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By the Numbers: Comparing team recruiting ranking to draft results

Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.

With the 2017 NFL Draft in the books, we thought it would be interesting to see which programs produced the most draft picks compared to how they ranked in our team rankings from 2012-14. As you can see, Michigan surprised some by leading the way in 2017, but several other programs had impressive showing during the draft as well. Here’s how it all breaks down.

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Jabrill Peppers
Jabrill Peppers (AP Images)

The skinny: The Michigan program has obviously been on an upswing since Jim Harbaugh took over in 2015, but its production in this year’s draft came as somewhat of a surprise. The surprise is that the 11 players that were drafted last week was not about Harbaugh’s recruiting prowess. However, his player development was huge as many of these guys took the next step when he took over. So now that Harbaugh is in full control and recruiting at an even higher level, will the Wolverines’ draft output increase even more in the coming years? It should.

2012 team ranking: 7

2013 team ranking: 5

2014 team ranking: 31

Average ranking 2012-14: 14.3

Farrell’s take: Brady Hoke recruited well, that much is clear, he just didn’t develop players like Harbaugh does. So when you combine Harbaugh’s ability to recruit with his (and his staff’s) ability to develop players, you should see more Michigan players in the top rounds. They may not produce double digit numbers each year, that’s tough, but you should see more high profile guys. And two first-rounders this year is not shabby.


Reuben Foster
Reuben Foster (AP Images)

The skinny: While Michigan’s draft success may have come as a surprise, Alabama’s is now assumed. Finishing with the top recruiting class in the country from 2012 to 2014, the amount of talent brought into Tuscaloosa during that time period was sure to produce plentiful NFL-level players, which is exactly what occurred. The Tide also saw four more players get picked in the first round, giving them a total of 21 for this decade.

2012 team ranking: 1

2013 team ranking: 1

2014 team ranking: 1

Average ranking 2012-14: 1.0

Farrell’s take: Stunner, huh? Actually the only surprise is that Alabama doesn’t lead the way here and perhaps that they didn’t have five first-rounders as Cam Robinson slipped to the top of round two. No one recruits better and no one produces more NFL talent than Nick Saban, bottom line.


David Njoku
David Njoku (AP Images)

The skinny: While Miami’s production on the field has been inconsistent, the ‘Canes did make an upward push in the NFL Draft this year. The nine draft picks that Miami produced was the most the school has sent to the NFL since 2006. While only one of this year’s picks, David Njoku, came in the first three rounds, it is still a step in the right direction for the program. And with Mark Richt bringing a new energy to the program, the ‘Canes should once again become a mainstay in the NFL Draft in the coming years.

2012 team ranking: 9

2013 team ranking: 20

2014 team ranking: 12

Average ranking 2012-14: 13.7

Farrell’s take: This is a good sign for Miami and a few of their picks developed greatly under Richt. The recruiting at Miami is taking the next step, Richt knows how to develop NFL players and The U could be back in the NFL first round business in a big way in a few years. These numbers seem to be in line with the recruiting ranking.


Leonard Fournette
Leonard Fournette (AP Images)

The skinny: After two somewhat disappointing showings in the NFL Draft in 2015 and 2016, the Tigers rebounded in 2017 with eight draft selections. Leading the way were three first-rounders: Leonard Fournette, Jamal Adams and Tre’Davious White. This type of production has been the norm in Baton Rouge and should once again become that under Ed Orgeron.

2012 team ranking: 18

2013 team ranking: 6

2014 team ranking: 2

Average ranking 2012-14: 8.7

Farrell’s take: Two of the top six picks in the draft and three first-rounders proves two things to me. First, LSU underachieved last season under both coaches. Second, the Tigers continue to be one of the elite programs when it comes to recruiting top-level talent. I expect them to churn out numerous high-level NFL picks over the next few years and recruit well, but can they beat Alabama on the field? I doubt it.


Jarrad Davis
Jarrad Davis (AP Images)

The skinny: Despite having some lackluster performances here and there on the field in recent years, the Gators continue to churn out NFL talent. Jarrad Davis was the only first round pick for the Gators this year, but the program again showed its depth in the secondary with three picks in the second round: Marcus May, Quincy Wilson and Jalen Tabor. Considering the Gators struggles on offense in recent years, it should come as no surprise that seven of the eight draft picks last week came from the defensive side of the ball.

2012 team ranking: 3

2013 team ranking: 4

2014 team ranking: 8

Average ranking 2012-14: 5.0

Farrell’s take: The Gators always attract talent and, based on those recruiting rankings you see from 2012-14, they should have even more picks in the draft. The defensive production is very impressive, but the offense has been the problem and continues to be. If and when Jim McElwain turns that around then perhaps they can start churning out more offensive picks, but the lack of balance for the draft picks is glaring and reflected on the field.


