NFL Pro Bowl rosters were released Tuesday, and while they’re bound to change 100 times between now and Jan. 29 when the game is played, studying the rosters is always a fun way to help answer the age-old question: Which college produces the best NFL players?
Granted, we all know who produces the most NFL talent. This year it’s LSU, which had 44 players on active rosters to start the season. But it’s hard to say the Tigers produce the most stars, with just two players named to the initial Pro Bowl team.
We’ll get to the top nine schools momentarily, but let’s start with who missed the cut.
Jason Getz-USA TODAY SportsJason Getz
Missed the cut
Overall, 51 schools were represented on this list, including 42 that produced either one or two Pro Bowlers. Among those schools, there are some interesting nuggets, including the fact that schools like Purdue (Ryan Kerrigan, Cliff Avril) and Kansas (Aqib Talib and Chris Harris) produced the same number of Pro Bowlers as schools like LSU (Odell Beckham, Patrick Peterson) and Michigan (Taylor Lewan, Tom Brady).
Also, who would have guessed that a school like Ohio State would produce only one Pro Bowler (Ezekiel Elliott) – although that’s sure to change as Urban Meyer gets more comfortable in Columbus.
So which schools produce the most NFL talent? Let’s take a look.
Getty ImagesGetty Images
Texas A&M (3)
Pro Bowlers: Von Miller, Mike Evans, Michael Bennett
This group is highlighted by the reigning Super Bowl MVP, who has 13.5 sacks in 14 games. Meanwhile, Evans is emerging as one of the top receivers in the league, with 84 catches (fifth most in the NFL).
John Leyba/Getty Images
Pro Bowlers: Jurrell Casey, Tyron Smith, Everson Griffen
Having three guys in this game is nothing to scoff at, but isn’t it a bit ironic that a school known for its flash, glitz and glamour produced three Pro Bowlers who all play along the offensive and defensive lines and none at the skill positions?
USA TODAY SportsJerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Pro Bowlers: LeSean McCoy, Larry Fitzgerald, Aaron Donald
Pitt has quietly been a football factory over the past few years. In addition to these three, the school also produced a number of other prominent pros, including Darrelle Revis, new Texans quarterback Tom Savage, and Patriots linebacker Jabaal Sheard.
Pro Bowlers: Trent Williams, DeMarco Murray, Gerald McCoy
Not only are these three all Pro Bowlers, but they played on the Sooners’ last great team -- when they finished as national runners-up to Florida in 2008.
Pro Bowlers: A.J. Green, Geno Atkins, Thomas Davis
Green is the biggest name in this group, although it’s doubtful he’ll actually play in the Pro Bowl. He’s missed the four games with a hamstring injury.
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Florida State (3)
Pro Bowlers: Rodney Hudson, Devonta Freeman, Xavier Rhodes
With all the NFL talent the Seminoles are producing (18 picks in 2013 and 2014 alone), it shouldn’t be long before even more FSU players earn Pro Bowl berths. That includes some second-year quarterback named Jameis Winston, who will likely make this game for years to come. He has already tossed 25 touchdowns in 14 games this season.
Pro Bowlers: Lorenzo Alexander, Alex Mack, Aaron Rodgers
The surprise school on this list is Cal, which has three players in the Pro Bowl despite not having a double-digit win total since 2006 -- the year after Rodgers left campus.
The crazy thing is, this list doesn’t even include one of the most dangerous receivers in the game (DeSean Jackson, who has a surprisingly low 49 catches this year) or Marshawn Lynch, who made five Pro Bowls before retiring last winter. Both went to Cal.
Getty ImagesGetty Images
Pro Bowlers: Maurkice Pouncey, Reggie Nelson, Jordan Reed, Janoris Jenkins
Not only are these four Pro Bowlers, they were all recruited by Urban Meyer, who hasn’t coached at Florida since the 2010 season. There’s little doubt that the talent level has dipped in Gainesville under Will Muschamp and Jim McElwain.
DIAMOND IMAGESDiamond Images/Getty Images
Pro Bowlers: Amari Cooper, Dont’a Hightower, C.J. Mosely, Julio Jones, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Landon Collins
Is it any surprise that Alabama is No. 1? Of course not, but this is surprising: The Tide’s two most notable Pro Bowlers (Jones and Cooper) play on the offensive side of the ball, not on defense.
As they say, it’s good to be king. Both at the college and pro levels.