Data Visualizations
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The Unofficial 2013 NFL Player Census

With nearly 1,700 different players, the NFL is home to a highly diverse sample of the human population. Many players grew up in US metropolis cities like Los Angeles or New York, but some were born in the exact middle of nowhere. They went to different schools. They are different colors, shapes and sizes. They have different jobs, and accordingly are paid different amounts of money. We call the United States a melting pot. The NFL is no different.

To understand more about the fascinating people who have made it as professional football players, we took an unofficial census of the entire league, and held it under a microscope. Most of the data collection was performed during the preseason, so it is not guaranteed to have remained 100% accurate. However, we have done our best to stay up to date with roster cuts and other changes to the NFL player landscape.

The most interesting of our findings are included below.

 

Analyzing Each Position

Here we will take a closer look at each individual position. First, the distribution of each position across the league:

Number of Players at Each Position2

It isn’t really surprising to see so few fullbacks. They are a dying breed in today’s game. On the other end of the spectrum, we see a ton of offensive linemen. That’s because during a game, and in the most standard of formations, there are four of them on the field (not including the center or tight ends). How are each of these types of players paid?

Average NFL Salaries By Position

No surprises here. The quarterbacks run away with the highest average paycheck by more than $1.3 million. Granted, they are pretty important folks. Each of these positions have different responsibilities, some of them more taxing than others. The following chart will detail the durability of players at each position by showing their average experience.

Experience corrected

It’s hard being a running back in the NFL. Every time you get the ball, you become the target of every single player on the opposing team. Same goes for wide receivers. In addition, with increased age comes decreased speed. It is simply a fact of NFL life. The window of success closes quickly for running backs and receivers that don’t produce from the get-go. Defensive backs, too, are susceptible to short careers if they start to lose their superior speed.

Kickers, on the other hand lay waste to the rest of the league in terms of durability. They occupy one of two positions that have their own penalty call to protect them from malicious or poorly-timed hits (The other is quarterback). Three of the top ten most experienced players in the league are kickers.

 

Where Do They Come From?

The chart below shows the number of current NFL players born in each of the United States. As many of us already know, California, Texas and Florida produce the most NFL players and by a long shot at that.

Players From Each State1

While California, Texas and Florida all produce in large numbers, they are not the most efficient states when it comes to producing NFL players. The top 10 most efficient NFL player-producing states are shown below:

State Player Production Rates1

Louisiana produces the most players per 100,000 people, at 1.54. In second place is Hawaii, with a player production rate of 1.08 per 100,00 people.As for the big three (California, Florida and Texas), their production rates are still all relatively high. Florida produces at a rate of .828 per 100,000, Texas at .660 and California at .568.

The least productive states that have produced more than one player currently in the league are Arizona (.244), Nevada (.217) and Massachusetts (.159).

As far as cities are concerned, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, Miami and Los Angeles have combined to produce an impressive 147 current NFL players.  There are 607 cities that have only produced one current NFL player. Here are the top ten player-producing cities overall:

Player producing cities1

Similar to our analysis of the top player-producing states, the cities that produce the most players are not necessarily the most efficient. The most efficient player-producing city in the United States is Kellyton, Alabama. What? You haven’t heard of it? Kellyton is one of those middle of nowhere towns. The closest large city, Montgomery, is more than an hour away. With a population of 217, just one NFL player produced by Kellyton would be remarkable, but they went ahead and produced two. That’s 9.2 NFL players for every 1000 Kellyton residents.

The two players produced in Kellyton? Alonzo Tweedy and Justin Tuck, both of whom play for the New York Giants. Yeah, two time Pro-Bowler and two time NFL Champion Justin Tuck was born in Kellyton, Alabama. Incredible.

 

Race In the NFL

First let’s take a look at the general distribution of race in the NFL.

Race Distribution

Clearly, the black population is dominant in the league. There are more than twice as many black NFL players as there are players of a different race. Black is the most common race at every position except for center, kicker, long snapper, offensive lineman, punter, quarterback and tight end. For each of the aforementioned positions, white is the most common race.

Below you will find charts displaying the concentration of black and white players (the two largest populations) on each team:

Number of Black Players on Each Team

Number of White Players on Each Team

With 26, the Minnesota Vikings have the highest concentration of white players. The Indianapolis Colts have the highest concentration of black players with 44.

The chart below shows the average salaries of NFL players of each race:

Salary By Race2

The average salary for hispanic players is padded by guys like Tony Gonzalez ($7,000,000), Tony Romo ($17,071,429), Mark Sanchez ($11,650,000) and Arian Foster ($8,700,000). Their perch atop this list is not surprising after seeing those numbers.

