clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The best players to come out of every school from the 1st round of the 2014 draft

New, comments

As far as post titles go, that's one of the worst. But it's basically what you're about to read, if you choose to do so.

these guys are p good
these guys are p good

(I wrote this a long time ago but didn't post it because I didn't know what to do with it. Now I'm going to throw it up because I find the analysis to be interesting, and I don't want it to go completely to waste. Hope you're having a good Sunday.)

There are now 32 more NFL players that can call themselves "first round picks" and they all will be claiming some college during their first Monday Night Football appearance. School pride plays a big part in a players career, and this year, they came from all over.

From the usual suspects like Alabama and Auburn, to underdogs like Buffalo and Northern Illinois.

If these players are going to add to not only their own legacies, but the legacy of their alma mater, they either have some major work to do (like living up to the status of Joe Montana) or very little (like actually becoming a player from LSU that lives up to the hype.)

I've compiled a list of all 32 first round draft picks, the school that they attended, and the current legacy and reputation that that school has for producing high-end NFL talent. Starting at the top with one of the best defensive prospects of all-time.

1. Texans select Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

Best Gamecock: John Abraham, DE, 13th overall pick by Jets in 2000, 133.5 career sacks

Steve Spurrier took over the Gamecocks in 2005, so if you go four years later and start at 2009, you'll see that 24 players have been drafted from South Carolina in the last five years. There had been 25 players taken out of South Carolina in the previous 12 years. However, how many Spurrier guys have had much success in the NFL?

Looking just at players drafted since 2006, only Johnathan Joseph (2006), Sidney Rice (2007), and Alshon Jeffery (2012) have made the Pro Bowl. However, Spurrier-recruited players have only been drafted in the first round twice from South Carolina: Stephon Gilmore and Melvin Ingram in 2012.

Last season, seven Gamecocks were drafted, but only D.J. Swearinger (57th overall) went above the fourth round. Marcus Lattimore would have gone higher if not for injury, but otherwise, Spurrier guys appear to be athletic (Ace Sanders, fourth round in 2013) but not many have had extraordinarily good pro careers.

Clowney might be the most impressive athlete the draft has seen in a long time, but some are still questioning if he's going to be motivated to be great at the next level. Even still, many would argue that even an unmotivated Clowney is at least as good as Abraham, and Clowney has a good shot to be the best South Carolina alum to play in the NFL.

2. Rams select Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

Best Tiger: Willie Anderson, T, 10th overall by Bengals in 1996, three All-Pro selections

You can go several different ways here for "Best Tiger" but why not just go with a tackle for a tackle. Other Auburn alum include first overall picks Bo Jackson, Cam Newton, Tucker Fredrickson, and Aundray Bruce. Robinson ties with Ronnie Brown as the second-highest pick to be taken out of Auburn. As you can see, most of these players have been disappointments, with Newton so far being an exception.

Bo knew football, but he didn't know how to keep his hips healthy.

Four Tigers were drafted this year, including Robinson, Dee Ford, Tre Mason, and Jay Prosch.

3. Jaguars select Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida

Best Knight: Daunte Culpepper, QB, 11th overall by Vikings in 1999, three Pro Bowls

Of all the quarterbacks drafted out of Central Florida... Culpepper is the only one that existed before Bortles, actually. He was also a two-time first team All-Pro, the only UCF player taken in the first round in history, and may have won you your fantasy league in 2004.

Overall, Brandon "U.S. Federal" Marshall is probably the better player to come from UCF, but it's more fun to compare QB to QB.

31 Knights have been drafted into the NFL, four of them have made a Pro Bowl, and three of those players (Marshall, Asante Samuel, Josh Sitton) were taken in the fourth round. Which is where some thought Bortles should have gone, but obviously not the Jaguars.

Running back Storm Johnson went in the seventh round.

4. Bill select Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Best Tiger: Brian Dawkins, S, 61st overall pick by Eagles in 1996, nine Pro Bowls, four All-Pros

The top 15 has not been kind to Clemson players recently. C.J. Spiller has flashed greatness at times, but Gaines Adams was fourth overall in 2007, Tye Hill was 15th overall in 2006, and Rod Gardner was 15th overall in 2001. Of the 12 Clemson Tigers taken in the top 15 since 1960, none have made more than one Pro Bowl appearance in their career.

