U-Who? LSU, Texas among top contenders for 'DL U' title

Kyle-Williams-TOS-150608

Next up in CFB 24/7's "U-Who?" series are the menacing defensive linemen that hunt down the quarterback and make life miserable for offenses. While the assignment for many defenders hasn't changed over the years, the rise of the "edge rusher" position blurs the line between defensive lineman and linebacker. We looked at players that were primarily defensive ends in college (and might have stood up to become outside linebackers in the NFL) or played defensive end for much of their time in the league, as well as the big boys in the middle at defensive tackle.

Which college program is best at producing NFL players along the defensive line? Here's a look at the top 10 candidates for the title of "DL U," based on a 15-year history of their draft picks at the position, factoring in the overall quality of the group, too.

10. Miami (Fla.)

First-round picks past 15 years:4
Top three rounds:8
Total drafted:14
The skinny: The pipeline from "The U" has dried up a bit in recent years. Still, it's hard to argue with the Hurricanes' ability to churn out quality players in the trenches, from All-Pros such as Vince Wilfork to other stars like Calais Campbell. Nearly half of the defensive linemen drafted from Miami became solid starters, and a number of others turned into solid players who had more than just a cup of tea in the league.

9. Tennessee

First-round picks past 15 years:5
Top three rounds:7
Total drafted:14
The skinny: You have to go back a bit to really see the Vols churning out defensive linemen like John Henderson and Albert Haynesworth, but the program has been pretty consistent in producing defensive linemen over the past 15 years. Seven of the 14 picks ended up becoming multi-year starters and several of the younger players have shown promise early in their careers. There wasn't a huge bust among the early round picks, outside of Justin Harrell.

8. Ohio State

First-round picks past 15 years:4
Top three rounds:9
Total drafted:15
The skinny: It's pretty impressive to see the sheer number of players the Buckeyes have produced over the years. There have been notable busts (Vernon Gholston, sorry New York Jets fans), but quite a few solid starters and other quality players. OSU figures to creep even higher on this list in the coming years with talents like Joey Bosa in the pipeline.

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

7. Missouri

First-round picks past 15 years:5
Top three rounds:8
Total drafted:13
The skinny: Missouri has turned into quite the defensive lineman factory recently, but it's no stranger to producing quality players at the position, such as Justin Smith. The team's recent surge in pumping out top-notch edge rushers is highlighted by Shane Ray and Aldon Smith. The quantity might not match that of other schools on this list, but the quality is impressive.

6. USC

First-round picks past 15 years:6
Top three rounds:10
Total drafted:15
The skinny: There's no question that USC is a football factory, but there have been a few misses when it comes to some of its picks along the defensive line. Others, of course, have panned out well, especially recent picks. Everson Griffen and Jurrell Casey are budding stars, and Leonard Williams was one of the best players available in the 2015 draft.

5. Florida

First-round picks past 15 years:6
Top three rounds:8
Total drafted:17
The skinny: The Gators have had a defensive lineman selected in all but three of the past 15 drafts, and nearly 60 percent of them went on to become a team's primary starter early in their careers. There are no sure-fire Hall of Famers among the group, but there are a number of solid players and promising young talents like Sharrif Floyd, Dominique Easley and Dante Fowler. If not for a handful of busts, Florida might be higher in the rankings.

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

4. Georgia

First-round picks past 15 years:4
Top three rounds:8
Total drafted:19
The skinny: Given the amount of talent in the state, it should not be a surprise to see the Bulldogs high on the list. They're led by players like Richard Seymour and Geno Atkins, but there have been a number of other solid players in the trenches from UGA. Of the 19 picks, eight eventually became regular starters in the NFL and, with the exception of Johnathan Sullivan, most of their early-round picks have tended to stick in the league.

3. Florida State

First-round picks past 15 years:5
Top three rounds: 12
Total drafted:18
The skinny: It shouldn't be surprising to see Florida State check in high on the list given the players the school has produced over the years. As a matter of fact, nine of the 18 FSU defensive linemen drafted in the past 15 years took snaps last season in the NFL. There have been some busts, which prevented the Noles from being even higher on the list. Recent picks like Eddie Goldman, Mario Edwards, Jr., and Timmy Jernigan show the pipeline from Tallahassee to the pros is well-stocked.

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

2. Texas

First-round picks past 15 years:4
Top three rounds:9
Total drafted:16
The skinny: The Longhorns have been able to cobble together quite a collection of defensive linemen over the years. Very few Texas players flamed out in the league, and most had productive careers -- 12 of the 16 picks became quality starters in the league. No class on this list produced as many Pro Bowlers as UT, and big names like Casey Hampton and Brian Orakpo help headline an impressive group of players who made an impact in the trenches.

1. LSU

First-round picks past 15 years:4
Top three rounds:11
Total drafted:21
The skinny: It's hard to argue with LSU's track record, as the school has had at least one defensive lineman picked in all but two of the last 15 drafts. While the number of first-round picks didn't check in as the highest, the total drafted was up there, and a good chunk of those players became starters. Some careers haven't panned out quite as well as some had hoped and some have been slow starters in the league, but it's a pretty solid group, with only a handful of quick exits. With coach Ed Orgeron now in charge of the Tigers' defensive line, chances are the pipeline won't dry up any time soon.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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