BYU has been a big-time college football program for the better part of 40 years. The large amount of very skilled players they have had is one of the main reasons for that success. Plenty of those great players have gone on to have very successful careers in the NFL.
Note: A list like this is completely subjective, but I try to leave all bias out when I do my rankings. Only what each player did in the NFL got taken into consideration.
All-pro selections, Pro Bowl selections, years as a starter, years in the league, stats and impact on the team were the factors used when doing these rankings.
Lane was selected in the eighth round (196th overall) by the Seattle Seahawks in the 1981 draft. He started out his career in Seattle as a kick returner but eventually made his way into a starting running back position in his fourth year.
In 1984, Lane put up the best numbers in his seven-year career. For the first time he started more than three games (7) and was used as a runner and receiver out of the backfield. He finished with a career-high 80 carries for a career-best 299 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. He also recorded 11 catches for 102 yards and a touchdown.
For his career, Lane appeared in 97 games (12 starts). He rushed for 405 yards and four touchdowns on 124 carries. Lane also caught 42 passes for 357 yards and two scores.
Pitta was taken in the fourth round (114th overall) in the 2010 draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Pitta has been with the Ravens his entire career and became one of their biggest weapons just a season ago.
His career started very slowly. Pitta appeared in 11 games as a rookie and caught just one pass. The following year was much more successful for Pitta. He played in all 16 games and started two. He caught 40 passes for 405 yards and three touchdowns. His best game of the 2011 season came against the Cincinnati Bengals when he caught six passes for 62 yards and a touchdown.
The following year was even better for Pitta and the Ravens. Pitta started five of 16 games and recorded 61 receptions for 669 and seven touchdowns. He was also huge in the Ravens' playoff run to the Super Bowl. He caught 14 passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns, including four catches for 26 yards and a score in the Ravens' 34-27 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.
Pitta had a career setback in 2013 after hurting his hip in training camp. He recently returned to the field, playing the past three weeks for Baltimore.
For his career, Pitta has 114 receptions for 1,181 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Ring went undrafted but managed to make the San Francisco 49ers roster. Ring spent six seasons with the Niners and played in 69 games (nine starts).
His best season in the NFL came in 1983 when Ring appeared in all 16 games (five starts). That year, Ring rushed for 254 yards and two touchdowns on 64 carries. He also caught 23 passes for 182 yards.
During his time in the NFL, Ring won two Super Bowls with San Francisco. During the 49ers' 1981 playoff run, he carried the ball 21 times for 73 yards and a touchdown while also catching two passes. Ring was also on the San Francisco’s 1984 championship team.
For his career, Ring carried the ball 183 times for 732 yards and seven touchdowns. He also registered 45 receptions for 336 yards and another score.
After an impressive college career, Nielsen got selected in the third round (73rd overall) by the Houston Oilers in the 1978 draft.
Nielsen spent his entire six-year career with the Oilers and appeared in 55 games (14 starts).
During his career Nielson completed almost 55 percent of his passes for 3,255 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also carried the ball 29 times for 89 yards.
In his 14 games as a starter, Nielsen and the Oilers managed only three wins. His most impressive of those victories came during Week 16 of the 1981 season. During that game Nielsen completed 24-of-37 passes for 377 yards and three touchdowns as the Oilers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 21-20. That game was a part of Nielsen’s best season in the NFL. Although he only played in five games that year and started two, Nielsen threw for 709 yards and five touchdowns.
Jolley was taken in the second round (55th overall) by the Oakland Raiders in the 2002 draft.
Jolley played five seasons in the NFL for three different teams.
His best years in the league came with the Raiders. He started 26 games in three years and registered 90 receptions for 972 yards and five touchdowns.
During his rookie season with the Raiders, Jolley made 11 postseason receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown, including five catches for 59 yards in their Super Bowl loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Jolley also found some success with the New York Jets. During his year in New York, Jolley started seven games and caught 29 passes for 324 yards and a score.
Jolley had his best game with the Jets in 2005 when he caught nine passes for 102 yards and a touchdown in a December road loss to the Miami Dolphins.
For his career, he caught 120 passes for 1,303 yards and six touchdowns.
Brumfield went undrafted but made thr roster for the Cincinnati Bengals in 1993. Brumfield spent his entire six-year NFL career there and appeared in 56 games (29 starts) for the Bengals.
As a rookie, Brumfield played in every game and made seven starts.
Brumfield had his best season in 1995 when he appeared in 14 games and started 11 at left guard, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com.
