Which college programs produce the best NFL players by position?

By John Shirley

College fan bases love to argue over which school produces the best players. Monikers such as “Linebacker U” or “DB U”’ get thrown around a lot, but are normally backed up solely based on opinion or by how many players have been drafted from each school in the last few years. By using SIS’s Total Points value metric, we can actually show how much NFL value different colleges have produced at each position. 

To determine which college can claim the title at each position group, we will sum each NFL player’s Total Points over the previous three seasons (2017-2019), and the school with the most total value wins. 

Running Back

Top Colleges by 2017-2019 NFL Total Points 

CollegePlayersTotal Points
Alabama9214
Stanford2152
Oklahoma6141
Georgia3121
Miami (FL)6115

Carried by two former Heisman Trophy winners, Mark Ingram and Derrick Henry, Alabama takes the crown as “Running Back U”. Henry leads the way with 61 Total Points and Ingram follows close behind with 60 Total Points. There has also been significant depth produced from Alabama, as Kenyan Drake, Josh Jacobs, and T.J. Yeldon have each contributed over 20 Total Points. 

Next Up for Alabama: Najee Harris 

Wide Receiver

Top Colleges by 2017-2019 NFL Total Points 

CollegePlayersTotal Points
Clemson10297
California8255
USC7223
Alabama8206
LSU8199

New Arizona Cardinal, DeAndre Hopkins, has been Clemson’s key player at receiver, as he has contributed 109 of their 297 Total Points over the past three seasons. Other former first round receivers Mike Williams (48 Total Points) and Sammy Watkins (40 Total Points) have contributed as well. Clemson has also produced solid NFL contributors Adam Humphries (42 Total Points), Martavis Bryant (26 Total Points), and Hunter Renfrow (13 Total Points during his rookie year in 2019).

Next Up for Clemson: Tee Higgins 

  • 37 College Total Points in 2019
  • SIS’s 7th-Ranked WR in the 2020 NFL Draft 

Tight End

Top Colleges by 2017-2019 NFL Total Points 

CollegePlayersTotal Points
Stanford7205
Iowa5153
Cincinnati1139
Western Kentucky3136
Notre Dame6128

It should be no surprise that Stanford and Iowa are at the top of the list for producing NFL caliber tight ends. Iowa might be able to take the crown in a few seasons, if George Kittle continues to dominate and 2019 first rounders T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant emerge as legitimate weapons. But, for now Tight End U belongs to Stanford. Zach Ertz and Austin Hooper have led the way with 72 and 64 Total Points, respectively, while Stanford has also gained positive contributions from Levine Toilolo, Coby Fleener, Kaden Smith, Dalton Schultz, and Ryan Hewitt.

Next Up for Stanford: Colby Parkinson

  • 25 College Total Points in 2019
  • SIS’s 15th-Ranked TE in the 2020 NFL Draft 

Offensive Line

Top Colleges by 2017-2019 NFL Total Points 

CollegePlayersTotal Points
Wisconsin10468
Notre Dame8450
Florida12390
LSU8332
Ohio State10331

Wisconsin has a reputation as an offensive line factory, and it is well earned based on Total Points. An impressive 10 former Badger linemen have seen snaps in the NFL over the past three seasons, including five who have accumulated at least 50 Total Points: Ryan Ramczk (108), Rob Havenstein (88), Kevin Zeitler (83), Rick Wagner (74), and Travis Frederick (53).

Next Up for Wisconsin: Tyler Biadasz

  • 41 College Total Points in 2019
  • SIS’s 2nd-Ranked C in the 2020 NFL Draft

Defensive Line

Top Colleges by 2017-2019 NFL Total Points 

CollegePlayersTotal Points
Ohio State10413
Michigan10372
USC9349
Miami (FL)11327
Alabama13323

Ohio State has consistently produced some of the NFL’s elite defensive ends over the past few seasons. Cameron Heyward leads the way with 109 Total Points, with Joey Bosa following closely with 100 Total Points.

Ohio State has also gotten large contributions from Johnathan Hankins with 71 Total Points and Nick Bosa, who accumulated an impressive 61 Total Points in his rookie year. Other solid Total Points contributors include: Sam Hubbard (39), Tyquan Lewis (16), and Dre’Mont Jones (12).

Next Up for Ohio State: Chase Young

  • 64 College Total Points in 2019
  • SIS’s 1st-Ranked Edge in the 2020 NFL Draft
  • SIS’s Top Overall Prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft

Next Up for Ohio State: Davon Hamilton

  • 23 College Total Points in 2019
  • SIS’s 6th-Ranked NT in the 2020 NFL Draft

Linebacker

Top Colleges by 2017-2019 NFL Total Points 

CollegePlayersTotal Points
Kentucky7467
Georgia9466
UCLA8458
Alabama11381
Mississippi State5379

Kentucky claiming the title as “Linebacker U” is probably the biggest surprise of these lists (it finished ahead of Georgia by one point). But, when broken down by individual, it is easy to see the talent Kentucky has produced. Bud Dupree (138 Total Points) and Za’Darius Smith (82) have both become pass rushing threats on the edge, while Danny Trevathan (84), Wesley Woodyard (81), and Avery Williamson (53) have put together solid careers as off-ball linebackers. Though, the most talented of them all might end up being Jaguars edge rusher Josh Allen, who had 29 Total Points in his rookie season. 

Next Up for Kentucky: Jamar Watson

  • 35 College Total Points in 2019
  • Entering Senior year in 2020

Defensive Back

Top Colleges by 2017-2019 NFL Total Points 

CollegePlayersTotal Points
Alabama13728
LSU11599
Ohio State12575
Florida State10485
Florida13384

“DB U” might be the most hotly debated among all the position groups, with fan bases from LSU, Miami, Ohio State, Florida State, and Florida all laying some sort of claim. But based on Total Points, Alabama claims the title, and it’s not really that close. While LSU might have the top single player among those schools in Tre’Davious White (142 Total Points), Alabama’s incredible depth wins out. Alabama has produced nine defensive backs who have 40 or more Total Points over the past three NFL seasons: Marlon Humphrey (128), Kareem Jackson (122), Eddie Jackson (90), Landon Collins (86), Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (80), Minkah Fitzpatrick (64), Dre Kirkpatrick (55), Ronnie Harrison (53), and Levi Wallace (40). 

Next Up for Alabama: Trevon Diggs

  • 53 College Total Points in 2019
  • SIS’s 2nd Ranked CB in the 2020 NFL Draft

Next Up for Alabama: Xavier McKinney

  • 66 College Total Points in 2019
  • SIS’s 3rd Ranked S in the 2020 NFL Draft

 

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