We've ranked the best of the best football players from their respective states and crowned the greatest NFL athlete from each state as the current kings of their home territories. Some of our picks you may find controversial, let us know your thoughts on them in the comment section. Without further ado, check out the 50 best NFL players from each state below.
Football players are today's modern gladiators. Every Sunday from the fall deep into winter these men put their lives on the line with one common goal at the end of the season and that's to lift the Lombardi Trophy over their heads in victory for themselves and the franchise they're representing on the front of their jerseys.
Throughout the past several decades we've seen an intense spike in NFL talent come and go. These elite individuals have come from all over the country to compete at the highest level possible to create opportunities for themselves and their families. While many play for the love of the game, some are trying to leave their mark on the record books permanently etched into the fabric of the game. Do you agree with our picks?
Hailing from Alexander City, Alabama, Terrell Owens is far more deserving than his NFL alumni brethren in Bart Starr and Ozzie Newsome. Owens attended college at the University of Tennesse at Chattanooga where he was a two-sport athlete excelling in both football and basketball. In 1996, the 6'3 speedster declared himself for the NFL Draft where he was drafted 89th overall by the San Francisco 49ers in the third round of the '96 NFL Draft.
Throughout his sixteen season NFL career, Owens bounced around the league playing for teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills, and Cincinnati Bengals before calling it quits in 2012 with the Seattle Seahawks. While he was never able to collect any NFL Championship hardware, Owens is one of the most accomplished wide receivers to hit the football field. He's currently ranked third in all-time receiving yards with 15,924 and third in all-time touchdown receptions with 153. Was he dramatic? Maybe. Flamboyant? Of course. But he was effective and a true Hall of Famer.
A surprising fact about Mark Schlereth is that he wasn't able to read until the age of seven due to his struggles with dyslexia while growing up in Anchorage, Alaska. While he struggled with a learning disability in his youth that didn't stop him from being one of the most dominate and smartest NFL offensive guards in the 1990s. Schlereth attended the University of Idaho from 1985-89 and since then been inducted into the institution's Athletic Hall of Fame.
In the 1989 NFL Draft, Schlereth was drafted 263rd overall by the Washington Redskins in the tenth round. During his twelve season career, he played half of his career with the Redskins (1986-1995) and the other half with the Denver Broncos (1995-2000). Schlereth collected NFL Championships with both ball clubs, Super Bowl XVII with the Redskins and Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII with the Broncos and was also a 2x Pro-Bowler (1991, 1998). In 156 games played Schlereth started 140 and admitted that it was common for him to urinate on himself from time to time while playing. No biggie.
To this very day, Randall McDaniel holds the NFL record for the fastest 100-meter dash time for an offensive lineman with a time of 10.84 seconds. McDaniel also ran an impressive 4.6-second 40-yard dash to add to his impressive combine resume. The Phoenix, Arizona-bred offensive guard played his collegiate ball at Arizona State University and was picked 19th overall in the first round of the 1988 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings.
Randall truly had one of those remarkable NFL careers due to his extreme durability playing thirteen seasons in the NFL as a member of the Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. From 1990 to 2001, Randall didn't miss a single start playing in 220 consecutive regular-season games. McDaniel holds the record for most consecutive Pro Bowl appearances with eleven despite being selected twelve times for the honor. AND, McDaniel is also the oldest NFL player to notch their first-ever touchdown reception at the age of 36-years-old and 282 days.
At one point in time, Willie Roaf considered pursuing basketball instead of football during his youth. But little did he know during those adolescent years that he would become a Hall of Fame offensive tackle in the NFL. Roaf played four years of collegiate football at Louisana Tech where he grew a reputation for his foot speed and domineering stature. During his senior year, the 6'5, 320lbs lineman was awarded Consensus All-American honors in 1992.
The following year, Willie Roaf was selected 8th overall in the 1993 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. Throughout his thirteen-season NFL career, Roaf started in 189 games regular-season games, only missed more than three starts at a time after suffering a season-ending knee injury in 2001. Roaf earned the nickname 'Nasty' as an 11x NFL Pro-Bowler and 6x All-Pro First Team selection. If you needed someone steamrolled, Roaf was your man.
While California has produced some amazing NFL talent including Aaron Rodgers, OJ Simpson, Tony Gonzalez, and more, those names don't stand a chance against arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time in Tom Brady. Honestly, every year naysayers believe that he will begin to decline any second now but he continues to stack up wins and stay healthy. Tom Brady was selected 166th overall in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots and is still a prominent part of the team's success today.
During his second season in the league, he was called hurled on to the field following an injury to then-starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe and the Patriots haven't looked back since. As of right now, Brady has thrown 524 touchdowns, won a total of six Super Bowls, racked up four Super Bowl MVPs, three NFL Most Valuable Player Awards, and fourteen Pro-Bowl selections. Despite being 42-years-old, it looks like his reign may continue well into the 2020s. Who knows.
While Matt Hasselback praises Boston for his upbringing, he was actually born in Boulder, Colorado making him the state's best NFL athlete today. Collegiately, Matt Hasselback flew under the radar playing three seasons with the Boston College Eagles alongside his brother Tim Hasselback who go on to take his staring quarterback job after his departure from the institution. Hasselback was drafted 187th overall in the sixth round of the 1998 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers.
At the time, the Packers had Hall of Fame quarterback, Brett Favre at the helm of the quarterback position so, Hasselback's claim to fame didn't come until he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks in 2001, where he would thrive the most in his career. During his nine-year stint with the Eagles, Hasselback was a 3x Pro-Bowler (2003, 2005, 2007) led the team to six postseason appearances and one Super Bowl where his team lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2005. Matt would go on to play quarterback for the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts before losing his starting gig to Andrew Luck and hanging up his cleats in 2015.
Connecticut was a toss-up between the OG, Floyd Little, and defensive end Dwight Freeney. While Little is a 5x NFL Pro Bowler and Football Hall of Fame inductee, Freeney has a longer list of notable accolades. Ironically, both Little and Freeney attended Syracuse for their collegiate football stints. Freeney was drafted eleventh overall by the Indianapolis Colts in the 2002 NFL Draft and a fifteen-year career flooded with accomplishments many NFL alumni never got the opportunity to experience.
