Daddy, where do NFL players come from?

What states, areas and counties produce the most NFL players? Scout's Jamie Newberg goes inside all the numbers in part one of this six part series.

NFL Rosters Breakdown Series

Part 2 - Where do student-athletes major in the NFL?
Part 3 - Drafted vs Undrafted Players
Part 4 - Region by Region Positional Breakdowns
Part 5 - NFL Veterans: Where are they from?
Part 6 – Top NFL Producing High Schools

• There are 2,178 players that currently play in the National Football League. Most reside on one of the 32 franchise rosters. 320 players live on the practice squad. Various other players are on the injured reserve, suspension or fall under another non-playing commissioner’s list.

• The state of California has produced the most players in today’s NFL. They are followed by Florida, Texas, Georgia and then Ohio. These five states account for close to 50% of all players currently in the NFL. Southern California is the one area that has produced the most players, followed by South Florida, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston, Metro-Atlanta and New Orleans-Baton Rouge.

• On a per capita basis, the south dominates the NFL numbers. Louisiana leads the way, followed by South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and then Florida.

Over the past month I have poured over all 32 NFL rosters, 2,178 players in all, combing through the data of where these players came from, where they played high school football, college ball and how long they have been in the NFL. In addition, I tracked if they were drafted or were undrafted free-agents as they entered the league. In a series of articles to be published over the next few weeks I will breakdown all the NFL rosters.

Here’s a look at part one of where all the NFL players come from.

It’s the usual suspects in terms of the states that have produced the most players currently on NFL rosters. But it may come to surprise some that California earns the top spot with 275 NFL players that played high school football in the Golden State. Florida comes in at No. 2 with 252, followed by Texas (233), Georgia (130) and Ohio (100). Many believe Florida and Texas produce the most NFL players when in fact it has been California.

Where things get a little interesting is seeing what states occupy spots six though ten. Louisiana checks in at No. 6 with 75, followed by New Jersey (73), South Carolina (68), Alabama (65), North Carolina (64) and Pennsylvania (64). Six of the top ten producing states are from the south.

States 12-20 are Virginia, Michigan, Illinois, Tennessee, Mississippi, Maryland, New York, Missouri and Wisconsin.

(Click here for the complete list of the states and the number of players in the NFL.)

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the United States currently has a population of 317 million. The top five states in this exercise, Florida, California, Texas, Georgia and Ohio, have a combined population of 106.22 million, which corresponds to 33.5% of the population. It’s these states that have produced 45.5% of players today currently on the NFL rosters.

If you look at where the NFL players are from based on population and per capita numbers the big board looks a little different.

To calculate per capita you must divide the number of NFL players per state by that state's population. Here are those findings and here is where things get interesting.

Louisiana earns the top spot with a per capita score of 16.16. As I wrote back in May when I looked at the NFL Draft numbers and where these prospects were coming from I firmly believe that this number would be higher if it were not for Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Thousands in the Bayou State were displaced and moved to neighboring states like Texas, Mississippi and Alabama. Just the city of New Orleans alone is 29% smaller in population than prior to 2005.

Louisiana has a population of 4.64 million and currently has 75 players in the NFL.

The state of South Carolina has produced the highest number of NFL draft picks [per capita] over the last three years. When you look at the overall roster numbers/per capita the Palmetto State checks in at No. 2 with a score of 14.26. South Carolina’s population is 4.77 million and the state has produced 68 current NFL players.

Alabama (13.54), Mississippi (13.38), Georgia (13.1), and Florida (12.92) make up the next four states in per capita scores of all players in the NFL. Perhaps the most telling stat is that the top six producing per capita states are all from the South.

Rounding out the top 12 on a per capita score basis are Montana (9.9), Texas (8.93), Hawaii (8.71), Ohio (8.62), New Jersey (8.24) and Nebraska (7.53). While Montana, Hawaii and Nebraska are high in the per capita rankings they only have a combined 36 NFL players currently on rosters. That figure would place them tied for 18th in total players in the league by state. It goes to show you how the numbers can drastically change when you look at the per capita breakdown.

Now it's time to get more specific. What areas within these states are these players coming from?

(Click here for the complete list of the states and their per capita scores)

What specific part of the country has produced the most NFL talent? The answer is Southern California (Los Angeles County, Inland Empire and Orange County) with a number of 153 players. South Florida (Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties) is next with 122 followed by San Francisco/Sacramento (74), Houston (73), Dallas (73) and Metro Atlanta (70).

