2022 NFL Pro Potential Power Rankings: Alabama stay on top, Georgia makes huge jump

Welcome to Year 7! This is one of my favorite exercises to conduct every year. It is always incredibly interesting to see which schools make the cut and if anyone can come close to catching Alabama (spoiler: hasn’t happened yet.)

Unsurprisingly, the SEC continues to dominate these rankings. Nine teams from the conference feature in the Top 25 this year. The Pac-12 is shockingly second with five. However, none of them are in the top 10 and that includes USC and UCLA, who are leaving to join the Big Ten in 2024.

For those wondering, this exercise was somewhat inspired by the Pro Potential rankings from the NCAA Football games in dynasty mode. This list is not meant to measure how successful any of these players were after reaching the NFL. It is a far better tool for high school recruits to see which schools are the best at getting players drafted.

Obviously, recruiting plays a huge role in all of this, but there is not a direct correlation between recruiting rankings and these rankings. Just ask Jimbo Fisher. Enough rambling. Let’s get to this year’s Top 25.

Previous rankings: 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016

As a reminder as to how these rankings are created, I look at all the players drafted over the past five years and then score their draft spot using the scoring system below. The draft classes included in this year’s rankings span from 2018 to 2022.

The scoring system is as follows:
1st round – 10 points
2nd round – 7 points
3rd round – 5 points
4th round – 4 points
5th round – 3 points
6th round – 2 points
7th round – 1 points

Alabama Logo

1. Alabama Crimson Tide – 316 points
Previous: 1 (343 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Quinnen Williams, 3rd Overall, 2019

This was a disappointing draft, by Alabama standards. And yet, they still lead these ranks by 76 points. Still, two first rounders was the fewest for the Tide since 2016. ‘Bama dropped points for the first time since I started these rankings. Keep in mind, for any other school, this would be a really good class. I fully expect Alabama to be back in the range of four or five first-rounders next year with Bryce Young, Eli Ricks, Will Anderson and a few others in the mix.

Georgia Logo

2. Georgia Bulldogs – 240 points
Previous: 7 (153 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Travon Walker, 1st Overall, 2022

Georgia’s dominant 2021 season led to a monster draft class. The Bulldogs set a modern NFL record with 15 players selected, including five first-rounders. They broke the record set by LSU in the 2020 draft. I don’t know that Georgia will come anywhere close to that again in the near future, but they should have more than enough NFL production to stay in the top five. Kirby Smart might be the best recruiter in the country and he and his staff have done an excellent job of developing talent along the way.

Ohio State Logo

3. Ohio State Buckeyes – 232 points
Previous: 2 (248 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Nick Bosa/Chase Young, 2nd Overall, 2019/2020

It was a bit of a quieter draft for the Buckeyes with six players selected, the fewest the school has had since 2015. However, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave gave Ohio State multiple first-round selections for the sixth time in the past seven years. Ryan Day has an unquestionable eye for talent at receiver and that room is still loaded. Hopes of catching Alabama seemed to have faded for now, but a spot in the top three feels pretty secure at this stage.

Louisiana State University logo

4. LSU Tigers – 207 points
Previous: 3 (215 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Joe Burrow, 1st Overall, 2020

Brian Kelly built Notre Dame into one of the better NFL pipelines in the country. Now, he will get to prove that he can do it in the Bayou with a huge recruiting hotbed to work with. Ed Orgeron had LSU among the nation’s elite producers in NFL talent already, so it shouldn’t be too hard to maintain that. The Tigers quietly had 10 players taken in this class. However, Derek Stingley Jr. was the lone first-round selection. Kelly will need to put a few more in the top 32 if LSU is going to keep up with Alabama, Georgia and LSU.

MichiganWolverines

5. Michigan Wolverines – 145 points
Previous: 4 (170 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Aidan Hutchinson, 2nd Overall, 2022

The drop off from the top four to everyone else is massive. Aidan Hutchinson became the Wolverines highest drafted player since 2008 when Jake Long went No. 1 overall. However, Michigan lost an 11-man class from 2017 that caused them to drop in the rankings. Still, after a run to the College Football Playoff, Jim Harbaugh seems to have things headed in the right direction. He has revolutionized Michigan football and turned them into a true NFL factory. When I started these rankings in 2016, following Harbaugh’s first year in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines were not ranked. The following year, they skyrocketed to No. 11 and they have been in the top 10 since 2019.

Oklahoma Logo

6. Oklahoma Sooners – 144 points
Previous: 8 (138 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Baker Mayfield/Kyler Murray, 1st Overall, 2018/2019

Things are going to change a lot for Oklahoma. The Sooners had a solid seven-player draft class, but none were selected in the first round. With Lincoln Riley gone, there is no guarantee that this team continues to produce NFL draft picks at the same level. Brent Venables arrives from Clemson as a first-time head coach. He has proven himself as a developer of defensive talent. The Tigers had a bevy of first-round selections on that side of the ball during his tenure. Oklahoma actually picked up a few points this year after losing a lackluster 2017 class. This will be one of the more interesting schools to watch in the coming years with a change of leadership.

Florida logo.jpg

7. Florida Gators – 143 points
Previous: 5 (167 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Kyle Pitts, 4th Overall, 2021

A lack of on the field success and another coaching change have finally started to catch up with Florida. That being said, the Gators are still firmly entrenched in the top 10 and only two points out of the top five. With just three players selected this past season, it seems like the program is headed in the wrong direction from an NFL production standpoint. Kaiir Elam was a first-round pick, but if I had to guess, I would say it is more likely Florida falls a little further than climbs back into the top five. Billy Napier has his work cut out for him.

Penn_State_text_logo

8. Penn State Nittany Lions – 138 points
Previous: 11 (109 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Saquon Barkley, 2nd Overall, 2018

Say what you will about James Franklin, but he has turned Happy Valley into a pro prospect goldmine once again. When I first started these rankings, Penn State was on the fringes and had not had a first-round pick since 2010. Now, they’ve had six straight draft classes with at least five players selected, including four first-rounders. There is still room for improvement when it comes to producing top-end talent, but make no mistake, the Nittany Lions are well entrenched in these rankings and have a very good base to build on.

Clemson Logo

9. Clemson Tigers – 137 points
Previous: 6 (165 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Trevor Lawrence, 1st Overall, 2021

A few years ago, I believed it was legitimately possible for Clemson to start challenging Ohio State and Alabama atop these rankings. Oh how times have changed. Now, Dabo Swinney’s program is on the verge of falling out of the top 10. Just two former Tigers heard their names called in the 2022 draft. Swinney’s defense is loaded with draft prospects this year though so, CLemson should stick in the top 10.

Notre Dame Logo

10. Notre Dame Fighting Irish – 135 points
Previous: 10 (130 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Quenton Nelson, 6th Overall, 2018

Notre Dame continues its run in the upper echelon of NFL draft prospect production. However, Brian Kelly is now headed to Baton Rouge. Marcus Freeman will now have to prove he is just as capable of recruiting and developing top-tier talent. There is no question the Irish still offer the big stage needed to get noticed by scouts. It will be interesting to see which direction Freeman will lead this team in the coming seasons.

Washington Huskies logo.jpg

11. Washington Huskies – 123 points
Previous: 9 (132 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Vita Vea, 12th Overall, 2018

There is a bit of a gap between Notre Dame and Washington, but the Huskies are closer to the top programs on this list than they are the bottom of it. However, much like the Irish, they are undergoing a coaching change. Jimmy Lake is out and Kalen DeBoer is in. It is a rapid rise for DeBoer, who spent just two years leading Fresno State before taking the job with Washington. A total of four former Huskies were drafted in 2022, headlined by Trent McDuffie in the first round. Don’t expect Washington to go anywhere any time soon given their past draft success, but DeBoer has big shoes to fill.