Brumfield is a remarkable story of strength and perseverance. After moving into the starting lineup during the second game of the 1996 season, Brumfield started eight straight games. During the eighth and final game of his season, Brumfield suffered a severe spinal cord injury against the Baltimore Ravens leaving him temporarily paralyzed. After months of rehab Brumfield returned to the football field and played in 15 of 16 games (two starts) the following season.
After a record-breaking career at BYU, Collie was taken in the fourth round (127th overall) in the 2009 draft by the Indianapolis Colts.
During his time with the Colts, Collie found plenty of success as well as suffering a number of injuries, which almost ended his NFL career.
As a slot receiver, Collie spent plenty of time going over the middle to catch passes from Peyton Manning. As with most slot receivers, he took a ton of really hard hits, and on a couple of occasions, Collie took vicious shots to the head, causing severe concussions.
Concussions haven’t been the only issue that he has had with injuries, however. During his first game of 2012, Collie caught one pass before being injured, causing him to miss the remainder of the season.
Due to the injuries, Collie didn’t start the 2013 regular season on an NFL roster, but he is now with the New England Patriots.
Even with all of the time he missed due to injuries, Collie has put up impressive numbers when he has been on the field.
As a rookie in 2009, Collie played in all 16 games (five starts) and registered 60 receptions for 676 yards and eight touchdowns.
His second year began even better before he started having his concussion issues. His sophomore season the most impressive year of his short career. He had his two best games in the first three weeks of the season.
In the first game of the year, Collie caught 11 balls for 163 yards and a touchdown in the Colts' loss to Houston. Two weeks later, Collie bested those numbers with 12 receptions for 171 yards and two scores.
Collie played in only six more games the rest of the season, but he still scored four touchdowns.
His third year wasn’t quite the same without Manning under center, but Collie still caught 54 passes for 514 yards and a score.
The regular season isn’t the only place that Collie has played well.
In the 2009 playoff run for the Colts, Collie registered 17 receptions for 241 yards and two touchdowns. Included in those numbers were big games in the AFC Championship and the Super Bowl.
Against the Jets in the AFC title game, Collie caught seven passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. Two weeks later he tallied six catches for 66 yards in a Super Bowl loss to the New Orléans Saints.
Now that Collie has found his way on a NFL roster, hopes are that he can stay healthy to become the player he was meant to be.
Oates played six years for five different teams as a guard and tackle. During his career, Oates played in 67 games (20 starts).
His best year came in 1978 with the Detroit Lions when he played in all 16 games (15 starts) at right tackle.
Detmer was selected in the ninth round (230th overall) by the Green Bay Packers in the 1992 draft. Detmer spent 14 seasons in the league.
Detmer’s best seasons came as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles where he started 18 games in two years.
In 1996, Detmer started 11 games and won seven while passing for almost 3,000 yards and 15 touchdowns. That was the only season of Detmer’s pro career where he started more than seven games.
For his career, Detmer threw for 6,351 yards and 34 touchdowns while completing 57.7 percent of his passes.
Mili got drafted with the 174th overall pick in the sixth round of the 1997 draft by the Seattle Seahawks.
Mili played all nine of his NFL seasons with the Seahawks and had a fair amount of success. He had five straight years with more than four starts, including back-to-back years with 12 starts midway through his career.
During those two seasons, Mili put up his best numbers with a combined 89 receptions for 1,000 yards and six touchdowns.
For his career, Mili registered 164 receptions for 1,743 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Matich was the 28th overall pick in the first round by the New England Patriots in the 1985 draft.
Matich spent 12 years in the league for five different teams and played in 148 games.
Half of his 22 career starts came as a member of the Patriots where he spent his first four seasons in the league.
Although Matich played as an offensive lineman, he did record three receptions and a touchdown while playing for the New York Jets in 1991.
Titensor was selected in the third round (81st overall) in the 1981 draft by the Dallas Cowboys.
After playing defense at BYU, he switched over to the offensive side of the ball for the Cowboys.
Titensor played his entire seven-year career with the Cowboys, appearing in 92 games (46 starts). From 1984-86 he started 44 games at left guard.
Carter was take in the sixth round (142nd overall) in the 1967 draft by the Chicago Bears.
Carter saw field action in seven seasons for three different teams.
Carter’s best years came as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals, where he won 12 of his 22 starts over three seasons. During his stretch as a Bengal, Carter completed 56.4 percent of his passes for 3,850 yards and 22 touchdowns.
For his career, Carter passed for more than 5,000 yards and 29 touchdowns while adding 640 rushing and eight more scores.
Mathews was selected in the third round (67th overall) by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1994 draft.
Mathews spent one season at BYU playing defensive lineman before transferring to Texas A&M to finish out his collegiate career on offense.
