South Fla. Expressway

Here's part two of my series looking at the past three NFL Drafts. In this story I break down all the specific areas of interest of where these draftees played their high school football. South Florida generated 57 draft picks over this time. But if you look at the numbers on a per capita basis the findings may surprise you. They certainly stunned me.

Yesterday I broke down the states and which ones produced the most NFL Draft picks over the past three years (Story here). It was no big surprise that Florida, Texas, California, Georgia and Ohio dominated the numbers.

Over the NFL Drafts of 2012, 2013 and 2014 there have been 763 players selected. In that time, the states of Florida, Texas and California have produced 35.65% of draftees. Add Georgia and the total is 42.3%. Factor in Ohio and it's 47.3%.

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

The area leaders
The state of Florida has led the way over the last three drafts, producing 104 players. It should come as no surprise that South Florida (Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties) specifically leads the way with the most drafts picks with 57. It's no secret that just about every college that plays football recruits this hotbed of high school football. Still, that number is mind-boggling. That's 7.5% of all the draft picks from the last three years from these three counties alone.

Number of NFL Draftees in 2012, ‘13, ‘14
1. South Florida (57)
2. Los Angeles (42)
3. Dallas/Ft.Worth (27)
4. Houston (26)
5. Metro Atlanta (22)
6. Northern California (19)
7. New Orleans/Baton Rouge (18)
8. Chicago (17)
8. South Georgia (17)
10. Central Florida (16)
10. Central Texas (16)

Los Angeles (Calif.) came in second, producing 42 draftees. That number includes players chosen from the Orange and Los Angeles counties as well as an area known as the Inland Empire. L.A. remains a very hot spot. It's obviously a feeder system to the Pac 12 and Mountain West conferences, while teams in other leagues certainly spot recruit Southern California in varying degrees.

The Lone Star state produced the third and fourth most selections with Dallas/Ft. Worth (27) and Houston (26). Obviously, it's the great state of Texas that generates a bulk of the Big 12 players.

There's no question that the Peach State has been on fire of late. Over the past decade we have seen their football numbers sky-rocket, specifically Atlanta. Metro Atlanta was fifth, with a number of 22.

Rounding out the top ten were the following areas - Northern California (19), New Orleans/Baton Rouge (18), Chicago (17), South Georgia (17), Central Florida (16) and Central Texas (16).

Northern California is a huge area and consisted of the San Francisco, Oakland and the surrounding areas. New Orleans to Baton Rouge is a terrific place to find players in the Bayou State and it appears their numbers are on the rise once again post-Hurricane Katrina. Chicago was one of the bigger major metropolitan areas that came up big.

The you have South Georgia. I basically looked at the area south of Macon, starting in Warner Robbins and working my way all the way to the Georgia-Florida line and to varying degrees east and west, but not too far.

Central Texas is another huge area of the Lone Star State, from Austin to San Antonio. Central Florida is the Orlando area, working towards Lakeland to the southwest and the Space Coast to the east.

(Click here to see the entire breakdown of draft picks in each area)

Breaking down the data
I wanted to go very area specific, so I broke down the data in South Florida and Los Angeles.

City/County NFL Draftees in 2012, ‘13, ‘14
1. Miami–Dade County (27)
2. Dallas/Ft.Worth (27)
3. Houston (26)
4. Metro Atlanta (22)
5. Northern California (19)
6. New Orleans/Baton Rouge (18)
7. Ft. Laud.–Broward Co. (17)
7. Los Angeles County (17)
7. South Georgia (17)
7. Chicago (17)
11. L.A. Inland Empire (16)
11. Central Texas (16)

As mentioned above, South Florida is broken down in three counties – Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. Dade is Miami and some surrounding areas like Hialeah and Homestead. Broward is Ft. Lauderdale and goes to Pompano Beach to the North and Hollywood to the South. Then you have Palm Beach, which consists of West Palm Beach and football producing hotbeds like Belle Glade and Pahokee.

Miami-Dade produced the most at 27, the same number as Dallas/Ft. Worth. They tied for the top over spot. Broward and Palm Beach came in at 17 and 14 respectively.

Los Angeles was more of a challenge, so I kept it to L.A. County, Orange County and the Inland Empire. It's a massive area and it's loaded with talent. L.A. County totaled 17 draftees with Orange County coming in at 9.

The Inland Empire is a metropolitan area directly east of the Los Angeles. It's Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario which consists of Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The Inland Empire had 16 draft prospects.

The Lone Star State was dominated by three areas. As mentioned above, Dallas-Ft. Worth had the same number (27) as Miami-Dade County. Just one spot below Dallas/Ft. Worth was Houston. Central Texas, also known as Cen-Tex, had 16 players taken.

Per capita surprises
Here's where the numbers get real interesting because there are a few areas other than South Florida and Los Angeles that really stand out. Some might call them surprising.

Breakdown over last 3 drafts per capita
1. Mobile (726K) 12.4
2. South Georgia (1.5 million) 11.3
3. Miami-Dade Co.(2.59) 10.42
4. Palm Beach Co.(1.37) 10.22
5. Broward County (1.85) 9.19
6. New Orleans (2.1) 8.57
7. Birmingham (1.35) 8.14
8. Florida Panhandle (1.23) 8.13
9. Columbus(1.95) 6.67
10. Cleveland (2.1) 6.6

To calculate per capita you must divide the number of NFL Draftees per area by that area's population. When I came up with each area specific draftees I used a radius of 90-120 minutes from that city or county. Here are those findings –

The top two places using this criteria were Mobile (Ala.) and South Georgia.

Are you as surprised as I was?

I have been embedded in the South covering college football recruiting for the last 22 plus years and I didn't see this coming.

Mobile and the surrounding area has a population of 726,000 and it's this spot that produced nine drafts picks and has a per capita score of 12.4.

South Georgia comes in at No. 2 with a per capita number of 11.3. This region of Georgia produced 17 draftees, only five less than Metro Atlanta. This is despite having a population of 1.5 million compared to the booming metropolis of Atlanta with close to 5.5 million. This number took me by surprise. I have always known that this area plays great football and produces players. I just didn't realize how close those numbers would be to Metro Atlanta.

The next three areas all come from South Florida and the numbers are all very close. Miami – Dade County is third with a per capita number of 10. 42. Next is Palm Beach County (10.22) followed by Ft. Lauderdale - Broward (9.19).

Louisiana has always had a high per capita in the NFL and this study is no different. New Orleans/Baton Rouge is No. 6 with 8.57 followed by Birmingham (8.13).

Another small area by population comes in at No. 8 is the Florida Panhandle. That's basically Tallahassee and everything west of the state capitol. To me, it's one of the most under recruited area in the nation. With a population of roughly 1.23 million its per capita number was 8.13.

Ohio was interesting to look at. There wasn't one area of the state that dominated. Draftees were spread out throughout the Buckeye State. Cleveland and Columbus had virtually the same numbers. Cleveland had more players drafted (14 to 13) but Columbus had the higher per capita (6.67 to 6.6). Cincinnati/Dayton came in very close at 12 drafted players with a per capita of 5.71.

High population centers with a significant number of NFL draftees didn't score quite as high when you looked at per capita. (Click here to see the entire per capita list.)

Coming tomorrow is part three and four in this series looking at the past three NFL Drafts. What conferences and college programs led the way and who specifically recruited these 763 draft picks? Those questions will be answered on Wednesday.

Part 1, Draft Stats
Part 3, Conference Breakdown
Part 4, Recruiting Assassins

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