USC logo

12. USC Trojans – 103 points
Previous: 12 (108 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Sam Darnold, 3rd Overall, 2018

Well hello there Big Ten-bound USC. The Trojans continue to hover outside the Top 10, but had a more transformational offseason than any program in college football. Southern Cal hired Lincoln Riley away from Oklahoma, added his former quarterback Caleb Williams via the transfer portal and announced that it, along with UCLA, will be headed to the Big Ten. This is huge news for many of the Big Ten schools, but it is significant for USC’s to recruit the midwest. I think we could see the Trojans rise rapidly over the next few seasons as Riley takes over and the impact of the conference realignment takes hold.

iowa_wordmark

13. Iowa Hawkeyes – 97 points
Previous: 13 (98 points)
Highest Drafted Player – T.J. Hockenson, 8th Overall, 2019

Need an offensive lineman or a tight end? Iowa still remains the place to look. Tyler Linderbaum became the latest Hawkeyes lineman to go in Round 1. However, Only one other player from Iowa was selected this year. Producing first-round picks is always a good thing, but it would be good to see Kirk Ferentz’s program have more than two total prospects selected. I’m not too worried about their long-term prospects, but don’t expect the Hawkeyes to climb much higher than where they stand right now.

1000px-mississippi_state_bulldogs_logo.svg_

14. Mississippi State Bulldogs – 92 points
Previous: 20 (77 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Charles Cross, 9th Overall, 2022

I was a bit surprised to see Mississippi State climbing in these rankings after having just two players selected in the 2022 draft. Charles Cross going in the first round obviously made a big difference, but still. The reason for the jump is that the Bulldogs were getting very little value from the 2017 class no longer being included in the scoring. That class featured just one sixth-round selection. As long as Mississippi State’s 2019 class is still relevant, which included three first-round picks, they will be in the rankings. Things look rather murky beyond that point though.

Auburn_Tigers_logo

15. Auburn Tigers – 91 points
Previous: 15 (96 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Derrick Brown, 7th Overall, 2020

Auburn is widely being described as a dumpster fire with no direction forward. That might start to catch up with them soon. The Tigers had just one player selected over the course of draft weekend this year. It was the first time since 2013 Auburn failed to produce multiple draft selections. That being said, Auburn has solid classes in the previous four years included in the scoring, so they won’t drop off any time soon, but Bryan Harsin will need to turn things around if Auburn wants to maintain its spot in the top 15.

Texas A&M logo

16. Texas A&M Aggies – 88 points
Previous: 16 (90 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Kenyon Green, 15th Overall, 2022

Jimbo Fisher has yet to really deliver on the enormous expectations heaped on him when he arrived in College Station. That applies both on the field and on draft day. Fisher built Florida State into a draft juggernaut. The Seminoles were second when I debuted these rankings back in 2016. A&M has yet to crack the top 10. It was another solid draft class for the Aggies, featuring four players, including a first-round pick. For most other schools, this would be a really good place to be. I am just surprised they haven’t climbed higher.

17. Kentucky Wildcats – 83 points
Previous: Others Receiving Votes: (60 points)
Highest Drafted Player: Josh Allen, 7th overall, 2019

Well hello there Kentucky. The Wildcats were clawing at the door last year, but finally broke though. Four more draft picks, including three Day 2 selections, pushed them into the rankings. Don’t expect them to go anywhere either. Will Levis is drawing top-10 buzz in the 2023 class. What is even more important is that Kentucky did not have a single player selected in 2017 or 2018. The only way the Wildcats will be going is up.

1000px-north_carolina_state_university_athletic_logo.svg_

18. North Carolina State Wolfpack – 76 points
Previous: 23 (72 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Bradley Chubb, 5th Overall, 2018

NC State continues to be one of the most underrated producers of NFL talent. The Wolfpack produced another first-round selection with Ikem Ekwonu this year. However, things have slowed down a bit in Raleigh in recent years. NC State’s seven-player class from 2018 won’t be included in next year’s rankings. They have only had nine players taken over the past four drafts combined. Producing first-rounders will keep them in the mix, but they need a bit more volume to solidify their spot.

Ole_Miss_Rebels_logo

19. Ole Miss Rebels – 73 points
Previous: 25 (69 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Greg Little, 37th Overall, 2019

Lane Kiffin seems to have the Rebels headed in the right direction, but it has yet to result in a ton of draft success. Ole Miss has had a bunch of mid-round selections in recent years, including a healthy 6-player class in 2022. However, it has been six years since their last first-round pick. Given a bit more time, I think Kiffin will get them back into the top 15. At the very least, I don’t think there is any reason to expect them to drop out of the rankings at this point.

Miami logo

20. Miami Hurricanes – 71 points
Previous: 14 (97 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Jaelan Phillips, 18th Overall, 2021

Given how irrelevant the Canes have been on the national stage, it is a wonder they are still in the top 25. That being said, no one has risen up to knock them out yet. This was easily the worst year we have seen from Miami from a draft perspective possibly ever. It was the first time since 2009 that the Hurricanes accounted for just one NFL draft selection. Jonathan Ford was taken in the seventh round as well. However, the window to push them out might have already passed. Mario Cristobal returns to his alma mater with hopes of restoring the program’s former glory. If he can successfully recruit South Florida and replicate the player development he displayed at Oregon, Miami will be back in a big way.

Florida State Logo

20. Florida State Seminoles – 71 points
Previous: 19 (78 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Brian Burns, 16th Overall, 2019

Much like Miami, Florida State is still trying to pick up the pieces. As I mentioned when talking about Texas A&M, Jimbo Fisher had the Seminoles among the country’s elite when it came to draft prospects. They were in the top five from 2016 to 2018. Now, Florida State is clinging to its spot in the top 25. Unlike Miami, there is not quite as much hope on the horizon. Mike Norvell has yet to get the Seminoles back to .500 and Jermaine Johnson II was the lone player from his program who heard his name called during the draft. Don’t be shocked if FSU falls out next year.

UCLA logo.jpg

22. UCLA Bruins – 70 points
Previous: 21 (76 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Josh Rosen, 10th Overall, 2018

While there was a lot more made about USC joining the Big Ten than UCLA, the Bruins are a solid addition in the college football landscape. Chip Kelly has kept them in the mix. Unfortunately, UCLA finds itself in a precarious spot when it comes to these rankings. Its impressive 2018 draft class is in its final year of inclusion. While this was a solid class with six players taken, their earliest pick came at the end of the third round. Kelly will need another really good draft class in order to stick in the rankings.

1280px-TCU_Horned_Frogs_logo

23. TCU Horned Frogs – 69 points
Previous: 24 (70 points)
Highest Draft Player – Jalen Reagor, 21st Overall, 2020

Yup. The Horned Frogs are still here. Don’t ask me how. TCU did not have a single player drafted in 2022. However, its 2017 draft class featured just one seventh-round pick, so the needle barely moved. What I think this underlines is how steep the drop off is from the top programs and the lack of depth in these rankings. Looking at the scoring past about 17, we are splitting hairs. However, TCU will be an interesting team to watch with Sonny Dykes now taking over as head coach. The Horned Frogs won’t be shut out again either with Quentin Johnston looking like a potential first-round pick in 2023.

Stanford Cardinal

23. Stanford Cardinal – 69 points
Previous: 17 (88 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Walker Little, 45th overall, 2021

Somehow, some way, Stanford is still hanging on. It was a very quiet draft weekend for the Cardinal with just one fifth-round selection this year. The future outlook for David Shaw’s program is not great. That being said, Tanner McKee is drawing some NFL buzz and if Davis Mills has shown us anything so far in his very brief NFL career, it might be good to stop doubting Shaw’s ability to find and develop pro talent.

