seahawks forced him to miss all of 2014. He overcame that setback to regain first-team All-Pro status in 2015. An Achilles tendon injury ended his 2016 season after four games.
2. Sean Lee, linebacker
Drafted by:Cowboys, No. 55 overall pick (Round 2), 2010
Skinny: The Cowboys traded up a few spots in the draft to take Lee, who has been a tackling machine in Dallas. He missed all of 2014 with a knee injury, but rebounded to make his first two Pro Bowls in 2015 and 2016. Lee made 128 stops in 2015 and 145 last year, leading the team in both seasons.
3. Larry Johnson, running back
Drafted by:Chiefs, No. 27 overall pick (Round 1), 2003
Skinny: In his third and fourth seasons in Kansas City, Johnson rushed for 1,750 and 1,789 yards (2005, 2006). Remarkably, that wasn't enough to lead the NFL in either season, but it was enough to put him in two consecutive Pro Bowls and earn first-team All-Pro honors in '06. He finished his NFL career with short stints in Cincinnati, Washington and Miami.
4. Tamba Hali, defensive end
Drafted by:Chiefs, No. 20 overall pick (Round 1), 2006
Skinny: Hali has been an outstanding pass rusher in Kansas City, where he's spent all 11 of his NFL seasons. He made five consecutive Pro Bowls from 2011-2015 and now needs just 10.5 sacks to reach 100 for his career.
5. LaVar Arrington, linebacker
Drafted by:Redskins, No. 2 overall pick (Round 1), 2000
Skinny: Arrington played six seasons with the Redskins, reaching the Pro Bowl in three consecutive years (2001-2003). His best year as a pass rusher came in 2002, when he recorded a career-high 11 sacks and broke up eight passes. His time in Washington ended in acrimony with the club, and he signed with the New York Giants in 2006. An Achilles tendon injury ended his first and only season with the Giants.
Total number of picks from Penn State since 2000: 65
Draft multiplier: Total points for first-round picks x 1.1; second-round picks x 1.2; third-round picks x 1.3; fourth-round picks x 1.4; fifth-round picks x 1.5; sixth-round picks x 1.6; seventh-round picks x 1.7.
Tiebreaker: Ranking edge to lower-drafted player within same round.
Specialists and fullbacks: For players honored primarily as specialists or fullbacks, their total points were devalued. Kickers and punters were not included in this exercise.