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Which School Is Quarterback U?

In football recruiting and public perception, certain schools are known for producing top players at certain position groups.

Top quarterback producing schools include USC (with Mark Sanchez), Georgia (with Matthew Stafford) and Texas (with Colt McCoy)

We thought it might be interesting to use data from the NFL draft to determine which schools do the best job at producing talent within each position group. We are starting this series today with a look at the quarterback position.

Primarily, we are looking at the last 15 years of the NFL draft for quarterbacks chosen in the first three rounds of the draft.

In 2012, there were 35 quarterbacks who played on a fulltime basis or split time with another quarterback for an NFL team. Of those 35, 30 of them were selected in the first three rounds of an NFL draft. From that group of 30, 22 of them were first-round picks and eight of the guys who were regulars in 2012 were taken first overall in the year they entered the draft.

The five exceptions to this rule are Dallas’ Tony Romo (Eastern Illinois, undrafted free agent in 2003), Buffalo’s Ryan Fitzpatrick (Harvard, seventh round in 2005), New England’s Tom Brady (Michigan, sixth round in 2000), Kansas City’s Matt Cassel (USC, seventh round in 2005) and Tennessee’s Matt Hasselbeck (Boston College, sixth round in 1998).

Over the last 15 NFL drafts, there have been 75 quarterbacks chosen in the first three rounds. Below, we will look at the schools that produced those quarterbacks. We have rated them on signal callers taken in the first three rounds and also look at players chosen in the first round and also first overall.

Below the school rankings we also have more data on schools and conferences that have produced quarterbacks at football’s highest level.

Quarterback U. Ratings

Using the last 15 years of the NFL draft (top three rounds) as a barometer, here is a look at which schools have excelled at producing quarterbacks for the NFL:

1. Southern California

* The Data: Top-Three Round Picks: 3; First-Round Picks: 3; First Overall Picks: 1.

* The Skinny: USC, known over the years for its tailbacks, takes the top spot in our Quarterback U. rankings. Of course, a lot of this is attributed to former head coach Pete Carroll, although current head coach (and former USC offensive coordinator) Lane Kiffin and past assistants like Norm Chow and Steve Sarkisian also had a hand in the Trojans’ sustained success.

The run of USC quarterbacks began in 2003, when the Cincinnati Bengals made Carson Palmer the No. 1 overall pick. Matt Leinart was a first-round pick in 2006, followed by Mark Sanchez as a first rounder in 2009. Add in Cassel, who was a career backup at USC, as well as the prospect that outgoing starter Matt Barkley could be a first- or second-round pick in this year’s draft and you can see how USC has been a constant in producing quarterbacks.

Certainly, you can debate the merits of those players once they’ve reached the NFL. But the draft results have been impressive.

2 (tie). Oregon

* The Data: Top-Three Round Picks: 3; First-Round Picks: 2; First Overall Picks: 0.

* The Skinny: Chip Kelly gets a lot of credit for bringing Oregon into the modern era in terms of offensive football. But Oregon has a track record of producing quarterbacks back to the Mike Bellotti days.

Akili Smith started it as a first-rounder in 1999, followed by Joey Harrington as a first-round pick in 2002 and Kellen Clemons as a second-rounder in 2006.

2. (tie) Tulane

* The Data: Top-Three Round Picks: 3; First-Round Picks: 2; First Overall Picks: 0.

* The Skinny: I know what you’re saying: Tulane?! The Tulane that hasn’t had a winning season since 2002? The Tulane that has won a combined 23 games in the last eight seasons?!

Yes, there was a time when Tulane wasn’t Cajun for “door mat.” Back in 1998, Tommy Bowden led the Green Wave to a perfect 12-0 season. His quarterback, Shaun King, was a second-round pick in the 1999 draft. Tulane produced a couple of first rounders after that in Patrick Ramsey in 2002 and J.P. Losman in 2004.

4. Georgia

* The Data: Top-Three Round Picks: 3; First-Round Picks: 1; First Overall Picks: 1.

* The Skinny: Mark Richt has been the coach at Georgia for 12 years and brought some stability to that program – even if Bulldogs fans are waiting for that breakthrough national championship season. Jim Donnan was the coach for Quincy Carter, who went in the second round of the 2001 draft.