Mathews played in 145 games, including 43 starts over 11 seasons for the Colts and the Tennessee Titans.
Even though only four of those seasons came with Indianapolis, that is where Mathews had his most success.
His best stretch came in 1995 and 1996 when he started 31 of 32 games at right tackle for two Colts playoff teams.
Richards taken in the second round (46th overall) by the 1973 draft by the Dallas Cowboys.
Richards spent two seasons at BYU before finishing his college career at the University of Hawaii.
Richards played 86 games over seven years in the NFL with the Cowboys and the Chicago Bears.
While only starting nine games over five-plus seasons in Dallas, Richards was very effective as a wide receiver and punt returner.
His best two seasons were with the Cowboys in 1974 and 1975. During those years, Richards caught 47 passes for 918 yards and nine touchdowns. He also returned 41 punts for 362 yards and a score.
For his career, Richards recorded 122 receptions for 2,136 yards and 17 touchdowns as well as a punt return touchdown. He also won a Super Bowl as a member of the 1977 Cowboys.
Gravelle was selected in the second round (38th overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1972 draft.
Gravelle started 68 games over eight seasons in the NFL with three different teams. He earned two Super Bowl rings as a member of the Steelers in 1974 and 1975. During those two years, Gravelle started every game but one at right tackle.
After going undrafted, Moore made the squad for the Indianapolis Colts in 1998.
In fact, Moore managed to play 96 games (73 starts) in eight seasons with three teams.
Moore had his most success with the Colts, where he spent time at center and right guard. He started 48 of the 54 games in which he played and did very well protecting Manning.
Wilson was the 15th pick in the first round by the Oakland Raiders in the 1980 draft.
Wilson saw time in the regular season as a backup and occasional starter.
Wilson spent most of his career as a member of the Raiders and that's where he found pretty much all of his success. Wilson won 31 of his 50 starts in silver and black, including eight fourth-quarter comebacks.
His best season came in 1985 when Wilson he 11 of his 13 starts while passing for 2,608 yards and 16 touchdowns.
For his career, Wilson threw for 14,391 yards and 86 touchdowns while rushing for 611 yards and five scores.
Lewis went undrafted out of BYU but made the team with the Philadelphia Eagles.
As a rookie, Lewis caught 12 passes for 94 yards and four touchdowns. In fact, the first touchdown of his career was thrown by Ty Detmer.
Lewis played 110 of his 116 NFL games with the Eagles and was a three-time Pro Bowl selection.
The best year of his career came in 2000 when he caught 69 passes for 735 yards and three touchdowns.
For his career, Lewis caught 229 passes for 2,361 yards and 23 touchdowns in nine seasons.
He was also very effective in the playoffs, catching 38 passes for 409 yards and four touchdowns.
Tait was the 14th overall pick in the first round by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 1999 draft.
Tait spent 10 seasons in the NFL with the Chiefs and the Chicago Bears as a left and right tackle.
During his career, Tait started 139 of the 148 games he appeared in, including all 136 games he played in his last nine years.
Howard was taken in the third round (54th overall) by the Denver Broncos in the 1973 draft.
Howard spent all 187 games of his 14-year career with the Broncos. Howard started 147 games at right guard and was very consistent.
In fact, Howard started at least 13 games in 10 of his final 11 seasons in the league.
McMahon was the fifth overall pick in the first round of the 1982 draft by the Chicago Bears.
While never putting up huge numbers in the NFL like he did at BYU, McMahon was an ultimate winner. In fact, McMahon’s teams won 67 of the 97 games he started.
His greatest success came as a member of the 1985 Bears where he was under center for one of the best teams in NFL history. That year, McMahon threw for career highs with 2,392 yards and 15 touchdowns while winning every game he started in. In fact, McMahon didn’t lose a regular-season start for two straight seasons. McMahon made the Pro Bowl in 1985 while helping to lead the Bears to their last Super Bowl victory.
For his career, McMahon threw for more than 18,000 yards and 100 touchdowns as well as rushing for 1,631 yards and 16 scores.
Christensen, who passed away in November from complications following surgery, was taken in the second round (56th overall) by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1978 draft.
Even though he got drafted by the Cowboys, Christensen never played a game for Dallas.
He saw his first game action with the New York Giants before making his way to the Raiders in 1979.
It was with the Raiders that Christensen had his on-field success, but that didn’t happen right away. Christensen did catch a pass with the Raiders until the second game of the 1981 season and didn’t make his first start until 1982.
After Christensen became a starter, he began to pick up huge numbers as a tight end.
From 1983 to 1987, Christensen started 76 games and made five Pro Bowls. During that stretch, Christensen had three 1,000-yard receiving seasons, led the NFL in receptions two years and caught 35 touchdowns while being named All-Pro twice.