The next group of cities and areas are New Orleans-Baton Rouge (59), Chicago (45), Central Texas (43), Cleveland (41), Central Florida (37), Detroit (36), Tampa Bay (32), East Texas (30) and Cincinnati/Dayton (30).

In measuring these total numbers I basically went 90 miles out from each location.

(Click here for the complete list of areas and the numbers of NFL players each has produced)

Now the numbers and areas look much different when you contrast the populations of each on a per capita basis.

Though the area of Roanoke (Va.) only produced nine NFL players their per capita number is 29.13 based on the population of that area (309,000). With a population of 2.1 million, New Orleans-Baton Rouge produced a per capita score of 28.1. This is mind blowing considering this area of Louisiana has produced 59 players currently in the NFL. There is another area of the Bayou State that comes in next and that’s Shreveport. This part of Louisiana has produced 11 NFL players and has a per capita score of 24.94.

Everyone knows that Florida is loaded with talent at all levels of football but what people don’t realize is that the Panhandle, the area from Tallahassee and to the west, has always been vastly underrated. With a per capita score of 22.76, the Panhandle comes in fourth, as this section of the Sunshine State has produced 28 NFL players. The Panhandle has the highest per capita score in Florida.

Myrtle Beach (S.C.) is next followed by East Texas, Mobile (Ala.), Cleveland, Birmingham, Jackson (Miss.) and Columbia (S.C.).

(Click here for the complete list of areas ranked by their per capita scores)

Next, I broke down some of the bigger areas and their specific counties to see who were the NFL producers in the major areas. By far and away Los Angeles County was the winner with 86 NFL players. In fact, South Florida counties were two and three but were nowhere near the number of L.A. County. Miami-Dade was second with 47 while Ft. Lauderdale-Broward was third with 41.

Los Angeles-Orange County was next with 34 followed by the Los Angeles-Inland Empire with 33. This is a metropolitan area directly east of the Los Angeles. It's Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario which consists of Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

I split Dallas-Ft. Worth up into counties to see which ones have produced the most NFL talent from this part of Texas. For Dallas, it’s Dallas County with 31 and for Fort. Worth it’s Tarrant County with 17.

Harris County in Houston is that area’s top county with 27 current NFL players.

Other notable county specific areas in terms of overall numbers are West Palm Beach (Fla.) Palm Beach County with 29, Chicago (Ill.) Cook County (25) and Cleveland (Ohio) Cuyahoga County (18). Atlanta (Ga.) Dekalb and Atlanta (Ga.) Gwinnett counties each have produced 16 NFL players while New Orleans (La.) Orleans Parish has produced 15.

If you take the top nine producing counties that populate the rosters (Los Angeles, Orange County, Inland Empire, Dade, Broward, West Palm Beach, Harris and Dallas) they account for 328 players, which is 15.1% of the entire NFL. To put this in proper perspective there are 3,143 county and county equivalents in the U.S.

(Click here for the complete list of areas and the numbers of NFL players each has produced)

How do the scores look when you apply per capita to each of these counties?

New Orleans (La.) Orleans Parish, with a population of 345,000, has a per captia score of 43.49 to lead the way.

What the city of New Orleans produces is not a shocker. But the No. 2 spot is – York County in the northern part of South Carolina, in between Charlotte (N.C.) and Columbia (S.C.). Between the two small towns of Rock Hill and Fort Mill there are nine players in the NFL, including an astounding five No. 1 draft picks (Jadeveon Clowney, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jonathan Joseph, Stephon Gilmore, and Ben Watson) from Rock Hill alone.

This per capita number would have been over 110 had I just gone with those two towns’ populations. But I wanted to remain consistent and used York County’s population of 239,000 instead. Even using this number the per capita score for York was 41.84.

Mobile (Ala.) County is next at No. 3 with a per capita score 26.51 followed by Atlanta (Ga.) – Dekalb County and their score of 23.12.

Another surprise in these specific area-county per capita findings is down in the Sunshine State. If you take Polk County out of Central Florida they have a per capita score of 22.47. This small county that is Lakeland and it’s surrounding areas, has a population of 623,000 and has currently 14 players in the NFL. Polk County has the highest per capita score of any county in Florida. They narrowly topped Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) Broward County, which was next with a score of 22.16.

(Click here for the complete list of the counties and their per capita scores)

Part 2 - Where do student-athletes major in the NFL?
Part 3 - Drafted vs Undrafted Players
Part 4 - Region by Region Positional Breakdowns
Part 5 - NFL Veterans: Where are they from?
Part 6 – Top NFL Producing High Schools

Scout NFL Network Top Stories