It is census time once again! You loved our Unofficial 2013 NFL Player Census, and we’re back with the updated version for 2014. We’ve improved upon last year’s census in both complexity and accuracy.
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept behind the census, we essentially gather as much data as possible about the roughly 1700 players who made a final 53-man roster. We made room for some stars who are either suspended or temporarily injured. Ray Rice, whose future with the league currently hangs in the balance, was removed from the study. We then use the data in various ways to draw interesting conclusions about the league.
Part 1: Physical Attributes And Race
Height and Weight
Whether you’re talking about the Jets’ 6’7″, 364 lbs. defensive tackle T.J. Barnes, or shifty Eagles running back Darren Sproles, who stands at a mere 5’6″, 188 lbs., players of all shapes and sizes bring something to the table for their teams.
Let’s take a closer look at the shapes and sizes of this league’s players. Below, the average height and weight of each of the league’s positions.
Unsurprisingly, offensive linemen occupy the three top spots for height. Tackles, tight ends, and guards stand taller than 6’4″ on average. At the bottom of the list, we find running backs and cornerbacks as some of the few players with an average height lower than 6-foot. I am a bit surprised to see that cornerbacks on average are more than an inch shorter than wide receivers.
At 322.74 lbs on average, nose tackles take the prize for heaviest NFL position. These guys are meant to be the biggest meanest guys on the field, so seeing them atop the list makes sense. The built-for-speed cornerbacks are the lightest guys in the league by nearly 8 pounds. At 195, cornerback is the only position with an average weight below 200 pounds.
When it comes to team weight, the Colts occupy the top spot by a sizable margin. With a team average weight of 256, they are more than three pounds heavier than the next closest team, the Arizona Cardinals. The Browns, on the other end of the spectrum, are the league’s lightest team. Their average weight is roughly 14 pounds lower than that of the Colts.
When it comes to team average height, there is far less variance. The difference between the tallest team and the shortest team is no more than 1.6 inches. Every team possesses an average height greater than 6-foot. The Cardinals, with an average height of 6’2 1/2″, are the tallest team in the NFL. The Buccaneers are the shortest, at 6’1″.
Though not quite as diverse as leagues like the NBA or the MLB, the NFL is composed of a wide variety of players. Using the eye test, and clues like last name and birthplace, we classified each NFL player. Our racial classifications are as follows:
The “Other” category consists of players of mixed racial composition and players whose racial categories only consisted of one or two instances. For example, Sam Bradford was the only player of Native American decent, so he falls into the “Other” category. Miles Austin is half black, half white, so he also falls into the “Other” category. Let’s take a look at racial distribution in the NFL as a whole.
With 1155 players, the black population of the NFL runs away with a 68% majority. In a distant second are the 470 white players who make up 28% of the league. The following three racial categories, Other, Asian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic, make up a combined 4.36% of the league.
Below, we look at racial distribution at the team level.
The Bills and Raiders, with 42 black players each, have the greatest number of black players of all the teams in the league. The Eagles, with 27, have the fewest black players, and at 25 have the greatest number of white players in the league.
The Bears have 3 Hispanic players, and are one of just four teams with more than one Hispanic player. The Texans, Chargers, Dolphins, Panthers, Redskins, Bengals and Falcons all have two Asian/Pacific Islander players.
Below, racial distribution at the positional level.
Black players dominate 10 of the 17 positions we analyzed, including CB, DE, DT, FB, LB, NT,RB, S, T and WR. The NT position is comprised solely of black players. All but one of the other positions are claimed by white players, including C, K, LS, P, QB and TE. The long snapper position is comprised entirely of white players. The last position, G, consists of 48 black players and 48 white players.
The next chart details the average salaries of each racial category of NFL player.
The “Other” category edges out the competition for the highest paid race at an average of $2,785,787 annually. Black players have the lowest average pay in the league, but since they are the most numerous race, and there are more “low”-paid players than there are high-paid players, it is possible that their average salary may be skewed in a negative way.
Below, we see how many current players of a certain race have made it to the Pro Bowl over the course of their career.