First and foremost, Freeney is a Super Bowl Champion as a member of the Colts team who defeated the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. In regards to his personal accomplishments, Freeney has notched seven Pro Bowl nods, three All-Pro First Team selections (2004, 2005, 2009), and named the 2004 NFL sack leader. With 332 tackles and 125.5 sacks, Freeney could be on his way to becoming a Hall of Famer himself.
Delaware is one of those states that isn't necessarily known for pumping out elite pro-level athletes, but they did have a couple of NFL alumni hail from the state one especially in the form of offensive tackle Luke Petitgout. The 6'6, 310lbs, Milford, Delaware-bred tackle made his way to the prestigious football program at the University of Notre Dame where notched a total of 74 knockdown blocks in 1998 that caught the attention of NFL scouts around the league.
Petitgout declared himself for the NFL Draft the following year where he was picked 19th overall by the New York Giants in the 1999 NFL Draft. While Petitgout didn't stack up a ton of individual accolades throughout his career, he did play nine seasons in the league starting 110 games out the 117 games he was an active participant in. Unfortunately, after being signed by the Tampa Bay Bucs in March 2007, he tore his ACL week four against the Carolina Panthers which ultimately ended his football career.
Florida is notorious for cranking out some of the most talented football players to walk the earth. And honestly, this was the hardest choice to pick. We have Deion Sanders who is one of the only athletes to hit a home run in the MLB and score a touch down in the NFL in the same week, then we have Deacon Jones who is responsible for the invention of the phrase 'sacking the quarterback,' and lastly we have Emmitt Smith who leads the NFL All-Time Rushing Yards list. There is no wrong answer between the three but we'd like to call this a toss-up between Sanders and Smith, with Smith edging the lead over Deion.
The Pensacola-bred running back set multiple rushing records as a member of the Florida Gators and kept that same energy as he entered the professional level of football. After being picked 17th overall in the 1990 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys he instantly impacted the team. He helped the Cowboys earn three Super Bowl Championships (1992, 1993, 1995), was Super Bowl MVP in 1993, an 8x NFL Pro Bowler, and so much more. Smith currently holds the NFL Rushing Yards record with 18,355 total yards ahead of legends Walter Peyton and Barry Sanders. He's also got a song named after him by The Migos. Now, that's a real accolade.
Georgia is another state known for their plethora of quality NFL athletes including the likes of Mel Blount, Ray Guy, Calvin Johnson, John Hannah, and so many more. But, they still weren't as culturally and socially impactful as the legendary Jim Brown. Prior to becoming a standout football player at Syracuse, Brown was a multi-sport phenom dominating in sports like baseball, track, basketball, and lacrosse. In 1957, Brown was drafted 6th overall by the Cleveland Browns in the NFL Draft and would spend his entire nine-season career with the Ohio-based franchise.
Every season Brown was in the league, he was infited to the Pro Bowl, Brown led the league in rushing in eight out of the nine seasons he was an active player, and helped the Browns earn an NFL Championship in 1964. In 1971, Jim Brown was a first-ballot Football Hall of Fame inductee. Following his career, Brown pursued acting and advocated for the rights of the Black community starting successful initiatives like the Black Ecconomic Union (BEU) and Vital Issues. While he might be one of the greatest football players of all-time, he's definitely one the greatest humans in existence as well.
You'd think one of the native descendants of the islands of Hawaii would reign supreme as the NFL king of the 50th state. However, this is not the case with Matt Blair holding the crown and Marcus Mariota coming in at second place. Born in Hilo, Hawaii, Matt Blair didn't explore football as an option until he and his family relocated to Ohio and he was recruited by scouts to play collegiately. After attending Iowa State for three years, Blair declared himself in to the 1973 NFL Draft where he was selected 51st overall by the Minnesota Vikings in the second round.
Blair spent his entire twelve-season career with the Vikings where he snagged a total of 16 interceptions and ran for a total of 119 interception yards. His efforts earned him six Pro-Bowl invites and one NFL All-Pro First Team selection in 1980. With Marcus Mariota currently trying to solidify himself as a quarterback, he has a lot of work to do to take the king of Hawaii crown from Matt Blair.
While Jake Plummer is from Idaho, had one hell of a career, and is a former Arizona Carnidal himself, he didn't have quite as much success as Larry Wilson. Hailing from Rigby, Idaho, Larry Wilson took his talents to the University of Utah where he was a two-way starter playing running back and safety from 1956-1960. Wilson declared himself to the 1960 NFL Draft where he was drafted 74th overall by the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh round of the draft.
As a safety, Wilson was one of the most ruthless players on the field throughout his thirteen seasons in the NFL (1960-1972). Wilson was able to snag 52 interceptions, force 14 fumbles, carry for 800 interception yards, and score five pick-six touchdowns. Wilson earned eight Pro Bowl roster slots, five All-Pro First Team selections, and one Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1966. If you wanted somethingto happen on defense for your team look no further than Larry Wilson.
The state of Illinois doesn't play when it comes to their football heroes, especiialy when it comes to their Chicago Bears. The Bears franchise has had some of the most dominant defensive personalities on their roster since the team's conception, but their hometown hero in Dick Butkus will most likely be the state's undisputed king of Illinois for decades to come. Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Butkus attende the University of Illinois where he led the team to a Rose Bowl victory in 1963 playing both center and linebacker for the institution.
Dick Butkus was selected with the third overall pick in the 1965 NFL Draft by his hometown Chicago Bears where he spent his entire nine season career. Throughout his career, Butkus he was a 8x Pro-Bowler, 6x All-Pro First Team selectee, and 2x NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1969, 1970). Butkus was the most-feared linebacker of his era racking up 22 interceptions and recovering 27 fumbles in 119 played games. Long live the Bears legend.
