Imagine that NFL players never leave their states and not only play on the college but also professional teams representing their states. Their development and potential stay the same but they just never move out and stay in the same place throughout their whole lives. The question that this list tries to answer is: where are the best football players born? Not produced. Not developed. Born.
According to the data available, three states would dominate a list devoted solely to the amount of players playing in the NFL – Florida, California and Texas are home to at least 160 players each, whereas the fourth, Georgia didn’t even “birth” 100. Another page very helpful in seeing where the players come from is Pro Football Reference. Cool, but does a higher number of NFL-active players give the state an upper hand in a ranking evaluating how good the players coming from there actually are? This is where the second tool, data analysis, comes in. More notably, stats, which don’t paint a full picture of a given player’s involvement in a game, but are clear and simple to understand.
One more thing that needs to be stressed is that some teams may not be in the states we associate them with. Washington Redskins are a DC team, whereas New York Giants and Jets are from New York, yet because these teams play in different states – FedExField is located in Maryland, while both NY teams actually play in New Jersey – their stadiums are used to determine their placement.
22. Massachusetts: New England Patriots
Offence: Richard Rogers TE (Packers), Anthony Sherman RB (Chiefs)
Defence: Kiko Alonso LB (Dolphins)
Yes, the best team in football would be absolutely terrible if it decided to field only players from the state. Still, I get the feeling Bill Belichick would make it work somehow. Just give him a retired Matt Hasselbeck, who’s also from Massachusetts, and he’ll make the playoffs with that, especialy given how badly the AFC East tends to fail down the stretch. Without Hasselbeck though, the team doesn’t look great. The best players would be Richard Rogers (8 receptions this season), Anthony Sherman (two touchdowns in 103 career games) and feature a defence led by Kiko Alonso of the Dolphins… That is definitely not the recipe for 5 Super Bowl trophies.
21. New York: Buffalo Bills
Offence: Rob Gronkowski TE (Patriots)
Defence: Devin McCourty DB (Patriots)
The Bills would be in pretty much the same spot they are had they just started players that were born in the state of New York. What’s interesting is that two notable athletes from New York both play for the Patriots and both are Super Bowl champions. McCourty is fine, but Gronk takes the cake here as even now his seven touchdowns position him among the best scorers in the league. The irony that they could have such a dominant hometown player who is actually helping to keep them down right now is a tough pill to swallow. Apart from these two, it would be really hard to even create a solid roster consisting of native New Yorkers.
20. Indiana: Indianapolis Colts
Offence: Zack Martin OG (Cowboys), Tyler Eifert TE (Bengals)
Defence: Anthony Barr LB (Vikings), Kawann Short DT (Panthers)
The team from Indianapolis would have been dead last if it wasn’t for its defence, which is enough to salvage a very dismal crop of offensive players. The offensive line is pretty bad, as Martin is a solid guard but unable to score, whereas Tyler Eifert once was an OK tight end and had 13 touchdowns in 2015. On defence they look much better. Short is an established defensive tackle and Barr is a very promising linebacker, taken with the 9th pick in 2014. He’s since been a regular on Vikings’ defence and would be a regular here as well. The Colts biggest need is at O-line, so maybe the state of Indiana should start developing some talent for their home team.
19. Washington: Seattle Seahawks
Offence: Alex Smith QB (Chiefs), Jonathan Stewart RB (Panthers)
Defence: Desmond Trufant CB (Falcons)
Let’s start with the defence, led by Desmond Trufant, a one-time Pro Bowler. He has two interceptions this season so far. The Falcons may not reach the Super Bowl like a season ago, let alone the playoffs, but Trufant is the least to blame. Washington is the first state-team with a respectable quarterback and this year might actually be Smith’s best year yet. As of now his TD-to-INT ratio is 23-4, both his personal best. This hasn’t stopped his current Chiefs from struggling lately, but we digress. It might be problematic to find him sufficient targets, but the running game could be saved by bench Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart, who scored three touchdowns this year.
18. Tennessee: Tennessee Titans
Offence: C.J. Beathard QB (49ers), Jason Witten TE (Cowboys), Golden Tate WR (Lions)
Defence: Morgan Burnett S (Packers)
Tennessee gets the nod over Washington because it actually has targets for its QB. Beathard was picked in the third round of the 2017 draft and was actually given some time as a starter this season, since the 49ers aren’t going anywhere anyway. He scored four touchdowns and six interceptions, which wasn’t a dream start. Fortunately he’s got some time to develop and he would do fine with one of the best tight ends in recent history, Jason Witten, and a solid receiver in Golden Tate. With those experienced targets, the young QB might turn some heads. As it stands though, he’s mired in the dumpster fire that is the San Francisco 49ers.