Richt helped send David Greene to the NFL as a third-round pick in 2003 and Matthew Stafford as the No. 1 overall pick to the Detroit Lions in 2009. Stafford has helped lift the Lions from the bowels of lethargy with his play the last couple of years.

Aaron Murray decided to stay in school for another year to chase that elusive title in 2013. He could be a first- or second-round pick this time next year.

5. Washington

* The Data: Top-Three Round Picks: 3; First-Round Picks: 1; First Overall Picks: 0.

* The Skinny: Sarkisian is working hard to rebuild the once-proud Washington program. He helped send Jake Locker to the NFL as a first-round pick in 2011. Going back a ways, Brock Huard was a third-round pick in 1999 and Marques Tuiasosopo was a second rounder in 2001.

6. Texas

* The Data: Top-Three Round Picks: 3; First-Round Picks: 1; First Overall Picks: 0.

* The Skinny: Mack Brown led Texas back to the pinnacle with a national championship in 2005. He has also produced some impressive quarterbacks along the way.

Chris Simms was a third-round pick in 2003, followed by Vince Young as a first-round selection in 2006 and Colt McCoy as a third-round pick in 2010.

7. Louisville

* The Data: Top-Three Round Picks: 3; First-Round Picks: 0; First Overall Picks: 0.

* The Skinny: Louisville has seen a revolving door of head coaches. But the Cardinals have been a consistent producer of quarterback talent as well.

Chris Redman was a third-round pick in 2000, followed by Dave Ragone as a third rounder in 2003 and Brian Brohm as a second-round pick in 2008.

8. Auburn

* The Data: Top-Three Round Picks: 2; First-Round Picks: 2; First Overall Picks: 1.

* The Skinny: We’re down to schools that have produced two quarterbacks taken in the first three rounds. In the last 15 years, that has happened twice at Auburn. Jason Campbell was a first-round pick in 2005. Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton followed his national title run by going to Carolina as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft.

9. (tie) California

* The Data: Top-Three Round Picks: 2; First-Round Picks: 2; First Overall Picks: 0.

* The Skinny: Cal sent Kyle Boller to the NFL as a first rounder in 2003, followed by Aaron Rodgers as a first-round pick in 2005. Rodgers stepped out of Brett Favre’s shadown and led Green Bay to a Super Bowl title in 2011.

9. (tie) Florida

* The Data: Top-Three Round Picks: 2; First-Round Picks: 2; First Overall Picks: 0.

* The Skinny: Florida has produced a pair of first-round quarterbacks in the last 15 years with Rex Grossman in 2003 and Tim Tebow in 2010. Say what you will about Tebow’s throwing ability, but he did win a playoff game with Denver in 2011 and he also moves product.

Jeff Driskel, returning for his junior year in Gainesville in 2013, could be the next guy on this list for the Gators.

9. (tie) Marshall

* The Data: Top-Three Round Picks: 2; First-Round Picks: 2; First Overall Picks: 0.

* The Skinny: OK, Marshall has fallen on some hard times in recent years. There was a time when the Thundering Herd was the hottest non-BCS team in college football. It seems like another era, but Marshall did have two first-round quarterbacks in the last 15 years: Chad Pennington in 2000 and Byron Leftwich in 2003.

12. Stanford

* The Data: Top-Three Round Picks: 2; First-Round Picks: 1; First Overall Picks: 1.

* The Skinny: Going way back, of course, Stanford sent the likes of Jim Plunkett and John Elway to the NFL. But those guys pre-dated our 15-year window.

Stanford sent Trent Edwards to the NFL as a third rounder in 2007. Andrew Luck, taken No. 1 overall by Indianapolis last year, was an immediate smash success as he replaced the legendary Peyton Manning and led the Colts to an 11-win season and a playoff berth.

13. Notre Dame

* The Data: Top-Three Round Picks: 2; First-Round Picks: 1; First Overall Picks: 0.

* The Skinny: Charlie Weis came to Notre Dame with his shiny Super Bowl ring and a reputation for working with quarterbacks. He sent two of them to the NFL draft before Notre Dame sent him packing and replaced him with Brian Kelly.

Brady Quinn was a first-round pick in 2007, while Jimmy Clausen was a second rounder in 2010.