Brian Greise happens to be from Indiana but he definitely didn't have as successful a career as the legendary defensive back, Rod Woodson. The cornerback/safety, hailing from Fort Wayne, attended Purdue University on a full-ride schlorship where he not only played cornerback, but spent time as a kick returned, wide receiver, and running back. Rod Woodson was selected with the 10th overall pick in the 1987 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers where he started his iconic seventeen-season NFL career.
Throughout his career, he played for a plethora of defensive-minded teams including the Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, and Oakland Raiders. Woodson helped lead the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory against the New York Giants in 2000 and holds the NFL record for fumbles recovered (32) and interceptions returned for a touchdown (12). He also has the third most interceptions in NFL history with 71 and a total of 1,049 tackles. Rod Woodson was notorious for always being in the right place at the right time.
Kurt Warner's journey into professional sports could be converted to an award-winning, tear-jerker, blockbuster film. Prior to becoming a Hall of Fame quarterback, Warner was third on the University of Northern Iowa's depth chart before he got the chance to take to the field and become an overnight sensation. When he declared for the 1994 NFL Draft, unfortunately, he went undrafted, but was eventually signed by the Green Bay Packers as a free agent.
After playing in an arena football league and in the NFL Europe for a couple of seasons, Kurt Warner got the opportunity to play for the St. Louis Rams in 1998 where he led the team to a Super Bowl victory over the Tennessee Titans in 1999. Warner became the first undrafted quarterback to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory and the only undrafted quarterback to win Super Bowl MVP. Warner also was a 4x NFL Pro-Bowler and 2x NFL MVP. Kurt Warner went on to play for the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals where he led the team to their first-ever Super Bowl berth in 2008. We can see the Kurt Warner biopic coming to theaters in the near future.
While Gale Sayers is worthy of praise, the NFL throne of Kansas has to go to the Wichita, Kansas-bred Hall of Fame running back, Barry Sanders. Sanders was one of the most electrifyingly elusive runners pro-football has ever seen. He inspired a generation of young football hopefuls to play what can be considered a dangerous style. Somehow, standing at just 5'8 Sanders was able to stand the test of time playing for a total of ten years in the most combative sports league in America. In three years of collegiate football at Oklahoma State University Sanders rushed for close to 3,800 yards and scored a total of 52 touch downs earning the Heisman Trophy in 1988.
His impressive college performance led him to be the third overall pick of the 1989 NFL Draft by the Detriot Lions where he played his entire career. While Sanders was unable to earn any diamond-encrusted hardware, he was a 4x NFL Rushing Yards Leader (1990, 1994, 1996, 1997), a 1x NFL MVP (1997), 10x Pro-Bowler, and so much more. Sanders is the third all-time leader in rushing yards carrying the ball for a total of 15,269 yards. To this very day, we haven't seen a single player recreate what Barry Sanders was able to do on the football field.
Despite the fact that Champ Bailey spent his high school and collegiate days in the state of Georgia, he was born in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, making him the greatest NFL player from the Bluegrass State thus far. His official government name is Roland, but he's been known as Champ since his childhood and there's a reason why. During his collegiate days at the University of Georgia, Bailey wasn't just known for his shut down corner ability, he also was an offensive threat racking up 744 yards and five touchdowns from 1996-98.
In the 1999 NFL Draft, Bailey selected 7th overall by the Washington Redskins where he studied under the tutalige of Darrell Green. Unfortunately, things didn't work out in DC so, Bailey was shipped off to the Denver Broncos where he became one of the best shut down corners of all time. In fifteen NFL seasons Bailey racked up a total of 908 tackles, 52 interceptions, holds the record for passes defended with 203. After being selected for the the Pro-Bowl twelve times, the most for any cornerback, he was selected for Football Hall of Fame honors this year and deservingly so.
Louisiana might be the greatest football state of all-time. The multi-cultural boot-shaped territory has provided us with Hall of Fame personalities like Willie Davis, Terry Bradshaw, Marshall Faulk, Ed Reed, and more. You could possibly make some arguments for these guys, but we have to give the Louisiana crown to quarterback and guaranteed future Hall of Famer, Peyton Manning. In his senior year at the University of Tennessee, Peyton Manning led his team to a comeback win against Auburn to win the SEC Championship. His performance in that final game led him to become the first overall pick in the 199 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts.
In fourteen seasons with the Colts, the 14x Pro-Bowler led the franchise to Super Bowl XLI where they defeated the Chicago Bears, 29-17. Later in his career, Manning led the Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl 50 where he led the Colorado club to victory over the Carolina Panthers, 24-10. Manning is the only quarterback ever to lead two different franchises to Super Bowl victories. Not to mention, he also holds the record for most touchdown passes with 539, most touchdown passes in a season with 55, most passing yards in a season with 5,477, and most touchdowns ina single game with 7. If there ever was a god-level quarterback, it is Peyton Manning.
Maine is another one of those states that just refuses to invest in their athletic programs. We're sure they have the talented and willing youth, but for some reason, Maine continues to be a lackluster region for producing pro-level athletes. However, the Pine Tree State has provided the NFL with the likes of defensive linemen, Al Harris. While born in Bangor, Maine, he attended high school in Hawaii and played his collegiate ball at Arizona State University. After earning Consensus First-Team All-American honors during his senior year in 1978, Harris declared himself for the NFL Draft.
The following year, Harris was selected 9th overall in the 1979 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears and became an instant impact player. Quick off the line, light on his feet, and able to read the offensive sets of opposing teams, coaches were forced to recognize his presence on the field. Unfortunately, for Harris, the one year he decided to holdout and not play due to a contract dispute, the Chicago Bears won the Super Bowl in 1985. Harris ended his career with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1990 notching a total of 20.5 sacks and four interceptions in twelve seasons.
It's extremely hard to believe that such a chiseled physical specimen such as Cameron Wake went undrafted, but sometimes the masses sleep on world-class talent. Born in Beltsville, Maryland, Wake played college ball for the Penn State, switching back and forth from linebacker to defensive end. While had a rather successful collegiate football career recording 191 tackles and 8.5 sack, Wake went undrafted in the 2005 NFL Draft.
