I thought it would be interesting to look at players drafted from various colleges and compare the rates of success in the NFL between those schools.  For example, do a higher percentage of Alabama players succeed in the NFL than the average school?  Obviously, Alabama will have more players drafted than the average school, but we’re not talking total numbers, but rather success rates as percentages.

Methodology?  We will be using the draft index at pfref.com, in particular:


First thing we need is an objective criteria for determining success/failure.  I’ve decided to simply use 32+ games started as the measure of success.  If you started 32+ games in the NFL you are a successful draft pick.  (There will be exceptions to what people would classify as busts having 32+ starts, but I think overall, looking at all players it gives a pretty good indicator with the larger sample size.  Notable exception, for example, would be Trent Richardson, who had 37 starts, and yet is widely considered a bust.)

Now that we have our criteria, we need a baseline for how all the players drafted from the all the schools did versus this (arbitrary) hurdle (32+ starts).  By the way, I chose 32 because that makes the player a 2-year primary starter for his team.  We’ll be using data from 2004-2013 drafts, which is 10 years worth of picks.  Each team gets 7 picks, plus there are 32 compensatory picks for each draft, which adds up to 256 players per draft.  Sometimes teams lose draft picks (think Bountygate, Spygate, Deflategate, and whatever other ___gate I might not be recalling at the moment).  But those are rare enough that we will simply ignore them and use 2560 as the total number of drafted players for this 10 year period.

I ran a query at the above URL, selecting “All Colleges” in the college box and sorting by Games Started.  Then I dropped all players from the results with fewer than 32 games started.  That left us with 847 players.  847/2560 = 33.1%, so that’s our baseline.  About 33.1% of all players drafted (regular and supplemental drafts included) end up starting 32+ games.  That number could rise as the years go by because many of the non-qualifiers are still active players with a chance to get more starts in the future.  But note even the youngest players were drafted in 2013, so they’ve all had 4 years at the least to amass 32 starts (out of 64 potential starts).

Now that we have the baseline to work with we can start looking at some individual schools to see how their players’ success rates compares to the average.  First up, let’s go with program that has dominated the college landscape (much as I hate to admit it), the Alabama Crimson Tide.  Alabama had 49 players drafted over those 10 drafts, of which 23 have started 32+ games.  23/49 = 46.9%, which is outstanding and far exceeds the overall average of 33.1%.

Here are a few schools (*NOT* an exhaustive list of all schools):

Ole Miss = 11/19 = 57.9% (stellar)
Texas = 25/45 = 55.6% (stellar)
Louisiana = 1/2 = 50% (stellar)
ULM = 1/2 = 50% (stellar)
Alabama = 23/49 = 46.9% (stellar)
USC = 32/69 = 46.4% (stellar)
LSU = 25/61 = 41% (excellent)
Florida = 19/48 = 39.6% (above average)
Georgia = 22/57 = 38.6% (above average)
Michigan = 13/35 = 37.1% (above average)
Florida St. = 17/52 = 32.7% (below average)
Oklahoma = 18/56 = 32.14% (below average)
Ohio State = 19/60 = 31.7% (below average)
Mississippi State = 6/17 = 35.3% (above average)
Stanford = 10/30 = 33.3% (above average, not bad for a tree)
Notre Dame = 11/37 = 29.7% (awful)
Clemson = 10/38 = 26.3% (awful)
Texas A&M 7/24 = 29.2% (awful)
Arkansas = 5/32 = 15.6% (horrid)

NFL college success rates

I threw in UL and ULM because I thought local folks might be interested in it.  Forgot about Tulane, so here they are:

Tulane = 2/6 = 33.3% (above average)  (2 long term starters were Matt Forte and JP Losman.)