23. Oregon Ducks – 69 points
Previous: NR (59 points)
Highest Draft Player – Kayvon Thibodeaux, 5th Overall, 2022

The quack is back. Well in the rankings at least. Kayvon Thibodeaux became the Ducks’ highest drafted player since Marcus Mariota in 2015. However, Thibodeaux was also the only Oregon player selected. On top of that, Mario Cristobal just left for Miami. However, there is no reason to panic. The 2018 draft class from Oregon was nothing spectacular and Dan Lanning arrived from Georgia. There is no question that Kirby Smart deserves credit for building that team, but hopefully, Lanning learned a lot from his former boss.

Others Receiving Votes: Wisconsin (67 points), South Carolina (66 points), Utah (62 points)

Dropped out: Utah (previous: 18), Wisconsin (previous: 22) UNC (previous: 25)

Note: All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Follow the Aftermath via email to get every article delivered right to your inbox. Enter your email in the text box to subscribe. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You can also check out our weekly podcast Draft Season Never Ends with new episodes every Friday, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube or wherever you get your podcasts.

NFL Draft Daily: Takeaways from Alabama and Georgia in the national championship game

NFL Draft Daily looks at top stories, historical trends, player performances and more all through the lens of the NFL Draft. After all, there are only 106 days until the 2022 NFL draft. Check back in tomorrow for another entry.

Georgia and Alabama put a bow on the 2021 college football season with Monday’s national championship game. The Bulldogs snapped a 41-year title drought as Kirby Smart finally beat his former boss and mentor Nick Saban.

If you’ve been paying attention to college football or tracking draft prospects this year, you know there were a ton of future NFL players on the field in Indianapolis. Some won’t be eligible for this season, but my goodness, Saban and Smart continue to prove that they are among the elites when it comes to attracting and developing NFL-caliber talent. Saban has a better history than Smart on both sides of the ball, but there is no denying Smart’s prowess on defense.

Having had a chance to watch the game and work back through the film again, there was a lot to like when it comes to spotting future NFL players. Here are my biggest takeaways from Monday night.

Smart has landed a top-five recruiting class each of the past four seasons. (Wikimedia Commons)

Georgia’s defense is on another level

The Dawgs were led by their incredible defense all year long, not allowing more than 14 points against any opponent the entire regular season. They allowed 9.5 points per game, including the SEC Championship game where Alabama dropped 41 on them. That is 6.5 points per game less than Clemson, who allowed 15 points and finished with the second-best scoring defense.

As I mentioned above, Smart is the best recruiter and developer of defensive talent in the country right now. Georgia has future top-50 picks at every level of their defense and a handful of guys who will go in the mid to late rounds backing them up. By now, you likely know names like Nakobe Dean, Jordan Davis, Travon Walker and Derion Kendrick. However, guys like Devonte Wyatt, Nolan Smith and Lewis Cine (more on him later) are all potential top-50 selections as well. Then there are Quay Walker and Channing Tindall. Neither one was a featured player or even really a full-time starter for Georgia, and yet, it would not be a surprise to see both of them go later on Day 2. Robert Beal Jr., who had 6.5 sacks this season, doesn’t even get mentioned when talking about this defense most of the time.

The next wave of talent is exciting as well. Jalen Carter could be a future first-rounder. Kelee Ringo, who had the game-sealing pick-six, will be eligible next season and will certainly have opportunities to work his way into the top 50. He had a really strong performance that makes me excited to watch more of him in the future. Smael Mondon Jr., Nazir Stackhouse and MJ Sherman should all see more action next year as this next wave of talent heads to the NFL. The pipeline from Athens to the NFL is only growing stronger.

I was wrong about Stetson Bennett

I told coworkers, friends and my very patient wife who probably tuned me out because she was not quite as invested in Georgia’s starting quarterback situation as I was, that I really thought the Bulldogs needed to turn their offense over to J.T. Daniels for the College Football Playoff. Georgia was finally tested in the SEC title game and forced to play from behind. It seemed like Bennett was not cut out to keep up with Alabama if the Tide built an early lead again. He attempted just 287 passes across 13 games. That ranked 79th among quarterbacks in FBS this season. Bennett was never asked to be the guy, and I assumed that it meant he couldn’t fill that role.

Turns out, he was more than ready to lead the team when they desperately needed someone to step up, this time on an even bigger stage. Bennett went over 300 yards passing and had three touchdowns against a good Michigan defense in the Orange Bowl, securing a rematch with ‘Bama.

With Georgia’s run game looking incredibly sluggish in the first half. Then, Bennett was strip-sacked and Alabama took an 18-13 lead, and the pressure was really on. Over the final 10 minutes of the game, the former walk-on quarterback was flawless. He tossed two touchdowns to build a lead and the defense closed it out with a pick-six. Bennett had plenty of help, but he also showed that he was capable of leading this team at a time when it needed leading.

I don’t think this makes him an elite quarterback prospect or anything, but maybe this puts him on the radar as a seventh-round pick or preferred free agent, if he is even interested in going pro. He has the makings of a player who could succeed as a backup quarterback in the NFL. Teams like the Bengals, Chargers or Bills, who could all be in the market for a backup quarterback this year, make sense as potential landing spots for the championship-winning quarterback.

Harris had 5.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss in 2021. (Wikimedia Commons)

Christian Harris and Lewis Cine made themselves some money

Every year, there are a few players that cement their status or really capitalize on the increased attention on them to shoot up draft boards. If there are two players that I think did that better than anyone else on Monday, I would pick Alabama’s Christian Harris and Georgia’s Lewis Cine.

Let’s start with Harris. He started the year as a player many thought could go in the first round and possibly even be the first linebacker off the board. While far from an exact science and not at all indicative of how the league views him, the website NFL Mock Draft Database shows Harris dropping from the 20th ranked player overall in early October to 55th in the middle of December. He had an up and down season, struggling to sort through traffic and failing to read his keys. It was unfortunate to watch for such an instinctive and dynamic defensive playmaker.

Against Georgia, Harris showcased the incredible upside that makes him such an eye-catching prospect. He racked up three sacks and four tackles for loss and looked downright explosive. He still has a long way to go when it comes to gap discipline, but he should be in the mix in the late first round or early second round.

On the other side, Cine was seemingly everywhere for Georgia’s defense. He had seven tackles, a tackle for loss and a pass break up. Those counting stats are far from outstanding, but his play went well beyond the numbers. He made a number of key stops for the Bulldogs, which was something they could not do against the Tide in the SEC championship game. It was the type of game that I think will propel him into the top 50 conversation. With a number of teams picking at the backend of the first round or early in the second round, Cine could be in the running to be the second safety selected, following Kyle Hamilton.

Will Anderson Jr. will start the 2023 draft cycle as the No. 1 player on my big board

This guy is incredible. He showcased his full range of skills on Monday night. He batted a pass at the line, made opposing offensive linemen look silly in pass protection and set the edge against the run with authority. In my estimation, he should have won the Heisman this year. He had 34 tackles for loss in 15 games this season. That is 2.3 tackles for loss per game. Leo Chenal and Devin Lloyd tied for the second best average at 1.6. That came on top of 17.5 sacks, which was tops in the country, and trailed only Andre Carter II in terms of sacks per game. Reminder: this was playing in the SEC against some of the best college offensive linemen in the country.

His length, physicality and athleticism at one of the most coveted positions in college football make him one of the most exciting prospects in recent years. Put him in the same air as Chase Young and Myles Garrett. I am so excited to break down his film this summer.

Jameson Williams and John Metchie III should consider returning to school

This was the worst part of the game by far. Williams emerged as a legitimate contender to be the first receiver taken in the 2022 draft with his electric playmaking and field-stretching ability. The Ohio State transfer stepped into the void left by Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith and flourished. Unfortunately, he suffered a torn ACL in the second quarter and will now miss the entire pre-draft process and potentially the beginning of the 2022 season.

