football Edit

NFL Draft: Which schools earned bragging rights?

Justin Jefferson
Justin Jefferson (AP Images)

The NFL Draft is over, so this week Rivals.com will be reviewing all the picks. Today, we take a look at which college teams performed best during the NFL Draft, and how it could help their recruiting efforts moving forward.

MORE DRAFT: SEC, Big Ten dominate | 2021: Top 10 and 10 to watch

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2022: Top 100

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LSU (14)

The Tigers had an outstanding draft by any measure and had the most first-round picks, and that won’t be ignored in recruiting. QB Joe Burrow, linebackers K’Lavon Chaisson and Patrick Queen, receiver Justin Jefferson and RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire went in the first round. LSU players were then picked in every round except the fifth, and defensive backs Grant Delpit and Kristian Fulton went as second-rounders. Coach Ed Orgeron and the Tigers had the Heisman Trophy winner this past year and then won the national championship. The cherry on top was an outstanding draft weekend.

Farrell’s take: I guess this is why they won a national title, huh? Talk about a loaded roster, and that doesn’t even include the best defensive player in Derek Stingley Jr. and elite wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. The roster talent is at an all-time high at LSU and based on the 2020 recruiting efforts, it could get even better if the Tigers continue to recruit nationally.

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MICHIGAN (10)

In the 2017 NFL Draft, Michigan had 11 players taken. It was not as good this year, but almost, with 10 selections led by first-rounder center Cesar Ruiz and second-round linebacker Josh Uche. Three other interior offensive linemen - Ben Bredeson, Mike Onwenu and Jon Runyan - were all picked, along with other defensive players and former five-star wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, the only Michigan skill player taken. One player missing was former five-star quarterback Shea Patterson.

Farrell’s take: The most underachieving program in college football is ... your Michigan Wolverines. Jim Harbaugh recruits well and players develop into NFL draft picks, but they don’t win their division or bowl games. I’m not really sure if this high number is a good thing or an embarrassment - and that’s a problem.

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OHIO STATE (10)

Chase Young
Chase Young (AP Images)

A year after putting nine players in the NFL Draft, Ohio State outdid itself with 10 picks in this draft, including first-rounders Chase Young (DE) and defensive backs Jeffrey Okudah and Damon Arnette, one of the biggest surprises of the first round. Running back J.K. Dobbins was a fringe first-rounder, but only one RB was taken in the opening round and the former high four-star was picked in the second round. The third round was also especially busy for the Buckeyes with three players going there: DT Davon Hamilton, OG Jonah Jackson and LB Malik Harrison. There’s a chance QB Justin Fields could go No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Farrell’s take: The Buckeyes not only produce NFL draft picks, they also produce NFL stars, and that’s the big difference between Ohio State and Michigan. And it’s noticed by recruits as well. Continually putting multiple first-rounders into the draft will only make Ryan Day’s recruiting job easier.

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ALABAMA (9)

The Crimson Tide came, they saw and they put nine players in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft. It was an impressive run again for Alabama, which actually broke its own streak of double-digit draft picks for three straight drafts prior to this one. It has been an incredible run for Alabama, which had four first-rounders this year in QB Tua Tagovailoa, offensive lineman Jedrick Wills and receivers Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy. It was a slight surprise that safety Xavier McKinney fell to the second round, but he was the first player at that position off the board.

Farrell’s take: There’s not much to say here. Nick Saban recruits players and develops them, and Alabama is still the best feeder program to the NFL of any team in college football, hands down.

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CLEMSON (7)

Last year, Clemson put six players in the NFL Draft, and the Tigers did one better this year with seven, led by first-rounders Isaiah Simmons (LB) and A.J. Terrell (CB). In a loaded wide receiver draft class, former five-star Tee Higgins was a second-round pick. Safety Tanner Muse, a former three-star prospect, went in the third round. Heading into the 2021 NFL Draft, things could get really interesting for Clemson, as quarterback Trevor Lawrence should be the No. 1 overall pick and running back Travis Etienne could be the first running back off the board.

Farrell’s take: This number will continue to rise, as recruiting has taken the next step under Dabo Swinney after a couple of national titles. Lawrence will go No. 1 next year and the Tigers will likely have a few first-rounders each year for the foreseeable future. Amazingly, the roster is about to be as talented as it ever has been.

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FLORIDA (7)

Dan Mullen is already putting a major stamp on the Florida program. Cornerback C.J. Henderson went in the first round, the first corner taken after Okudah. The Gators had three receivers drafted in Van Jefferson, Freddie Swain and Tyrie Cleveland. Running back Lamical Perine was also taken, and then defensive ends Jabari Zuniga and Jonathan Greenard were picked. As it stands heading into 2021, Florida has a bunch of fringe first-rounders again that could move up with a strong season.

Farrell’s take: The Gators always produce NFL level talent, and this will improve under Mullen, who did a great job of developing NFL talent at Mississippi State. Will Florida take over the SEC East as soon as this season? It could.

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GEORGIA (7)

Andrew Thomas
Andrew Thomas (AP Images)

From a recruiting standpoint, it certainly cannot hurt that the Bulldogs had two first-round offensive linemen in Andrew Thomas, (a surprise that he went so early in the first round and was the No. 4 overall pick), and former five-star Isaiah Wilson, who many had mocked somewhere in the second round. Running back D’Andre Swift slipped out of the first round, but was still a solid second-round pick as Georgia finished with seven picks. Another surprising move was that quarterback Jake Fromm fell to the fourth round because of questions about his arm strength.

Farrell’s take: Kirby Smart has taken recruiting to the next level at Georgia, and he came a play away from the national title. This number will continue to rise as long as he recruits the way he has been.

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UTAH (7)

The Utes did not have any first-round selections, but they still made a major statement, especially when it comes to developing defensive players. Six of the seven Utah players drafted came from the defensive side of the ball, led by former high four-star CB Jaylon Johnson. Safeties Julian Blackmon and Terrell Burgess and then DL Leki Fotu, Bradlee Anae and John Penisini were all taken. Running back Zack Moss was the lone offensive player taken.

Farrell’s take: Surprised? Maybe we shouldn’t be, because Kyle Whittingham is one of the best evaluators of talent in the country. For every four-star like Johnson he produces an NFL three-star like Moss. Utah’s roster is always loaded.

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AUBURN (6)

Top recruits along the defensive line should definitely take notice of Auburn’s success here, with five-star Derrick Brown going in the first round and Marlon Davidson going in the second round. It was also a mild surprise that cornerback Noah Igbinoghene went in the first round, which should only further help recruiting. Brown and Davidson came to Auburn with huge expectations and they more than backed up their five-star rankings in the NFL Draft.

Farrell’s take: Gus Malzahn recruits well and the roster always has elite talent on it. That’s the frustration for the fans, as they expect things to come together for the SEC West but they are still behind Alabama and LSU. If Auburn were in any other conference the Tigers be a title threat every year.

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NOTRE DAME (6)

Numerous tight end prospects in the 2020 class that have Notre Dame high on their lists definitely watched closely as Cole Kmet was the first one off the board at that position. Receiver Chase Claypool was also a surprise second-rounder after running so well at the combine. Defensive ends Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem getting picked before the end of the fifth round was definitely impressive as well.

Farrell’s take: This is impressive, because Brian Kelly has academic restrictions that others on this list don't have. So to have NFL-caliber players navigate the high academic standards at Notre Dame at the same time is indeed an accomplishment.

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