5. Raiders select Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo

Best Bull: Gerry Philbin, DE, 33rd overall pick by Lions in 1964, 2 All-Pro selections

Only 11 players in history have been drafted out of the University of Buffalo into the NFL. The last was Steven Means in 2013, and the most famous is likely James Starks, the running back for Green Bay that was drafted in the 5th round in 2010.

Five of the 11 players drafted from Buffalo have been taken since 2008, and despite none of those players being drafted above the fifth round, they are all still active.

6. Falcons select Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Best Aggie: Yale Lary, DB, 34th overall by Lions in 1952, only player drafted from Texas A&M in the Hall of Fame

You can lump Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans in here as well. There haven't been three Aggies drafted in the first round in the same year since 1994, and those players were Sam Adams, Aaron Glenn, and Greg Hill, with Adams and Glenn both making three Pro Bowls.

7. Bucs select Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

8. Browns select Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

Best Cowboy: Barry Sanders, RB, third overall pick by Lions in 1989, 15,269 career rushing yards

Two players from Oklahoma State have been drafted and gone onto the Hall of Fame and both are running backs: Sanders and Thurman Thomas. It just so happens that Thomas and Sanders were teammates for two seasons, with Thomas leaving in 1988 and going 40th overall to Buffalo. When Sanders took over the following year, he did okay, rushing for 2,628 yards and 37 touchdowns.

Yes, that is indeed in one season.

Thomas would go on to lead the NFL in yards from scrimmage for four years in a row from 1989-1992.

Gilbert was the only Cowboy drafted this season, and only one (Joseph Randall, 5th round) went in 2013. That can happen when Brandon Weeden becomes a first round pick and ruins it for everyone else.

9. Vikings select Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA

Best Bruin: Jimmy Johnson/Troy Aikman/Jonathan Ogden, all were top six picks from 1961, 1989, and 1996, respectively

It's hard to actually choose between those three players. Johnson had a 17-year Hall of Fame career with the 49ers, Aikman won three Super Bowls with Dallas, Ogden made as many Pro Bowls (11) as those two players combined. What none of them are: Very recent good players from UCLA, and pretty much nobody is outside of Maurice Jones-Drew.

Other than Drew, Alterraun Verner, Marcedes Lewis, the Bruins haven't produced many great players in recent years. While the book is out on a few (Datone Jones, Akeem Ayers) it's not up for debate on many others. And nobody from UCLA had been drafted in the top 20 since Cade McNown (12th overall, Bears) in 1999.

10. Lions select Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Best Tar Heel: Lawrence Taylor, LB, 2nd overall by Giants in 1981, eight All-Pro selections and an undying devotion to the "single earring" look.

Along with Julius Peppers, you can see how North Carolina has been home to some amazing athletes on defense, players that defy athletic logic, but so far it's really been on the defensive side of the ball. Now with Ebron, you see someone of similar stature, but instead he'll be catching balls from quarterbacks*, not destroying their hopes and dreams.

Ebron is the eighth Tar Heel drafted in the top 10. Jonathan Cooper was drafted seventh overall last season, then broke his leg and missed all of 2013.

*Knowing the Lions, this may not be true.

11. Titans select Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Best Wolverine: Tom Brady, QB, 199th overall by Patriots in 2000, three Super Bowl wins

Good news for Lewan and the Titans: Of the 10 players drafted out of Michigan with the highest Adjusted Value (via Pro-Football-Reference) five are offensive lineman, including Hall of Famer Dan Dierdorf, and likely Hall of Famer Steve Hutchinson.

Jake Long was the first overall pick in 2008, but injuries have kept him from likely reaching his full potential.

12. Giants select Odell Beckham, Jr, WR, LSU

Best other kinds of Tiger: Alan Faneca, G, 26th overall pick by Steelers in 1998 and Kevin Mawae, C, 36th overall pick by Seahawks in 1994.

It was the fourth year in a row that a player from LSU went in the first round, and overall nine Tigers were picked in 2014. The results of those recent first round picks have been hit and miss, but it's a lot easier to notice the players that have disappointed:

Tyson Jackson, Glenn Dorsey, JaMarcus Russell, Craig Davis, Marcus Spears, Michael Clayton.

LaRon Landry has been disappointing, and Dwayne Bowe has had moments of both good and bad. The jury is still out on Barkevious Mingo (6th overall last season) and Morris Claiborne, but Michael Brockers has been successful for the Rams, playing in between two of the best defensive ends in football.

