July 22, 2024

Top 100 NFL players of 2024: Alabama leads the way as former SEC stars shine among league’s best


CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco unveiled his list of the top 100 NFL players entering the 2024 season, counting down the league’s best of the best at multiple positions. But before these stars were owning the game on Sundays, they had to make a name for themselves and improve their stock at the collegiate level. 

There are a few college programs that stand above the rest when it comes to pumping out NFL talent. For a second consecutive year, Alabama leads the way with nine former players among Prisco’s top 100. Conference rival LSU isn’t too far behind with six of its own, while SEC newcomer Oklahoma also produced six of the NFL’s best. 

That means those three alone account for just over 20% of the top 100. Factor in talent produced by Mississippi State and Georgia, who each placed multiple stars in the NFL, and the SEC has well over 30% of the best players on rosters around the league. 

Prisco’s list is a national affair, though. Schools like Iowa, which has established itself as a tight end factory, and Oregon are well-represented among the NFL’s best. Here’s a breakdown of which college programs produced the most players on Prisco’s NFL top 100. 

Alabama (9) 

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Denver Broncos (No. 25 in Prisco’s rankings): A former All-American and SEC Defensive Player of the Year with the Crimson Tide, Surtain has lived up to the pedigree he established at Alabama thus far. He has earned two Pro Bowl selections in his first three years at the professional level. 

Quinnen Williams, DL, New York Jets (No. 29): Williams, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, won the 2018 Outland Trophy and was a unanimous All-American after logging 19.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks. 

Jaylen Wadde, WR, Miami Dolphins (No. 42): Waddle was the 2018 SEC Freshman of the Year, a 2019 first-team All-SEC selection and earned a second-team All-SEC nod in 2020 while helping Alabama to a win in the College Football Playoff National Championship despite breaking his ankle midway through the season. 

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Miami Dolphins (No. 65): Tagovailoa was Waddle’s quarterback for a couple of those seasons with the Crimson Tide. He left a lasting impression on Alabama fans as a true freshman with his touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith in the CFP National Championship to down Georgia. He went on to earn 2018 consensus All-America honors as a sophomore. 

LSU (6) 

Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings (No. 7): Jefferson, the highest-paid non-quarterback in the NFL, led the nation in receptions with 111 in 2019 while helping LSU to its first College Football Playoff National Championship in program history. 

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (No. 13): Jefferson likely would have been an All-American if it wasn’t for the presence of Chase, who had 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns receiving on that same 2019 LSU team. He took home that year’s Biletnikoff Award. 

Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals (No. 15): Of course, Jefferson and Chase couldn’t have posted such eye-popping numbers without an equally talented quarterback delivering the ball. The 2019 Heisman Trophy winner, Burrow put together one of the most impressive single seasons we’ve seen from a football player while leading the Tigers to a national title, finishing the year with 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns passing. 

Burrow led LSU to the national title behind one of the most prolific seasons in college football history. 
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Oklahoma (6) 

Trent Williams, OL, San Francisco 49ers (No. 3) Williams started a handful of games for Oklahoma in his first two seasons before breaking out as a junior in 2008, earning his first of two first-team All-Big 12 honors. He was also a 2009 consensus All-American and developed into the No. 4 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. 

CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys (No. 21): Lamb had back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons from 2018-19, earning a consensus All-American spot in 2019, and finished his career with the Sooners with 3,292 yards and 32 touchdowns receiving in just three years. 

Jalen Hurts, QB, Philadelphia Eagles (No. 53): Hurts spent just one season with the Sooners after transferring in from Alabama, but that doesn’t lessen his impact. He led Oklahoma to a 2019 College Football Playoff berth and finished second in the Heisman voting after tallying 5,149 total yards and 52 touchdowns. 

Iowa (5) 

Tristan Wirfs, OL, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 24): Wirfs started seven games at right tackle in 2017, becoming the first true freshman to start at tackle in the Kirk Ferentz area. He held the spot down over the next couple years, earning 2019 Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year honors before he was selected 13th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. 