While I don’t think any team will look at him as damaged goods or take him off their board because of the injury, it will almost definitely hurt his stock. He was someone who likely would have ran well at the combine and boosted his stock even further. Williams could very reasonably still go in the first round. There is something to be said for getting paid while you rehab your surgically repaired knee.

However, he will likely be losing out on some money in the process. I could realistically have seen him coming off the board as early as No. 10 to the Jets (hard to see any receivers going before that point, barring trades) before the injury. He will likely slide some. Even falling 11 spots to the Patriots (projected) at No. 21 would cost him $7.3 million over the course of his rookie deal. If he potentially drops further to the Chiefs (projected) at No. 29, it would be about $9.3 million less.

In the end, Williams will have to do whatever works best for him and his family. If he, God forbid, got hurt again after returning to school, he could cost himself a lot more money than that. There is certainly still a good amount of risk. That being said, there are worse situations than returning to Alabama to play with Bryce Young and potentially John Metchie III again. Metchie also suffered a torn ACL playing in the SEC title game. He was not projected to go quite as high as Williams and his injury could set up a return to Tuscaloosa. Those two back at school would only bolster a team that is already the favorite to win the national title in 2022. Williams could erase any doubt about the injury and find himself in the mix to go in the top 10 in 2023. Injuries are one of the harsh realities of football and will set up one of the most interesting decisions to watch when the deadline comes up Monday, January 17th.

Follow the Aftermath via email to get every article delivered right to your inbox. Enter your email in the text box to subscribe. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

The impact of each conference championship game on the College Football Playoff

After an exhilarating college football regular season, we have finally reached championship weekend. The SEC, Big 12, AAC and Big Ten championship games all carry a ton of significance with each one featuring at least one team ranked in the College Football Playoff committee’s top six. In the case of the SEC, both teams are in the group.

While it is likely we will see all the higher ranked teams win and a fairly predictable final four, Oklahoma State would probably replace Alabama in the top 4, this season has been anything but predictable. Each game could offer a really interesting wrinkle in determining which teams will compete for a national title. Here is the impact each game from championship weekend will have on the playoff.

SEC Championship Game
No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 3 Alabama
Saturday, 4 p.m. ET on CBS

This obviously has the biggest impact of any game this weekend. Georgia is one of just two undefeated D-I teams in the country this season, Cincinnati being the other. Meanwhile, Alabama has struggled a bit defensively in recent weeks, losing to Texas A&M earlier this season. However, the Tide have won six of the past nine SEC titles. The Bulldogs only have one SEC title since 2005. Kirby Smart has also never beaten his former boss, Nick Saban. There is a ton of the line for both sides and definitely some history to be made.

If Georgia wins…
The Bulldogs will stay at No. 1 and cruise into the College Football Playoff at 13-0. Things become tricky on the other side of the matchup. A two-loss team has never made the final four. Alabama would be 11-2 on the season with a loss. That likely eliminates them, but there are scenarios where the Tide could still get in. However, they would need a lot to go their way. Baylor would have to win the Big 12 over Oklahoma State and at least one of Cincinnati or Michigan would have to lose. That would set up a playoff composed of Georgia, Cincinnati or Michigan, Notre Dame and then one more team. Alabama would likely be up against Baylor, Ohio State and potentially Oregon for that final spot. Perhaps the committee would like to avoid a rematch. It is far from a guarantee, but ‘Bama would be in the mix if it is a close game.

The only other scenario I can think of would be if Michigan and Cincinnati both lost their conference championship games. Regardless of who wins the Big 12, Alabama would once again be in the conversation. Notre Dame could move up to No. 2 if Baylor wins while Alabama, Ohio State and Oregon, if it wins the Pac-12, would be in the mix for the final two spots. Would the committee opt for conference champions and pick Baylor and Oregon? Maybe, but it feels more likely that Alabama or Ohio State beats out one of those teams.

If Alabama wins…
The Tide almost assuredly move up to No. 1. Maybe Michigan would, but being the first team to beat Georgia would be a pretty big resume booster. That likely sees two SEC teams in the playoff. Georgia could slide down to No. 3 and face the Wolverines, assuming they beat Iowa. Cincinnati, Oklahoma State and company would all be fighting for the final spot. Georgia is pretty much the only team that could conceivably lose this weekend and comfortably make the playoff. Other teams certainly could if the right results break their way, but I don’t see a scenario where the Bulldogs are left out.

Big Ten Championship Game
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 13 Iowa
Saturday, 8 p.m. ET on FOX

Jim Harbaugh finally got that Ohio State-shaped monkey off his back, but Michigan’s job is not done yet. Beating the Buckeyes is a huge momentum boost and should buy Harbaugh some good will with Wolverines fans, but it would be a disappointment not to see them finish the season with a conference championship and a berth in the College Football Playoff. On the flip side, it was not that long ago that Iowa was in position to reach the playoff, climbing all the way to No. 2 in the AP Poll this season. Now, the Hawkeyes are just hoping to spoil the Wolverines celebrations and win their first conference championship game.

If Michigan wins…
The Wolverines will be in the playoff and Harbaugh will likely be in line for a further extension that his current deal that runs through 2025. Michigan could climb to No. 1 if Alabama knocks off Georgia, but that could also see the Tide surge right past them. For Iowa, there is not a ton that changes. They will probably be one of the top Big Ten teams to receive bowl invitations. The Citrus Bowl seems to be a likely landing spot.

If Iowa wins…
Rose Bowl baby! A win for the Hawkeyes would see them play in the “Granddaddy of them all”, surging into the top 10 of the rankings as well. For the CFP implications, there are many. Michigan would almost definitely be out. A two-loss non-conference champion stands basically no chance of reaching the playoff, but the Wolverines are ranked at No. 2 right now. If Cincinnati, Oklahoma State and Alabama all lose, there could be a way Michigan sneaks in. Unlikely, I know, but would the committee put Ohio State, whom Michigan just beat, in ahead of them? Maybe the playoff ends up being Georgia, Notre Dame, Baylor and Oregon in that scenario.

A Michigan loss opens the door for a number of other teams to get in. There will be a lot of teams rooting for Iowa to pull off the upset. That being said, it is hard to see the Hawkeyes moving all the way from No. 13 into the top four. Iowa can solely play spoiler.

American Athletic Conference Championship Game
No. 4 Cincinnati vs. No. 21 Houston
Saturday, 4 p.m. ET on ABC

Easily the biggest AAC title game ever, Cincinnati hosts this monumental showdown with Houston. It will be the fifth time that the game will consist of two ranked teams, but this time, there are legitimate College Football Playoff implications. That has to matter. In a year where the ACC has no shot and the Pac-12 needs about six different things to break their way, it is pretty interesting to see the AAC’s place in college football’s national hierarchy. Unfortunately, both these teams are heading to the Big 12 in 2024. Enjoy it while it lasts.

If Cincinnati wins…
Then the Bearcats should be in. It is far from a guarantee. The committee has an unrelenting bias against Group of 5 schools. If Cincinnati were to struggle a bit in the victory and Oklahoma State looks strong against Baylor, we could see the Cowboys leapfrog Luke Fickell’s team. If Alabama beats Georgia, then there is a good chance Cincinnati would get frozen out yet again and the nation would go into an uproar over expansion. Houston will likely find itself playing in some meaningless bowl game despite an 11-2 season.

If Houston wins…
Told you so. That’s what the committee will be feeling. They have questioned Cincinnati’s strength of schedule all year long despite the Bearcats owning one of the best wins in the country. A loss would end Cincinnati’s playoff hopes and potentially drop them out of the top 10. The door would unquestionably open for Oklahoma State, Notre Dame and others to move up and maybe even Alabama to stay in the mix even if it loses. Houston would likely vault into a better bowl game, but don’t expect to see them in a New Year’s Six game. They would likely be playing after Christmas though.