Beckham was drafted higher than any LSU receiver in history, and is the sixth Tiger WR to go in the first round. Those other five have combined for just one Pro Bowl, with Bowe going in 2010. He's also had six seasons where he was not a Pro Bowler. Eddie Kennison was a valuable receiver for a long time, but never that great, and Davis is one of the worst first round picks of the last decade.

13. Rams select Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

Best Panther: Dan Marino, QB, 27th overall by Dolphins in 1983, 420 career touchdown passes

It may not seem like a college football powerhouse, but eight players drafted out of Pitt have been elected to the Hall of Fame. That doesn't include current NFL stars like Larry Fitzgerald, Darrelle Revis, and LeSean McCoy. However, it hasn't been that way in recent years, since no Pitt Panthers had been drafted since 2011. And the first rounder from Pitt that season was wide receiver Jon Baldwin.

After Donald went in the first, Tom Savage went in the fourth and Devin Street in the fifth.

As far as producing NFL players, it doesn't get much better than what the Panthers have done. You'd think the school would do better.

14. Bears select Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

Best Hokie: Bruce Smith, DE, first overall pick by Bills in 1985, 200 career sacks

This seems like an impossibly low number, but only nine players in VT history have gone in the first round. Out of the previous eight, Smith, Michael Vick, Duane Brown, and DeAngelo Hall have all made at least two Pro Bowls. Jim Druckenmiller, QB, the 26th overall pick to the 49ers in 1997, is by far the biggest disappointment.

David Wilson was the most recent before Fuller, going 32nd to the Giants two years ago.

15. Steelers select Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State

Best Buckeye: Paul Warfield, WR, 11th overall pick by Browns in 1964, 170 career touchdowns

Warfield is the only player to be drafted from Ohio State and go on to make the Hall of Fame, though Orlando Pace (1st overall in 1997) isn't far behind. Cris Carter is also in the Hall of Fame, but was a fourth round supplemental pick since he was ruled ineligible after secretly signing with an agent. (The first pick in the supplemental draft that year was Brian Bosworth. Whoops, Seattle.)

There have been a lot of disappointments out of OSU, which include these top five picks that never made a Pro Bowl: Tom Cousineau, Dan Wilkinson, John Hicks, Art Schlichter, Chris Ward, Bob Ferguson, and AJ Hawk. And that's really only just touching the surface of the matter. Yes, Hawk is a good player, but we are talking about the elite draft picks here, but definitely not elite players.

Only one Buckeye had gone in the first round of the last four years (Cam Heyward, 31st overall in 2011) but two went this year.

16. Cowboys select Zack Martin, OL, Notre Dame

Best Fighting Irishman: Joe Montana, QB, 82nd overall pick by 49ers in 1979, four Super Bowl rings

Going into this year, you could count the number of first round picks out of Notre Dame in this century on one hand. That is, as long as you have the standard five fingers: Jeff Faine, Brady Quinn, Michael Floyd, Harrison Smith, and Tyler Eifert. And you can see that three of those are very recent, thanks to the Irish only recently return to prominence.

That being said, it's been a very long time since the Fighting Irish have developed a pro football player that was prominent.

Floyd, Smith and Eifert have potential, while Golden Tate and Justin Tuck and John Sullivan are also good, and Manti Te'o is lurking too, but great? For the "greatest football school in history" it certainly seems like they are lacking in that area.

17. Ravens select CJ Mosely, LB, Alabama

Rollingest Tide: Derrick Thomas, LB, 4th overall by Chiefs in 1989, nine Pro Bowls

Everybody knows that Alabama produces NFL players, but do they produce good NFL players? Do they live up to the hype of being Alabamalum?

Last season, three players from Alabama went in the top 11: Dee Milliner, Chance Warmack, DJ Fluker

In 2012, four Alabamans went in the top 25: Trent Richardson, Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick, and Dont'a Hightower.

In 2011, four went in the top 28: Marcell Dareus, Julio Jones, James Carpenter, Mark Ingram.

In 2010, two went in the top 20: Rolando McClain and Kareem Jackson.

And in 2009, Andre Smith went sixth overall.

Before this recent run of mega-success, no player from Alabama had been drafted in the first round since 2000, so now we have a stable of 14 first round picks in the last five years. Out of those 14 players, it's still too early to judge most of them.

But there's always a time to be judged anyway.

