football Edit

Five programs with disappointing NFL Draft success

Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.

With the NFL Draft starting on Thursday, it’s always fun to look back in recent history to see trends. In our NFL Draft series we’re looking at different aspects of the first round and today we analyze some disappointing schools that haven’t produced as many recent first-rounders as you’d expect. Since 2011, there are some power programs that have really fallen off.

Note: Teams are in order based on my level if disappointment.

NFL DRAFT: Schools with most first-rounders | Schools with surprising success

MOCK DRAFTS: Farrell | Gorney



Joe Mixon
Joe Mixon (USA TODAY Sports Images)

This continues to be a difficult one to figure out. The other programs on this list have all had on-field struggles, coaching changes and/or off-the-field situations, but the Sooners continue to win games on the field and have had Bob Stoops in place since 1999. Amazingly, Lane Johnson remains the only Sooner to be drafted in the first round since 2011 and his story is quite an uncommon one. The Sooners continue to pull in top-level recruiting classes, but for whatever reason they have not been able to transition those players into first-round NFL Draft picks.

Farrell’s take: While some of it has to do with the lack of talent in Texas in recent years, Oklahoma has still recruited California and other states for high-level talent. It just hasn’t produced first-rounders for whatever reason. Obviously Joe Mixon would be a first-rounder without his off-field incident and off-field issues have also kept DeDe Westbrook off the first round board for most. Barring a stunner, this streak will continue this year but it hasn’t stopped the Sooners from winning on the field and recruiting, despite a couple of recent de-commitments, has been as strong as ever.


D'Onta Foreman
D'Onta Foreman (USA TODAY Sports Images)

As Texas’ woes continue on the field, their woes during the NFL Draft have also been magnified. Many of the elite in-state recruits have been heading to Texas A&M, Baylor, TCU, Texas Tech, Houston or out-of-state, and many of those who chose the Longhorns haven’t developed.

The Longhorns have only produced two first-round draft picks since 2011 – Kenny Vaccaro and Malcom Brown. And in 2016, aside from not producing any first-round picks, the Longhorns only had one player selected in the entire draft, Hassan Ridgeway in the fourth round. With Tom Herman now in charge in Austin, will he be able to rekindle the Longhorns’ fire in recruiting?

Farrell’s take: The talent in the state of Texas was down a bit over the last five or six years, but is starting to rebound with four different five-stars in the 2017 cycle. The problem? Texas didn’t land one of them. The lack of can’t-miss five-stars in Texas prior to 2017 combined with the recruiting competition of rising programs within Texas and programs from the SEC has led to the lack of first-rounders for the Longhorns. Linebacker Malik Jefferson is showing signs of being a very high pick when his turn comes and Connor Williams to me is a surefire first-rounder, but this will take some time. There is plenty of young talent on the roster and D’Onta Foreman was considered an outside possibility as a first-rounder, but that likely won’t happen. Texas needs to get this number up to five or six over the next few years. There’s no excuse.


Jabrill Peppers
Jabrill Peppers (USA TODAY Sports Images)

Jim Harbaugh has done an extremely impressive job drawing elite talent to Ann Arbor since he took over in 2015, but it will take time to see the signs of that during the NFL Draft. In the meantime, the Wolverines continue to flounder during the draft, with only one player, Taylor Lewan, being selected in the first round since 2011. From 2000 to 2008, the Wolverines regularly had at least five players drafted per year, but this has not happened since 2008 when six players were selected. Things are on the upswing in Ann Arbor on the field, but it will be interesting to see if this also translates to increased success during the NFL Draft.

Farrell’s take: This number is going to rise, there is little doubt about it, and Michigan could add a couple this year with Jabrill Peppers and Taco Charlton. The Wolverines will certainly add quite a few picks overall in the draft as well. But the way Harbaugh recruits, this is going to change when it comes to elite NFL talent. I fully expect Michigan to go from this disappointment list into the top 10 for first-round-producing programs within the next three years.


Phillip Dorsett
Phillip Dorsett (USA TODAY Sports Images)

While Miami continues to have the most ex-Canes in the NFL, the recent production has been somewhat lackluster, at least for its standards. However, things may be changing in Coral Gables, as the Canes produced two first-round picks in 2015, with Ereck Flowers and Phillip Dorsett, and then one more in 2016 with Artie Burns. Prior to this recent improvement, the last Miami player to be selected in the first round was Kenny Phillips, when he was chosen by the New York Giants way back in 2008. New coach Mark Richt seems to have revitalized recruiting in Miami, so now the next step will be doing the same on the field and then the NFL Draft.

Farrell’s take: This is actually disturbing to see as someone who has followed college football since Jim Kelly was slinging passes for the ‘Canes, but hope is on the way. David Njoku should land in the first round and I can see many more as long as Richt is in charge. The Canes' run of first-rounders from 2000 to 2008 can only be touched by Alabama, but the dropoff is so substantial it just highlights what a disappointment the ‘Canes have been since moving to the ACC. There have been some recruiting restrictions and of course an infamous scandal, but it comes down to schools not being afraid to go into South Florida and steal recruits, something Urban Meyer really started upon his arrival at Florida. But now it’s much harder to steal kids away and Richt has things rolling when it comes to recruiting elite talent.


Chris Godwin
Chris Godwin (USA TODAY Sports Images)

While the much publicized Jerry Sandusky scandal obviously threw the Penn State program into disarray, it is still odd to see the Nittany Lions with no first-round draft picks since 2010. The sanctions, loss of scholarships and resulting negative recruiting set the program back, but there now is light at the end of the tunnel in Happy Valley. Coach James Franklin definitely has the program steered in the right direction now, so will this result in some first-round picks in the coming years? The loss of Micah Parsons, whether permanent or temporary, hurts, but last year’s class was loaded and 2018 is still off to a great start.

Farrell’s take: Christian Hackenberg was at one time considered the No. 1 prospect in the 2016 class. Anyone remember that? But a lack of development and depth issues along the offensive line killed those chances. Wide receiver Chris Godwin has first-round ability but he will likely land in round two or three while in 2018 everyone expects Saquon Barkley to be a surefire first-rounder, but it will take time to build back up.