U-Who? LSU, Miami top contenders for title of 'Wide Receiver U'

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The next group in our "U-Who?" series is wide receiver. Last year's rookie class at the position might have been the best of all time, and this year's crop certainly looks promising, as six wide receivers were selected in the first round (one more than in 2014).

Clearly, NFL teams see the value in having a star at the position.

So, which college program is best at producing NFL players at wide receiver? Here's a look at the top 10 candidates for the title of "Wide Receiver U," based on a 15-year history of their draft picks at the position, factoring in the overall quality of the group, too.

10. Pittsburgh

First-round picks last 15 years: 2
Top three rounds: 3
Total drafted: 5
The skinny: Eight-time Pro Bowl selection Larry Fitzgerald leads the Panthers' group, and the drop-off is steep after that, although 2002 second-round pick Antonio Bryant did have two 1,000-yard seasons. Jon Baldwin, a first-rounder in 2011, was a huge bust.

9. Georgia Tech

First-round picks last 15 years: 2
Top three rounds: 3
Total drafted: 5
The skinny: A school that runs a triple-option offense cracks a "WR U" list? Well, the Yellow Jackets might be relying heavily on Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas to make their claim, but that's heck of a duo to call on. Stephen Hill, a second-round pick in 2012, has been a flop to this point. The school had two wide receivers drafted this year -- fourth-rounder DeAndre Smelter (49ers) and sixth-rounder Darren Waller (Ravens).

8. Michigan

First-round picks last 15 years: 2
Top three rounds: 5
Total drafted: 10
The skinny: The Wolverines haven't had a wide receiver drafted in the first round since 2004 (Braylon Edwards). Jason Avant proved to be a valuable fourth-round pick for the Eagles, making close to 300 receptions over eight seasons in Philly. Between Edwards and former Bears first-round pick David Terrell, however, there was more unfulfilled promise than production.

7. Clemson

First-round picks last 15 years: 3
Top three rounds: 3
Total drafted: 7
The skinny: Rod Gardner (Redskins), DeAndre Hopkins (Texans) and Sammie Watkins (Bills) were first-round picks for the Tigers. Gardner was a fixture as a Redskins starter for four years before his career fizzled elsewhere, while Hopkins took a major step forward as a second-year pro in 2014. Despite quarterback issues in Buffalo, Watkins posted nearly 1,000 yards as a rookie last season.

6. Florida

First-round picks last 15 years: 1
Top three rounds: 6
Total drafted: 11
The skinny:Percy Harvin has proven to be a first-round-caliber athlete in the NFL, if not something of a locker room headache and an injury-prone one at that. But the most productive long-term was Jabar Gaffney, a second-round pick of the Houston Texans in 2002 who enjoyed his best pro season in his 10th year in the league (68 catches with the Redskins in 2011).

Check out the top 10 players from Ohio State to play in the NFL.

5. Ohio State

First-round picks last 15 years: 4
Top three rounds: 7
Total drafted: 13
The skinny: There have been some Buckeye first-rounders that didn't quite pan out (Anthony Gonzalez, Michael Jenkins), and former first-rounder Ted Ginn, Jr., has recorded fewer than 500 yards receiving in six of his eight pro seasons. Still, there have been a lot of cards turned in with Buckeye receivers on them. Next up: second-rounder Devin Smith, a Jets rookie this fall.

4. Florida State

First-round picks last 15 years: 2
Top three rounds: 5
Total drafted: 10
The skinny:Anquan Boldin carries the wide receiver torch for the Seminoles as much as anyone over the last 15 years, having posted his seventh career 1,000-yard receiving season with the 49ers last year in his 12th pro season. Javon Walker had one magical season in 2004 (89 catches, 1,382 yards, 12 TDs) but was never able to assemble any consistency in his pro career. Last year, the Panthers invested a first-round pick in Kelvin Benjamin, who reached the 1,000-yard mark as a rookie.

Take a look at the top 10 players from USC to play in the NFL.

3. USC

First-round picks last 15 years: 3
Top three rounds: 10
Total drafted: 12
The skinny: First-round picks R. Jay Soward and Mike Williams couldn't have worked out much worse on the pro level, but Nelson Agholor will look to turn that fortune as a first-round rookie with the Philadelphia Eagles this fall. Marqise Lee was a second-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars last year, and flashed some ability that could translate into bigger things in 2015.

2. LSU

First-round picks last 15 years: 4
Top three rounds: 10
Total drafted: 14
The skinny:Odell Beckham, Jr., stamps a certain approval on LSU's claim. He's one of the most exciting young players in the NFL. Beckham was a first-round pick last year, as were Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis in 2007, and Michael Clayton in 2004. Jarvis Landry, a second-rounder in 2014, made 84 catches as a Dolphins rookie. Other LSU pros in the span: Devery Henderson, Josh Reed, Brandon LaFell and Rueben Randle.

1. Miami

First-round picks last 15 years: 4
Top three rounds: 7
Total drafted: 11
The skinny: In terms of overall numbers, LSU has had more receivers drafted over the last 15 years than Miami and more picked in the top three rounds, but there is no getting around what the Hurricanes' first-round picks have done in the NFL. Reggie Wayne and Andre Johnson need no introduction, and Santana Moss had a productive career as well. The other first-rounder, Phillip Dorsett, will be a rookie this fall.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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