Data about where to play college football if you want a shot at the NFL

Submitted by docwhoblocked on January 11th, 2012 at 10:32 PM

[Ed-S: Bumped from boards]

Which team/conference should a high school recruit choose given the a desire to reach the NFL. Here are the tables that I abstracted from databaseFootball.com.  They are only through 2010 so they would not include this years rookies.  Starred teams have moved conferences recently.  ( I gave up trying to star all the past and future moves the Big East is making.)  This was a bit of a project with lots of cut and paste into a set of spread sheets.  It would appear that one might want to play college football in the BIG 10 if you want to maximize the likelihood that you will play in the NFL although it will still be a long shot that you will play very long even if drafted.

As you look at the databaseFootball.com tables it's obvious just how short the careers of NFL players really are.  By the eyeball it is about 4 years on average over the history of the NFL but here is the official NFL line from NFL Communications:

"One fan on the conference call said she has read many times that the average career length of an NFL player is about three years, adding it seemed so many played much longer than that. She asked Commissioner Goodell about his knowledge of NFL career length.

“There is a little bit of a misrepresentation or a misunderstanding on that.  Frequently, it is said that the average career is about 3.5 years.  In fact, if a player makes an opening day roster, his career is very close to six years,” Commissioner Goodell said. “If you are a first-round draft choice, the average career is close to nine years.  That 3.5-year average is really a misrepresentation.  What it adds is a lot of players who don’t make an NFL roster and it brings down the average.”

According to a recent NFL Management Council analysis of players who entered the NFL between 1993 and 2002, the average career length for a player who is on his club’s opening-day roster as a rookie is 6.0 years.

That 6.0 average is 88 percent higher than NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith’s recent claim.

“The fundamental principle of our business model necessarily includes that every player only plays for an average of 3.2 years,” Smith said in a March 31 forum with MBA students at the University of Virginia .

Following are the facts from the career-length analysis (using regular-season and postseason rosters):

  • The average career length for a player who makes a club’s opening-day roster (active/inactive roster or injured reserve) in his rookie season is 6.0 years.
  • The average career length for a player with at least three pension-credited seasons* is 7.1 years (*a player receives a pension credit for each season in which he spends at least three games on an active/inactive roster and/or injured reserve).
  • The average career length for a first-round draft pick is 9.3 years.
  • The average career length for a player who is selected for or plays in at least one Pro Bowl is 11.7 years.  Of the 318 players who began careers between 1993 and 2002 and made the Pro Bowl at least once, 113 of those players – 36 percent – were on a club’s roster in 2010."

As usual there is a disagreement between management and labor on the facts.  Charts? Charts....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BIG schools

Total # NFL players

active 2010

SEC schools

Total # NFL players

active 2010

Ohio

367

29

Tenn

288

25

Michigan

317

29

LSU

257

32

Penn St*

310

17

Alabama

249

14

Mich St

255

18

Georgia

238

25

Wisconsin

253

11

Fla

233

23

Purdue

245

18

Auburn

212

19

Illinois

244

12

Ark*

191

12

Minn

229

9

Miss

179

10

Iowa

209

20

Ky

140

3

Indiana

176

7

MissState

127

11

Northwest

159

7

S Car*

122

11

Nebraska*

305

20

Vandy

77

7

 

3069

197

 

2313

192

 

 

 

PAC 12

schools

Total # NFL players

active 2010

BIG 12

schools

Total # NFL players

active 2010

USC

421

24

Nebraska*

305

20

UCLA

262

11

Ok

282

10

Wash

236

8

Texas

255

31

Ariz St

216

10

TexAM

239

8

Colo*

209

11

Colo*

209

11

Cal

206

23

Baylor

173

5

Stanford

199

8

Missou

150

3

Oregon

174

12

Ok State

144

8

Wash St

161

12

K State

137

11

Ariz

146

7

Kansas

135

4

Oreg St

136

12

TexasTech

112

5

Utah*

103

9

IowaState

93

4

 

2469

147

 

2234

120

 

ACC schools

Total # NFL players

2010 active

Big East

schools

Total # NFL players

active 2010

Miami* (YTM)

268

29

Pitt

272

13

BC

189

13

Con

26

3

FlaState

179

10

Syracuse

220

10

Maryland

175

13

W Va

154

2

Ga Tech

155

15

Louisville

112

13

Clemson

154

10

Cinci

95

3

Virginia

145

13

Rutgers

64

10

Va Tech

109

16

SouthFla

11

3

Wake

97

9

 

954

57

NC

181

14

 

NC State

132

14

 

 

Duke

91

3

 

 

1875

159

 

PS for laughs I looked up the MAC teams too.  Temple got most of their player into the NFL while they were in the Big East.

Temple  83 1
Miami (NTM) 61 1
Toledo 51 5
Eastern 37 3
BG 49 3
Buff 14 2
Akron 26 3
Ohio U 31 2
Western 40 3
Central 18 2
Kent 39 6
Northern Ill 42 5
  408 36

 

Comments

His Dudeness

January 12th, 2012 at 10:00 AM ^

You stated "higher or lower round" which still equals pro thus proving my point that it doesn't matter where you go to school.

