U-Who? USC, FSU top contenders for title of 'Quarterback U'

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NFL teams can't afford to miss on quarterbacks early in the draft, yet it can be a trickier position than most to project pro success from the college ranks. Andrew Luck, NFL personnel executives will tell you, was an easy one. Others -- ahem, Johnny Manziel -- aren't quite as predictable.

Some college programs do a better job of recruiting and developing quarterbacks than others, and ultimately, many of the same schools are equally adept at preparing them for the pro game. College Football 24/7 takes a look at 10 programs who stand out as candidates for the title of "Quarterback U" based on a 15-year history of their NFL draft picks at the position, factoring in the overall quality of the group, too.

10. Louisville

First-round picks last 15 years: 1
Top three rounds: 3
Total drafted: 4
The skinny: The Cardinals make a stronger case than some other schools with bigger names. Teddy Bridgewater is the program's new link to the pros, following Brian Brohm, Stefan LeFors and Dave Ragone. Chris Redman just missed the 15-year cutoff as a 2000 draftee.

9. North Carolina State

First-round picks last 15 years: 1
Top three rounds: 2
Total drafted: 2
The skinny: N.C. State makes our list even without the help of Russell Wilson, who is excluded since he transferred to Wisconsin for his final college season. Philip Rivers has been selected to five Pro Bowls and Mike Glennon has made 18 starts through two NFL seasons.

8. Oregon

First-round picks last 15 years: 2
Top three rounds: 3
Total drafted: 5
The skinny: It's all up to Marcus Mariota to carry the Ducks' quarterback tradition in the Sunday league. If their NFL careers were a card game, the four other Oregon quarterbacks drafted in the last 15 years wouldn't have a pair of twos between them: Dennis Dixon, Kellen Clemens, Joey Harrington and A.J. Feeley.

7. Cal

First-round picks last 15 years: 2
Top three rounds: 2
Total drafted: 2
The skinny: Cal's candidacy isn't unlike Stanford's -- one shining star in Aaron Rodgers, and a nearly absent supporting cast. Kyle Boller never met first-round expectations in Baltimore.

6. Auburn

First-round picks last 15 years: 2
Top three rounds: 2
Total drafted: 2
The skinny: The list is short, but it has some punch. The Carolina Panthers continue to make Cam Newton, the top overall pick in 2011, the centerpiece of their offense. With some new, younger weapons around him, Newton's career arc should hold steady. Jason Campbell was a late first-round pick of the Washington Redskins in 2005, and while he never broke into star status in the NFL, he's made 79 career starts in the pros.

5. Georgia

First-round picks last 15 years: 1
Top three rounds: 3
Total drafted: 5
The skinny:Matthew Stafford is one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL and has been what the Lions needed as a No. 1 overall pick in 2009. Aaron Murray's pro career hasn't shown itself one way or the other yet, but the rest of Georgia's draftees in the last 15 years didn't stick around long: D.J. Shockley, David Greene and Quincy Carter.

4. Purdue

First-round picks last 15 years: 0
Top three rounds: 0
Total drafted: 3
The skinny: This group might be the only one on the list that lacks a first-round pick, but Drew Brees -- the first pick of the second round in 2001 -- elevates it with his stellar career, which reached new heights with Sean Payton in New Orleans. Kyle Orton made 67 starts during his 10 NFL seasons, and Curtis Painter made eight starts while Peyton Manning was sidelined for the Colts in 2011.

3. Stanford

First-round picks last 15 years: 1
Top three rounds: 2
Total drafted: 3
The skinny: Can the NFL's best young quarterback stamp Stanford as QB U by himself? No, Andrew Luck can't quite do that. Luck has Colts fans primed for a great career ride -- between Luck and Manning, they'll end up with a virtually uninterrupted stretch of two decades or more with stellar quarterback play -- but Stanford's only other draftees since 2001 have been Trent Edwards and Randy Fasani.

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

2. Florida State

First-round picks last 15 years: 3
Top three rounds: 3
Total drafted: 5
The skinny: It remains to be seen whether Jameis Winston can lift the Buccaneers to new heights, but there is more hope in Tampa Bay right now than there is in Buffalo, where 2013 first-rounder EJ Manuel is facing a now-or-never season for the Bills. Meanwhile, Christian Ponder has moved on to a backup role with the Oakland Raiders. Also picked: Adrian McPherson (2005 fifth-rounder to Saints) and Chris Weinke (2001 fourth-rounder to Panthers).

1. USC

First-round picks last 15 years: 3
Top three rounds: 3
Total drafted: 6
The skinny: No other school in the country has had three quarterbacks picked in the top 10 over the last 15 years, although Carson Palmer is the only one of the three who even approached that kind of value (Mark Sanchez and Matt Leinart are the others). Still, a first-round pick every five years on average is a rate of quarterback production that sustains all the necessary credibility for "QB U." Other draftees: Matt Barkley, John David Booty and former seventh-rounder Matt Cassel, who has to be in elite company for seventh-round longevity as an 11th-year pro this fall.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread.*

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