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Ultimate Draft: Top 25 pro-talent-producing colleges

Ultimate Draft: Top 25 pro-talent-producing colleges

When Trae Young was selected No. 5 overall in the 2018 NBA draft on June 21, he became the fifth Oklahoma Sooner to be taken in the top 10 this year alone. Kyler Murray made headlines after he was selected No. 9 by the Oakland Athletics in June, Baker Mayfield was the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft back in April and softball teammates Paige Lowary (No. 1) and Paige Parker (No. 6) bookended the National Pro Fastpitch draft’s first round in April.

Which got us to thinking … which school has been the best at producing draft talent across all sports? The Ultimate Draft Ranking comprises data from the past 10 draft classes in the following leagues: NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, WNBA, MLL (lacrosse) and NFP (softball).

With a major assist from Matt Williams and the team at ESPN Stats & Information, we gathered data from the past 10 drafts in every league in which U.S. collegiate players are fed into a top professional tier. Our formula? See the methodology below. Here are the top 25 draft producers:

1. North Carolina Tar Heels

Ultimate Draft score: 1706.6

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 140 (see North Carolina’s first-round picks).

Biggest draft-producing sports: Men’s basketball, men’s lacrosse, soccer

While college hoops is the unquestioned king when it comes to North Carolina’s athletics program, its success in several other sports has the Tar Heels sitting at No. 1 in the Ultimate Draft Rankings. In terms of total draft picks the past decade, UNC has been a football school, with 37 players selected in the NFL draft. UNC has been a steady national title contender in lacrosse, reflected by its 32 players drafted into Major League Lacrosse since 2009. The Tar Heels also have one of the nation’s top baseball programs, making four College World Series trips in the past decade and sending 26 players to the pros through the first 10 rounds of the MLB draft.

2. Maryland Terrapins

Ultimate Draft score: 1580.4

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 107 (see Maryland’s first-round picks).

Biggest draft-producing sports: Men’s lacrosse, men’s soccer, women’s basketball

Those who view Maryland athletics solely through the lens of its recently mediocre football and men’s basketball programs might be shocked to find the Terps at No. 2 on our survey. But remember that the Terps have consistently been dominant in other sports such as lacrosse, for which they’ve had 40 players selected into MLL over the past decade, and in men’s soccer, for which their talent has led to 22 MLS draft picks — and a current streak of 17 straight NCAA appearances. Also, Brenda Frese’s women’s hoops program has produced 10 WNBA draft picks since 2009; only UConn, Tennessee and Duke have more.

3. Duke Blue Devils

Ultimate Draft score: 1482.0

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 88 (see Duke’s first-round picks).

Biggest draft-producing sports: Men’s basketball, women’s basketball, men’s lacrosse

Quick: Name the Duke program with the most national titles since 2009. It’s probably not the one you’re thinking of. While many would answer men’s basketball, it’s the men’s lacrosse program that leads the way with three. That’s reflected by its 30 MLL draft picks in the past decade, which ranks fourth in the nation. Duke’s men’s basketball program has won two national crowns in the past decade and has had 22 players picked in the NBA draft in that span, ranking second to Kentucky. The women’s hoops program also has had success in sending players to the pros, delivering 12 WNBA draft picks.

4. Kentucky Wildcats

Ultimate Draft score: 1351.9

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 93 (see Kentucky’s first-round picks).

Biggest draft-producing sports: Men’s basketball, baseball, football

It’s clear that Kentucky is fourth in these rankings because of its elite recruiting ability in men’s basketball. Since taking over in 2009, coach John Calipari has produced a whopping 36 NBA draft picks, by far the most in the nation. That’s 14 more than second-place Duke’s 22. Perhaps surprisingly, Kentucky’s baseball program has had 31 players drafted in the first 10 rounds over the past decade, and its football program, which hasn’t won more than seven games in the past 10 years, has had 12 players selected in the NFL draft.

5. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Ultimate Draft score: 1291.7

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 109 (see Notre Dame’s first-round picks).

Biggest draft-producing sports: Football, men’s lacrosse, men’s soccer

While Notre Dame has delivered 38 NFL draft picks in the past decade, its competitiveness in other sports is why the school ranks in the top five in these rankings. The men’s lacrosse program, which has advanced to the national semifinals four times in the past decade, has produced 23 MLL draft picks, which ranks seventh nationally. The Fighting Irish’s men’s soccer program also has been a powerhouse in the past decade, earning the 2013 national title and producing 20 MLS draft picks, sixth-most in the country.

