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Overachiever or underachiever? Ranking all ACC teams

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Today,’s NFL Draft-based analytic series takes a closer look at the data in the ACC, a league that produced the study’s most over-performing team (Duke) and the third-most underperforming program (North Carolina).

As a refresher, the study is a measure of overachieving and underachieving based on NFL talent each college team has on its roster juxtaposed with the program’s number of wins, top-25 finishes and titles produced over a 10-year period. We used the below formula created by's Rob Cassidy and statistician D. Kyle Burkett on every Power Five conference team, and the median score among them was used as the basis to determine just how much each team overachieved or underachieved based on its NFL talent.

The formula is as follows:

Talent Efficiency Score = ((Wins/3)+(AP Top 25 Finishes x 3) + (Power Conference Title x 6) + (Group of Five Conference titles x 3) + (National titles x 9)) / TOTAL DRAFT PICKS

NOTE: In the case of a split conference title, the points were divided among all winners.

Duke, which owns the best score in the country, tops the list in the ACC and North Carolina brings up the rear, but there are a number of other interesting performances trapped in between. Miami, which also finds itself in the bottom five nationally, saw 47 NFL Draftees suit up in the last 10 years but has managed just three top-25 finishes and one 10-win campaign, which took place a season ago.

The league’s second-highest finisher, Georgia Tech, ranked ninth nationally among overachieving teams, as head coach Paul Johnson, who took over at the school in the first year of the study, has coached the Yellow Jackets to an ACC title and two BCS-level bowls despite averaging a pedestrian 2.1 draft picks per year. More impressive is the fact Johnson has had just two losing seasons in his decade as the program’s coach.

Below is a team-by-team look at the ACC, with No. 1 being the biggest overachieving program based on success vs. the NFL talent on its roster and No. 14 being the league's most underachieving program:

1. DUKE - 4.312 above the median score

Record: 59-67

Top-25 Finishes: 1

Conference Titles: 0

National Titles: 0

NFL Picks: 4

Duke hasn’t set the college football world on fire over the last decade. But judging by NFL talent, its sub-.500 record should have been worse ... a lot worse. The Blue Devils had the fewest NFL Draft picks of any Power Five team but managed to win 10 games in 2013 despite only having three players selected in the next three NFL Drafts. Duke has become competitive in the ACC despite operating with an FCS-adjacent level of NFL talent.

2. GEORGIA TECH - .768 above the median

Record: 76-54

Top-25 Finishes: 3

Conference Titles: 1

National Titles: 0

NFL Picks: 19

Georgia Tech won the 2009 ACC Championship and put just six players in the draft over the next three years. Paul Johnson has coached in four conference championship games in his decade as the Yellow Jackets' coach despite his number of NFL picks being tied for eighth in the league over the length of the study.

3. VIRGINIA TECH - .645 above median

Record: 90-44

Top-25 Finishes: 6

Conference Titles: 2

National Titles: 0

NFL Picks: 30

Virginia Tech ranks fifth in the ACC when it comes to NFL Draft picks over the last 10 years. And while 30 is certainly a large number, it seems relatively small when you consider the program’s consistent success. The Hokies have appeared in the ACC title game in four of the last 10 years, winning twice. Virginia Tech finished more seasons inside the top 25 than outside of it and didn't have a single losing season in the decade used in the study, winning 10 or more games on five occasions.

4. CLEMSON - .408 above median

Record: 104-33

Top-25 Finishes: 8

Conference Titles: 4

National Titles: 1

NFL Picks: 52

Clemson has plenty of talent each year. In fact, it is tied with Florida State atop the ACC draft picks list for the data set. Still, winning four ACC championships and a national title isn’t easy, so the Tigers show up on the overachievers list nevertheless. They have had just eight draft picks in the two drafts since their 2016 national title. Their ranking on this list is an illustration of how difficult it is to achieve and maintain success at the highest level.

5. FLORIDA STATE - .274 above median

Record: 101-33

Top-25 Finishes: 8

Conference Titles: 3

National Titles: 1

NFL Picks: 52

It’s remarkable how similar the last 10 years have been for FSU and Clemson. The two teams were separated by very little in every category that factored into the formula. Obviously, Clemson’s extra conference title was the difference, but FSU’s efficiency score still tags it as an overachiever despite the wealth of talent that passes through Tallahassee each year.

6. LOUISVILLE - .206 above median

Record: 80-48

Top-25 Finishes: 4

Conference Titles: .58

National Titles: .58

NFL Picks: 27

Louisville's two conference titles (in the Big East) were shared. That cost the Cardinals points in the formula, but the program's standing is still impressive. It’s clear U of L has outperformed its rather impressive list of NFL talent in the last decade. Louisville has been particularly efficient as of late, averaging 8.3 wins per season while averaging 2.3 draft selections over the same timespan.

7. PITTSBURGH - .132 below median

Record: 73-56

Top-25 Finishes: 1

Conference Titles:.33

National Titles: 0

NFL Picks: 24

Pitt, which received .33 points for winning a share of the 2010 Big East title, falls into the group of teams that are winning at a rate around their expected level based on NFL talent. Between the 2012 and 2016 NFL drafts, the Panthers saw just five of their players drafted but managed to reach the postseason in each of those seasons. Last year was a speedbump for Pitt, but the moderate-but-consistent success it showcased prior to it helped offset the 5-7 finish.

8. SYRACUSE - .142 below median

Record: 50-73

Top-25 Finishes: 0

Conference Titles: .25

National Titles: 0

NFL Picks: 15

The study considers any school within .2 of the median to be performing at its expected level and Syracuse, like Pitt, falls into that group. It hasn’t been a spectacular decade in Syracuse, but the Orange have found their way to the postseason on three occasions and average 3.33 wins per NFL Draft pick, a number significantly higher than Louisville, which ranks above them on this list.