In 2005, the New York Giants signed the hopeful youngster to a deal, but Wake later decided to ditch the NFL for the Canadaian Football League where he would make a name for himself. In two seasons in the CFL, Cameron Wake stacked up 39 sacks and was named Most Outstanding Defensive Player for both seasons. The following year, in 2009, Wake was signed by the Miami Dolphins were he would spend the next ten seasons with the team earning five Pro Bowl trips and be named All-Pro First Team in 2012. To this day, at 37-years-old, Wake is active on a roster with Tennessee Titans.
It's hard to belive that Howie Long was not a first round pick in his draft class, but everyone once in awhile an NFL great slips through the cracks and goes unnoticed and until its too late for teams in need of Hall of Fame caliber talent. Representing the state of Massachussetts will be the Somerville-bred defensive end, Howard Matthew Moses Long. The 6'5 defensive lineman played his collegiate ball at Villanova University where he dominated not only on the football field , but in the boxing ring as well. In his first season at the school, Long recorded 99 tackles and later became the Northern Collegiate Heavyweight Boxing Champion.
Howie Long was drafted 48th overall in the second round of the 1981 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders were he would spend his entire football career. In that time, Long became the most unguardable defensive end in the game, notching 84 sacks, recovering 10 fumbles, and catching two interceptions. He helped the Raiders win their last NFL Super Bowl during the team's tenure in Los Angeles in 1984. With eight Pro Bowl invites and three All-Pro First Team selections, Long was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 2000. These days Long has taken his talents to Fox Sports where he is one of the most technical analysts in football broadcasting.
Jerome Bettis has one of the most intriguing stories of any NFL player out there. As a youth, his initial passion was bowling, he struggled immensely with asthma, he and his brother sold drugs to make ends meet growing up in Detroit, and he didn't play football until high school. Despite this long list of adversities, it didn't stop Bettis from becoming one of the greatest running backs of all time.
After flourishing during his three-season stint at the University of Notre Dame, Bettis was selected 10th overall in the 193 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams where instantly became one of the NFL's top running backs. Throughout his thirteen-season NFL career, Jerome 'The Bus' Bettis ran for a total of 13,662 yards making him the seventh in all-time rushing yards. The 6x Pro Bowler and Hall of Famer ended his football career on a high note after leading his Pittsburgh Steelers team to a Super Bowl victory in 2005. We have yet to see another big boy runningback as agile and dominant as Jerome Bettis was to this day.
We probably won't see a wide receiver as poised and great as Larry Fitzgerald is for a long time when he decides to hang up his cleats for good. As a youth, Fitzgerald studied Randy Moss and Cris Carter as a ball boy for the Minnesota Viking. Following his two season stint with the University of Pittsburgh, where he was Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2003, Fitzgerald declared himself for the NFL Draft where he was drafted third overall by the Arizona Cardinals in 2004.
Since then, Fitzgerald has been a problem for defensive coordinators due to his exceptional route running ability and soft hands. Fitzgerald is the youngest wide receiver to reach 1,000 receptions and the 11x Pro Bowler is currently second in all-time receiving yards only behind Jerry Rice, third in career receptions, and sixth in receiving touchdowns. With Fitz at the age of 36 and beginning to think about life after football, he is guaranteed to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but might have to face the reality of not being a Super Bowl Champion when it is all said and done.
Mississippi is another one of those states that continues to crank out NFL legends. From Walter Peyton to Brett Farve to Jerry Rice, the true battle for king of Mississippi lies between Rice and Peyton, but with a 21 year long career, we had to go with the greatest wide receiver of all-time on this one. During his college career, at Mississippi Valley State, Rice broke the NCAA single-game reception record with 24 catches against LSU in 1983. The record-breaking only continued after he was selected 16th overall in the 1984 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers where he played the majority of his NFL career.
Rice won all three of his Super Bowls as a member of the 49ers and was named the third wide receiver ever to win Super Bowl MVP for his 11 catch, 215 yard effort in Super Bowl XXIII. The Hall of Fame receiver currently holds NFL records for most receiving yards with 22,895, receptions with 1,549, receiving touchdowns with 197, and total touchdowns with 208. There isn't a receiver alive that doesn't want to be like the 13x Pro Bowler, Jerry Rice.
The battle between Willie Brown and Kellen Winslow for greatest NFL player from Missouri is worthy of conversation. You can't go wrong with either choice, but Winslow did somewhat redefine what it is what meant to play tight end thus setting up the blue print for future generations to follow making him our choice for to represent the Show-Me State. Winsolw played his collegiate ball for his home state University of Missouri Tigers where he racked up a total of 71 receptions for 1,089, and 10 touchdowns.
Winslow would go on to declare himself into the 1979 NFL Draft where he was picked 13th overall by the San Diego Chargers were he would remain his entire nine-season career (1979-1987). At 6'5, 250lbs, Winslow was too big to be effectively covered by cornerbacks and DBs and too fast to for linebackers to keep up with, leaving defenses to sacrifice entire defensive schemes just to bring him down. The 5x Pro Bowl selectee led the NFL two times in NFL receptions (1980, 1981) and notched a total of 45 touchdowns. Winslow could have had an extended career if he was not forced to retire in 1987 after a severe knee injury effected his play.
This one might before a lot of our times when it comes to relevancy however, Jerry Kramer has a very interesting history with the fame of football that isn't as fairytale happy and exposes the brutal reality of what the game of football can do to a person's body. During his college football days at the University of Idaho, Gerald Louis Kramer was a two-way player that also excelled at track-and-field. The hardened offensive lineman declared himself for the NFL Draft in 1958 and was picked 39th overall in the fourth round of the draft by the Green Bay Packers.
Kramer would go on to spend his entire career in a Packers uniform and became famous as the lead blocker and innovating member of the sweep block that still used in today's game. Throughout his eleven-season career, Kramer was a 5x NFL Champion (1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967) and 2x Super Bowl Champion with the Packers (Super Bowl I & II). Kramer also suffered through 22 surgeries throughout his eleven seasons in the NFL. It also took until 2018 for Kramer to inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. Fortunately, he's where he belongs with the rest of the NFL legends today.
