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.
The latest installment of the series looks at Wisconsin's draft impact; the Badgers rank 13th among all schools with 72 picks since 2000. Fittingly for a Big Ten school with a reputation for toughness on the line of scrimmage, three of Wisconsin's top four draft choices of this century are linemen.
Best picks of the century from Wisconsin
1. J.J. Watt, defensive end
Drafted by:Texans, No. 11 overall pick (Round 1), 2011
Skinny: Watt is one of the league's most dominant players when healthy. He's won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award three times, most recently in 2015. Last year, back surgery sidelined him for all but the first three games of the season. Watt received a $100 million contract extension in 2014, and has now made 76 sacks and forced 15 fumbles over his first six NFL seasons.
2. Joe Thomas, offensive tackle
Drafted by:Browns, No. 3 overall pick (Round 1), 2007
Skinny: The Browns haven't often hit home runs in the draft, but this was an undisputed one. Thomas is now a 10-time Pro Bowler, and the next year he misses one will be his first. He's also been selected first-team All-Pro six times, and has made all 16 starts in each of his 10 seasons.
3. Russell Wilson, quarterback
Drafted by:Seahawks, No. 75 overall pick (Round 3), 2012
Skinny: The Seahawks' decision to spend a third-rounder on a player other clubs regarded as too short for the quarterback position paid off handsomely. Wilson led Seattle to back-to-back Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl XLVIII, and has led all five of his Seahawks teams to double-digit regular-season wins without missing a start.
4. Travis Frederick, center
Drafted by:Cowboys, No. 31 overall pick (Round 1), 2013
Skinny: Frederick stepped right into the Cowboys' starting lineup in 2013, and was selected to NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt's All-Rookie team. Since then, he's followed that up with three consecutive Pro Bowls, and first-team All-Pro honors last year.
5. Michael Bennett, running back
Drafted by:Vikings, No. 27 overall pick (Round 1), 2001
Skinny: Much like Melvin Gordon, Bennett broke through for a big season in his second year in the league, recording career highs in rushing yards (1,296) and receiving yards (351) to reach the Pro Bowl for the Vikings. But he was never able to duplicate that form, in part due to injuries, and served as a backup for multiple teams until 2010.
Total number of picks from Wisconsin since 2000: 72
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.