Odds Of Making It To The NFL

Young superstar athletes spend the majority of their life training tirelessly for the slight chance to play with the professionals in the National Football League (NFL).

It's a lengthy journey – one that entails years of blood, sweat, tears, and training sessions. However, the leap from college football to the NFL is no simple task. With only 1.5% of NCAA participants destined to reach the NFL, all bets are off.

Does this mean football hopefuls should throw in the towel? Not at all. Scouts travel from city to city across the nation to scope out gridiron greatness from each state. But factors such as location definitely “up the ante” in landing a spot on an NFL roster.  

Is it possible for the average athlete to make it to the big league? Take a look at our map comparisons to see where the odds are more likely to be in your favor.

Offside Odds


As the adage goes: “Practice makes perfect.” Despite the time and effort funneled into training sessions, the chances of going pro can fluctuate depending on the city you're from.  

Players from Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston have the best chances of tossing the pigskin at the professional level, with 464, 441, and 300 ballers hailing from each metropolitan area, respectively. Of the three hot spots, rising players taking the field in the Windy City have the highest chances of making it.


Miami may be known around the globe for its sandy beaches and prestigious nightclubs, but it's also the original home of 259 professional football players. Additionally, the likelihood of going pro is increased for athletes hailing from New Orleans, with 213 NFL players tracing back to the Big Easy.

Not all densely populated areas will guarantee you the golden ticket, though. As it turns out, the odds of going pro if you're from Memphis, Columbus, or San Francisco are relatively slim, with only 127, 125, and 119 players hailing from each corresponding city.

Growth on the Gridiron


The story unfolds a bit differently on a per capita basis. When it comes to rolling the dice on standout players, the South proves to be the perfect breeding ground for elite NFL athletes.

The likelihood of going pro is increased if you're from one of these three Southern powerhouses: Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama. Mississippi has churned out 2.02 NFL stars per 10,000 residents, making the Magnolia State a bona fide football capital of America. Louisiana and Alabama trail their neighbor with 1.80 and 1.39 active football players per 10,000 people.

While the odds of becoming an NFL player are astronomically lower for hopefuls from Canada, the North still contributes a fair share of talent to the league. Our findings indicate Saskatchewan is the top province for nurturing gridiron greatness, with approximately 0.09 NFL players per 10,000 residents.

The Future of NFL Talent

If there's one thing to take away, it's that the odds of becoming an NFL player are very slim. However, the location of one's hometown could be the key to determining future success. The southern states of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, lead the pack when it comes to player production. Perhaps this is the leading cause of the SEC's success in Division I college football.

While the likelihood of a standout athlete hailing from the Wild West or the frigid North is tremendously thin, there are pockets of the country that are cultivating NFL caliber talent regularly. Ultimately, if you're looking to find the next generation of NFL players, head to the Deep South.


Player hometowns gathered from pro-football-reference.com. Population data based on information from the United States and Canadian Census programs.

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