With NFL Draft Day almost upon us I thought it would be good to dive into some numbers related to our beloved Seminoles and our two in-state rivals, Florida and Miami.
Since 1980 Florida State has sent 164 players to the NFL draft. Many household names for Florida State and college football fans alike soon became NFL superstars. Names like Deion Sanders, Warrick Dunn, LeRoy Butler, Derrick Brooks and Sebastian Janikowski represented elite talent and the Florida State pedigree. Even in the down years, FSU turned out NFL talent that produced at the highest level.
Of course we want to pull for our Noles at the next level, but the importance to the program is in the fact that our staff can get players to the next level. Showcasing your NFL talent is every bit as important as pushing your depth chart, support structure and campus scenery to recruits every cycle. That being said, there’s the battle to load the roster, the battle on the gridiron and the battle of who’s the king of the NFL in the state of Florida. Miami has been considered "NFL U" for a long time, and for good reason. The Canes produced elite NFL talent for three decades now. Will they continue to carry the torch? Can Florida State parlay Jimbo Fisher’s top tier recruiting classes into stocked NFL draft classes? Is Timmy Tebow going to single handedly crown UF King of the NFL? Let’s take a peek at some numbers, shall we?
First, some guidelines for the numbers I pulled. I’ve focused on all active (on an NFL roster) NFL players from Florida, Florida State and Miami. I’ve also used ESPN’s NFL experience counts (some of which seemed suspect). I also used the latest depth chart I could find to determine starting roles, I imagine there are some that can be argued as starting at their position.
Let’s kick it off with some high level break downs:
The Florida Gators head into the 2013 NFL Draft with 28 active NFL players and a total of 113 years of league experience. 22 of those 28 active players were taken in the draft at an average round of 2.91. The oldest Gator in the NFL is Rex Grossman (32 years old, first round of the 2003 draft class). The Gators have six 23 year olds in the NFL, Maurkice Pouncey and Aaron Hernandez hailing from the stacked 2010 draft class. UF currently has six undrafted free agents in the NFL, all coming from 2010 or later. According to my depth chart scouring, the Gators currently have 12 starters in the NFL and 16 reserves.
Florida State is second with 31 active NFL players, racking up a total of 167 years of league experience. 24 of those 31 NFL’ers were draft picks, with an average round of 3.08. The elder Nole is fan favorite Sebastian Janikowski, First Round pick in the 2000 NFL Draft (35 years old). Packer reserve tackle Andrew Datko is your youngest Seminole at 22 years old, (UDFA, 2012). Florida State has seven undrafted free agents in the NFL, spread from 2009-2012. The Noles currently have 18 NFL starters and 13 reserves.
NFL U, Miami, currently has 45 active NFL players for a staggering 227 years of league experience. 35 of those 45 were drafted by NFL teams at an average round of 2.83. The senior NFL Cane is Reggie Wayne, drafted in the first round of the 2001 draft (34 years old). Lamar Miller is the youngest Cane at 22 years old (4th round of the 2012 draft). Miami has ten undrafted free agents in the NFL, with six coming from the 2012 crop of Canes. 19 Canes call themselves NFL starters, leaving the remaining 26 as reserves.
Miami is the current king of the first round, with 13 active first round picks. Miami hasn’t had a first round pick since 2008 and nine of those first round picks are 30+ years old. Florida State sits with nine active first round picks, with the last coming in 2011. Seven of those nine players are under 30 years old. Florida has seven first round picks, the most recent coming in 2011. Only one of those first round Gators is over 30 years old.
Since 2010, Miami has sent 17 players to the NFL via the draft (average round: 3.9). Florida has sent 15 players to the NFL via draft (average round: 3). Florida State has sent nine players to the NFL via draft (average round: 4.4).
Seeing the draft trends, I would say Florida holds the edge as top recent program for NFL talent thanks largely in part to the 2010 class and what Urban Meyer was able to do while at UF. Miami is still sending players to the NFL, but they seem to be trending down. Florida State saw a significant dip during the lost decade, only producing a handful of NFL draft picks from 2007-2010.
UF’s 12 NFL starters are all sub-30 years old, with six coming from the 2010 class. Florida State’s 18 starters range from 23 to 35, with 13 being younger than 30. Miami’s 19 starters range from 24-34, with 11 of those 19 being 30+ years old.
Is Miami still NFL U?
I would probably say yes, but not for long. If I had to guess, I would say that term is going to get retired alongside the real Orange Bowl within the next three years. Miami is going to see a mass exodus of NFL contributors very soon, and I just don’t see the Canes producing massive draft classes with NFL contributors over the next few years. Florida State is about to do themselves a big service by potentially sending 10 kids to the NFL this weekend. Are they all going to be Pro Bowlers? No, but it’s going to be a big recruiting boost in a talent rich state. That leaves Florida. Corch Erving Meyers really did Coach Boom and the Gators a service in stocking the NFL with some very talented athletes before the changing of the guard. Can Muschamp maintain the pipeline? I believe he can.
That leaves UF as the primary competition pitching the best path to the NFL to blue chip recruits. As far as bragging rights, I think FSU is in a good position going forward and Miami fans will soon have to break out some older copies of Madden to show off their prized NFL talent.