6. Syracuse Orange

Ultimate Draft score: 1206.7

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 78 (see Syracuse’s first-round picks).

Biggest draft-producing sports: Men’s basketball, men’s lacrosse, football

While the Syracuse men’s basketball and football teams draw large crowds in the Carrier Dome, it’s the men’s lacrosse team that has produced the most success in the building. The program, which has won 10 NCAA championships, has one national crown and the second-most MLL draft picks (34) in the past decade. The football program, far from a national power, has had 15 NFL draft picks, while the always competitive men’s basketball team has totaled 14 NBA draft picks.

7. UCLA Bruins

Ultimate Draft score: 1180.4

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 107 (see UCLA’s first-round picks).

Biggest draft-producing sports: Men’s basketball, men’s soccer, softball

UCLA leads the Pac-12 in these rankings, thanks in large part to its strong men’s soccer program. The Bruins made it to two College Cups in the past decade, with 21 players taken in the MLS draft — tied for fourth-most nationally. The Bruins also have produced 36 NFL draft choices and 25 picks in the first 10 rounds of the MLB draft since 2009.

8. Florida Gators

Ultimate Draft score: 1152.1

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 122 (see Florida’s first-round picks).

Biggest draft-producing sports: Football, baseball, softball

Florida would have made this list based on its 58 NFL draft picks (fourth nationally) and 41 draft picks in the first 10 MLB rounds (first nationally) produced in the past decade. But the school’s powerhouse softball program puts the Gators in the top 10. Florida has been to the WCWS eight times since 2009, capturing two titles. During that time, the Gators have had the most NPF draft picks in the country, with 15.

9. Oklahoma Sooners

Ultimate Draft score: 1110.9

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 102 (see Oklahoma’s first-round picks).

Biggest draft-producing sports: Football, softball

A look at the Ultimate Draft Rankings shows that Oklahoma’s football program appears as strong as ever, with 51 draft picks (tied for sixth nationally) in the past decade, including quarterbacks Baker Mayfield (2018) and Sam Bradford (2010) going No. 1 overall. The Sooners have had 24 players selected in the first 10 rounds of the MLB draft since 2009, while the powerful softball team, which has captured three national titles in the past six seasons, has had 12 players taken in the NPF draft. Only Florida and Oregon have more.

10. Ohio State Buckeyes

Ultimate Draft score: 1051.9

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 105 (see Ohio State’s first-round picks).

Biggest draft-producing sports: Football, men’s lacrosse, women’s basketball

Seeing Ohio State in the top 10 of these rankings shouldn’t come as a surprise. But what might open eyes is how the Buckeyes landed here. The football program has cranked out 60 NFL draft picks since 2009 — only Alabama and LSU have more — but Ohio State has had only one other sport produce double-figure draft picks in that span. And kudos if you guessed men’s lacrosse. The Buckeyes have had 17 players taken in the MLL draft, while they’ve had seven each selected in the NBA, WNBA and first 10 rounds of the MLB draft.

11. LSU Tigers

Ultimate Draft score: 1044.8

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 122 (see LSU’s first-round picks).

Biggest draft-producing sports: Football, baseball, softball

Only Alabama, with 77 picks, has had more players selected in the NFL draft than LSU (65) over the past decade. The Tigers didn’t have any first-rounders this year but produced three in 2017, including two in the first six picks. LSU’s last national title in football came in 2007. The baseball program has made it to the College World Series four times in the past 10 years and finished as the runner-up in 2017 while continuing to supply quality prospects for MLB.

12. Connecticut Huskies

Ultimate Draft score: 1032.4

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 78 (see UConn’s first-round picks).


Biggest draft-producing sports: Women’s basketball, men’s basketball, men’s soccer

Connecticut has not produced as many NBA prospects in the past 10 years as one might expect (9), but things are different on the women’s side, where 17 players have been selected from the legendary program in the WNBA draft. Connecticut has won six national championships in women’s hoops in the past 10 years, including four straight from 2013-16. The Huskies also have sent their share of players to MLS (17) and the NFL (22), including first-rounder Byron Jones. They have had 11 players taken in the first 10 rounds of the MLB draft over the past decade, including first-rounders Anthony Kay and George Springer.