Nebraska usually keeps some watch-worthy collegiate football teams around, but when it come to indivdual, elite talent hailing from the Mid-Western state options are limited. Fortunately, not too limited though as former NFL running back Ahman Green will be holding it down the Cornhusker State. Born and raised in Omaha, Green played his college ball in his home state at the University of Nebraska for three seasons where he contributed to two Bowl Alliance National Championships in 1995 and 1997.
In 1998, Green was drafted 76th overall in the third round of the NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. After spending a couple of seasons in Washington, Green took his talents to Green Bay where he would become the franchise's all-time leading rusher, running for a total of 8,322 yards with the Packers alone. Unfortunately, Green was sidelined by a shoulder injury that would drastically affect his NFL career. In 2011, Green would retire after playing in the CFL. Today, he's part-owner of the Green Bay Blizzard, an arena football team based in Wisconsin.
While Nevada-native NFL alumni in Max McGee, who caught the first ever Super Bowl touchdown in 1967, and DeMarco Murray, who has turned out to be a stellar running back, are great, they still aren't on the level of twelve-year veteran running back Steven Jackson. Matter of fact, Jackson is the reason why NFL scouts today pay attention to athletes coming out of the state of Nevada. After honing his skills at Oregon State University for three seasons, Jackson was selected 24th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams.
In nine seasons withe the St. Louis Rams, Jackson became the franchise's all-time leading rusher with a total of 10,138 yards. He also holds a few NFL records including most touches without a single fumble (870), most consecutive seasons with a 40+ yard run (11), and more. The 3x Pro Bowler is in 18th place in rushing yards totaling 11,438. As of right now, time will tell if Jackson will be receiving his gold sportsjacket as an official inductee into the Football Hall of Fame.
New Hampshire has produced a total of 24 NFL players throughout the state's history. While many of the state's NFL athletes were forgettable, Greg Landry was able to make the cut ahead of Don Macek for NFL king of the Granite State. Landry attended the University of Massachusetts to play his college ball and while uneventful, Landry still remained to become the first quarterback selected in the 1968 NFL Draft.
Greg Landry was selected 11th overall by the Detriot Lions in the '68 Draft and has been the Lions only Pro Bowl selected quarterback since Matt Stafford was granted with that honor in 2014. This says a lot about the Lions' ability to acquire top tier talent, yikes. While Landry had a decent career throwing for 16,052 yards and 98 touchdowns in nine NFL seasons, he was known as quite the rushing quarterback rushing for over 2,600 yards and 21 touchdowns in his career.
A plethora of NFL greats were born in New Jersey, including Hall of Famers, Dave Robinson and Elvin Bethea as well as Joe Flacco, Greg Olsen, Victor Cruz, and more. But, they can't outshine the highly-decorated NFL career of famed Pittsburgh Steeler running back, Franco Harris. The Hall of Famer played his college football at Penn State University where he racked up a total of 24 touchdowns in three seasons.
Harris then went on to be selected 13th overall in the 1972 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers were he would play twelve out of his thirteen seasons in the NFL before hanging up his cleats for good as a Seattle Seahawk in 1984. The combination of Harris' power running and the Steelers' immensely talented defense led to a Super Bowl run that resulted in four victories including Super Bowls IX, X, XIII, and XIV. With four rings and a rushing career amounting to over 12,000 yards, and 91 touchdowns, Harris is tied with his Steelers' alumni Jerome Bettis for most rushing touchdowns in NFL history.
Anybody that's willing to cut the tip of their pinkie finger off in order to not miss a game is going to make this list. Also, majority of the contributing members of the classic '80s San Francisco Super Bowl-winning teams most likely will be representing their home states as well, which is exactly why Ronnie Lott holds the throne for the state of New Mexico. The 6'0 defensiveback attended the University of Southern California as member of the Trojans and was drafted 8th overall in the 1981 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers.
Lott was a major contributor to the 49ers championship runs as they took home the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowls XVI, XIX, XXIII, and XIV. On top of four rings, Lott was a 10x Pro Bowl selectee, 8x All-Pro First Team member, and 2x NFL interception leader (1986, 1991). Lott also played for NFL teams including the Oakland Raiders, New York Jets, and Kansas City Chiefs before retiring in 1995. All hail, one of the most-feared safeties ever, Ronnie Lott.
The party animal himself Rob Grokowski can officially call himself the NFL king of New York. There are very few tight ends out there can single-handedly be an instant game changer for their team, but time-and-time again Gronk has proven why he will be a future Hall of Famer. The 6'6 tight end played collegiate football for the University of Arizona before being picked 42nd overall in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots.
In just nine seasons with the Patriots, he's racked up a total of 79 touchdowns, four Pro Bowl selections, four All-Pro First Team roster spots, and three Super Bowl rings (Super Bowl XLIX,LI, LIII). Gronk is the first and only tight end to ever lead the league in touchdowns with 17 in 2011 and the most postseason touchdowns by a tight end with a total of 12 touchdowns. Unfortunately, Rob Gronkowski's career has been riddled with arm and shoulder injuries that forced him to retire. Who knows, though? We might get to experience the return of Gronk sooner rather than later.
We have to shout out Torry Holt, Charlie Sanders, Julius Peppers, and the rest of the North Carolinaian NFL alumni for their contributions to the game, but we have to give the North Carolina NFL crown to Bruce Matthews for his uncanny durability. The 6'5, 305lbs, offensive lineman has played every position on the o-line from center to talckle to guard to long snapper, Matthews is a versatile as they come. The Hall of Famer played his collegiate ball at USC before being drafted 9th overall in the 1983 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers.
Bruce played his entire nineteen-season career with the Houston Oilers who later relocated to Tennesee and rebranded themselves as the Titans. Of those nineteen seasons, Matthews only missed a total of three starts. Matthews was also a 14x Pro Bowler, 9x NFL All-Pro First Team selection, and included on the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. When you stand the test of time playing such a violent sport from 1983 to 2001, you have to give someone like Bruce Matthews their flowers.