 

The Player Factories

Most of the players currently in the NFL went to a college here in the United States. Some schools produce more NFL-worthy athletes than others. Let’s take a look at the schools with the strongest presence of players in the NFL.

Schools with players

Currently, there are 41 former USC Trojans playing in the NFL. Carson Palmer, Ryan and Matt Kalil, Reggie Bush, Clay Matthews, Brian Cushing, Matt Cassel, Mark Sanchez, Troy Polamalu and Fred Davis are some of the more recognizable current players to come out of USC. LSU also has 41 players in the NFL, featuring guys like Dwayne Bowe, Morris Claiborne, Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson and Stevan Ridley.

USC may have produced the most current NFL players, but how do these players stack up in terms of average salary?

School correct

Players from the University of Miami (Florida) have the highest average salary when compared to players from the other top ten NFL player-producing schools. They earn an average of $3,207,848 a year, for a grand total of $118,690,381 per year. That’s a lot of cash.

Do different schools accel in producing certain positions? You bet they do.

Center: Ohio State, Penn State and USC (3 Each).

Offensive Lineman: Iowa (8)

Tight End: Oregon and Stanford (5 Each)

Wide Receiver: Miami (Fla.) (6)

Fullback: Stanford (2)

Running back: California (5)

Quarterback: USC (4)

Defensive End: Georgia (7)

Defensive Tackle: LSU (4)

Linebacker: USC (9)

Cornerback: LSU, Oregon State, South Carolina and Texas (5 Each)

Safety: LSU (7)

Kicker: Florida State (3)

Punter: Tennessee and UCLA (2)

 

Vets and Rooks

Adam Vinatieri, kicker for the Indianapolis Colts, has been in the NFL for 18 years. He will celebrate his 41st birthday on December 28th. Damontre Moore, rookie defensive end for the New York Giants will celebrate his 21st birthday on September 11th. That is nearly a twenty year difference between the oldest and youngest players in the league.

That is quite the age range for a league of professional athletes. How does age and experience affect the other variables we’ve discussed? To start, let’s just look at the age distribution across the NFL.

NFL Player Age Distribution

This data would indicate that years 23-25 are clearly the peak ages for NFL players. Will the salary distribution chart tell the same tale?

Average NFL Salary by Age

That’s odd. The first significant spike in average salary correlates with the first significant drop in number of players. Age 26 must be the cutoff point when players have either proven themselves worthy of a big boy contract, or they are deemed expendable. Of course this is not the case in every scenario, but it is interesting to ponder (He turns 26 in February).

 

That does it for our analysis of the Unofficial 2013 Player NFL Census. We hope you enjoyed it, and are walking away with some new knowledge. Here’s to another excellent NFL season!

 

The raw data for this piece is available for download by clicking one of the two buttons below.

ExcelDownload
CSVDownload

Concept Development: Brett Cohen, Andrew Powell-Morse

Created by: Andrew Powell-Morse

Brought to you by: Best Tickets

Comments (30)

  1. Raymond Zark - Reply

    September 5, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    In your graph for “Average Number of Years In NFL by Position (2013)” on the x-axis you have it labelled as Average Salary.

    • Andrew Powell-Morse - Reply

      September 5, 2013 at 8:32 pm

      Thanks for pointing that out. It is fixed now! :)

  2. Tim - Reply

    September 6, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    There are some players from Washington DC. Although it is not a state, it is usually included as a state in these types of rankings.

    • Andrew Powell-Morse - Reply

      September 6, 2013 at 10:13 pm

      There are indeed a few players from Washington DC. If you would like to take a look at how DC stacks up when added to the charts shoot me an email at andrew@besttickets.com.

      • Tim - Reply

        September 7, 2013 at 12:05 am

        Thanks for the reply Andrew!

  3. Chad - Reply

    September 6, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    Which team does not have a kicker?

    • Andrew Powell-Morse - Reply

      September 6, 2013 at 9:47 pm

      At the time of my research, the Cleveland Browns did not have a kicker on their roster. They have since picked up Billy Cundiff. I believe they acquired him on September 3rd.

      Fun Fact: Billy Cundiff has played for 13 different NFL teams over the course of his career.

  4. Clifton - Reply

    September 6, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    Awesome diligence to some GREAT research!

    • Andrew Powell-Morse - Reply

      September 6, 2013 at 9:49 pm

      Thanks Clifton! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  5. Dario - Reply

    September 6, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    Great article, shot it over to @toure and he retweeted article to his 100k+ followers, people like it a lot. Everyone tripping on Arian foster being Hispanic

    • Andrew Powell-Morse - Reply

      September 6, 2013 at 11:30 pm

      Thanks Dario! That’s really awesome. Arian Foster is one of the most interesting players in the league, not to mention one of the best. Only Hispanic vegan running back in the history of the NFL (I think).