17. Arizona: Arizona Cardinals
Offence: Ryan Fitzpatrick QB (Buccaneers)
Defence: Cameron Jordan DE (Saints), Everson Griffen DE (Vikings)
Ryan Fitzpatrick is now a starter in Tampa due to Jameis Winston’s injury and has scored seven touchdowns to three interceptions, which proves he’s still a solid NFL player. He hasn’t exactly had the best teams around him to take him to an elite level but he can definitely get the job done. It’s actually the defence that makes Arizona’s team respectable. For all we know, after Carson Palmer leaves, Fitzpatrick might actually make a home coming! Cameron Jordan of the Saints got 10 sacks this season, his seventh, and always was the starter throughout his career. Griffen is another talented defensive end, who got 12 sacks in 2017. With a defence like that, this team would be actually vicious.
16. Missouri: Kansas City Chiefs
Offence: Blaine Gabbert QB (Cardinals), Jeremy Maclin WR (Ravens)
Defence: Adrian Clayborn DL (Falcons), Tashaun Gipson DB (Jaguars)
Missouri’s team would be a well-balanced mixture of offence and defence, but since the offence features Blaine Gabbert as the starting QB, this might not be a compliment. With Jeremy Maclin as his primary target, and taking into consideration how bad other teams are, he might actually succeed in this reworked league. On defence the team would be solid, with Clayborn having two forced fumbles and Gipson having four interceptions during this season. Anything must seem better than the current Chiefs, who have recently shown that they are not the team that jumped to a crazy start this season. They went from division clinchers to a bubble team in the blink of an eye.
15. Minnesota: Minnesota Vikings
Offence: Larry Fitzgerald WR (Cardinals), Eric Decker WR (Titans)
Defence: Cameron Jordan DE (Saints), Terrell Suggs LB-DE (Ravens)
Minnesota would be a pretty serious threat in this situation, dependent on who the QB would be. Larry Fitzgerald is a future Hall of Famer and the primary target, while Eric Decker would mostly serve as a decoy. On the defensive end the team would feature another Hall of Famer, Terrell Suggs, who just like Fitzgerald may no longer be in his prime. That is more a testament to how good he actually is. The fact that he has been injured seriously and still plays at an elite level says a lot. The other defensive end, Cameron Jordan, has ten sacks and two forced fumbles this season. Not bad at all, again dependent on who their QB would be.
14. Wisconsin: Green Bay Packers
Offence: Melvin Gordon RB (Chargers), Lance Kendricks TE (Packers)
Defence: J.J. Watt DE (Texans), T.J. Watt LB (Steelers)
With a defender like J.J. Watt this team is already poised to be one of the best when it comes to stopping opponents. With him at the helm of the formation, the coach of the Wisconsin team would be pretty calm about the number of points scored against this team. The other two Watt brothers would probably make the cut too, even though they might not be (yet) half as good as their eldest sibling. On offence there’s Chargers RB Melvin Gordon and not much more. Because Watt would likely be their only star player, this Green Bay Packers team would be a serious downgrade from the current squad at Lambeau.
13. Maryland: Baltimore Ravens, Washington Redskins
Offence: Todd Gurley II (Rams)
Defence: Joe Haden CB (Steelers), NaVorro Bowman LB (Raiders)
Maryland’s defence may be worse than Wisconsin’s, but its offence features the league’s current rushing touchdowns leader, Todd Gurley II of the Rams. With eight, he’s on track to break his personal record of ten, which he scored in his rookie year. On defence this team would feature two capable backs in Joe Haden and NaVorro Bowman. Both are eight year veterans and have one interception this season. The lack of QB’s out of Maryland is a big issue, and even worse for these two teams, they may actually both see a switch in QB’s very soon. Joe Flacco has hit a very rough patch in his career and Kirk Cousins may leave Washington for a big contract.