George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers (No. 37): Kittle had a respectable college career, hauling in 48 catches for 737 yards and 10 touchdowns in five years with the Hawkeyes. But he’s flourished as one of the NFL’s top tight ends and has five Pro Bowl selections to his name through seven years in the league. 

Sam LaPorta, TE, Detroit Lions (No. 58): Iowa can easily lay its claim to TE University; LaPorta is one of three former Hawkeyes tight ends on Prisco’s top-100. LaPorta was the 2022 Big Ten Tight End of the Year and went 34th overall in the 2023 NFL Draft, earning a spot in the Pro Bowl and on the All-Rookie team in his first year with the Lions. 

Mississippi State (4) 

Chris Jones, DL, Kansas City Chiefs (No. 14): Jones had 102 total tackles, 18.5 for a loss, and 8.5 sacks in three years at Mississippi State. He just won his third Super Bowl as a member of the Chiefs and was awarded with a contract that makes him the highest-paid defensive tackle in NFL history. 

Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys (No. 49): A two-time first-team All-SEC selection at Mississippi State, Prescott is one of the most versatile quarterbacks in SEC history. He had 111 total touchdowns with the Bulldogs, which ranks fourth in conference history, and he was just the fourth player in FBS history to reach 60 passing touchdowns and 40 rushing touchdowns in his career. 

Georgia (3) 

Roquan Smith, LB, Baltimore Ravens (No. 40): Smith was a key figure for the Bulldogs in his first two years with the program but took it to another level as a junior in 2018, claiming the Butkus Award and an SEC Defensive Player of the Year nod after tallying 137 tackles, 14 for a loss, and 6.5 sacks in 15 games. 

Jalen Carter, DL, Philadelphia Eagles (No. 93): One of the most dominant collegiate defensive linemen we’ve seen in a long time, Carter was a central figure on Georgia’s teams that won two straight national titles from 2021-22. He was a unanimous All-American and first-team All-SEC selection in the latter campaign. 

Carter was a dominant force on a Georgia defense that anchored the program across back-to-back title wins. 
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Texas A&M (3) 

Myles Garrett, EDGE, Cleveland Browns (No. 2): A former five-star prospect, Garrett lived up to that billing with the Aggies by collecting 32.5 sacks in three years. He was the No. 1 overall pick in 2017 and has since developed into the NFL’s best defensive player. 

Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 88): Mr. Consistency with the Buccaneers, Evans was a favorite target for Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel from 2012-13. The two combined for 2,499 yards and 17 touchdowns in their time together. 

Clemson (3) 

Dexter Lawrence, DL, New York Giants (No. 19): Lawrence was the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year and earned two first-team All-ACC selections from 2017-18 while helping Clemson win two national titles in his three years with the Tigers. 

Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguards (No. 62): Lawrence led Clemson to a national title as a true freshman and didn’t lose a game as a starting quarterback until 2019’s College Football Playoff National Championship against LSU his sophomore year. 

Oregon (3) 

Penei Sewell, OL, Detroit Lions (No. 17): Sewell only had one full year as a starter for the Ducks, but it was illustrious. He won the 2019 Outland Trophy and was a unanimous All-American before opting out of the 2020 season. 

Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers (No. 41): Herbert had a 29-13 record in four years as Oregon’s starter and finished his career with 10,541 yards and 95 touchdowns through the air. 

Ohio State (3) 

Nick Bosa, EDGE, San Francisco 49ers (No. 10): Bosa broke out as a sophomore for the Buckeyes, earning 2017 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year honors with 16 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. He missed a majority of the 2018 season with a core injury but was still picked second overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. 

C.J. Stroud, QB, Houston Texans (No. 38): Stroud was the NFL’s best rookie quarterback in 2023. That wasn’t much of a surprise after what he accomplished with the Buckeyes; he was a two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and logged 8,123 yards and 85 touchdowns passing in just two years as a starter. 





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