  6. C in DC - Reply

    September 7, 2013 at 3:16 am

    Thank you for proving a statement I’ve made for years: Cal[under Coach Jeff Tedford] has produced about the same number of players in the NFL as Alabama. For some reason people slurp the SEC schools but when you look at the states producing the number of players the midwest must be doing someting right AND of the top ten producing cities only three would be considered SEC territory.

    • Andrew Powell-Morse - Reply

      September 11, 2013 at 10:25 am

      You’re welcome, C. Cal really does have an impressive program.

  7. Greg - Reply

    September 7, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Very interesting

    • Andrew Powell-Morse - Reply

      September 11, 2013 at 10:25 am

      Thanks, Greg. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  8. NameGene Baker - Reply

    September 11, 2013 at 6:33 am

    If you look at the population of the SEC schools you would realize the huge number of pro’s produced. Louisiana has somewhere around 4million total population. New Orleans does not have a million people, how many are in Los Angeles? California has a population larger than LA., MS., ARK, AL., and possibly GA. combined. What does this say about great California producing pro’s. Also, how many of Tedford’s atheletes were from the southeast? Population is a very important ingredient, if you divide the state’s population by half this is how many boys you have to work with. Louisiana based on population is heads and tails a better pro athelete producing state than California or Texas.

  9. Susan - Reply

    September 11, 2013 at 7:46 am

    Awesome work Andrew! This is a great article!! I’ve sent it to several people!

    • Andrew Powell-Morse - Reply

      September 11, 2013 at 10:27 am

      Thanks, Susan! I appreciate you sharing it.

  10. Coppet - Reply

    September 11, 2013 at 8:27 am

    Great analysis. Especially interesting is the per capita players in the NFL with LA incredibly standing out. Must be the crawfish.

  11. CoonDawg @Austin Tejas - Reply

    September 11, 2013 at 10:15 am

    Many fact and lots of figures make for an interesting article. Now what I would like to see is these same statistical examples over the last say 50 years to see how far and how many things have changed in the makeup of the NFL …

  12. Justin - Reply

    September 11, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Awesome article! Being a Rhode Islander I have to try to get this out there. I believe Will Blackmon of Providence, RI is on the Jaguars roster (DB). He may have been added since but I thought I’d try to get RI on the scoreboard nonetheless.

    Thanks for putting this together. Definitely an interesting read.

  13. C in DC - Reply

    September 12, 2013 at 1:24 am

    I have to do this Mr. Andrew Powell-Morse. This is a response to NameGene Baker. I looked up the kids who made NFL rosters under Coach Jeff Tedford. All of them went to/came from high schools from the Golden State except 2 from Texas, 1 from North Carolina, 2 from Arizona, 1 from Hawaii and 1 from Canada. I can only count 3 technically from the southeast. Ricky Williams went to Texas but he’s from San Diego so don’t hate on California so much. Ballers are everywhere. I think this is the reason why Mr. Powell-Morse wrote the article, peace.

  14. KD Mattox - Reply

    December 23, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    This chart is amazing next time you should list the names of the starters for each position by which state they are from.

  15. Kyle - Reply

    December 28, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Thanks for the info! Was just wondering what team had the most white players lol. I also liked your graph of the percentage of race of players playing in the NFL:p

  16. Frank - Reply

    December 29, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    You’ve compiled quite a lovely, statistically interesting blog here. Thank you for adding this information it helped answer a lot of questions that where boggling my mind…

  17. Sam - Reply

    January 4, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    This is pretty interesting to look at and compare tothe sports we do in the UK (Im British) Pretty interesting read i was surprised about how the amount of players drops after the age of 25 which for me seems really early? What actually brought me to the article was watching the colts on TV and in that game thier entire Defence was black which is really abnormal in the UK so it was interesting to me. But great article man keep up the good work

  18. John T. - Reply

    January 6, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Note: in the section on colleges, you wrote “accel” when you meant “excel.”

  19. Brian Pang - Reply

    January 12, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Thank you so much for your tremendous chart.I’m a big fan of the San Francisco 49ers,I’m mesmerized by your passage.

  20. Michael Moss - Reply

    January 20, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Awesome data. Do you have stats on early draft entrants who actually make team rosters? As an inner city college and career counselor these types of data are vital talking points.

  21. Namerob - Reply

    September 7, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    It’s a shame that football has gone to the monkeys

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