12. Colorado: Denver Broncos
Offence: Nate Solder OT (Patriots), Ryan Hewitt FB (Bengals)
Defence: Calais Campbell DE (Jaguars), John Denney DT (Dolphins)
Colorado is another team that features mediocre offence, but incredible defence. This isn’t very different than their current situation actually! Nate Solder is a superior offensive tackle and has two Super Bowl rings with Tom Brady to prove it. The biggest proof of his skills though is the fact that Brady is still playing exceptionally and injury-free at 40 years old. The team’s best scoring option would be Ryan Hewitt of the Bengals, who has yet to score a touchdown despite playing in 55 NFL games. The defence is just awesome – John Denney is a veteran DT who has earned two Pro Bowl appearances during his career, and Campbell is a current Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
11. Illinois: Chicago Bears
Offence: Ezekiel Elliott RB (Cowboys), Kirk Cousins QB (Redskins)
Defence: Dean Lowry DE (Packers)
The defence of the Illinois team would be very weak, but it’s the offence that would cause trouble for other teams. Dean Lowry is a young DE that became a starter for the Packers in what is only his second year in the league. Kirk Cousins is having a good year, as he already scored 21 touchdowns and has collected a very impressive 3,289 passing yards. Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys is one of the best running backs in the league right now, with seven touchdowns scored in eight games. With that double threat on offence this team would probably win more games than they would lose. However, defence wins championships, and therefore this team will likely only be successful in the regular season.
10. Michigan: Detroit Lions
Offence: Antonio Gates TE (Chargers), Joe Staley OT (49ers), Drew Stanton QB (Cardinals)
Defence: Brandon Carr DB (Ravens)
Antonio Gates is a great target for any QB, even one as disappointing as Drew Stanton. Maybe with a veteran protector like Joe Staley, Stanton would be able to stay in the pocket long enough to reach the future Hall of Famer? Gates is an eight time Pro Bowler, and even though he’s 37 years old he still can deliver on the field. The defence would be led by Carr, the veteran who grabbed an interception in his first game for the Ravens this season and has collected two more so far. Losing out on Matthew Stafford would definitely be a sore point for Lions fans, so we doubt they would enjoy this reboot very much.
9. North Carolina: Carolina Panthers
Offence: Jimmy Graham TE (Seahawks), Carson Wentz QB (Eagles)
Defence: Melvin Ingram LB (Chargers)
Melvin Ingram is a good defender, and he’s finally getting the recognition he deserves for his play. In September he earned AFC Defensive Player of the Month honours. North Carolina is so high because it’s the first team that has a very capable thrower-catcher duo. Jimmy Graham is a four time Pro Bowler and 2013 NFL receiving touchdowns leader. The veteran would be a great target and an even better mentor to the young Wentz, who’s only in his second year in the NFL, but is posting impressive numbers: 29 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions while he leads the Eagles to the top of the NFL. We still need to see if he can end the Eagles Super Bowl drought before he ends the Panthers’.
8. New Jersey: New York Jets, New York Giants
Offence: Mark Ingram RB (Saints), Robby Anderson WR (Jets), Joe Flacco QB (Ravens)
Defence: Mike Adams DB (Panthers)
Finally a team able to field a total package on offence. Joe Flacco is having a pretty bad year now, as his touchdown-to-interception ratio is 11-11, but with a target like Robby Anderson of the Jets, who scored seven touchdowns so far this season, maybe he would fare better. If Flacco has a bad day, the coach can base the offence on the running talents of Mark Ingram. The man who made Adrian Peterson expendable rushed for 922 yards and scored 9 touchdowns this season on a surprising Saints team. The defence of this New Jersey team would be led by Mike Adams of the Panthers, who grabbed two interceptions so far this season.
7. Pennsylvania: Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers
Offence: Will Fuller WR (Texans), Matt Ryan QB (Falcons)
Defence: Barry Church S (Jaguars), Sean Lee LB (Cowboys)
With the defence led by Barry Church and Sean Lee, this team would have veteran leadership and some Cowboys credentials, as both have spent most/all of their careers in Dallas which was known for its solid defence. On offence, there’s Matty Ice on QB and a great target in Will Fuller of the Texans. The receiver ran for just 326 yards this season, but scored seven touchdowns. Now that’s efficient. Given the fact that both these teams are currently playing some great football, we doubt the fans would want to take a gamble on changing anything though. Fans are already speculating a possible Eagles/Steelers Super Bowl, which would be the biggest possible battle of Pennsylvania!
6. Louisiana: New Orleans Saints
Offence: Dak Prescott QB (Cowboys), Eli Manning QB (Giants), Odell Beckham Jr. WR (Giants)
Defence: Landon Collins S (Giants), Tyrann Mathieu S (Cardinals)
Louisiana would feature a very stacked, capable team, on both sides of the field. Especially since three guys are already playing together on the Giants. Eli, as may become customary, would have to sit this one out, since Dak Prescott is clearly the future. Although having Eli to guide him would definitely give this team a very big advantage. His second season may not be as stellar as his rookie year, but to be honest the whole Cowboys offence is struggling. With a great receiver like Beckham, he could score a lot more touchdowns. On defence the two safeties would prevent the other teams from scoring and keep an all Louisiana team competitive throughout whole games, something that has been an issue for the Giants in the past.