79 out of 470 (16.81%) current white NFL players have made it to the Pro Bowl over the course of their careers, more than any other race. 3 out of the 27 (11.11%) Asian/Pacific Islander players have made it to the Pro Bowl, the lowest of all the race categories.
What happens when we apply the same formula to players who have won the Super Bowl?
The highest percentage of a race that has won the Super Bowl belongs to the white players at 56 out of 470, (11.91%), but truthfully, roughly 11% of all of our racial categories have won the Super Bowl except for the Hispanic players. 0 of the 18 current Hispanic players have won the Super Bowl.
Part 2: Birthplace & Hometown
Here we will examine the birthplaces of all of the players in our study. We’ll start with a simple count of the number of current players from each state.
California reigns supreme as the state where the most NFL players are born, with a current count of 224. Florida and Texas round off the top tier of states where players are born, accounting for 557 (roughly 33%) of all the players in the NFL. If you extend that selection to include Georgia, Ohio, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania, you account for half of the entire NFL population. This year, Vermont is the only US State that has not produced a current NFL player.
Below, we see which states produce players the most efficiently.
Louisiana tops our list for the second year in a row with a players per capita of 1.499. That is down from last year’s 1.54, but still commands a lead of a sizable margin over South Carolina, who took a big jump from .93 last year to 1.194 this year. Of all the states in our study, New Hampshire produces the fewest NFL players per capita, at .076.
Below, the top player birth-cities.
Last year, Miami was responsible for 33 of the players in the NFL. This year, that number has increased to 41, which is good enough to overtake last year’s leader, Los Angeles. LA’s mark fell from 41 last year to 37 this year. Congratulations to Miami! Houston holds strong in third place, while New Orleans moved up one spot. Detroit, last year’s #10 makes its way up to #5 in 2014.
In the 2013 census, a special small town by the name of Kellyton Alabama was highlighted as the most efficient player producing city in the United States. Having produced 2 players with a population of 217, Kellyton’s players per thousand residents was 9.2. This year, Kellyton’s Alonzo Tweedy failed to make a roster, which means there is a new champion: Sapelo Island, Georgia. This metropolis along the East Coast consists of a mere 111 residents, and is responsible for producing Chiefs defensive end Allen Bailey. That is good for 9.009 players per capita.
Unsurprisingly, California, Florida and Texas are still atop the list for states with the most Pro Bowlers produced. After that we see Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Of the players Virginia has produced, more than 24% have been to the pro bowl. Keep doing whatever you’re doing, Virginia.
High School Hometowns
If I learned one thing from my last article about “NFL Player Hometown Rosters” it is that a player’s birthplace does not necessarily indicate his hometown. After having it made abundantly clear to me that where a player played their high school ball is more important than where they were born, I opted to include that information in this study. Below, the top player producing states based on where players went to high school.
Not much has changed here. We see the same big three sitting atop the list, though the margins are a bit tighter this time around. California holds the lead by 10, rather than 38, over Florida. The changes on this chart are not terribly significant. When we look at the per capita chart, however…
Louisiana, South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia. That’s six states whose high schools produce more than one player per 100,000 residents. Compare that to the birthplace chart which only has two.
Part 3: Education
Since we’re on the topic of high school, here are the top player producing high schools in the nation.
St. Thomas Aquinas has produced nine current NFL players. NINE. What are they putting in the water in Ft. Lauderdale? The nine players are: Lamarcus Joyner – STL, Brandon Linder – JAX, Giovani Bernard – CIN, Marcus Gilbert – PIT, Geno Atkins – CIN, Sam Young – JAX, Marcus Roberson – STL, James White – NE, Dezmen Southward – ATL.
Next up there are five schools tied at 5 current NFL players produced. They are Junipero Serra (Gardena, CA), Pahokee (Pahokee, FL), Helix (La Mesa, CA), Glenville (Cleveland, OH) and Glade Central (Belle Glade, FL).
Moving on to the college level, here are the top player-producing colleges in the US.