If you are coached like shit and you still run a 4.3 40 and you have all the measurables you're going to get a shot in the league. Hell the Raiders nearly signed Justin Gatlin a few years back...

sarto1g

January 11th, 2012 at 10:47 PM ^

Isn't it a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy that if player goes to X school and goes pro, that school attracts more high-level players, who in turn go pro, which attracts more high level players, etc.  I don't think the school/conference itself matters much.  Michigan has had many QBs play in the NFL, but most are not as good as Jay Cutler (jokes aside), who comes from Vanderbilt.  Talent is everything.  If you're good enough, you'll get your shot.  Even a small program like CMU has sent its players to the NFL (Joe Staley, Antonio Brown).  

Much respect for taking the time to research, though

EGD

January 11th, 2012 at 11:00 PM ^

I think this is certainly a valid point.  Obviously the most successful programs are going to recruit the most talented players to begin with, and those players are going to make the pros more often, so I don't think looking at raw numbers will necessarily tell you all that much.  At the same time, however, it seems like coaching ought to have an effect.  If two players are both equally talented coming out of high school, but one goes to a school with good coaching and the other goes to a school with bad coaching, it seems like player with the better coaching might have a better shot at making the pros.

I wonder if a better way to study this issue might be to take a bunch of players with marginal recruiting ratings--say, 3-star players on Rivals or guys rated 75 by ESPN--and compare their outcomes (i.e., excluding the high-talent players who would likely make the pros even with mediocre coaching)? 

docwhoblocked

January 13th, 2012 at 4:11 PM ^

France

Charles Michael Romes (born in Verdun, France) was an NFL cornerback with the Buffalo Bills and the San Diego Chargers. He played college football at North Carolina Central University.

Richard Tardits (born in Biarritz, France) played college football at the University of Georgia. He held the record for most sacks in a career at his Alma Mater, until David Pollock broke his record in 2004. He was referred to as “Le Sack” by fans because of his French birth.

Tardits played for the New England Patriots in the NFL.

That is all....

Bluestreak

January 11th, 2012 at 11:03 PM ^

you will be picked yes.

However, I think if you play with high level players - your skills are better displayed. An average RB can look like a star RB with a an NFL level line to block for him.

So for the borderline cases of talent - it is good to play for a school which attracts other high level players.

In addition, chances are these schools have better connections with NFL teams than some of the lesser programs.

bronxblue

January 11th, 2012 at 11:04 PM ^

Interesting stuff.  In general, big-name schools attract big-name recruits, who in turn play in marquee games on Saturday and that pushes teams to draft them so that they play on Sunday.  I'm sure you'll see a slightly uptick in the SEC teams with the increased number of recruits as well as talent down there, but I always suspected that kids who play in the NFL come from all walks of life and schools.

One Inch Woody…

January 11th, 2012 at 11:09 PM ^

I was surprised that Dayne Sanzenbacher and Brandon Saine are both heavily involved on their teams at WR and KR, respectively, considering how they received little or no draft attention. I think in terms of purely draft hype, players from the SEC garner a lot of attention, usually, but not all of them are as good as they are supposed to be. This is probably just a product of the conference being the "best conference in college football". 

The "draft boards" that people use are usually very good at abstracting talent regardless of how their college team is doing, but I think the pedigree of school inadvertently still plays a huge role in the determination of who is the #1, #2, etc. WR's for example. So if we take a census of all the players currently in the NFL, I think we'd expect to see about an even number of players from each conference (adjusted for conference "prestige"), which the data above supports. Yet, the very best players aren't all from the SEC, or even Big Six conferences in some cases. 

With the SEC dominance over the last decade and all the talent that passes through the region, I'm really surprised that there isn't a huge number of SEC active NFL players compared to other conferences. Alabama, even, only has had 14 active in 2010. At the same time, undrafted players like Sanzenbacher and Saine are able to find their way onto final rosters of NFL teams.

Half Blood Dut…

January 11th, 2012 at 11:38 PM ^

if you took all the former Michigan players in the NFL right now (or probably throughout the last 10 years) they would beat every other college's pro players.

So I say a big national school like Michigan would be the way to go (not saying Michigan is the only school though)

Yeoman

January 12th, 2012 at 6:46 PM ^

It'd be tough to win without a running back.

Pretty much everybody has a hole like that. Alabama and LSU don't have a usable quarterback. Neither does Ohio.  Florida would either have to go full Tebow or use Rex Grossman. Ugh.

I looked at this a while back and it's hard to top Cal's NFL squad for quality and diversity--it's an amazing group for a school that isn't top echelon. They cover almost every position--they even have a long snapper and a good kicker, and you'd have Aaron Rodgers handing off to Lynch and Best and throwing to DeSean Jackson and Tony Gonzalez. On defense they're a bit short on numbers and quality up front and you'd have to play a 3-3-5, but at least they can field a full squad.