Big 12 Championship Game
No. 5 Oklahoma State vs. No. 9 Baylor
Saturday, 12 p.m. ET on ABC

Quietly the only conference outside of the SEC to feature two top-10 teams, the Big 12 is hoping to send a team other than Oklahoma to the playoff for the first time ever. Oklahoma State being ranked above Notre Dame in Tuesday’s rankings definitely opens the door for Cowboys to get in with a win. Baylor could also crash the party, although the committee moved the Bears down a spot after a narrow victory over Texas Tech.

If Oklahoma State wins…
The Cowboys could be in the playoff. Mike Gundy also might be named the mayor of Stillwater. Oklahoma State is going to need just a little bit of help. If Georgia beats Alabama, that likely opens up a spot. As the top ranked team outside the top four, OK State will almost assuredly get the nod. There is even a scenario where the Cowboys could jump Cincinnati, which I touched on earlier. The committee definitely feels Oklahoma State is facing better competition with Baylor at No. 9 and Houston at No. 21. A convincing win could see them get in if Cincinnati struggles. Plus, the Cowboys would have three wins over top-10 opponents.

If Baylor wins…
Things will get really murky. The Bears winning is not enough to get them in. They would certainly need some help. However, beating a top-five team would definitely give their resume a boost and put them in the conversation. If Michigan, Cincinnati and Alabama all lose, unlikely, but possible, Baylor should have a legitimate shot. A Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Baylor playoff could make sense at that stage. If we have learned anything over the years, it is that the committee tends to favor conference champions. Maybe Alabama or Michigan would still get in over Baylor, but it is not out of the question.

However, there is something to be said for the Bears dropping to No. 9. More significantly, they moved behind Ole Miss. The Bears will have a chance to redeem themselves, but that clearly indicates that the committee is not overly impressed by their resume at this point. We have never seen a team jump from this far back into the playoff in the final week of the rankings.

Pac-12 Championship Game
No. 10 Oregon vs. No. 17 Utah
Friday, 8 p.m. ET on ABC

Maybe just leave ABC on all weekend, with four conference championship games airing between Friday and Saturday. I already mentioned that the ACC title game has no bearing on the College Football Playoff. There is a chance that the Pac-12 doesn’t either. Oregon and Utah both have at least two losses entering Friday’s game. There is still plenty to play for with a trip to the Rose Bowl on the line, but the implications on the national landscape are more peripheral.

If Oregon wins…
Could the Ducks make the playoff? Probably not, but apparently anything goes in 2021. Let’s say Georgia beats Alabama while both Michigan and Cincinnati lose. The door suddenly opens for Oregon. Notre Dame would be in. The Big 12 champion likely would be, too, even if Baylor wins. Would the committee take Alabama or Michigan fresh off a loss? How about Ohio State, whom Oregon beat earlier this season? It gets a bit unclear. Likely, Alabama would get the nod, but a Power 5 conference champion would certainly be in the conversation. There is also something to be said for the Ducks avenging their most recent loss of the season.

I’m not saying it is likely, but at that point, the committee would be picking between two-loss Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, Ole Miss and Oregon. It becomes an interesting discussion. The fact that Oregon is ranked behind all of them and facing a team outside the top 10 makes it feel unrealistic. Maybe a win by Oregon makes Ohio State’s resume look better? I don’t know. This year has just been so confusing.

If Utah wins…
Go enjoy the Rose Bowl and revel in beating the Ducks twice. Utah will not be in the playoff. This year is weird, but not weird enough for a three-loss team to somehow reach the final four. Mario Cristobal could be headed for Miami though as a result. Food for thought.

2021 NFL Pro Potential Power Rankings

College football is back! With the season getting underway in earnest, this is a great time to look at the top programs for sending players to the NFL. This is my sixth year running these rankings, and while there has been a lot that has changed, some things stay the same. Alabama is still on top and has a monster lead over Ohio State. Nick Saban is running a NFL factory down in Tuscaloosa.

I love doing these rankings every year because it shows you which schools are the best at preparing players for the NFL draft. Obviously, it should be taken into account that usually these schools are also the ones that excel in recruiting, but there is a lot more to it than that. Receiving the right exposure, playing in a specific system or especially competing against the best talent all play a role in shaping a prospects’ draft stock as well. This is not a predictive measurement of how well players from these schools will do in the pros. For high school prospects with dreams of playing on Sundays, these are the best programs to get you there.

Previous rankings: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016

For those wondering how these rankings are created, I look at all the players drafted over the past five years and then score their draft spot using the scoring system below. The draft classes included in this year’s rankings span from 2017 to 2021.

The scoring system is as follows:
1st round -10 points
2nd round – 7 points
3rd round – 5 points
4th round – 4 points
5th round – 3 points
6th round – 2 points
7th round – 1 points

Alabama Logo

1. Alabama Crimson Tide – 343 points
Previous: 1 (315 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Quinnen Williams, 3rd Overall, 2019
Alabama continues to raise the bar. After claiming his sixth national championship since taking over for the Tide in 2009, Nick Saban tied the 2004 Miami Hurricanes when six of his players were drafted in the first round of 2021. Somehow, the Tide keep increasing their point total. After Ohio State pulled within 30 points a year ago, Alabama has stretched their lead to nearly 100 points again. No one is touching them for a while.

Ohio State Logo

2. Ohio State Buckeyes – 248 points
Previous: 2 (285 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Nick Bosa/Chase Young, 2nd Overall, 2019/2020
At first glance, it might seem like the Buckeyes had a rough 2021 draft. It was solid if unspectacular, but their massive drop in points is mostly due to losing out on a 2016 draft class that featured 12 players, including five first-rounders. Ohio State is not going anywhere, but after seeming like they were primed to challenge Alabama for the top spot a year ago, this was a disappointing follow up.

Louisiana State University logo

3. LSU Tigers – 215 points
Previous: 3 (202 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Joe Burrow, 1st Overall, 2020
The championship hangover hit the Bayou hard as LSU struggled to a 5-5 finish. Still, the Tigers had seven players drafted, highlighted by Ja’Marr Chase going in the top 5. There is already buzz about another potential top-five prospect in Derek Stingley Jr., so I think LSU is here to stay. They will need to pick it up in the first few rounders though if they want to stay in the top three.

MichiganWolverines

4. Michigan Wolverines – 170 points
Previous: 6 (144 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Devin Bush, 10th Overall, 2019
I said it last year and I will say it again, Jim Harbaugh, despite all his flaws running this program, knows how to get players to the NFL. Michigan saw eight of its football alumni have their names called across the three days of the 2021 draft in April. Kwity Paye led the way going 21st overall. There are already a few players in the top 50 conversation heading into this season, so the Wolverines could climb even higher.

Florida logo.jpg

5. Florida Gators – 167 points
Previous: 5 (161 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Kyle Pitts, 4th Overall, 2021
Florida’s draft success took another step forward as Kyle Pitts became the Gators’ first top-five pick since Dante Fowler back in 2015. Pitts kicked off a good-sized draft class, with eight former Florida players coming off the board on draft day. With tons of NFL-caliber talent still on this roster and Dan Mullen still running the show, Florida is going to stick among college football elites in this category.

Clemson Logo

6. Clemson Tigers – 165 points
Previous: 4 (171 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Trevor Lawrence, 1st Overall, 2021
It feels weird that Clemson would have the No. 1 overall pick and somehow move down two spots after dropping a few points. The Tigers had a solid draft class of five players. Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne were both first-round selections. This is not a huge blow for Clemson, but I think it underlines just how hard it is to produce top-end NFL prospects.

Georgia Logo

7. Georgia Bulldogs – 153 points
Previous: 9 (131 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Roquon Smith, 8th Overall, 2018
Kirby Smart feels like he is just getting started. Georgia had nine players drafted in 2021, including three in the top 50. With a loaded roster heading into 2021 with some big-name prospects already drawing national attention, the Bulldogs are primed for future success. J.T. Daniels, Adam Anderson, Nakobe Dean and Jordan Davis could all come off the board in the top 50 in 2022.

