While No. 1 overall NFL draft picks can come from anywhere, college football talent is typically concentrated at a few schools — or at least, in a few conferences. Players like Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher (2013) have gone first overall, but most No. 1 selections have come from the Power Five. Which school has the most No. 1 draft picks in history?
Which College Football Team Has the Most No. 1 NFL Draft Picks of All Time?
Four college teams share the record for the most No. 1 draft picks in NFL history. The Oklahoma Sooners, Georgia Bulldogs, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and USC Trojans have each produced five No. 1 overall draft choices.
Let’s run through the selections from those schools, plus the college teams just behind that quartet.
T-1) Oklahoma (5)
Draft picks: DE Lee Roy Selmon (1976), RB Billy Sims (1980), QB Sam Bradford (2010), QB Baker Mayfield (2018), QB Kyler Murray (2019)
Selmon was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame after totaling 78.5 sacks over nine seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Unfortunately, Sims’ and Bradford’s careers were largely defined by injury issues. In addition to this group, Oklahoma also saw linebacker Brian Bosworth selected as the first pick of the 1987 supplemental draft.
T-1) Georgia (5)
Draft picks: HB Frankie Sinkwich (1943), HB Charley Trippi (1945), WR Harry Babcock (1953), QB Matthew Stafford (2009), DE Travon Walker (2022)
So far, Trippi is the only Hall of Famer from Georgia’s roster of No. 1 picks. He entered Canton after winning one NFL Championship, earning an All-Pro nod in 1948, and being named to the NFL’s All-1940s team. Stafford could also be on a HOF track, but he’ll need a few more solid seasons and, perhaps, another Lombardi.
T-1) Notre Dame (5)
Draft picks: QB Angelo Bertelli (1944), QB Boley Dancewicz (1946), WR Leon Hart (1950), HB Paul Hornung (1957), DE Walt Patulski (1972)
Notre Dame had four No. 1 picks in a 13-year span from 1944-1957. But they haven’t had one in more than 50 years since the Buffalo Bills took Patulski in 1972. Hornung is the standout here, as he’s considered one of the greatest football players of all time and is enshrined in both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame.
T-1) USC (5)
Draft picks: OT Ron Yary (1968), RB O.J. Simpson (1969), RB Ricky Bell (1977), WR Keyshawn Johnson (1996), Carson Palmer (2003)
Of the four teams with five No. 1 overall draft picks, USC might have the most impressive collection of players. Yary and Simpson are in Canton, while Johnson and Palmer were Pro Bowl-caliber players. Even Bell put up a 1,200-yard campaign in 1979.
T-5) Stanford (4)
Draft picks: QB Bobby Garrett (1954), QB Jim Plunkett (1971), QB John Elway (1983), QB Andrew Luck (2012)
Four Stanford No. 1 picks, four quarterbacks. Garrett only attempted 30 NFL passes, but Plunkett and Elway won two Super Bowls each, and Elway is a Hall of Famer. Luck might’ve gotten a gold jacket, too, had injuries not led to his early retirement.\
T-5) Auburn (4)
Draft picks: RB Tucker Frederickson (1965), RB Bo Jackson (1986), LB Aundray Bruce (1988), QB Cam Newton (2011)
No Hall of Famers here, but Auburn has a few notable names who have gone No. 1. Jackson refused to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after they drafted him first overall but later joined the Los Angeles Raiders. Newton won an MVP, Offensive Rookie of the Year, earned three Pro Bowl nods, and appeared in a Super Bowl.
T-7) LSU (3)
Draft picks: TE Billy Cannon (1960), QB JaMarcus Russell (2007), QB Joe Burrow (2020)
Cannon was a jack of all trades who earned All-Pro berths in 1961 and 1967. Russell is considered one of the biggest draft busts of all time, but Burrow is a hit after taking the Cincinnati Bengals to two AFC Championship Games in his first three seasons in the NFL.\
T-7) Texas (3)
Draft picks: LB Tommy Nobis (1966), RB Earl Campbell (1978), DE Kenneth Sims (1982)
It’s been over 40 years since Texas has produced a No. 1 overall pick, but they still have three in their history books. Campbell rushed for more than 1,400 yards and claimed a first-team All-Pro berth in each of his first three NFL campaigns en route to earning a place in Canton. Nobis made five Pro Bowls for the Falcons and is on the NFL’s All-1960s team.
T-7) Ohio State (3)
Draft picks: LB Tom Cousineau (1979), DT Dan Wilkinson (1994), OT Orlando Pace (1997)
Cousineau had a relatively short career for the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers, while Wilkinson started 182 games over 13 seasons. But Pace is the true star of this group. He’s in the Hall of Fame after making four All-Pro teams (two first-team) and seven Pro Bowls.