T-9. VIRGINIA - .270 below median

Record: 43-79

Top-25 Finishes: 1

Conference Titles:0

National Titles: 0

NFL Picks: 16

Wake Forest and Virginia posted the exact same efficiency score down to the ninth digit, which is remarkable when you consider the factors that go into the formula. That said, neither result is ideal. Virginia won two games in 2013 despite having six players selected in the NFL draft in the three years to follow.

T-9. WAKE FOREST - .270 below median

Record: 52-72

Top-25 Finishes: 0

Conference Titles: 0

National Titles: 0

NFL Picks: 16

Wake Forest has produced four times the number of draft picks as Duke but has lost seven or more games seven times in the last 10 years. Wake hasn’t underperformed as badly as other schools, but there’s certainly room for growth.

11. NC STATE - .280 below median

Record: 69-59

Top-25 Finishes: 2

Conference Titles: 0

National Titles: 0

NFL Picks: 27

NC State is the 15th-most underachieving team in the country according to the data, and it seems as though an ability to finish outside the top 25 while producing a steady stream of draft picks is the cause for that ranking. The Wolfpack win games. It’s just that they don’t win at a rate that a team with semi-plentiful NFL talent should. NC State has produced eight more NFL draft picks than Georgia Tech but played for zero ACC titles, while the Yellow Jackets have a significantly better record and a conference title.

12. BOSTON COLLEGE - .283 below median

Record: 61-67

Top-25 Finishes: 0

Conference Titles: 0

National Titles: 0

NFL Picks: 19

The Eagles have produced the same number of draft picks as Georgia Tech over the last 10 years but haven’t been able to mirror the Yellow Jackets' success, as Boston College has remained relatively average on Saturdays. The Eagles’ score is hampered by the fact that they went 3-9 in 2013 but produced seven picks in the three ensuing drafts.

13. MIAMI - .609 below median

Record: 78-50

Top-25 Finishes: 3

Conference Titles: 0

National Titles: 0

NFL Picks: 47

Anyone paying attention doesn’t need spreadsheets, data or any sort of formula to know Miami has spent the last 10 years underperforming. The 47 players 'The U' has had drafted since 2009 ranks 1oth nationally, but the Hurricanes have finished in the AP Top 25 in just three of the last 10 seasons.

Miami will never be short on talent because of its proximity to a fertile recruiting ground, but the program has spent a solid portion of the last 10 years proving that elite talent doesn’t always translate to elite success. UM went 6-7 in 2014 and had 17 players drafted in the following three years. Miami is just one of three schools that produced more than 35 draft picks without a conference title in the last 10 years. North Carolina and Arkansas are the other two.

14. NORTH CAROLINA - .644 below median

Record: 74-55

Top-25 Finishes: 1

Conference Titles: 0

National Titles: 0

NFL Picks: 39

A bit of a surprise to bring up the rear of the ACC, North Carolina’s 39 draftees include seven first-round picks. And while the Tar Heels can be counted on to reach the postseason, they’ve finished in the top 15 just once in the last decade. UNC had three wins and three draft picks a year ago. Its most noteworthy underachievement is going 8-5 in 2010 and having nine players selected in that year’s NFL Draft. Like Miami, North Carolina is one of just three schools that produced more than 35 draft picks over the last 10 years but failed to win a conference title.


On Monday, we revealed the rankings for all Power Five teams (excluding Notre Dame), breaking down the top and bottom five in detail. Here is the complete Power Five ranking, with No. 1 being the biggest overachieving program based on success vs. the NFL talent on its roster and No. 64 being the most underachieving program:

1. Duke (4.312)

2. Oklahoma State (1.751)

3. Iowa State (1.645)

4. Northwestern (1.534)

5. Kansas State (1.384)

6. Oregon (1.187)

7. Michigan State (1.183)

8. TCU (.910)

9. Georgia Tech (.768)

10. Texas Tech (.764)

11. Auburn (.699)

12. Virginia Tech (.645)

13. Stanford (.583)

14. Wisconsin (.582)

15. Alabama (.550)

16. Minnesota (.494)

17. Texas (.452)

18. Oklahoma (.449)

19. Clemson (.408)

20. Vanderbilt (.336)

21. Florida State (.274)

22. Baylor (.264)

23. Ohio State (.224)

24. Washington State (.212)

25. Louisville (.206)

26. Washington (.205)

27. Arizona (.194)

28. West Virginia (.168)

29. Utah (.151)

30. Ole Miss (.045)

31. Missouri (.026)

T32. Arizona State (-.004)

T32. Kentucky (.004)

34. Penn State (–.020)

35. Nebraska (–.053)

36. Mississippi State (–.059)

37. Pittsburgh (–.132)

38. Syracuse (–.142)

39. Texas A&M (–.158)

40. Kansas (–.187)

41. USC (–.205)

42. South Carolina (–.207)

43. Colorado (–.220)

44. Maryland (–.224)

45. Rutgers (–.229)

T46. Virginia (–.270)

T46. Wake Forest (–.270)

48. Michigan (–.275)

49. Purdue (–.277)

50. NC State (–.280)

51. Boston College (–.283)

52. Georgia (–.321)

53. Tennessee (–.328)

54. Indiana (–.330)

55. Florida (–.342)

56. Oregon State (–.367)

57. Iowa (–.372)

58. LSU (–.405)

59. Arkansas (–.495)

60. UCLA (–.557)

61. Miami (–.609)

62. North Carolina (–.644)

63. Illinois (–.716)

64. California (–.751)