USC defends its joint-title from last year, but this time, they stand alone at the top of the list with 38 current NFL players. Last year’s other co-champion, LSU, fell to third in 2014 with 33 current players, having been surpassed by Alabama, who produced 36.
Below we look at the top average salaries of colleges who produced more than 10 players.
Purdue, at the top of the list, has their average padded by players like Drew Brees ($20MM) and Cliff Avril ($6.5MM). Only four of the 13 players out of Purdue make less than $1MM annually. Only three out of the 11 players from Pittsburgh make less than $1MM annually.
Which schools specialize in producing which positions?
Center: Florida, USC – 3 each
Cornerback: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Connecticut, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Nebraska, Rutgers, South Carolina – 4 each
Defensive End: Georgia – 7
Defensive Tackle: LSU – 5
Guard: Alabama, Tennessee – 4 each
Kicker: Florida State, Texas – 2 each
Linebacker: Florida State – 10
Long Snapper: California, Rutgers – 2 each
Nose Tackle: Alabama, LSU – 2 each
Punter: LSU, Miami, Tennessee – 2 each
Quarterback: USC – 4
Running Back: California, Oregon – 4 each
Safety: Alabama, LSU – 5 each
Offensive Tackle: Mississippi, Virginia – 4 each
Tight End: Notre Dame, Stanford – 5 each
Wide Receiver: Florida, Miami – 7 Each
Below, we’ll see which school has produced the most active players who have been to the Pro Bowl.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that Miami is perched atop this list. They are known for producing explosive talent year in and year out. The Pro Bowl Miami players include: Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Frank Gore, Vince Wilfork, Antrel Rolle, Devin Hester, Brandon Meriweather, Jimmy Graham, Chris Myers, and Santana Moss.
As far as champion-producing schools are concerned, the top teams are as follows.
Part 4: Awards and Accomplishments
As with any sport, the best football players receive awards for their performance throughout their career. Here we will examine two of these awards, the Heisman Trophy, and the Pro Bowl appearance.
Since Charles Woodson won his Heisman in 1997, 15 players have been awarded the coveted trophy. Only seven of those 15 players remain active in the NFL: Charles Woodson, Carson Palmer, Sam Bradford, Mark Ingram, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel. What happened to the other eight Heisman winners?
The difference in pay between Heisman winners and the average NFL player is displayed below
When accounting for the 8 lost Heisman winners who each earn $0, the gap is closed slightly, but Heisman winners still earn about $300k more than the average player. It is also worth noting that most Heisman winners are quarterbacks, the position with the highest average salary in the league.
Below, the average annual salary of Pro Bowlers vs non-Pro Bowlers.
As is 100% expected, multiple Pro Bowl appearances and higher annual salaries go hand-in-hand. The lone 13-time Pro Bowler is Peyton Manning.
Which teams have the most current Pro Bowlers?
At the moment, the Broncos and 49ers top the list with 12 apiece. In a close second are the Bears, and surprisingly, the Raiders with 11 apiece. The high number for the Raiders makes a bit more sense when you take into account that the average age of those Raiders Pro-Bowlers is 32. It should come as a shock to no one that the Jaguars have the fewest Pro Bowlers, with 3.
Part 5: Experience and Age
Adam Vinatieri is still the oldest player in the league at 41 years old. That’s 21 years older than the three 20-year-olds in the league, Vinnie Sunseri and Brandin Cooks of the Saints, and Marcus Martin of the 49ers.
How is player age distributed among the league?
The most numerous age in 2014 is 24, with 249 players. This is a sizable shift from last year, when there were 258 24-year-olds and 262 23-year-olds. As we noted last year, 23-25 are still the most common ages of NFL Players. How does salary change with age?
The chart in 2014 is nearly an exact replica of the 2013 version. Just like last year, ages 25-26 marks the first major uptick in salary along with the first sharp decline in number of players of a particular age.
Use the images below to download the raw data for this study!
That does it for this year’s census. I hope you enjoyed it. You can reach me at @andrewpomo, or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or requests for data. A big thanks to Mykel Kovar for helping me collect the data for this massive study.
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