While most colleges and universities field a football team as part of its general athletics program, there are some for which football is more than merely a sport—it’s akin almost to a religion. Devotion to the team and its colors is as important to that school’s culture as a religious icon is to a believer. These programs actively scout and recruit notable high school players, and are in turn rigorously applied to by matriculating seniors eager to make a name for themselves at the collegiate level.

Among the most notable college football empires are Notre Dame, the universities of Alabama, Michigan, Texas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, Penn State, Ohio State—the list goes on and on. But for every touchstone football school, there is an outlier that has produced some of the most successful and cherished players in the game. Think Jackson State, which gave us “Sweetness” himself, Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton. Or Mississippi Valley State, which yielded 3-time Super Bowl champion and #1 Player in NFL History, as voted by the NFL Network, ‘49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice.

Each year, the college draft serves as a source of renewal to professional football and a testament to the quality of college programs nationwide. With the 2022 NFL draft set to take place April 28-30 in Las Vegas, Stacker compiled a list of the highest NFL draft picks from the Ole Miss Rebels using data from Pro Football Reference. Ties were broken by the most recent year drafted.

#20. Ken Lucas (DB)- Draft pick: Round 2, #40 overall in 2001

  • Drafted by: Seattle Seahawks
  • Years as a starter in NFL: 7 (0 Pro Bowls)

#19. Greg Little (T)- Draft pick: Round 2, #37 overall in 2019

  • Drafted by: Carolina Panthers
  • Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#18. Dexter McCluster (WR)- Draft pick: Round 2, #36 overall in 2010

  • Drafted by: Kansas City Chiefs
  • Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (1 Pro Bowls)

#17. Elijah Moore (WR)- Draft pick: Round 2, #34 overall in 2021

  • Drafted by: NY Jets
  • Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#16. Robert Nkemdiche (DT)- Draft pick: Round 1, #29 overall in 2016

  • Drafted by: Arizona Cardinals
  • Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#15. John Avery (RB)- Draft pick: Round 1, #29 overall in 1998

  • Drafted by: Miami Dolphins
  • Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#14. Chris Spencer (C)- Draft pick: Round 1, #26 overall in 2005

  • Drafted by: Seattle Seahawks
  • Years as a starter in NFL: 6 (0 Pro Bowls)

#13. Peria Jerry (DT)- Draft pick: Round 1, #24 overall in 2009

  • Drafted by: Atlanta Falcons
  • Years as a starter in NFL: 2 (0 Pro Bowls)

#12. Evan Engram (TE)- Draft pick: Round 1, #23 overall in 2017

  • Drafted by: NY Giants
  • Years as a starter in NFL: 5 (1 Pro Bowls)

#11. Laquon Treadwell (WR)- Draft pick: Round 1, #23 overall in 2016

  • Drafted by: Minnesota Vikings
  • Years as a starter in NFL: 2 (0 Pro Bowls)

#10. Deuce McAllister (RB)- Draft pick: Round 1, #23 overall in 2001

  • Drafted by: New Orleans Saints
  • Years as a starter in NFL: 4 (2 Pro Bowls)

#9. Michael Oher (T)- Draft pick: Round 1, #23 overall in 2009

  • Drafted by: Baltimore Ravens
  • Years as a starter in NFL: 7 (0 Pro Bowls)

#8. Kelvin Pritchett (DT)- Draft pick: Round 1, #20 overall in 1991

  • Drafted by: Dallas Cowboys
  • Years as a starter in NFL: 4 (0 Pro Bowls)

#7. Tim Bowens (DT)- Draft pick: Round 1, #20 overall in 1994

  • Drafted by: Miami Dolphins
  • Years as a starter in NFL: 10 (2 Pro Bowls)

#6. Freddie Joe Nunn (DE)- Draft pick: Round 1, #18 overall in 1985

  • Drafted by: St. Louis Rams
  • Years as a starter in NFL: 8 (0 Pro Bowls)

#5. Tony Bennett (DE)- Draft pick: Round 1, #18 overall in 1990

  • Drafted by: Green Bay Packers
  • Years as a starter in NFL: 5 (0 Pro Bowls)

#4. Laremy Tunsil (T)- Draft pick: Round 1, #13 overall in 2016

  • Drafted by: Miami Dolphins
  • Years as a starter in NFL: 5 (2 Pro Bowls)

#3. Patrick Willis (LB)- Draft pick: Round 1, #11 overall in 2007

  • Drafted by: San Francisco 49ers
  • Years as a starter in NFL: 7 (7 Pro Bowls)

#2. Archie Manning (QB)- Draft pick: Round 1, #2 overall in 1971

  • Drafted by: New Orleans Saints
  • Years as a starter in NFL: 11 (2 Pro Bowls)

#1. Eli Manning (QB)- Draft pick: Round 1, #1 overall in 2004

  • Drafted by: San Diego Chargers
  • Years as a starter in NFL: 14 (4 Pro Bowls)