Oklahoma Logo

8. Oklahoma Sooners – 138 points
Previous: 8 (133 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Baker Mayfield/Kyler Murray, 1st Overall, 2018/2019
This was a quiet draft by Oklahoma standards. 2021 snapped a three-year streak of having a player selected in the first round and only two players went in the top 100. That should change in 2022, with Spencer Rattler in the Heisman conversation and some other prospects receiving first-round buzz. As long as Lincoln Riley is in Norman, the Sooners are going to be in the top 10.

Washington Huskies logo.jpg

9. Washington Huskies – 132 points
Previous: 10 (110 points)
Highest Drafted Player – John Ross, 9th Overall, 2017
If you are a high school prospect with NFL aspirations looking to play on the West Coast, Washington should probably be at the top of your wish list. It remains to be seen if Jimmy Lake can sustain the success Chris Pederson built. If 2021 was any indication, the program should be fine. Joe Tryon snuck into the first round and Levi Onwuzurike was not far behind him. Four former Huskies heard their names called and there should be a few more to follow in 2022.

Notre Dame Logo

10. Notre Dame Fighting Irish – 130 points
Previous: 7 (136 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Quenton Nelson, 6th Overall, 2018
Hate on the Irish all you want, Brian Kelly is producing NFL prospects at a high level. It was the second year in a row that Notre Dame did not have a first-round pick, but they somewhat made up for that with three second-rounders. Kyle Hamilton will almost definitely snap that streak next year. With a very small draft class in 2017, the Irish should be in a good spot to add more points in 2022.

Penn_State_text_logo

11. Penn State Nittany Lions – 109 points
Previous: 13 (100 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Saquon Barkley, 2nd Overall, 2018
The gap between the top 10 and everyone else is apparent. Penn State has steadily made progress in these rankings in recent years. When I first started recording this, the Nittany Lions were 23rd and had not had a first-round pick in the previous five years. Fast forward to 2021 and Penn State had multiple players taken in the first round for the first time since 2003. Yes, it certainly seems like Happy Valley is back to being a hot spot for NFL prospects.

USC logo

12. USC Trojans – 108 points
Previous: 11 (104 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Sam Darnold, 3rd Overall, 2018
15 years ago, USC likely would have led these rankings. After a long lull, it seems like the Trojans are headed in the right direction. Alijah Vera-Tucker was the highest drafted player of a group of five former USC players. With Kedon Slovis and Drake London drawing first-round hype already, the Trojans could be in for an even bigger draft class in 2022.

iowa_wordmark

13. Iowa Hawkeyes – 98 points
Previous: 19 (86 points)
Highest Drafted Player – T.J. Hockenson, 8th Overall, 2019
This was definitely a down year for the Hawkeyes, yet they take a big step forward in the rankings. That is primarily because Austin Blythe was the only former Iowa player drafted in 2016 and he went in the seventh round. Hard to do much worse than that from a draft perspective. Iowa has dominated the middle rounds and have hit some highs with first-round selections in 2019 and 2020. If they are serious about staying in the top 15, the Hawkeyes will likely need to start producing first-rounders more regularly.

Miami logo

14. Miami Hurricanes – 97 points
Previous: 19 (86 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Jaelan Phillips, 18th Overall, 2021
Miami is really close to rejoining the elite schools in the country when it comes to sending players to the NFL. No one came close to matching the Hurricanes in the early 2000s, but they have fallen on hard times. Jaelan Phillips and Gregory Rousseau were the first players from Miami drafted before the third round since 2017. That is a problem. There is more talent on the horizon, but as we have seen, it is far from a guarantee that those players will crack those first two rounds.

Auburn_Tigers_logo

15. Auburn Tigers – 96 points
Previous: 12 (101 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Derrick Brown, 7th Overall, 2020
The Gus Malzahn era is officially over and the on-field results correspond with a dip in the pro potential power rankings. The Tigers dominated the 2020 draft, highlighted by two selections in the first 30 picks, but those were their only first round draftees since 2014. Anthony Schwartz was the first Auburn player off the board this year and he went 91st. It will be interesting to see if Bryan Harsin can turn things around and how long it will take before the program is back among the nation’s elite, if it ever returns.

Texas A&M logo

16. Texas A&M Aggies – 90 points
Previous: 17 (90 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Myles Garrett, 1st Overall, 2017
Despite a great season on the field, narrowly missing the College Football Playoff, Texas A&M had a really quiet draft. Only four players came off the board. Kellen Mond was the first and he went in the third round. That was a bit underwhelming, but oh boy, the 2022 Aggies draft class will likely change all of that. DeMarvin Leal, Jaylen Wydermyer, Kenyon Green and Isaiah Spiller will all be in the first-round conversation. There is plenty of depth after that. Jimbo Fisher has a good track record with sending players to the league. There is a reason Florida State has fallen off a cliff in NFL prospect production since he left.

Stanford Cardinal

17. Stanford Cardinal – 88 points
Previous: 21 (85 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Solomon Thomas, 3rd Overall, 2017
Stanford continues to produce NFL talent every year. Five players heard their names called in 2021, with all of them coming between the second and fifth rounds. Unfortunately, the quality of play on the field continues to slide and there is a chance the number of Cardinal players heading to the NFL could follow. David Shaw is a fantastic coach, but he needs to do something to revive this program.

Utah_Utes_logo

18. Utah Utes – 86 points
Previous: 20 (90 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Garrett Bolles, 20th Overall, 2017
It is not time to panic in Salt Lake City. Not having a single player drafted in 2021 is startling, but that comes on the heels of a strong seven-man draft class in 2020. There is hope on the horizon with Devin Lloyd likely to generate some first-round buzz. This past draft class is still incredibly disappointing, but I wouldn’t expect Utah to completely drop out of the rankings right away.

Florida State Logo

19. Florida State Seminoles – 78 points
Previous: 23 (80 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Brian Burns, 16th Overall, 2019
Florida State has struggled to keep up their NFL factory tag in the post Jimbo Fisher era. The Seminoles drop a couple points but move up because of other teams struggling around them. If the season opener against Notre Dame was any indication though, there is a chance there is some more NFL talent on the roster than initially thought. 2022 could be a huge inflection point one way or the other in determining which direction FSU is headed in these rankings.

1000px-mississippi_state_bulldogs_logo.svg_

20. Mississippi State Bulldogs – 77 points
Previous: 16 (91 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Jeffery Simmons, 19th Overall, 2019
This was not ideal. Only two Mississippi State players were drafted in 2021. Both were seventh rounders. That is not going to get it done in these rankings, at least not long term. The Bulldogs should hang around bolstered by a 2019 draft class that featured three first-round picks, but this is a red flag. There is a chance their days in the top 20 are coming to an end.

UCLA logo.jpg

21. UCLA Bruins – 76 points
Previous: 14 (98 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Josh Rosen, 10th Overall, 2018
Another small draft class sees the Bruins take a major tumble down the rankings. Osa Odighizuwa and Demetric Felton were the only players drafted from UCLA this past year. Early signs point to Chip Kelly having this team headed in the right direction. In his fourth season in L.A., Kelly finally has his own recruits running the show. Zach Charbonnet is off to a hot start and there are a few other prospects already earning top 100 buzz. Perhaps the Bruins are primed for a bounce back and better days ahead now that Kelly is settling in.

Wisconsin logo

22. Wisconsin Badgers – 74 points
Previous: 25 (73 points)
Highest Drafted Player – T.J. Watt, 30th Overall, 2017
It was another ho-hum draft class for the Badgers. Three former Wisconsin players were drafted, but none of them were selected prior to the fifth round. Another year like that could see Paul Chryst’s program slide out of the rankings. There are a number of teams all within 15 points of Wisconsin at this stage. Its 2017 draft class was also a strong one, so they will need to have a better 2022 to help replace it when next year rolls around.