Isaac Asiata
Isaac Asiata (AP Images)

The skinny: Considering the Utes’ average team ranking from 2012 to 2014, the accomplishment of having eight players drafted is impressive. The eight players the Utes had drafted was the most the program has ever had in one year. Leading the way for the Utes this year was offensive tackle Garrett Bolles, who was selected in the first round. The Utes also saw three other offensive linemen get selected last week: Isaac Asiata, J.J. Dielman and Sam Tevi.

2012 team ranking: 28

2013 team ranking: 44

2014 team ranking: 66

Average ranking 2012-14: 46.0

Farrell’s take: How about the Utes? Never ranking in our Top 25 from 2012-14 yet ranking with and ahead of some of the big boys when it comes to producing NFL talent. This is the reason Utah will continue to be a Pac-12 contender because they find kids others don’t want and develop them very well.


Malik Hooker
Malik Hooker (AP Images)

The skinny: After a remarkable 2016 NFL Draft, when 12 Buckeyes were drafted, the program followed that up with seven more getting selected. Most impressive has been Ohio State’s ability to produce defensive backs in the last two years. Two members of the secondary were drafted in the first two rounds last year, which was followed up with three - Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker and Gareon Conley - all getting picked in the first round last week.

2012 team ranking: 4

2013 team ranking: 2

2014 team ranking: 3

Average ranking 2012-14: 3.0

Farrell’s take: After last year’s haul you had to expect a slight fall in 2017 and, while that happened, there wasn’t that much of a drop off. With an average recruiting ranking bested only by Alabama, this is what is expected under Urban Meyer as he has been consistently sending top NFL draft picks to the league since he was at Utah.


Deshaun Watson
Deshaun Watson (AP Images)

The skinny: With the success that the Tigers have experienced on the field in recent years, it should be expected that the program also succeed in the NFL Draft. From Clemson’s explosive offensive unit, Mike Williams and Deshaun Watson both went in the first round as expected, plus Wayne Gallman and Jordan Leggett were selected in the fourth and fifth rounds respectively. With Clemson’s defense turning heads, look for more players from that unit to be selected in the coming years.

2012 team ranking: 14

2013 team ranking: 14

2014 team ranking: 13

Average ranking 2012-14: 13.7

Farrell’s take: This number will continue to increase after the national title and with some of the young talent on the roster. Recruiting is off the charts for Clemson these days and there are so many young NFL prospects on the roster its ridiculous. Could Dexter Lawrence go No. 1 overall in 2019? Could Christian Wilkins be a top five pick in 2018? Both could happen and they are just one of many.


Derek Barnett
Derek Barnett (AP Images)

The skinny: Tennessee’s NFL Draft success has been somewhat disappointing in recent years, with only 10 players getting selected from 2011 to 2016. Amazingly this included no Vols being selected in both 2015 and 2016. With this in mind, getting six players into the NFL Draft is definitely a step in the right direction. While Derek Barnett was the only player selected in the first two rounds, players like Alvin Kamara, Cameron Sutton and Jalen Reeves-Maybin all have the potential to make an impact as a rookie.

2012 team ranking: 17

2013 team ranking: 21

2014 team ranking: 5

Average ranking 2012-14: 14.3

Farrell’s take: It’s about time! This is in large part to the recruiting success of Butch Jones of course and some solid player development. The results on the field haven’t been what fans have expected, especially in a weak SEC East, but after zero picks in 2015 and 2016, this is a welcome change and will help recruiting in the future. Based on the average recruiting ranking, in line with programs like Michigan and Miami, this number could be a little higher.


Mitchell Trubisky
Mitchell Trubisky (AP Images)

The skinny: North Carolina has become one of the steadiest producers of NFL talent during the current decade. The Tar Heels continued this trend last week with six picks, highlighted by the surprising selection by Chicago of Mitch Trubisky as the second pick. Considering how explosive North Carolina’s offensive unit has been in recent years, it should come as no surprise that joining Trubisky in the draft were running backs T.J. Logan and Elijah Hood, plus wide receivers Mack Hollins and Ryan Switzer.

2012 team ranking: 44

2013 team ranking: 42

2014 team ranking: 23

Average ranking 2012-14: 36.3

Farrell’s take: North Carolina, like Utah, is an outlier having been in our Top 25 only once and averaging outside our Top 25 overall. The Tar Heels have done a great job of landing and developing talent and a solid job keeping some key kids at home. To keep this going Larry Fedora will have to balance it out a bit more with defensive players.