14. (tie) Michigan

* The Data: Top-Three Round Picks: 2; First-Round Picks: 0; First Overall Picks: 0.

* The Skinny: Everybody knows that Tom Brady went to Michigan, even if he was not a starter all that long at the college level. He doesn’t truly count in this survey as a sixth-round pick, but his success (three Super Bowl titles) says it all.

Michigan sent Brian Griese into the draft as a third rounder in 1998, while Chad Henne was a second-round selection in 2008.

14. (tie) Arizona State

* The Data: Top-Three Round Picks: 2; First-Round Picks: 0; First Overall Picks: 0.

* The Skinny: Arizona State has had a couple of top-three round picks in Andrew Walter as a third rounder in 2005 and Brock Osweiler as second-round pick last year.

More Comparisons

As we did our research, we dug up some more interesting information:

* Prominent Omissions – There are several schools that have had tremendous success in recent years, but have not produced an abundance of NFL-ready quarterbacks. Miami (Fla.) and Boise State, for all of their success, have not had a quarterback drafted in the top three rounds of the draft in the last 15 years.

Top schools that have only produced one top-three round draftee in the last 15 years include:

Alabama – Brodie Croyle (third round, 2006)

Florida State – Christian Ponder (first round, 2011)

LSU – JaMarcus Russell (first overall pick, 2007)

Ohio State – Terrelle Pryor (third round supplemental draft, 2011)

Oklahoma – Sam Bradford (first overall pick, 2010)

Utah – Alex Smith (first overall pick, 2005)

Virginia Tech – Michael Vick (first overall pick, 2001)

West Virginia – Pat White (second round, 2009)

* First Overall Picks -- Over these last 15 years, quarterbacks have been taken as the No. 1 overall pick 12 times. And those 12 players have come from 12 different colleges.

The list includes: Peyton Manning (Tennessee), 1998; Tim Couch (Kentucky), 1999; Michael Vick (Virginia Tech), 2001; David Carr (Fresno State), 2002; Carson Palmer (USC), 2003; Eli Manning (Ole Miss), 2004; Alex Smith (Utah), 2005; JaMarcus Russelll (LSU), 2007; Matthew Stafford (Georgia), 2009; Sam Bradford (Oklahoma), 2010; Cam Newton (Auburn), 2011; Andrew Luck (Stanford), 2012.

* First-Round Picks -- USC is the only school to have three first-round picks at quarterback in the last 15 years. Oregon, Tulane, Auburn, California, Florida and Marshall have had two each.

* Top-Three Round Picks By Conference -- The Pac-12 is the winner in producing quarterbacks for the NFL draft. Over the last 15 years, the Pac-12 has produced 18 quarterbacks who were drafted in the top three rounds of the NFL draft.

Next up is the SEC with 16, followed by the Big 12 with nine, the ACC with six, the Big East and Big Ten with four each and Notre Dame with two.

* Super Bowl Winners -- Looking at the last 30 years, there have been a wide variety of schools that have produced quarterbacks that went on to lead teams to Super Bowl championships.

Of course, several quarterbacks have won multiple Super Bowls. That includes Joe Montana (Notre Dame), Troy Aikman (UCLA), John Elway (Stanford), Tom Brady (Michigan) and Ben Roethlisberger (Miami, Ohio).

Over the last 30 years, two schools have produced two quarterbacks who led their NFL teams to Super Bowl titles. Those two schools are Stanford (with Elway and Jim Plunkett) and BYU (with Steve Young and Jim McMahon).

Looking at the last 15 years, non-BCS schools produced quarterbacks that helped their teams win five Super Bowls. That group includes Baltimore’s Joe Flacco (Delaware), Pittsburgh’s Roethlisberger (Miami) twice, Baltimore’s Trent Dilfer (Fresno State) and St. Louis’ Kurt Warner (Northern Iowa). Flacco and Warner played at FCS schools (formerly Division I-AA).

* This Year’s Class – Six quarterbacks came out of the NFL draft combine with grades that could put them in the top three rounds of this year’s draft. These quarterbacks are poised to add to the draft legacy at their respective schools.

The clear front runner for the 2013 draft class is West Virginia’s Geno Smith, followed by Florida State’s E.J. Manuel, Tennessee’s Tyler Bray, USC’s Matt Barkley, Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib and N.C. State’s Mike Glennon.

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