It’s no trade secret that three states have dominated when it comes to producing football players. Simply put, California, Texas and Florida have been football factories. Rosters at the collegiate and professional level are littered with players from this trio of powerhouse football states.
But if you take a deep look inside the 2015 NFL Draft, the numbers tell a different story.
It remains true that Florida is the runaway No. 1, producing 39 draftees that played their high school football in the Sunshine State. Over the past four drafts, Florida has the most draft picks by an astounding +31. Since 2012, 143 players have been drafted from the Sunshine State, averaging 36 draftees each spring. Seven players from Florida were selected in the first round last month, the most of any state.
- 1. Florida (39)
- 2. Georgia (30)
- 3. Texas (28)
- 4. California (26)
- 5. Alabama (14)
- 6. Ohio (10)
- 7t. North Carolina (9)
- 7t. Pennsylvania (9)
- 9. Maryland (8)
- 10. Illinois (7)
The big surprise at the top of the 2015 Draft was Georgia. The Peach State shot right by California and Texas to finish with the second-most draft prospects at 30. Of late there has certainly been a slow and steady climb in the numbers regarding their production in college and NFL players. Georgia has been a solid No. 4 for about a decade or so, but is steadily gaining on the big three.
It wasn’t like a handful of players flew under the high school radar, went to a bunch of mid-majors or even smaller, and blossomed in college. Of the 30 players drafted, 26 attended Power 5 schools. Three others, wide receivers Breshad Perriman (UCF) and Geremy Davis (UConn) and linebacker Rashard Cliett (USF) attended AAC schools while tight end Kennard Backman went to UAB.
Texas edged California 28-26 for place third. California finishing fourth was the second-biggest surprise regarding the state numbers.
For me, this doesn’t add up.
Last fall I dug deep into all the NFL rosters and California was clearly the top producing state by a margin of +23 over Florida. In all, 275 of the 2,178 players scattered across the NFL were from the Golden State. That’s 12.6 percent of all NFL players from California. California produced 10.2 percent of the 2015 draft picks and has averaged 28 draftees over the past four drafts. So their 2015 number of 26 is down slightly.
Another surprise are the states that finished five and six. Alabama surged past Ohio and it wasn’t even close. Alabama had 14 picks this past draft while Ohio had 10. Alabama also produced the draft’s top overall pick. Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is from Hueytown, Ala. and was picked by Tampa Bay at the top spot.
Rounding out the top 10 are Pennsylvania (9), North Carolina (9), Maryland (8) and Illinois (7).
A few states like Louisiana (7), South Carolina (4), Missouri (3) and Virginia (3) slumped with this 2015 draft class.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the United States currently has a population of 320 million. The top five states in this exercise—Florida, California, Texas, Georgia and Alabama—have a combined population of 106.22 million. That corresponds to 31.47 percent of the population and 57 percent of the 2015 draft picks.
Let’s take a different approach at the state numbers and NFL draft and break it down on a per capita (per million) basis. Here’s where the big board looks a little different.
Georgia, with a population of 10.1 million, had the highest number of 2015 drafted players per capita at 2.97/million.
The Peach State edged Alabama for the top overall spot. The state of Alabama (population of 4.9 million) was No. 2 overall with a per capita score of 2.86. Florida (19.9 million population) was third with a 1.96, followed by Mississippi (1.67), District of Columbia (1.52), Hawaii (1.43), and Kansas (1.38). Rounding out the top 10 were Maryland (1.33), Iowa (1.29), and Louisiana (1.28).
If you take the top 10 producing states in terms of total picks and translated to per-capita scores it looks as follows:
North Carolina (0.9)
A Third Look
When I did this series a year ago someone suggested I look at the draft numbers in a different way. The idea here is to look at each state based on the total number of high school football players rather than that state’s entire population.
There are roughly 1.1 million high school football players. Texas has the most high school players with 165,000 while California has 102,000. They are the only two states north of the 100,000 mark. Florida has 35,000 while Georgia has 33,000. By contrast, Illinois has 47,000, Ohio has 46,000 and Michigan has 41,000. Other key states are North Carolina (36,000), Pennsylvania (26,000), Alabama (23,000), Louisiana (21,000), and Maryland (15,000). The District of Columbia has 727 players.
- 1. Florida (111.4 score)
- 2. Georgia (90.91)
- 3. Alabama (60.87)
- 4. Maryland (53.3)
- 5. Hawaii (52.6)
- 6. Pennsylvania (34.6)
- 7. Delaware (33.3)
- 8. Oregon (30.8)
- 9. Kansas (28.8)
- 10. Louisiana (28.6)
Here’s how these scores stack up: Florida is the state’s top dog when you consider their 2015 draft numbers compared to the amount of high school players in the Sunshine State with a score of 111.4. Georgia is next with a number of 90.91, followed by Alabama 60.87. Maryland (53.3), Hawaii (52.6), Pennsylvania (34.6), Delaware (33.3), Oregon (30.8), Kansas (28.8) and Louisiana (28.6) to round out the top 10. The District of Columbia had a score of 137.6.
If you go strictly by the states that produced the top 10 draftees in 2015, looking specifically at the total high school football playing numbers, the order would look like this:Florida (111.4)
North Carolina (25)
For a complete look at this unique way to look at these per-capita numbers, click HERE.
• Combine the Florida and Georgia 2015 draft numbers and this duo accounts for 69 of the 256 draft picks, or 27 percent! That’s unreal.
• The states of Florida, Georgia, Texas and California produced almost half (123 of the 256) of the draft picks, a total of 48 percent.
• The top five states, Florida, Georgia, Texas, California and Alabama, produced 53 percent of all draft picks. Throw in Ohio and that percentage climbs to 57.
• The top 10 producing states—Florida, Georgia, Texas, California, Alabama, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maryland, and Illinois— accounted for 70.3 percent of the draft picks.
• Fifteen states and the District of Columbia combined to produce 22 draftees or 8.6 percent of all picks. These states were Oregon, Hawaii, Connecticut, Minnesota, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma and Utah.
• Massachusetts, Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Idaho, West Virginia and New Mexico produced zero draft selections.
Coming tomorrow in part two will be a breakdown of the top areas of the top states, which includes city and county numbers.
Note: The state-by-state high school numbers shown above provided by the National Federation of High School Associations survey for the school year 2012-2013.Related stories: 2014 NFL Rosters Breakdown Series
Part 1 - Daddy, where are NFL players from?
Part 2- Where do student-athletes major in the NFL?
Part 3 - Drafted vs Undrafted Players
Part 4 – Positional Breakdowns of the NFL: Where are they from?
Part 5 - NFL Veterans: Where are they from?
Part 6 – Top NFL Producing High Schools
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