Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
When the NFL Draft kicks off in New York City on Thursday night, the Trojans will be looking to boost a slew of draft records, with high profile draft eligible players including Matt Barkley and Robert Woods. How does the history of USC in the Draft look exactly? Well, let’s break it down by the numbers.
USC has had more players drafted in the NFL Draft than any other school, with 476 getting their name called in the annual April spectacle. On the Trojans’ heels is Notre Dame with 471, followed by Ohio State with 404. USC’s first pick came in 1937, when lineman Gil Kuhn was drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers, and no not those Dodgers.
As with the story of total drafted players, the Trojans lead the nation in first round picks with 77, two of which came in last year’s draft. For comparison’s sake of just how many 77 first rounders is, Ohio State (69), Notre Dame (60), Miami FL (58) and Tennessee (44) round out the top five, with none of them in striking distance.
The narrative of USC quarterbacks has been furthered by the struggles of Matt Leinart, John David Booty and Mark Sanchez, but Trojan signal callers being drafted in the NFL hasn’t just been a recent trend. Twenty-two USC quarterbacks have been drafted in total, 10 of which coming since 1989. Matt Barkley will be the sixth since 2003 to be drafted, and the fifth full-time starter in a row to be drafted, with Mike Van Raaphorst being the last non-drafted quarterback. Other drafted USC arms of note included long-time NFL head coach Mike Holmgren, who was drafted in the eighth round of 1970 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. No, not those Cardinals.
USC has twice had 14 players drafted in a single NFL Draft, taking place in 1975 and 1977. In ’77, the Trojans had three first round picks, including the late great Ricky Bell, who went No. 1 overall to John McKay’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Don’t expect the Trojans to have another 14 players drafted anytime soon, however, as the draft was much bigger back then. In 1975, there were 16 rounds of the draft, with 442 players drafted. By comparison, the 2013 draft will only have seven rounds and 254 draftees.
The 1968 NFL Draft featured five Trojans in the first round, including Outland Trophy winner Ron Yary, who was the top overall selection to the Minnesota Vikings. Other Trojans drafted in the first round that year included Mike Taylor, Tim Rossovich, Mike Hull and Earl McCullouch. Only once has a school had more than five players drafted in the first round of a single draft, and that was in 2004, when Miami had six first rounders.
Despite the 476 overall players, 67 offensive tackles, 54 linebackers and 22 quarterbacks, just two kickers have ever been drafted out of USC. The party of two include David Buehler in 2009 and Cole Ford in 1995. Buehler, of course, was notable for being the first kicker with a legitimate linebacker mentality. Or something like that.