13. Florida State Seminoles

Ultimate Draft score: 997

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 102 (see Florida State’s first-round picks).

Biggest draft-producing sports: Football, women’s basketball, softball

Florida State has won three national titles in football, most recently in 2013, the final year of the BCS. The Seminoles have had 52 players drafted by NFL teams and have had three Heisman winners. Florida State also has three appearances in the College World Series over the past 10 years and has had 25 players drafted in the first 10 rounds of the MLB draft during that span.

14. Washington Huskies

Ultimate Draft score: 987.8

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 75 (see Washington’s first-round picks).

Biggest draft-producing sports: Men’s basketball, softball

Washington has had 25 players drafted by the NFL since 2009 and 15 by MLS, thanks in part to the Huskies’ making regular NCAA tournament appearances in recent years. The Huskies made a trip to the College World Series in 2018 and have had 14 players taken in the first 10 rounds of the MLB draft. Washington, which won the WCWS in 2009 and has made four return trips since, is tied for the sixth-most softball players selected in the NPF draft during the past 10 years with nine. The Huskies are also tied for ninth in the most players chosen in the NBA draft, with nine.

15. Virginia Cavaliers

Ultimate Draft score: 973.7

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 96 (see Virginia’s first-round picks).

Biggest draft-producing sports: Baseball, lacrosse

Virginia has produced 36 picks in the first 10 rounds of the baseball draft over the past decade, trailing only Florida and Vanderbilt. After finishing as the runner-up at the 2014 College World Series, the Cavaliers returned to Omaha again in 2015, this time winning the championship. Virginia has also had success in lacrosse, tying Johns Hopkins for the fifth-most players drafted in the past 10 years. Virginia has five NCAA lacrosse championships, its most recent coming in 2011.

16. Tennessee Volunteers

Ultimate Draft score: 955.6

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 66 (see Tennessee’s first-round picks).

Biggest draft-producing sports: Women’s basketball, softball, football

Tennessee has produced a good number of draftees in a variety of sports, from football (26) to women’s basketball (16) to baseball (13 in the first 10 rounds) to softball (7). The football program is in the midst of a dry spell but has still produced NFL talent. After making the College World Series in 2001 and 2005, the baseball team has also fallen on hard times. The same can’t be said for women’s basketball, which is one of the best programs in the country. The Lady Vols have made the NCAA tournament every year since 1982 and have won eight championships, including titles in 2007 and 2008.

17. Georgia Bulldogs

Ultimate Draft score: 938.8

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 86 (see Georgia’s first-round picks).

Biggest draft-producing sports: Football, softball, women’s basketball

Georgia had the fifth-most players drafted for softball over the past decade and also has had 14 players picked in the first 10 rounds of the MLB draft, but the Bulldogs make their appearance in the rankings mostly due to their success in football. Georgia has had 51 players drafted in the past 10 years, good for a tie for sixth among all schools. Although Georgia hasn’t won a national championship in football, the Bulldogs made the title game in 2017 and continue to produce NFL products.

18. Louisville Cardinals

Ultimate Draft score: 935

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 94 (see Louisville’s first-round picks).

Biggest draft-producing sports: Baseball, men’s soccer, men’s basketball

The Cardinals have made trips to the College World Series three times since 2009 (2013, 2014, 2017) and had 29 players selected in the first 10 rounds of the MLB draft, tied for eighth-most overall. The Cardinals have had 27 players taken in the NFL draft, including 2016 Heisman winner Lamar Jackson, who was drafted at the end of the first round in 2018. Louisville men’s soccer was the NCAA tournament runner-up in 2010 and has sent 20 players to MLS via the draft. Also, the Cardinals rank eighth among all schools with 10 players selected in the NBA draft in the past 10 years.

19. California Golden Bears

Ultimate Draft score: 929.3

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 85 (see Cal’s first-round picks).

Biggest draft-producing sports: Football, baseball, men’s soccer

Cal has had 31 players taken in the NFL draft since 2009, including Jared Goff, who was selected No. 1 overall in 2016 by the Los Angeles Rams. The Golden Bears made an appearance in the College World Series in 2011, and 21 of their baseball players have been picked in the first 10 rounds of the MLB draft in the past 10 years. California’s men’s soccer team made the NCAA tournament’s round of 16 in 2013 and 2014, and 16 of its players have been drafted by MLS, tied for 10th-most overall.

