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Best NFL draft picks of the century: Top selections from USC

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.

Our third installment of the series examines USC draft picks; the Trojans have had the third-most players drafted (102) of any school since 2000. Troy Polamalu rated as USC's top draft pick of the century, and based on the point totals, it wasn't a particularly close race. The Trojans have sent a deep field of 14 draft picks to reach at least one Pro Bowl since 2000, including six who have reached at least three (Polamalu, Ryan Kalil, Clay Matthews, Tyron Smith, Lofa Tatupu, Carson Palmer).

Best picks of the century from USC

1. Troy Polamalu, safety
Points: 40.7
Drafted by:Steelers, No. 16 overall pick (Round 1), 2003
Skinny: One of the Steelers' all-time greats, Polamalu spent his entire 12-year career in Pittsburgh. He was a four-time first-team All-Pro, making for his runaway status in USC's rankings, and was named Defensive Player of the Year for 2010. Polamalu also has a pair of Super Bowl rings on his resume.

2. Ryan Kalil, center
Points: 18.0
Drafted by:Panthers, No. 59 overall pick (Round 2), 2007
Skinny: Like Polamalu, Kalil has spent his entire career in one NFL uniform as a 10-year Panther. He made three consecutive Pro Bowls from 2009-2011, and was named first-team All-Pro as recently as 2015.

3. Clay Matthews, linebacker
Points: 16.5
Drafted by:Packers, No. 26 overall pick (Round 1), 2009
Skinny: Matthews has been a stellar defender for the Packers from Day 1, making 10 sacks as a rookie. Despite being moved around to various spots in the linebacking corps, he continues to produce. Last year, he was slowed by a hamstring injury, but with six Pro Bowls in an eight-year career to his credit, Matthews has nothing left to prove.

4. Tyron Smith, offensive tackle
Points: 15.4
Drafted by:Cowboys, No. 9 overall pick (Round 1), 2011
Skinny: Dallas' left tackle has developed into one of the dominant players in the game at his position, anchoring one of the NFL's best offensive lines. He signed a $98 million contract extension in 2014 and has now made four consecutive Pro Bowls.

5. Lofa Tatupu, linebacker
Points: 14.4
Drafted by:Seahawks, No. 45 overall pick (Round 2), 2005
Skinny: Seattle traded three picks to Carolina in the 2005 draft to move up to acquire Tatupu, and got big dividends early. He made 100-plus tackles and three Pro Bowls in each of his first three seasons. He played only three years thereafter, however, and his career was slowed by injuries.

Honorable mention: LB Brian Cushing (7.7 points), QB Carson Palmer (5.5), DL Leonard Williams (3.3), C Matt Kalil (3.3), DE Everson Griffen (2.8), DL Jurrell Casey (2.6), QB Matt Cassel (1.7), TE Jordan Cameron (1.4), WR Steve Smith (1.2).

Total number of picks from USC since 2000: 102

2017 draft picks from USC (5): CB Adoree' Jackson, Titans (Round 1, No. 18 overall); WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers (Round 2, No. 62 overall); OT Zach Banner, Colts (Round 4, No. 137 overall); S Leon McQuay, Chiefs (Round 6, No. 218 overall); NT Stevie Tu'ikolovatu, Buccaneers (Round 7, No. 223 overall).

The Formula: MVP (7 points), Offensive/Defensive Player of the Year (6 points), first-team All-Pro selection (5 points), Offensive/Defensive Rookie of the Year (4 points), Pro Bowl selection within first two years of career (3 points), other Pro Bowl selections (1 point).

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.

*Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter **@ChaseGoodbread*.

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