As far as the NFL Draft goes, the Pac-12 is still USC’s league to rule.
Even as Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State have elevated their level of play in recent seasons, USC still casts a shadow on the rest of the conference in the NFL Draft.
True, most of USC’s draft picks in the last 10 years came from the Pete Carroll era. But USC has produced 28 more draft picks than any other team in the league over the last 10 drafts, a sign of the Trojans’ dominance and a sign that the program is still churning out pros despite NCAA sanctions.
That total will grow in this season’s draft with Leonard Williams a projected high first-round pick. When he’s selected, he will be — shockingly — USC’s first first-round pick since 2012.
For fans who are college football-centric, NFL Draft day is a chance for bragging rights and a sort of referendum on the relative talent levels for teams and conferences. Whether that’s fair or not is up for debate.
Here’s how teams in the Pac-12 fared in the last 10 drafts, followed by a few observations.
*Data derived from Pro Football Reference
Pac-12 NFL Draft Picks
• USC has produced 14 first-round picks in the last 10 years. The rest of the Pac-12 South has produced eight.
• Oregon’s 36 draft picks over the last decade are a surprising total for a team that has played for two national titles in the last four seasons. The Ducks have the same amount of draft picks during the last 10 seasons as Nebraska and Penn State and fewer than Iowa, Clemson and Virginia Tech. Since 2008, Oregon has produced only two first-round picks, both in the same draft (Dion Jordan and Kyle Long in 2013).
• Not only are Oregon, Stanford and UCLA chasing USC in the draft, they’re chasing Cal. Under Jeff Tedford, the Bears produced 44 NFL Draft picks (only 38 of those are counted here). Cal went 9-18 in the Pac-12 in his final three seasons and sent 14 players to the draft after those three seasons. That’s part of the reason Sonny Dykes is coaching in Berkeley now.
• Stanford has produced 20 draft picks in the last four drafts, compared to 13 in the six drafts prior.
• Here’s a shocker: Arizona State has been shut out of the first round since Terrell Suggs in 2003.