This won’t be a news flash, but service academy football teams don’t get many NFL draft prospects. Air Force has had a few over history, but the last one was Bryce Fisher in 1999. This list, done by Rivals.com, counting up the number of draft picks by school from 2000-2010, is a pretty stunning look at the success of Navy and Air Force.
Air Force and Navy are the only teams that had zero draft picks since 2000. In fact, look at the list – among the top seven conferences in college football, 70 of 74 teams reached double digits. Air Force, Baylor, Wyoming and Duke were the only four to not reach double digits in draft picks. Baylor barely missed, with nine.
So while 94.6 percent of the teams from the top college football conferences had at least 10 draft picks, Air Force and Navy had none (Army’s Caleb Campbell was drafted in the seventh round in 2008, making him the lone service academy player chosen in the 2000s). Service commitment is a reason NFL-caliber players like Ben Garland and Chad Hall didn’t get drafted, but the lack of draft picks puts the success of Air Force and Navy into a different perspective.
Navy has had eight straight winning seasons. The Midshipmen went to a bowl game each of those seasons, winning three, and didn’t lose a service-academy game from 2003-09. Air Force has been to six bowl games since 2000, including four in a row, winning two straight. The Falcons snapped Navy’s streak of service-academy wins this year.
Only 14 schools have a longer current streak of bowl appearances than Navy. Only 28 have a streak longer than Air Force’s four in a row. All of the schools above and below Air Force and Navy on that list have had more NFL draft picks this century.