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.
With 61 draft picks since 2000, Cal ranks 21st among all schools. QB Aaron Rodgers, of course, is the gold standard. He was expected to be picked much higher, but when he slipped to No. 24 overall, the Packers took him despite having Brett Favre at quarterback. That remains tied to GM Ted Thompson's legacy as a shining example of draft-day foresight. Said Thompson at the time, per the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "I just think when you look back five years from now you'll say, 'This was a hell of a pick.'" Indeed. Cal's list is deep, as well, such that one of the NFL's top centers, Alex Mack, ranks just fifth, and a receiver the quality of DeSean Jackson only made honorable mention.
Best picks of the century from Cal
1. Aaron Rodgers, quarterback
Drafted by:Packers, No. 24 overall pick (Round 1), 2005
Skinny: Rodgers was considered a possibility for the San Francisco 49ers with the No. 1 overall pick in 2005, but when the Niners took Alex Smith, no quarterback went off the board until Rodgers went to the Packers as the last player left in the draft's green room. He had to wait again in Green Bay, for three years behind Brett Favre, but quickly developed into one of the league's elite passers once he took over the offense in 2008. Now he enters his 13th season, and 10th as a starter, with a pair of MVPs on his resume. He's closing in on 300 career TD passes and brought the Packers a title in Super Bowl XLV.
2. Nnamdi Asomugha, cornerback
Drafted by:Raiders, No. 31 overall pick (Round 1), 2003
Skinny: At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Asomugha gave the Raiders a big size advantage at a position where size can be hard to come by. At the peak of his career (he went to three straight Pro Bowls from 2008-2010 and was selected first-team All-Pro in two of those seasons), he was the least-targeted cornerback in the game. He intercepted a career-high eight passes in 2006.
3. Marshawn Lynch, running back
Drafted by:Bills, No. 12 overall pick (Round 1), 2007
Skinny: "Beast Mode" became a big star in Seattle and is back from retirement for a run with his hometown Raiders, but it was in Buffalo where he got his start. He ran for 2,151 yards over his first two seasons with the Bills, earning Pro Bowl honors in 2008, but his career really took off in 2011, his second year with the Seahawks.
4. Deltha O'Neal, cornerback
Drafted by:Broncos, No. 15 overall pick (Round 1), 2000
Skinny: O'Neal had a nine-year NFL career with the Broncos, Bengals and Patriots. He emerged as a true ballhawk in 2001, his second season as a pro, with nine interceptions. He tied an NFL record with four in a single game against the Kansas City Chiefs that year. In his second year with the Bengals in 2005, his 10 interceptions tied him with Ty Law to lead the NFL, and he was selected first-team All-Pro.
5. Alex Mack, center
Drafted by:Browns, No. 21 overall pick (Round 1), 2009
Skinny: Mack developed into one of the league's best centers in Cleveland, and started every game over his first five seasons. He's been selected to four Pro Bowls, most recently last season after signing a five-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons.
Total number of picks from Cal since 2000: 61
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.