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Who’s No. 1 in all-time NFL draft picks: USC or Notre Dame? Depends on whom you ask

USC wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson after being selected No. 1 overall by the New York Jets in 1996.
(Wally Santana / Associated Press / Shutterstock)

The bitter rivalry between USC and Notre Dame apparently extends to arguing over NFL draft picks.

With two selections in last week’s draft, the Trojans still claim to hold the all-time record with 511. But Notre Dame, which had six picks, also claims the record. It noted on its website Saturday that no other program has more picks.

DraftHistory.com, one of the few sites to list all-time picks, has USC and Notre Dame both at 511.

Whichever program has more, the rivals dwarf the rest of college football in that regard. Ohio State is the only other program to surpass 400 picks. Louisiana State, which tied the record for a seven-round draft with 14 picks in this draft, trails the leaders by more than 150 picks.

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Most all-time selections

1. USC - 511
2. Notre Dame - 511
3. Ohio State - 463
4. Oklahoma - 397
5. Michigan - 379
6. Alabama - 374
7. Nebraska - 361
7. Penn State - 361
9. Florida - 356
10. Louisiana State - 352

Source: DraftHistory.com

***

Another draft, another year of dominance for the Southeastern Conference.

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With 63 selections, the SEC more than doubled the total of every other conference outside of the Big Ten and Pac-12. Last year, the SEC set a record for conferences with 64 picks.

2020 draft by conference

1. Southeastern — 63
2. Big Ten — 48
3. Pac-12 — 32
4. Atlantic Coast — 27
5. Big 12 — 21
6. American Athletic — 17
7. Mountain West — 10
8. Conference USA — 10
9. Independent — 9
10. Sun Belt — 7

With three more Ohio State players hearing their name called Friday, the Buckeyes became the leaders in all-time first-round selections. In the last five drafts, Ohio State has had 15 first-round picks. USC has had three.

Most first-round selections

1. Ohio State — 84
2. USC — 82
3. Notre Dame — 69
4. Alabama — 68
5. Miami — 65
6. Florida — 54
7. Oklahoma — 49
8. Michigan — 47
8. Louisiana State — 47
10. Tennessee — 46

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Source: L.A. Times

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With Joe Burrow’s selection at No. 1 overall, LSU became just the second program to have two top picks since 2000. The other, Oklahoma, was responsible for No. 1 overall in each of the previous two years. But LSU is going to need two more top picks to match Oklahoma, USC, and Notre Dame, who share the distinction of having the most No. 1 overall picks of all time.

Most No. 1 overall selections

5

USC: Ron Yary (1968); O.J. Simpson (1969); Ricky Bell (1977); Keyshawn Johnson (1996); Carson Palmer (2003).

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Notre Dame: Angelo Bertelli (1944); Frank Dancewicz (1946); Leon Hart (1950); Paul Hornung (1957); Walt Patulski (1972).

Oklahoma: LeRoy Selmon (1976); Billy Sims (1980); Sam Bradford (2010); Baker Mayfield (2018); Kyler Murray (2019).

4

Auburn: Tucker Frederickson (1965); Bo Jackson (1986); Aundray Bruce (1988); Cam Newton (2011).

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Georgia: Frank Sinkwich (1943); Charley Trippi (1945); Harry Babcock (1953); Matthew Stafford (2009).

Stanford: Bobby Garrett (1954); Jim Plunkett (1971); John Elway (1983); Andrew Luck (2012).

3

Ohio State: Tom Cousineau (1979); Dan Wilkinson (1994); Orlando Pace (1997).

Texas: Tommy Nobis (1966); Earl Campbell (1978); Kenneth Sims (1982).

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LSU: Billy Cannon (1960); JaMarcus Russell (2007); Joe Burrow (2020).

Source: NCAA.com


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