5. Georgia: Atlanta Falcons
Offence: Alvin Kamara RB (Saints), Cam Newton QB (Panthers), Jay Cutler QB (Dolphins)
Defence: Reshad Jones S (Dolphins), Alec Ogletree LB (Rams)
This team would have one of the best running games in this league. The scrambler Cam Newton may be struggling this season, but he’s the type of player you can’t ever count out. With Jay Cutler on the bench, the team would also have a nice QB reserve to step in whenever needed. The other element of the running game would be Alvin Kamara of the Saints, who scored seven touchdowns so far this season. When it comes to defence, Reshad Jones has two interceptions and Alec Ogletree has one, plus one forced fumble. The numbers may not be stunning, but they’re enough to make an impression on other teams. This team could possibly return Atlanta to the Super Bowl, but with Cam Newton they may just drop the lead again.
4. Ohio: Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns
Offence: Travis Kelce TE (Chiefs), Russell Wilson QB (Seahawks), DeShone Kizer QB (Browns), Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers) QB
Defence: Luke Kuechly LB (Panthers)
Russel Wilson is a great QB who came presumably out of nowhere, as he seemed too small and too weak to be a starter in the league, yet he led his team to two Super Bowls, winning one. His target on this team, Travis Kelce, scored seven touchdowns and ran for 871 yards so far this season. On the bench behind Wilson there would be Ben Roethlisberger and DeShone Kizer. The latter might be the backup, while the former would probably take over as the coach if he retires from playing. The defence would be led by stud Luke Kuechly of the Panthers, who forced one fumble and got three interceptions this season. In 2013 he was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
3. Texas: Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans
Offence: Drew Brees QB (Saints), Adrian Peterson RB (Cardinals), Michael Crabtree WR (Raiders)
Defence: Kenny Vaccaro S (Saints)
Kenny Vaccaro has caught three interceptions this season, which is really great, but, I mean, have you seen this team’s offence? Adrian Peterson is not having a good year, but he’s still a future Hall of Famer. Michael Crabtree is also a veteran, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t score a few touchdowns a season, right? Especially when coupled up with Drew Brees, another future Hall of Famer. The New Orleans Saints QB has thrown for over 3,000 yards in 15 of his 17 NFL seasons. With Josh McCown, Case Keenum and Andy Dalton on the bench, he would be fighting for his job extra hard, which would mean he would play even better.
2. California: LA Rams, LA Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Riders
Offence: Marvin Jones Jr. WR (Lions), Davante Adams WR (Packers), Zach Ertz TE (Eagles), Tom Brady QB (Patriots), Jared Goff QB (Rams)
Defence: Tony Jefferson S (Ravens), Bobby Wagner LB (Seahawks), Richard Sherman CB (Seahawks)
Here come two teams that would battle for the title season after season, as they are so stacked that only injuries could stop them from reaching the Super Bowl. If there could be more than one quarterback on the field California would be an easy pick for the top spot, as it would feature: Aaron Rodgers, Jared Goff and Derek Carr… rotating next to an old guy from San Mateo named Tom Brady. Marvin Jones, Davante Adams and Zach Ertz as the targets seem more than fine for a championship contender. On defence there’s the Seahawks duo of Wagner and now-injured Sherman, and Jefferson from the Ravens.
1. Florida: Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Offence: Antonio Brown WR (Steelers), Tyreek Hill WR (Chiefs), Leonard Fournette RB (Jaguars), Matthew Stafford QB (Lions)
Defence: Jason Pierre-Paul DE (Giants), Keanu Neal S (Falcons), Ryan Shazier LB (Steelers), Khalil Mack DE (Oakland), Joey Bosa DE (Chargers)
Ryan Shazier has two forced fumbles and three interceptions, Khalil Mack has seven and a half sacks, whereas Joey Bosa forced eleven and a half sacks and forced four fumbles. This defence would wear out almost every offence in this league. The Offence? Matthew Stafford at QB, Leonard Fournette as the RB and Tyreek Hill as the second WR. The most important player on this offence would be Antonio Brown of the Steelers. In 2017 he scored eight touchdowns and ran for 1,195 yards. Without him this team would look good, but with him? That’s just unfair. With some of the best football universities, it is clear that Florida would likely be the best team in the NFL under our cicumstances, which must be tough for Tampa Bay and Jacksonville fans.
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