Smith is a good right tackle but couldn't cut it as the elite left tackle prospect that some thought he'd be. McClain is one of only three players from the first round that season to not be in the NFL anymore. The other two are Tim Tebow and Jahvid Best. Jackson has not been a very good corner for the Texans.

Carpenter and Ingram are two of the players from the 2011 first round class to not have their fifth year options picked up.

Richardson is one of the biggest busts of recent memory, and not even the Browns needed him anymore. Kirkpatrick has made three starts in his career so far. Neither Hightower or Barron have jumped off the page quite yet. And Milliner didn't draw much praise for his rookie performance in New York.

That being said, Jones, Dareus, Warmack, and Fluker all look good so far and Eddie Lacy was a second round pick last season as well. Which is still pretty disappointing, considering that this is the most dominating college football program of the modern era.

18. Jets select Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

Best Cardinal: Johnny Unitas, QB, 102nd overall by Steelers in 1955, some say he's the GOAT

No Cardinals were drafted in 2013, and the only one in 2012 was seventh round defensive end Greg Scruggs. The highest drafted player out of Louisville is DT Ken Kortas, ninth overall by St. Louis in 1964. Only eight have been first rounders, but five of those guys have made a Pro Bowl.

That doesn't include the most recent, Amobi Okoye, 10th overall in 2007 by the Texans and already out of the NFL.

Many thought that Cardinals QB Teddy Bridgewater would be the first players from Louisville selected this year, but it ended up not working out that way, though he did slide into the very back of the first round.

19. Dolphins select Ja'Wuan James, OT, Tennessee

Best Volunteer: Just as long as you're pitching in, we appreciate it Peyton Manning, QB, 1st overall by Colts in 1998

Right now Manning has 417 more career NFL passing touchdowns than every other player from Tennessee in history combined. And to think, he was following in the footsteps of Heath Shuler, the third overall pick in 1994. Tennessee has put many good football players in the league, including Jason Witten and Eric Berry, but no one would come even close to Manning. (Not that many do anyway.)

James is the first offensive lineman drafted out of Tennessee in the first round since Charles McRae and Antone Davis, who went seventh and eighth in the 1991 draft. Davis was a starter for seven years, while McRae was mostly just a backup.

20. Saints select Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

Best Beav: Chad "Ochocindo" Johnson, WR, 36th overall pick by Bengals in 2001, six Pro Bowls

When people think of Oregon State players in the NFL, they probably think about skill players. Guys like Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Jacquizz Rodgers, Steven Jackson, and maybe Derek Anderson (the only Beaver in NFL history to throw for more than 1,000 career yards. Matt Moore also has.) Last season, the Steelers took receiver Markus Wheaton in the third round, but this year Cooks made it to the top 20 thanks to his blazing 40-time.

21. Packers select HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

22. Browns select Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

23. Kansas City Chiefs select Dee Ford, DE, Auburn

24. Bengals select Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Best Spartan: Herb Adderley, DE, 12th overall by Packers in 1961, Hall of Fame

Dennard is the first Spartan drafted in the first round since Charles Rogers in 2003, and out of every player from Michigan State drafted in the last 13 years, the only one to make a Pro Bowl is a punter. (Brandon Fields, 7th round, 2007, one Pro Bowl.)

There was certainly a time when Michigan State was pumping players into the NFL in the first round, including Adderley and Hall of Famer Joe DeLamielleure, but that time came and went. Is it back again? Their recent Rose Bowl win over Stanford could signal the start.

25. Chargers select Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

Best Horned Frog: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, 5th overall in 2000, three-time All-Pro

Okay, so you may have wanted me to say Sammy Baugh, one of the first great football players ever and the sixth overall pick in 1937, but we can do pretty good with a relevant player from this century. There's also Bob Lilly, the 13th overall pick in 1961 that went to 11 Pro Bowls and made seven All-Pro teams as a defensive tackle. But in recent history, TCU hasn't developed as many NFL stars.

That's been changing as of very recently, however.

The school's recent success has given the league players like Andy Dalton, Daryl Washington, and Jeremy Kerley. That's considerable when you think about the fact that Verrett is only the third Horned Frog alum of this century to go in the first round (Tomlinson, Jerry Hughes), and before Tomlinson, the last time a player from TCU went in the first was Norm Bulaich in 1970. (You knew it would be a player from long ago as soon as you heard "Norm")

A lot of players from TCU have made an NFL roster, but not many can say more than that. Will Verrett be an exception? It doesn't help that Washington was recently suspended for the whole season, Kerley had a down season in 2013, and many fans were calling for Dalton to be replaced after his terrible playoff performance.