BigBlue4Life

January 12th, 2012 at 12:23 AM ^

great data and very interesting.  you have to consider that alot of teams that play a prostyle offense and defense have a better chance to get players drafted.  sans Usc the pac12 has low numbers because there are lots of passing and spread teams...same for the big east and big 12.  obviously the Big 10 and Sec play more of a prostyle game on both sides of the ball.  tradition and education/smarts have to factor in aswell.. smarter kids have a better shot at certain positions ie center, qb, mlb etc.  lots of cool numbers here especially Michigans.  thanks for the info. 

polometer

January 12th, 2012 at 9:15 AM ^

this is great.  I was interested in this very topic a few weeks ago and started doing some google-digging.  I stumbled upon an article (It's from a Louisianna paper, not national, and is 3 years old) that focused, specificaly, on which conferences NFL starters had come from. (Linked here)  The general gist was that the S.E.C., Big 10, and P.A.C.-12 are all on about even footing.  Each conference led in various positions.

thisisme08

January 12th, 2012 at 9:51 AM ^

While A+ for effort I know for a fact the CMU table is incorrect: Cullen Jenkins, Antonio Brown and Joe Staley are all active starting players yet the table only lists 2 active.  This doesnt include some others that I believe have been backups. 

 

Still the SEC is the belle of the ball but nothing beats the Big 10 for staying power. 

docwhoblocked

January 12th, 2012 at 4:55 PM ^

Adams, Curtis (1985 - 1988) 
Beach, Walter (1960 - 1966) 
Bentley, Ray (1986 - 1992) 
Bojovic, Novo (1985 - 1985) 
Bowman, Jim (1985 - 1989) 
Capers, James (1987 - 1987) 
Edwards, Tom (1926 - 1926) 
Elliott, Tony (1987 - 1987) 
Franckowiak, Mike (1975 - 1978) 
Ghiaciuc, Eric (2005 - 2008) 
Gutierrez, Brock (1997 - 2005) 
Hogeboom, Gary (1980 - 1989) 
Humphrey, Tory (2005 - 2010) 
Jackson, Robert (1982 - 1989) 
Jenkins, Cullen (2004 - 2010) 
Leigeb, Brian (2002 - 2002) 
Podoley, Jim (1957 - 1960) 
Rehberg, Scott (1997 - 2003)

docwhoblocked

January 12th, 2012 at 5:16 PM ^

I checked out the above names and several of them were in the 2010 draft or undrafted free agents who did not play until 2010.  Still it makes me lose some faith in databaseFootball.com that they do not list Joe Staley who is going to the Pro Bowl this year and was active before 2010 (drafted in 2007 1st Round).  I will do some added checking to see how far off some of the other data is.  

docwhoblocked

January 12th, 2012 at 6:11 PM ^

Wikipedia missed Jamar Adams for Uof M and databaseFootball.com includes him!

Here are the two lists of active players.  Remember that databaseFootbal is through2010. Wiki is probalbly more current.  Getting the real facts could be a real chore. Grr  garbage in garbage out. Italics and bold are areas of disagreement. 

Wikipedia

 

databaseFootball.com

Adams, Jamar (2008 - 2010) 

Avant, Jason (2006 - 2010) 

Baas, David (2005 - 2010) 

Backus, Jeff (2001 - 2010) 

 

Bowens, David (1999 - 2010) 

Brady, Tom (2000 - 2010) 

Branch, Alan (2007 - 2010) 

Breaston, Steve (2007 - 2010) 

Brown, Corwin (1993 - 2010) 

Burgess, Prescott (2007 - 2010) 

Collins, Todd (1995 - 2010) 

Edwards, Braylon (2005 - 2010) 

Feely, Jay (2001 - 2010) 

Foote, Larry (2002 - 2010) 

Goodwin, Jonathan (2002 - 2010) 

Hall, James (2000 - 2010) 

Hall, Leon (2007 - 2010) 

Harris, David (2007 - 2010) 

 

Hart, Mike (2008 - 2010) 

Henne, Chad (2008 - 2010) 

Hutchinson, Steve (2001 - 2010) 

Jones, Dhani (2001 - 2010) 

Long, Jake (2008 - 2010) 

Manningham, Mario (2008 - 2010) 

 

Pryce, Trevor (1997 - 2010) 

 

Watson, Gabriel (2006 - 2010) 

Woodley, LaMarr (2007 - 2010) 

 

Woods, Pierre (2006 - 2010) 

Woodson, Charles (1998 - 2010) 

 

GFG24L

January 15th, 2012 at 10:30 AM ^

mostly because the counts are wrong.  Looking briefly at the MAC schools, Miami has atleast 2 active NFL players in Jacob Bell been in the league since 2004 and Roethlisberger no qualification needed there.  I'm too lazy to look up every school but I am assuming the #s aren't right  if I can eye ball one off the top of my head.