For his career, Christensen registered 461 receptions for 5,872 yards and 41 touchdowns.
After leaving BYU in 1982, Oates spent the first three years of his pro career in the USFL and won two championships before signing with the New York Giants.
Oates played 11 seasons for two teams after making the switch.
During his first nine years in the league, Oates played for the Giants and was a fixture at center. Oates won two Super Bowl rings and made three Pro Bowls while in New York.
Oates' last two seasons in the NFL were spent protecting his old college quarterback Steve Young with the San Francisco 49ers. Oates made the Pro Bowl both seasons and won his third Super Bowl ring in the 1994 season.
Young started his pro career in the USFL before being selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the first pick of the 1984 supplemental draft.
His career in Tampa was somewhat of a disaster. He won three of his 19 starts while throwing 10 more picks than touchdowns.
Young found new life as a member of the San Francisco 49ers, but only after four seasons as the backup to Joe Montana. As a starter for the Niners for most of eight seasons, Young was one of the best quarterbacks the NFL has ever seen. He led the league in completion percentage, touchdowns and passer rating an astounding 15 times during that stretch while leading San Francisco to its last Super Bowl win, in 1994.
Young was a two-time NFL MVP and a first-team All-Pro three straight seasons. Young made the Pro Bowl seven times and was named the NFL first-team quarterback of the '90s by Pro-Football-Reference.com.
For his historic NFL career, Young passed for 33,124 yards and 232 touchdowns while completing 64.3 percent of his passes. Young also rushed for 4,239 yards and 43 scores.
For his efforts in the NFL, Young was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.
Even though this a list of the best 25 offensive players from BYU to play in the NFL, there are a few guys who missed the cut that definitely deserve a mention.
Tahi spent five seasons in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals. He found all of his NFL success with Minnesota. He never appeared in a regular-season game for the Bengals.
After seeing no action as a rookie, Tahi appeared in 56 games for the Vikings over the next four seasons with 14 starts. As a fullback, Tahi was mostly used as a lead blocker, but he carried the ball 10 times for 21 yards.
Catching passes out of the backfield was how he made his mark on the stat sheet. Tahi registered 33 receptions for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
Coats spent four seasons with two teams. Coats played most of his first four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals and saw a decent amount of action.
In 2007, Coats has his best statistical year with 12 catches for 122 yards. Seven of those catches went for first downs.
For his career, Coats caught 30 passes for 291 yards as a tight end. He also played on special teams.
Pilgrim was a third-round pick (87th overall) by the Chicago Bears in the 1995 draft. He played his first three seasons with the Bears before bouncing around to three other teams in his last three years in the league.
During his six-year career, Pilgrim played in 32 games and made eight starts. Six of those starts came in 1997 with the Bears.
Unutoa played 86 games over seven seasons with three different teams as a backup center. His longest stint came with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he played 48 games over three seasons.
Unutoa also played for the Buffalo Bills and had two stints with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. During his second stint with the Buccaneers, Unutoa won a Super Bowl in 2002.
Kozlowski was selected in the 11th round (305th overall) by the Bears in the 1986 draft. In his seven seasons with the Bears he played in 66 games. His best statistical year came in 1987 when he started the three games in which he played and caught 15 passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns.
For his career, Kozlowski registered 31 receptions for 471 yards and three scores. He also spent plenty of time on special teams that allowed Kozlowski to stick in the NFL for so long.
Elewonibi was selected in the third round (76th overall) by the Washington Redskins in the 1990 draft.
Elewonibi only played for four seasons but he was solid when he was on the field. His best seasons came with the Redskins where he started 19 of 20 games at tackle over a two-year period.
He finished his career with the Philadelphia Eagles, appearing in six games as a reserve.
Beck left BYU with high hopes after being drafted in the second round in 2007 by the Miami Dolphins. Beck only played in five games with the Dolphins, however, before being released after a coaching change.
In Beck’s short time in Miami he started in four games but had very little success. The Dolphins lost all four of his starts. He completed 56.1 percent of his passes for 559 yards and one touchdown and was intercepted three times. He also had seven fumbles.
Beck floated around the NFL for the next couple years as a third-string quarterback before getting his next opportunity to play. That chance came in 2011 as a member of the Washington Redskins. Beck appeared in four games, including three as a starter. He put up much better numbers, but lost every game he started. That year he threw for 858 yards and two touchdowns. Beck also rushed the ball 10 times for 43 yards and two more scores.
All told, Beck threw for 1,417 yards and three touchdowns with seven interceptions in nine career games.