College Football 24/7 took on the task this offseason of ranking the top five NFL draft picks of the century (2000-present) from the 30 colleges that produced the most picks over that span. Players were ranked based on a points formula (see below) that rewarded players for various accolades, such as Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro honors.
With the 30-installment series now complete, we look back at the seven schools whose top draft picks compiled the highest point totals to measure which programs have produced the best collection of picks since 2000.
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). In some cases, bonus points were granted for career longevity or outstanding play.
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.
Schools that have produced best picks since 2000
Picks since 2000: 104 (second most)
Best picks since 2000 (points): 1. S Ed Reed (47.3); 2. WR Devin Hester (21.5); 3. WR Andre Johnson (20.9); 4. TE Jimmy Graham (14.3); 5. TE Jeremy Shockey (14.3).
Skinny: Miami ran away with the team rankings in large part due to the deepest field of honorable mentions in the 30-school series. While some schools didn't even have five players who earned points in the formula, the Hurricanes had 18 ranked outside the top five. Former Baltimore Ravens S Ed Reed, whose induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame should be just a matter of time, was a runaway as the No. 1 player. Devin Hester will go down as the one of the best, if not the best, return specialists the NFL has ever seen, and WR Andre Johnson will make a strong Hall of Fame case, as well. Each of UM's top five players was among the elite players in the game at their position, some for more years than others, as were several honorable mentions. In short, this group is loaded like no other.
Picks since 2000: 76 (tied for 10th most)
Best picks since 2000 (points): 1. QB Tom Brady (80.0); 2. OG Steve Hutchinson (35.2); 3. OT Jake Long (14.3); 4. LB LaMarr Woodley (4.8); 5. RB Anthony Thomas (4.8).
Skinny: Naturally, Tom Brady's 80 points were the most of any player in the series by a wide margin. In fact, Brady piled up more points by himself than 19 of 30 schools in the series compiled among all their top draft picks. Still, Brady wasn't the only reason Michigan finished at No. 2 in the team rankings. OG Steve Hutchinson sustained a place among the elite at his position for most of the 2000s. Most of the Michigan contingent has finished their careers, but Titans OT Taylor Lewan is an up-and-comer who would figure to climb the list over time.
Picks since 2000: 102 (third most)
Best picks since 2000 (points): 1. S Troy Polamalu (40.7); 2. C Ryan Kalil (18.0); 3. LB Clay Matthews (16.5); 4. OT Tyron Smith (15.4); 5. Lofa Tatupu (14.4).
Skinny: Anchored by one of the best NFL safeties of the 2000-present era in Troy Polamalu, USC ranked third among all schools. Only six players featured in the series earned 40-plus formula points, and Polamalu was among them (others: Tom Brady, Joe Thomas, J.J. Watt, Ed Reed, Adrian Peterson). The Trojans also have produced some of the league's outstanding active veterans (Clay Matthews, Ryan Kalil, Tyron Smith, Carson Palmer). Among the notable former Trojans who didn't register formula points: Reggie Bush, Marqise Lee, Mark Sanchez, Keith Rivers, Robert Woods and Frostee Rucker.
Picks since 2000: 72 (13th most)
Best picks since 2000 (points): 1. DE J.J. Watt (48.4); 2. OT Joe Thomas (48.4); 3. QB Russell Wilson (11.7), 4. C Travis Frederick (11.0); 5. RB Michael Bennett (3.3).
Skinny: Wisconsin was the only school to produce two players with 40-plus formula points each, and the pair (J.J. Watt, Joe Thomas) finished in a dead heat at 48.4 each. Watt's impact on the game as a three-time Defensive Player of the Year helped him match Thomas, who has the edge over Watt in longevity as a 10-time Pro Bowl selectee. Russell Wilson, of course, played only one season for the Badgers as a graduate transfer, but his 11.7 points helped UW edge out Oklahoma for the No. 4 ranking. Wilson's NFL success has challenged scouting assumptions about the height necessary to play the quarterback position. Another former Badger on the rise is Chargers RB Melvin Gordon, who made big strides from his rookie year to his second pro season.
Picks since 2000: 85 (ninth most)
Best picks since 2000 (points): 1. RB Adrian Peterson (52.8); 2. RB DeMarco Murray (18.2); 3. S Roy Williams (13.2); 4. DT Gerald McCoy (11.0); 5. OT Jammal Brown (9.9).
Skinny: The Sooners leaned heavily on the offensive side of the ball to place fifth among all teams (97.4 of their 127.1 points). A pair of workhorse running backs, Adrian Peterson and DeMarco Murray, accounted for most of those. Peterson's 52.8 points ranked second among all players in the 30-school series, behind Tom Brady's 80.0. And the Sooners have more offensive talent just waiting to make a bigger NFL impact, including second-year WR Sterling Shepard and rookies Joe Mixon, Dede Westbrook and Samaje Perine.
Picks since 2000: 76 (tied for 10th most)
Best picks since 2000 (points): 1. TE Jason Witten (28.6); 2. S Eric Berry (24.2); 3. DT Albert Haynesworth (13.2); 4. RB Jamal Lewis (13.2); 5. LB Jerod Mayo (12.1).
Skinny: Jason Witten paced Tennessee's collection of draft picks as a 10-time Pro Bowl selectee. Witten has more career yards than all but one tight end (Tony Gonzalez), and more than some fabulous wide receivers, Calvin Johnson among them. Tennessee was one of only three programs whose top five picks all totaled double-digit points, along with Miami and USC. Kansas City S Eric Berry, who ranks No. 13 among the NFL's Top 100 Players, ran a fairly close second to Witten.
Picks since 2000: 96 (7th most)
Best picks since 2000 (points): 1. RB Shaun Alexander (23.1); 2. WR Julio Jones (17.6); 3. LB DeMeco Ryans (9.6); 4. S Landon Collins (9.6); 5. OG Evan Mathis (9.1).
Skinny: For all the first-round draft picks Alabama has produced under Nick Saban, and there have been many (21 in 10 years), three of the Tide's top five picks are from the pre-Saban era: RB Shaun Alexander, LB DeMeco Ryans and OG Evan Mathis. WR Julio Jones, the primary offensive weapon on the Falcons' NFC title team, is Alabama's top current pro. Moving quickly up the ranks is Raiders WR Amari Cooper, who has notched Pro Bowl invitations in each of his first two seasons.