26. Eagles select Marcus Smith, LB, Louisville

27. Cardinals select Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State

Best Coug: Drew Bledsoe, QB, 1st overall by Patriots in 1993, four Pro Bowls

As an alum of Washington State myself, I knew how special and rare it was for a Coug to go in the first round. It hadn't happened since Marcus Trufant stayed in state with the Seahawks in 2003, and really the period at Wazzu since then has been hard to watch. Not that I would know, because even the most die-hard fans have avoided the Cougs on Saturdays.

Only 13 players from the school were even drafted at all between 2004 and 2013, and most of them were day three picks. The highest players drafted in the last decade are Jason Hill, Devard Darling, and Karl Paymah, none of whom made much of an impact on the league. And no, in the minds of most fans we will never be able to live down Ryan Leaf.

But if the Cougs are known for anything, it's their development of secondary players. Eight of the last 17 players drafted out of Washington State were secondary players, including Bucannon, who may be the best of any of them. Playing amid a field of terrible, terrible, awful players (even though I'm sure they're some of his best friends, they stink) Bucannon always stood out as something special.

It would be hard for anyone even half-decent to not stand out during the Paul Wulff era.

28. Panthers select Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

Best Seminole: Deion Sanders, DB, 5th overall by Falcons in 1989, "Showtime" as they say

In 1999, Florida State won the national title and produced first round picks Peter Warrick (4th overall), Corey Simon (6th) and Sebastian Janikowski (17th) and somehow the kicker turned out to be the best of them. There were three Seminoles drafted in the first round last year, but only Benjamin went in the first in 2014. Will he fare better than many of his predecessors?

He's the 40th first round pick out of Florida State but the best of them drafted since 2000 is Antonio Cromartie. Busts include Warrick, Andre Wadsworth, Jamal Reynolds, Alex Barron, and Patrick Robinson. Last season's class were almost all rookie disappointments (EJ Manuel, Xavier Rhodes, Bjoern Werner) so Benjamin has some slack to pick up.

The fact that he seems like sort of a boom-or-bust prospect given his immense size, it seems like his recent championship may have given him a boost not unlike Warrick. At least he wasn't taken in the top five.

29. Patriots select Dominique Easley, DT, Florida

Best Gator: Emmitt Smith, RB, 17th overall by Cowboys in 1990, 18,355 career rushing yards (1st all time)

Back in 2001, the Browns selected a defensive tackle out of Florida with the third overall pick, tied for the highest a Gator has ever been drafted. That player's name was Gerard Warren. Though he was pretty disappointing considering his draft status, Warren had a nice, long career that eventually ended with the Patriots in 2011.

Now New England is going to give Easley a shot to man the middle of the d-line, and apparently the Seahawks were high on Easley and opted to trade down once Easley was off the board.

Last season, the Vikings took Florida DT Sharrif Floyd with the 23rd overall pick and he barely played as a rookie. Recent stars out of Florida include Maurkice Pouncey, Mike Pouncey, and Joe Haden ("stars" is a strong word), while Percy Harvin looks great when healthy, which hasn't been often enough.

Overall, 23 Gators were drafted between 2010-2013 and the only two that aren't still active are also the two most opposite NFL personalities I can think of: Tim Tebow and Aaron Hernandez.

30. 49ers select Jimmie Ward, S/CB, Northern Illinois

Best [looks up mascot] Huskies: Michael Turner, RB, 154th overall by Chargers in 2004, two Pro Bowls

A rare thing happened this year: Two players from Northern Illinois were drafted in the NFL. The Cowboys selected NIU defensive tackle Ken Bishop in the seventh round. Ward is only the second player from NIU to be drafted in the first round, with the Chargers taking linebacker Larry English 16th overall in 2009.

None have ever gone in the second and only three have gone in the third.

Tackle Ryan Diem was selected by the Colts in the fourth round in 2001, and though he never made a Pro Bowl, he was about as close as you could get to good enough without going. He played 10 seasons with Peyton Manning, and then another with the garbage that Indy ran out in 2011 before pushing Diem into retirement.

English has only been a part-time player for the last five years. Ward doesn't have far to go to become the best player from Northern Illinois, and he's got a head start that few have ever gotten by being a first round pick.

31. Broncos select Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State

32. Vikings select Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

What players would you have picked differently?