1000px-north_carolina_state_university_athletic_logo.svg_

23. North Carolina State Wolfpack – 72 points
Previous: 22 (83 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Bradley Chubb, 5th Overall, 2018
Alim McNeil was the lone North Carolina State player taken in 2021. He was a third-round pick, but one-man draft classes don’t really do much in these rankings. Considering the Wolfpack’s on-field success, it was a bit of surprise no one else joined McNeil. NC State has a good history of producing NFL talent, so they could be in line for a turnaround, but it will need to happen quickly.

1280px-TCU_Horned_Frogs_logo

24. TCU Horned Frogs – 70 points
Previous: 24 (79 points)
Highest Draft Player – Jalen Reagor, 21st Overall, 2020
TCU is lucky to stay in these rankings. The Horned Frogs only had two players taken in 2021. However, they could be in line for a resurgence in 2022. Their 2017 draft class consisted of just one seventh-round selection, so it will be hard for them to really drop more points in next year’s rankings. There are a few players on the 2021 roster that should come off the board in the top 100, so the top 20 is definitely within reach.

Ole_Miss_Rebels_logo

25. Ole Miss Rebels – 69 points
Previous: 15 (93 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Evan Engram, 23rd Overall, 2021
The biggest drop of any program in the 2021 rankings, Ole Miss is hanging on for dear life. Their two players selected were in the second and fourth rounds, which is solid. However, that was replacing a 2016 draft class that produced three first-rounders. Now Evan Engram is the only former Rebel taken in the first round in the past five years. Maybe Matt Corral could change that, but it would take a big season for him to break into the top 32 prospects come draft day.

25. North Carolina – 69 points
Previous: NR (46 points)
Highest Drafted Player – Mitchell Trubisky, QB, UNC
2021 was a solid year for UNC both on the field and in terms of draft production. Their five players selected replaced a 2016 draft class featuring zero NFL prospects. That is a big part of the reason for the Tar Heels’ surge. It also helps that Mack Brown is attracting big-time talent to Chapel Hill. Sam Howell will have to prove himself in 2021 to solidify his first-round draft stock. There could be a few other players that work their way into the top 100 when all is said and done.

Others Receiving Votes: Virginia Tech (66 points), South Carolina (60 points), Kentucky (60 points)

Note: All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

2020 NFL Pro Potential Power Rankings

Welcome to Year 5 of the NFL Pro Potential Power Rankings! The more things change, the more things stay the same at the top. Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Florida are all still part of the top five. However, we are starting to see the on-the-field struggles for Florida State and Stanford catch up to them. Both have fallen outside the top 20 and could potentially drop out of the rankings altogether if things don’t get turned around.

I love doing these rankings every year because it shows you which schools are the best at preparing players for the NFL draft. Obviously, it should be taken into account that usually these schools are also the ones that excel in recruiting, but there is a lot more to it than that. Receiving the right exposure, playing in a specific system or especially competing against the best talent all play a role in shaping a prospects draft stock as well. This is not a predictive measurement of how well players from these schools will do in the pros. For high school prospects with dreams of playing on Sundays, these are the best programs to get you there.

Previous rankings: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016

The scoring system is as follows:
1st round-10 points
2nd round-7 points
3rd round-5 points
4th round-4 points
5th round- 3 points
6th round- 2 points
7th round- 1 points

Alabama Logo1. Alabama Crimson Tide- 315 points
Previous: 1 (281 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Quinnen Williams, 3rd Overall, 2019
This is just unbelievable. The Crimson Tide have led these rankings every single year I have made them. Their point total has reached a staggering 315, becoming the first school to eclipse the 300-mark. For the fourth straight year, Alabama had four players selected in the first round. That doesn’t include the countless players selected in the second round, third round and beyond. Ohio State closed the gap significantly, but ‘Bama is still the king.

Ohio State Logo2. Ohio State Buckeyes- 285 points
Previous: 2 (229 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Nick Bosa/Chase Young, 2nd Overall, 2019/2020
While Alabama is clearly the best football factory in the country, there is no question Ohio State belongs in the conversation. Ryan Day sent a huge batch of players to the NFL in 2020, including two players in the top three picks. And as if you haven’t heard already, Joe Burrow started his college career in Columbus as well. There is still a long ways to go to catch the Tide, but for the first time ever, it feels possible for the Buckeyes to take the top spot in the future.

Louisiana State University logo3. LSU Tigers- 202 points
Previous: 6 (132 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Joe Burrow, 1st Overall, 2020
This will go down as one of the greatest draft classes in NFL history. Five first-rounders and 14 players drafted in total, the latter of which was a record. Joe Burrow became just the second LSU player to go first overall in program history. I am a little skeptical that the Tigers will continue to dominate like this in the draft with so much turnover, but they became the only school other than Ohio State and Alabama to eclipse the 200-point threshold.

Clemson Logo4. Clemson Tigers- 171 points
Previous: 4 (158 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Clelin Ferrell, 4th Overall, 2019
Another team regularly producing NFL talent, it feels like Clemson is just ramping up for a special run in these rankings. The Tigers had two more first rounders this year from a draft class of seven players selected in total. Given the expectations surrounding the Tigers in 2020 and the continued pipeline of elite recruits, Clemson should be a regular in the top five and make a real run at climbing higher.

Florida logo.jpg5. Florida Gators- 161 points
Previous: 3 (166 points)
Highest Drafted Player- CJ Henderson, 9th overall, 2020
The on-field success is steadily building and the draft success is staying steady. Florida is consistently turning out players going in the first three rounds. With the Gators seemingly on the verge of breaking into college football elite, it would be a surprise to see them drop much further than this. If they could get a few more players going in the first round, they should solidify their spot in the top 5.

MichiganWolverines6. Michigan Wolverines- 144 points
Previous: 8 (127 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Devin Bush, 10th Overall, 2019
Jim Harbaugh might not be able to knock off Ohio State, but he is still sending boatloads of players to the NFL. For the second time in four years, Michigan saw its number of players drafted reach double digits. They have been a little streaky, with two years with just two players drafted in the past five drafts. While there are plenty of questions surrounding Harbaugh, he continues to prepare players for the next level.

Notre Dame Logo7. Notre Dame Fighting Irish- 136 points
Previous: 14 (110 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Ronnie Stanley, 6th Overall, 2016
Tied for the biggest riser in these rankings this season, it was a nice bounce back for the Fighting Irish. Even though they didn’t reach the College Football Playoff this season, Notre Dame still put together another really impressive draft class. With six players taken in the 2020 draft, including three in the first three rounds, the Irish continue to make waves. Brian Kelly continues to do a great job putting players in position to make the jump to the pros.

Oklahoma Logo8. Oklahoma Sooners- 133 points
Previous: 9 (125 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Baker Mayfield/Kyler Murray, 1st Overall, 2018/2019
With two more first-round picks, Oklahoma continues to rise up the rankings under Lincoln Riley. The Sooners seem to be on verge of becoming a football factory once again. However, after a three-year run of transfer quarterbacks either winning the Heisman or finishing as the runner up from OU, there is some uncertainty at the position. Now that won’t diminish any of the talent still existing elsewhere on this roster, but it could rob a number of players of the same big stage to showcase that talent.

Georgia Logo9. Georgia Bulldogs- 131 points
Previous: 10 (122 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Roquon Smith, 8th Overall, 2018
Another strong year for Georgia turned into another great draft class. What is impressive is that this class could have been even deeper if a few defensive stars had entered the draft and not returned to school. That sets up the Bulldogs well for continued success next year. I don’t expect them to leave the top 10 any time soon. Count on Kirby Smart to continue cultivating NFL talent.

