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Exactly How Many NFL Draft Picks Has USC Football Produced?

Michael Castillo
Apr 22, 2017, 1:59 PM PDT
Apr 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Leonard Williams (Southern California) poses for a photo with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected as the number sixth overall pick to the New York Jets in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Leonard Williams (Southern California) poses for a photo with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected as the number sixth overall pick to the New York Jets in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
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The 2017 NFL Draft takes place this week in Philadelphia, giving USC football a chance to improve their record of all-time draft picks. But no one can agree on how many they actually have.

No sport has a more confusing history with statistics than football. In the NCAA, its only recently that bowl games counted for stats, meaning Wisconsin legend Ron Dayne is no longer the all-time record holder for rushing yards, despite having 701 more than San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey.

Then there’s the NFL, whose history has created a cacophony of disputes when it comes to record keeping about the draft. Some only look back to the Common Draft, which began in 1967. Others only consider the NFL’s records valid since the merger with the AFL in 1970.

Nonetheless, the draft has existed in some form or another since 1936. And when going back that far, no school has produced more NFL Draft picks than the USC football program. That much is agreed upon.

As for the amount of picks themselves? It’s up for debate.

According to USC’s Sports Information Department, 496 Trojans have been drafted.

Yet DraftHistory.com says 497, and both Cleveland.com‘s searchable database and Pro Football Reference list Troy at having 492 NFL Draft picks.

It matters because Notre Dame is chomping on their heels. The Irish themselves claim 492 draftees, even though both USC and DraftHistory.com say they have 493.

RELATED: Ranking USC’s 50 Best NFL Draft Picks

Either way, it means the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia could result in a change in record holding between the Trojans and their arch rivals.

We at Reign of Troy tried to get to the bottom of the discrepancies to figure out who has the correct count for USC’s draft picks. Here’s what we found, when comparing records kept by USC, DraftHistory.com, Cleveland.com and Pro Football Reference….

Apr 28, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; A general view of the stage and podium before the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 28, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; A general view of the stage and podium before the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

1. Supplemental Drafts

SEE ALSO: 25 Biggest Draft Busts Out of USC

Cleveland.com’s database, which omits players taken in the Supplemental Draft, has both the Trojans and Notre Dame at 492 all-time draftees. That explains USC’s count of 493 for the Irish, as ND has only had one Supplemental pick in their history.

But there’s more to it. Pro Football Reference, who also has USC and Notre Dame tied at 492, does account for Supplemental draftees. What gives?

2. The Case of Paul Salata

Fun fact: Salata went on to create Mr. Irrelevent, the title bestowed upon the last selection of the NFL Draft.

But since the original Colts were defunct, Salata was considered re-eligible for the NFL Draft. He was picked by the Steelers in 1951, despite ultimately never playing a down in Pittsburgh.

If that’s confusing, you’re not alone and it’s likely why Pro Football Reference omits him from USC’s all-time draftee list. He was already a professional who had appeared in 11 NFL games. Yet both DraftHistory.com and Cleveland.com include him.

3. Mistaken Identities

Quarterback Ben Charles lettered with the Trojans in 1959 and 1960, before being drafted by Bears in the 1961 NFL Draft. However, he’s incorrectly listed as a South Carolina alum by Pro Football Reference and Cleveland.com’s database. Wrong USC.

Ken Randle, a Trojan receiver during the mid-1970s was picked by the Browns in the seventh round of the 1977 NFL Draft, but is listed as being out of SMU by Pro Football Reference. Wrong Southern ________.

Inversely, Draft History and Cleveland.com have Ken Roskie as a USC draftee. One slight problem, however.

Nov 21, 2015; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks cheerleader waves the flag during the game between the Bulldogs and the Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium. Citadel upsets South Carolina 23-22. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 21, 2015; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks cheerleader waves the flag during the game between the Bulldogs and the Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium. Citadel upsets South Carolina 23-22. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The 1943 Packers’ selection attended South Carolina, as confirmed by the Gamecocks’ record of lettermen. For some reason, South Carolina does not have Roskie on their all-time draft picks list, which may have led to the confusion.

4. To Count or Not to Count?

The last two players worth noting are Dick Dorsey and Bob Hoffman, albeit for difference reasons. While Dorsey was left off of Pro Football Reference’s USC list mostly likely because he never lettered during his time as a Trojan, Hoffman has been counted by everyone…twice.

More from Reign of Troy

Hoffman was mistakenly selected in the 14th round of the 1939 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. He still had college eligibility and couldn’t legally play pro football yet.

Later that same year, he earned All-Conference honors by the PCC, before again being picked by Washington in 1940.

The second pick gives USC an extra draft pick, which oddly enough everyone agrees upon.

The bottom line on NFL Draft Picks is…

…USC’s Sports Information Department has the most complete list of draftees. You can debate whether Salata, Hoffman or Dorsey should count since one was re-eligible, one never lettered and one was picked twice.

But at least three of the four databases we compared accounted for each. The discrepancies therefore come from not a lack of disputing eligibility, but typos and a judgement call on the Supplemental Draft.

Any way you cut, Notre Dame doesn’t have more draft picks than USC.

For now, at least. That could change come next weekend in Philadelphia.

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