Edging both Carson Wentz and defensive lineman Gary Larsen out, Phil Hansen is the NFL king of North Dakota. Hailing from Oakes, North Dakota, Phil Hansen played his collegiate football in his home state at North Dakota State University where he set regular-season records for most sack (41) and pass break ups (32). Despite starting on two Division II National Championship teams in 1988 and 1990, Hansen was selected 54th overall by the Buffalo Bills in the second round of the 1991 NFL Draft.
The agile defensive end went on to play all eleven seasons of his NFL career with the Buffalo Bills and was an intergal contributor to the team's final two consecutive trips to the Super Bowl from 1992-1994. Surprisingly, Hansen was never able to notch any Pro Bowl honors despite racking up a total of 634 tackles and 61.5 sacks throughout his lengthy career. A little more than decade after retiring in 2001, Hansen ran as a Republican for Minnesota in 2012. Unfortunately, he lost a close race to Kent Eken, but we're positive Hansen wouldn't lose to him on the football field.
There must be something in the water in Ohio because the Buckeye State is one of those territories has a ton of quality NFL athletes born within its borders. From Bob Brown to Orlando Pace to Cris Carter to Charles Woodson and so many more, there's almost no wrong answer when it comes to crowning an NFL king of Ohio. However, we've come to terms with giving that accolade to none other than Hall of Fame middle linebacker, Jack Lambert. Lambert played his collegiate football at Kent State and was selected 46th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second round of the 1974 NFL Draft.
All of those teams that passed on Lambert regretted as the toothless linebacker wreaked havoc on the entire NFL for the entire eleven seasons that he played. While playing his entire career with the Steelers, Lambert collected four rings (Super Bowls IX, X, XIII, XIV), was invited to nine Pro Bowls, selected as First-Team All-Pro six times, and selected as Defensive Player of the Year in 1976. Lambert made sure every offensive line, quarterback, and offensive coordinator acknowledged his presence on the field, every single down he played.
Steve Largent is the original white guy receiver with swag so, it's only right that he holds the throne for the state of Oklahoma. Ironically, some NFL greats including Wes Welker, Dan Hampton, Lee Roy Selmon, and more hail from the state. During his two-year stint at the University of Tulsa, Largent stacked up some ridiculous stats raking in 28 touchdowns and 1,884 receiving yards. Somehow, his efforts went unnoticed by NFL scouts as he was drafted 117th overall in the fourth round of the 1976 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers.
After four preseason games with the Oilers, the organization was preparing to cut the 5'11 wide receiver but later decided to trade him to the Seattle Seahawks, a brand new expansion at the team. Largent went on to play fourteen seasons with the Seahawks becoming the team's most productive receiver to date and the team's first-ever Pro Bowl representative. The 7x Pro Bowler is the first receiver in NFL history to make 100 touchdown receptions and is tied at ninth in all-time touchdown receptions with Tim Brown. While Largent wasn't known for his speed, his hands were some of the most dependable the NFL has ever seen.
While Dave Wilcox is a 7x Pro Bowl selectee and 2x All-Pro First Team roster member in eleven seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, defensive end Ndamukong Suh has already surpassed the linebackers personal accolades in just ten seasons in the NFL. Yes, Ndamukong has struggled with his temper throughout the course of his pro-football career, but he's also an instant game-changer when he's on the field. In five seasons at the University of Nebraska, Suh racked up a total of 215 total tackles, 24 sacks, and four interceptions finishing fourth in the Heisman race in 2009.
The following year, Suh was selected 2nd overall in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. While being as dominant as he's been, Suh has played for a multitude of teams including the Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles Rams, and currently the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 2010, Suh was named Defensive Rookie of the Year and he's also raked in seven Pro Bowl selections and three All-Pro First Team honors. Currently, at the age of 32, we don't see Suh slowing down anytime soon. He destroys offensive lines with ease and keeps quarterbacks with their head on a swivel. We'll be hearing his name a lot more as time moves forward.
Pennsylvania has the second-most amount of NFL Hall of Fame talent only behind Texas. Names like Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Mike Ditka, Dan Marino, and more all were born with the borders of the state of Pennsylvania, but there's only one Joe Montana. While Tom Brady might have two more diamond rings than Joe Montana, Montana was still Brady's childhood hero. Hailing from Ne Eagle, Pennsylvania, Joe Montana played his collegiate ball at the University of Notre Dame for four seasons, one of which (1976) he was sidelined an entire season.
Montana went on to be drafted 82nd overall in the third round of the 1979 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers where he become a 4-0 and undefeated Super Bowl champion and 8x Pro Bowl selectee. Montana is also the first player to become a 3x Super Bowl MVP (Super Bowls XVI, XIX, and XXIV) and currently holds the Super Bowl record for most passes without an interception (122 in four games). Joe Cool would go on to close out his Hall of Fame NFL career with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1994. Joe 'The Comeback Kid' Montana is still arguable the greatest quarterback of all-time.
After 39 states and NFL alumni have been crowned, we've finally got our first kicker on the list, representing the smallest state in the country. The king of the Plantation State officially belongss to none other than Al Del Greco. Former NFL safety and returnman, Will Blackmon, is also a Rhode Island native, but didn't have quite the NFL career, Del Greco went on to have as a placekicker. Del Greco took his golden leg down south to play his collegiate ball at Auburn University where he his tied for most field goals in a single game (6) and currently ranked fifth in the career scoring list notching a total of 236 points.
While kickers tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to the NFL Draft, Del Greco went undrafted in 1984, but later signed a contract with the Green Bay Packers that same year. Instantly, Del Greco earned his on-field moniker, 'Automatic Al' as he went to make 347 of his 439 field goal attempts (77.3%), 551 out of his 554 extra point kicks (99.46%), scoring a total of 1,592 points in seventeen seasons in the NFL. With that many points under his belt, Del Greco is currently 21st on the NFL's All-Time Scoring Leaders list. With Al Del Greco repping for the kickers on this list, you gotta put some respect on his name.
