The NFL Draft: the consistent, inescapable exercise of trying to predict the future. Determining how college kids will react to becoming overnight millionaires and being thrust into foreign locker rooms with men a decade their senior who will probably haze and/or ostracize them for a month or two. The psychological part alone is enough to make it a crapshoot—forget everything else.
But, hard as it may be to accurately foresee who will excel at the next level, that of course won’t stop NFL teams—or us—from trying. The Vikings will continue to do their due diligence leading up to next month’s draft, but in the meantime, I like to look at trends when it comes to which players succeed and which don’t. Lately, it’s been the correlation with college conferences I’ve been focused on; mainly, how big is the difference between power five and mid-major conferences when it comes to developing top-tier NFL talent, and which conference produces the most “good” players?
So, behold, a limited and unscientific, but hopefully somewhat enlightening study. I looked at the first round of every NFL draft in a ten-year span, from 2004-2013, and noted every player that had made at least one Pro Bowl, and which college conference that player came from. A few notes on the process: