Who are the best draft picks of the century from the most prominent programs in college football? College Football 24/7 set out to answer this question by ranking the top draft picks since 2000 from the 30 schools that have produced the most picks since that year.
Players were ranked through a formula in which they received points for honors they've acquired in their NFL career, including being selected to the Pro Bowl (including as injury replacements) and being selected first-team All-Pro. Players were also rewarded relative to where in the draft they were selected. First-round picks benefited least because a strong career would be expected; seventh-round picks benefited most. In some cases, a bonus for longevity or outstanding play was granted. See the full formula below the list of top picks.
Notre Dame's 75 draft picks since 2000 ranks 12th among all schools. Only six of those 75, however, have ever made it to a Pro Bowl. As such, the Fighting Irish's list of top draft picks in that span isn't particularly deep, but it is relatively young. In fact, five of the six are still playing on Sundays. Surprisingly, the youngest among them, Zack Martin, tallied the highest point total.
Best picks of the century from Notre Dame
1. Zack Martin, offensive guard
Drafted by:Cowboys, No. 16 overall pick (Round 1), 2014
Skinny: The selection of Martin helped solidify Dallas' offensive line as one of the NFL's best, and as a rookie Pro Bowler, he proved to be an effective plug-and-play starter in 2014. He's made the Pro Bowl in each of his two seasons since, including two first-team All-Pro selections, and has yet to miss a start in his career. The Cowboys very nearly took Johnny Manziel with the No. 16 selection in 2014; in retrospect, the much wiser choice was made.
2. Justin Tuck, defensive end
Drafted by:Giants, No. 74 overall pick (Round 3), 2005
Skinny: It took a couple of years for Tuck's career to blossom, in part because of a season-ending foot injury in 2006, but once it did, he proved to be a pass-rushing force. The two-time Super Bowl champion averaged nearly 10 sacks per season from 2007-2010, and finished his career with 66.5.
3. Kyle Rudolph, tight end
Drafted by:Vikings, No. 43 overall pick (Round 2), 2011
Skinny: Rudolph made the Pro Bowl in his second NFL season (2012) and over the last two years, his production has spiked. Now on his second contract with the Vikings, he broke the club record for single-season catches by a tight end last year with 83. He also holds the club record for career TD catches by a TE with 29.
4. Harrison Smith, safety
Drafted by:Vikings, No. 29 overall pick (Round 1), 2012
Skinny: Smith has reached the last two Pro Bowls and has been ranked one of the NFL's Top 100 players. He has 12 career interceptions, although last season he didn't record one for the first time in his career. Minnesota signed him to a contract extension last summer.
5. Golden Tate, wide receiver
Drafted by:Seahawks, No. 60 overall pick (Round 2), 2010
Skinny: Tate's production steadily climbed over his four years in Seattle, but it really took off after he left for the Detroit Lions in free agency. In Detroit, he's posted the best years of his career, making 280 catches over three seasons, including a career-high 1,331 yards in 2014.
Total number of picks from Notre Dame since 2000: 75
Draft multiplier: Total points for first-round picks x 1.1; second-round picks x 1.2; third-round picks x 1.3; fourth-round picks x 1.4; fifth-round picks x 1.5; sixth-round picks x 1.6; seventh-round picks x 1.7.
Tiebreaker: Ranking edge to lower-drafted player within same round.
Specialists and fullbacks: For players honored primarily as specialists or fullbacks, their total points were devalued. Kickers and punters were not included in this exercise.