While Harry Carson is a Giants' legend and worthy of recognition, the title for South Carolina's greatest NFL player goes to Art Shell, not only for his Hall of Fame play, but for what he represents to the National Football League and society in general. Hailing from Charleston, South Carolina, offensive tackle, Art Shell, took his talents north to Maryland where he would play his collegiate footnall as a member of the Maryland State University Terrapins. While he was standout collegiately, Shell somehow slipped down to the third round of the 1968 NFL Draft being picked 80th overall by the Oakland Raiders.
Shell would go on to play his entire fifteen-season NFL career with the Oakland Raiders (1968-1972), earning two Super Bowl rings as the starting left tackle (Superbowl XI and XV), eight Pro Bowl invites, and two All-Pro First Team roster spots in 207 games and 168 starts with the Bay Area ball club. Not only was Shell inducted into the Football Hall of Fame for his performance on the field, Art Shell went on to become the second African-American head coach in the NFL and the first om the modern sports era. Shell was the first Black-American head coach to lead a team to a conference championship game (1990) and had overall head coaching record of 54-38 with two stints with the Oakland Raiders.
Dallas Clark, John Dutton, and Jay Novacek are some of the most notable NFL alumni from South Dakota, but the legendary kicker Adam Vinatieri has to hold the crown as the Mount Rushmore State's best NFL player to date. Vinatieri is also the second kicker to make our 50 greatest NFL player list from state to state. Vinatieri is responsible for making some of the most crucial field goals in NFL history and is arguably the greatest NFL placekicker of all-time. The future Hall of Fame kicker from Yankton, South Dakota began his college football in his home state at South Dakota State and later transferred to San Diego State where he holds the school's all-time leading points record with a total of 185.
After going undrafted in the 1996 NFL Draft, Vinatieri headed across the pond to play for the Amsterdam Admirals in the NFL Europe league. That same year, Vinatieri was signed by the New England Patriots where he played ten seasons. Vinatieri currently is on his 14th season with the Indianapolis Colts and the NFL's oldest active player at 46-years-old. Throughout his legendary and lengthy career, Vinatieri is a 4x Super Bowl Champion, holds the record for most Super Bowl wins by a kicker, the most field goals made with 585, and holds the NFL record for most points scored all-time with 2,612 points through the third week of this current NFL season. You can't front kickers are responsible for putting up major numbers and Vinatieri is living proof of that.
Tennessee is one of those states that keeps a nice collective of collegiate football programs worthy of keeping an eye on. They've also had some praise-worthy NFL alumni come from the Volunteer State including the likes of Jason Witeen and Patrick Willis. While those two prominent individuals are great, Reggie White holds the NFL GOAT status for the state of Tennessee. The 6'0, 300lbs defensive end from Chattanooga, Tennessee played his college ball in his home state at the University of Tennessee where he set the single-season record for sacks registering 15 in 1983.
Prior to going to the NFL, White was selected by the Memphis Showboats in the 1984 USFL Territorial Draft where he played two seasons. After the USFL collapsed, White took his talents to the Philadelphia Eagles where he would begin his fifteen-year career. Of those fifteen seasons, White was selected for the Pro Bowl thirteen times and selected All-Pro First Team a total of ten times. White terrorized offensive lines, running backs, and quarterbacks notching 198 tackles and 33 sacks throughout his NFL tenure. He also helped the Green Bay Packers obtain the Lombardi Trophy in 1996. These days White has taken his talents to the church and is known as 'The Minister of Defense.'
We're not exactly sure what Texas is feeding their children, but the state has produced more NFL superstars and Hall of Famers than any other state has in America. From Earl Campbell to Eric Dickerson to Mike Singletary, Texas continues to pump out some of the greatest NFL talent we've ever witnessed. However, we had to chose one athlete to represent Texas and that honor had to go to 'Mean' Joe Greene, the most feared defensive tackle in NFL history. Hailing from Temple, Texas, Greene played his college ball at the North Texas State University.
Greene was selected 4th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1969 NFL Draft where instantly became the centerpiece for the infamous 'Steel Curtain' defense. His rookie year, Greene took home the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award and never looked back. He was named Defensive Player of the Year twice (1972, 1974), selected for the Pro Bowl ten times, named First-Team All-Pro five times, and a crucial component to the Steelers four Super Bowl wins in the '70s (Super Bowls IX, X, XIII, XIV). He played all thirteen seasons of his NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers and notching 172 starts in 181 games. There will never be another 'Mean' Joe Greene.
Utah native, Merlin Olsen might have gone to the Pro Bowl a total of fourteen times, but he didn't leave an impact on the league the same way Steve Young did. The 6'0 quarterback from Salt Lake City was never afraid to slang that thing, his willingness to make daring passes that were perfectly executed is the reason why he has become a Hall of Fame quarterback. Young attended Bingham Young University in Provo, Utah where he completed a total of 592 passes for 7,733 and 56 touchdowns.
His performance at BYU led him to the Supplemental Draft where he signed a record-setting ten-year, $40 million contract with the Los Angeles Express of the USFL in March 1984. After the league tanked in 1986, Young signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but his career didn't take off until he arrived in San Francisco in 1987 where he would lead the team to three Super Bowl victories and be dubbed the Super Bowl MVP ifor his performance in Super Bowl XXIX. Young led the league in passing touchdowns four times (1992, 1993, 1994, 1998), became a 7x Pro Bowler, and 6x NFL passer rating leader. There wasn't a pass that Steve Young ever regretted in his entire career and it paid off in rings.
We're not sure why Vermont continues to fail the youth when it comes to developmental sports programs, but its become a reoccurring thing with the Green Mountain State. There isn't a single NFL Hall of Famer from Vermont and the state has only produced ten NFL athletes in its entire history. However, their greatest NFL athlete is worthy to crown in former Oakland Raiders offensive guard, Steve Wisniewski. Not only was Wisniewski named All-American twice in college, he helped the Penn State Nittany Lions win a national championship in 1986, and earned his Bachelor of Science in marketing.
His impressive play at Penn State led him to be picked 29th overall in second round of 1989 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders where he would play his entire thirteen-season career with. Within those thirteen seasons, Wisniewski would be granted with eight Pro Bowl invites and two All-Pro First Team roster spots. From 1996 to 2001, Wisniewski never missed a single game and started in all 206 games that he was active for. With dependability like that, it's somewhat mysterious why Steve Wisniewski has not been blessed with a golden sports coat. Maybe we should make some calls to the Football Hall of Fame for his bidding.
Virginia-native, Bruce Smith, might hold the all-time reacord amount of sacks, but that still isn't a big enough accolade to pass up Lawence Taylor as the NFL's greatest player to hail from the Mother of States. With Lawernce Taylor being the greatest defensive football player the world has ever seen, of course he was going to make the list. Watching old clips of Taylor brings goosebumps to many football purists while it brings nightmares and PTSD to his former NFL alumni and gratefulness to current NFL o-linemen and quarterbacks. Taylor's All-American football career at the University of North Carolina led hom to become the 2nd overall pick in the 1981 NFL Draft.
Throughout his thirteen-season Hall of Fame NFL career, Taylor started 180 out of the 184 games he played. The 10x Pro Bowler, 9x First Team All-Pro outside linebacker redefined how linebackers were utilized around the league. Taylor also was the anchor of the team's defense during their two Super Bowl victories in Super Bowls XXI and XXV. With three Defensive Player of the Year Awards and one NFL MVP (1986) under his belt, these accolades don't define how much he means to the game of football. Regardless of his personal struggles, LT will forever be one of the NFL's greatest athletes to play the game.
Despite being a Los Angeles high school football legend and attending Stanford during his college years, John Elway was born in Port Angeles, Washington, leaving him to hold the crown of the Evergreen State over of Chicago Bears legend Brian Urlacher. As previously stated, Elway spent his collegiate years at Stanford University where he not only excelled at football but baseball as well. Elway was so good at baseball, he was drafted in the 1981 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees. Elway went on to play with the team's affiliate team Oneonta Yankees prior to choosing football as his ultimate pro-sports career.
After having major success in college, Elway was drafted first overall by the Baltimore Colts in the 1983 NFL Draft. Due to contract struggles and Elway's unwillingness to play in Baltimore, he later joined the Denver Broncos where he would become a Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback. Elway's NFL career was one hell of a rollercoaster losing three Super Bowls prior to being the driving force the franchises first Super Bowl victory at Super Bowl XXXII. The next year, Elway led the Broncos to another championship. With one NFL MVP (1987), one Super Bowl MVP (Super Bowl XXXIII) and nine Pro Bowl selections, his career wasn't perfect, but he never backed down and wasn't afraid to fail. To this very day, Elway works closely with the Denver Broncos franchise.
When it comes to tight route running, breakaway speed, and a soft pair of hands that attract footballs like glue, look no further than NFL great, Randy Moss to satisfy all of your wide receiver needs. Moss nearly had a flawless NFL career despite not winning any rings. Randy Moss played his collegiate football in his home state of West Virginia at Marshall University where he earned two All-American nods. While he made an impression on NFL scouts, Moss fell to the 21st overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, selected by the Minnesota Vikings. We're sure those teams that passed on Moss are still kicking themselves to this very day.
Moss played his most prominent years as a receiver for the Minnesota Vikings before finding his way to the Oakland Raiders where he struggled with the front office. Moss would go on to sign with the New England Patriots in 2007 where he would go on to claim the single-season touchdown receptions record with a total of 23. Moss also holds the record for touchdowns scored by a rookie wide receiver with 17. Moss would make his way back to Minnesota and play for the Tennessee Titans and San FRancisco 49ers before retiring in 2013. The Hall of Fame wide out currently is a color commentator ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown.
We're not the sure what exactly Papa Watt and Mama Watt were feeding their children, but the Watt family has produced three NFL athletes in T. J. Watt, Derek Watt, and J. J. Watt. The eldest of the three brothers in J. J. Watt is our selection for Wisconsin's greatest NFL athlete and for obvious reasons. J. J. played three years of college ball for Central Michigan and the University of Wisconsin where led the team in tackles, forced fumbles, and quarterback hurries during his junior year. Watt's impressive performance led him to be picked 11th overall by the Houston Texans in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Throughout his eight seasons with the Houston Texans, Watt has already claimed franchises records for both sacks and forced fumbles. Watt is also the first player in NFL history to record two 20+ sack seasons in a pro-football career. The 5x Pro Bowler is one of the few defensive players in the league with the ability to switch from defensive end to defensive tackle without losing any type of effectiveness. As of right now, Watt has notched 95 sacks, 468 tackles, and 23 forced fumbles and those numbers will continue to climb as long as he remains healthy. At this pace, J. J. Watt is looking at a Hall of Fame induction as soon as he's eligible.
The battle for Wyoming lands between former Washington Redskins tight end, Chris Cooley and former Green Bay Packers wide receiver, Boyd Dowler. While Cooley is a 2x Pro Bowler, he doesn't have the rings to out rank Dowler as the king of the Cowboy State. Boyd Hamilton Dowler played his collegiate football at the University of Colorado as a quarterback, but somehow led the Big Seven Conference in receiving during his junior year in 1957. Two years later, Dowler was selected 25th overall in the third round of the 1959 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers where he would go on to contribute to one of the greatest football dynasties of all-time.
The wide out had an instant impact on the Green Bay Packers taking home the award for Rookie of the Year in 1959, the same year Vince Lombardi became head coach of the franchise. Dowler won five NFL Championships (1961, 1962, 1965-67) and the first two Super Bowls (1 and II) with the Packers. The 6'5 wide receiver was invited to the Pro Bowl two times in 1965 and 1967 registering a total of 474 receptions, 7,270 yards, and 40 touchdowns throughout his twelve season career. Dowler led the Packers in receptions for seven seasons before closing out his illustrious career as a member of the Washington Redskins in 1971.