20. Michigan Wolverines

Ultimate Draft score: 894.9

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 81 (see Michigan’s first-round picks).

Biggest draft-producing sports: Football, men’s basketball, softball, hockey

Michigan has had 34 players selected in the NFL draft and 12 in the first 10 rounds of the MLB draft since 2009 but has fared best compared to other schools during that time period in basketball, softball and hockey. The Wolverines were the NCAA men’s basketball tournament runner-up in 2013 and 2018 and have had nine players taken in the NBA draft, tied for ninth-most in the country. Michigan has made four appearances in the Women’s College World Series (2009, 2013, 2015, 2016) and had nine players taken in the National Pro Fastpitch draft, tied for sixth-most. And the Wolverines have also done well in hockey, making the Frozen Four in 2011 and 2018 and having seven players chosen in the NHL draft, second only to Boston University’s nine.

21. Oregon Ducks

Ultimate Draft score: 884.2

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 72 (see Oregon’s first-round picks).

Biggest draft-producing sports: Football, softball

The Ducks played in five BCS bowl games, including four straight from 2009-12, and also made the inaugural College Football Playoff after the 2014 season. Their success has led to 32 players being selected in the NFL draft since 2009, highlighted by 2014 Heisman winner Marcus Mariota, the second overall pick in 2015. Oregon has had 19 players taken in the first 10 rounds of the MLB draft, and 13 softball players have been selected in the National Pro FastPitch draft thanks to the Ducks’ making the Women’s College World Series five times (2012, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018) during the past decade.

22. Stanford Cardinal

Ultimate Draft score: 789.5

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 87 (see Stanford’s first-round picks).

Biggest draft-producing sports: Football, baseball, soccer, women’s basketball

Stanford has had 37 players selected in the NFL draft since 2009, including Andrew Luck, who was chosen No. 1 overall in 2012. The Cardinal have had 26 players taken in the first 10 rounds of the MLB draft over the past decade and nine in the MLS SuperDraft; Tomas Hilliard-Arce was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 by the LA Galaxy. With six Final Four appearances (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2017) during the past decade, eight Stanford women’s basketball players have been chosen in the WNBA draft, tied for eighth-most for any school.

23. Arizona Wildcats

Ultimate Draft score: 743.0

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 65 (see Arizona’s first-round picks).

Biggest draft-producing sports: Baseball, football, men’s basketball

With a College World Series championship in 2012 and a runner-up finish in 2016, Arizona has had 27 players taken in the first 10 rounds of the MLB draft since 2009. Arizona men’s basketball has made the Elite Eight three times (2011, 2014, 2015) in the past decade and has had 12 players selected in the NBA draft during the time, the seventh-most by any school, including Deandre Ayton, who was taken No. 1 overall in 2018. The Wildcats have also sent 16 players to the NFL via the draft during the past 10 years.

24. Baylor Bears

Ultimate Draft score: 689.6

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 56 (see Baylor’s first-round picks).

Biggest draft-producing sports: Football, baseball, women’s basketball, men’s basketball

Baylor’s football program has had 27 players drafted since 2009, highlighted by Robert Griffin III, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2011 and was selected second overall in the 2012 NFL draft. The Bears have also had nine players taken in the first 10 rounds of the MLB draft. The Lady Bears won the women’s basketball championship in 2012, and Brittney Griner was the top pick in the WNBA draft in 2013, one of eight players Baylor has had drafted in the past 10 years. Meanwhile, the men’s basketball program made the Sweet 16 four times (2010, 2012, 2014 and 2017) and has had seven players drafted during the past decade.

25. Texas A&M Aggies

Ultimate Draft score: 641.9

Total players drafted, 2009-18: 74 (see Texas A&M’s first-round picks).

Biggest draft-producing sports: Baseball, football, women’s basketball

Among their 29 players selected in the NFL draft since 2009, the Aggies had at least one taken each year in the first round from 2011 to 2017, beginning with Von Miller and ending with Myles Garrett as the top overall pick last year. Texas A&M has also made the College World Series twice and had 30 players taken in the first 10 rounds of the MLB draft since 2009, the seventh-most of any school during that time period. The Aggies have also enjoyed success in basketball, winning the women’s national championship in 2011 and sending nine players to the WNBA (fifth-most) and three to the NBA draft in the past decade.

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