Washington Huskies logo.jpg10. Washington Huskies- 110 points
Previous: 5 (140 points)
Highest Drafted Player- John Ross, 9th Overall, 2017
After years of dominating the draft, the Huskies took a massive hit. Dropping 30 points of value is pretty steep. Washington only had two players selected in 2020 this was definitely a down year. It doesn’t help either that Jacob Eason was the first Husky taken this year in the fourth round. With a very small 2016 draft class, Washington should not fall much next year, but could be in danger in the future.

USC logo11. USC Trojans- 104 points
Previous: 13 (114 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Sam Darnold, 3rd Overall, 2018
This is not your grandfather’s or even your father’s USC. The Trojans have fallen from college football’s elite, but still seem capable of sending some top-tier talent to the NFL. Having two players drafted in the first 33 selection is a really nice start, but Austin Jackson and Michael Pittman ended up being the only Trojans taken. More depth would be nice going forward considering USC dropped points, but still moved up.

Auburn_Tigers_logo12. Auburn Tigers- 101 points
Previous: 19 (82 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Derrick Brown, 7th Overall, 2020
Derrick Brown and Noah Igbinoghene were Auburn’s first first-round selections since 2014. This class had depth beyond those two as well, which led to a nice jump up this list. The Tigers have not been at the same level as they were at the beginning of last decade, but these are the type of years that make you believe Auburn still has it when it comes to producing NFL prospects.

Penn_State_text_logo13. Penn State Nittany Lions- 100 points
Previous: 17 (93 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Saquon Barkley, 2nd Overall, 2018
Saquon Barkley still stands alone as the only Penn State player selected in the first round since 2010. However, a pair of second rounders and a few late-round selections still created a solid class. James Franklin is still a step behind Ohio State and Michigan, both on the field and in these rankings. Given that the Nittany Lions have clawed their way into the top 15, I think its fair to say they are trending in the right direction when it comes to preparing players for the next level.

UCLA logo.jpg14. UCLA Bruins- 98 points
Previous: 15 (100 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Josh Rosen, 10th Overall, 2018
The on-field product has been rocky so far in the Chip Kelly era, but Oregon became a pipeline to the NFL under his tutelage. The Bruins have been a constant in these rankings, even in some of their leaner years. If Kelly can put his stamp on the program, I have a feeling that will continue and we could possibly see UCLA climb back up the ranks.

Ole_Miss_Rebels_logo15. Ole Miss Rebels- 93 points
Previous: 15 (100 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Laremy Tunsil, 13th Overall, 2016
Trouble is on the horizon. While Ole Miss didn’t slide, this team is trending in the wrong direction. Not a single player from the program heard his name called in the 2020 draft. The Rebels produced a monster class in 2016, featuring three first-round picks. With this being the last year that class will be included in these rankings, I think it is fair to expect a huge drop off in the 2021 rankings. However, Lane Kiffin is in charge now and could very well turn this around. While a dip is coming, Kiffin is the type of recruiter that could have Ole Miss surging back soon after.

1000px-mississippi_state_bulldogs_logo.svg_16. Mississippi State Bulldogs- 91 points
Previous: 18 (86 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Jeffery Simmons, 19th Overall, 2019
It might not be a star-studded group, but the 2020 draft class looks pretty solid for Mississippi State. On one side of things, the Bulldogs continue to send players to the NFL with consistency. However, there are a number of players who have slipped into the middle rounds of the draft that have had a lot of success. It begs questions about Mississippi State ability to elevate their player’s stock the same way other top programs have. It will be really interesting to see how this develops with Mike Leach taking over in Starkville.

Texas A&M logo17. Texas A&M Aggies- 90 points
Previous: 16 (95 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Myles Garrett, 1st Overall, 2017
Jimbo Fisher has yet to reach the same heights he hit at Florida State. He hasn’t quite hit the same level at producing NFL talent yet since taking over at Texas A&M either. However, we could see that change pretty soon. Fisher’s first full recruiting class will be draft eligible this year, which could see them start to climb in these rankings. They are a team to watch with interest over the next few seasons.

Utah_Utes_logo17. Utah Utes- 90 points
Previous: 20 (81 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Garrett Bolles, 20th Overall, 2017
For the third time in four years, Utah has filled the middle rounds of the NFL draft. 2018 was a bit of a dud, with only one player taken. Outside of that, the Utes have sent eight, five and now seven players respectively to league. Utah has been knocking on the door of the College Football Playoff. If they can break through, we could start to see a few of these players start to go in the big money rounds.

iowa_wordmark19. Iowa Hawkeyes – 86 points
Previous: 20 (81 points)
Highest Drafted Player- T.J. Hockenson, 8th Overall, 2019
When you think of old-school NFL factories, Iowa definitely comes to mind. While the Hawkeyes might not be the best, they certainly have a knack for sending at least a few players to the next level. Iowa has had at least three players taken in each of the past four drafts. Given that the team’s 2016 group consisted of just one seventh-round pick, there is plenty of potential for a rise in next year’s rankings with another good class.

Miami logo19. Miami Hurricanes- 86 points
Previous: 11 (117 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Artie Burns, 25th Overall, 2016
The U isn’t quite back yet. They are definitely getting close though. Miami had a respectable four players selected, but none went before the fourth round. With a few potential first-round prospects for 2021, the Hurricanes could be in line for a quick bounce back, but this has been a disappointing stretch for Miami’s NFL production.

Stanford Cardinal21. Stanford Cardinal- 85 points
Previous: 12 (116 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Solomon Thomas, 3rd Overall, 2017
When I started these rankings back in 2016, Stanford ranked seventh and was still riding the Andrew Luck years. While there have been a handful of top prospects to emerge since then, this has to be a disappointment to fall outside the top 20. The Cardinal had only two players selected in 2020, one in the fourth and one in the seventh. David Shaw has his work cut out for him to get Stanford back to national relevance and seeing more players take the next step in their football careers.

1000px-north_carolina_state_university_athletic_logo.svg_22. North Carolina State Wolfpack- 83 points
Previous: 22 (79 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Bradley Chubb, 5th Overall, 2018
It was a quiet year for the Wolfpack, but they are mostly surviving off a great 2018 draft class. They did have Garrett Bradbury go in the 2019 first round as well. Just two draft picks in 2020, one in the fifth and one in the seventh, isn’t too impressive though. It will be interesting to see which direction NC State is heading by next year.

Florida State Logo23. Florida State Seminoles- 80 points
Previous: 6 (132 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Jalen Ramsey, 5th Overall, 2016
Talk about the bottom falling out. Florida State started out at No. 2 in these rankings back in 2016. The program has been a mess in recent years and it was only a matter of time before these rankings began to reflect that. With just a single player selected in 2020, the fall might not be over for the Seminoles.

1280px-TCU_Horned_Frogs_logo24. TCU Horned Frogs- 79 points
Previous: Not ranked (55 points)
Highest Draft Player- Jalen Reagor, 21st Overall, 2020
For the first time in school history, TCU had two players selected in the first round as both Jalen Reagor and Jeff Gladney heard their names called. This is also the first time the Horned Frogs have entered these rankings. With five draft picks in 2020 and at least three players selected in four of the past five drafts, TCU has potential to stick around. Hopefully, Gary Patterson is up to the task.

Wisconsin logo25. Wisconsin Badgers- 73 points
Previous: 25 (74 points)
Highest Drafted Player- T.J. Watt, 30th Overall, 2017
The Badgers had a solid if unspectacular 2020 draft class. They failed to land a player in the first round, but they did have four players come off the board and all before the sixth round. Wisconsin debuted in these rankings at 15 back in 2016 so dropping to the edge is definitely disappointing. That being said, you can count on a few Badgers being selected in the middle rounds of the draft just about every year like clockwork.

Others Receiving Votes: West Virginia (63 points), Boston College (56 points), Temple (56 points)

Note: All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons