The NFL Draft presents fans with the opportunity to bang on their chests and argue over who has the best college football program. The 2023 version was owned by the SEC, as Alabama and Georgia led all schools with 10 draft picks each, and the conference as a whole reigned supreme.
But of the 259 players drafted, we were curious to know which states produced the most picks, not schools. From former Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young going No. 1 overall to Toledo edge rusher Desjuan Johnson getting drafted last as "Mr. Irrelevant," all of these players came from somewhere. They all first made a name for themselves in high school.
So for all those fans proud of the Friday night lights in their respective states, we've collected the states who produced the most picks this year based on the high schools they attended. Some states had more representation than others, which we'll explore below, in addition to some of the top players there. Up first...the Sunshine State.
1. Florida, 36 Players
Leading the way with 36 players is Florida, the first time the state has led the way in the draft since 2019.
Over the years, we've seen many top NFL players come from the state, and the 2023 NFL Draft class saw an influx of even more talent. Former Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson was the first player off the board who went to high school in Florida. Richardson attended Eastside High School in Gainesville and stayed in his hometown to play for the Gators. He was drafted No. 4 overall by the Indianapolis Colts.
In the first round, there were five other players from Florida. Florida led the first round ahead of Georgia and Texas, which each had four picks.
- Devon Witherspoon: Drafted No. 5 overall by the Seattle Seahawks, Witherspoon attended Pine Forest High School in Pensacola, Florida.
- Jalen Carter: Drafted No. 9 overall by the Philadelphia Eagles after they swapped picks with the Chicago Bears, Carter attended Apopka High School in Apopka, Florida.
- Calijah Kancey: Drafted No. 19 overall, Kancey returns to his home state to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He attended Miami Northwestern in Miami, Florida.
- Zay Flowers: Flowers was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens at No. 22 overall. Before attending Boston College, Flowers went to high school at NSU University School in Davie, Florida.
- Nolan Smith: Smith attended the prestigious IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. He was drafted No. 30 overall by the Philadelphia Eagles, pairing him with his Georgia teammate, Jalen Carter.
2. Texas, 30 Players
Texas is another state you expect a lot of football talent from, and it ended the draft with 30 players. First up was Tyree Wilson, an edge rusher who stayed in the state after attending and West Rusk High School and played for Texas Tech. He went No. 7 overall to the Las Vegas Raiders.
Three other players were selected in the first round from Texas:
- Christian Gonzalez: Drafted No. 17 overall by the New England Patriots, Gonzalez attended The Colony High School in The Colony, Texas.
- Jaxon Smith-Njigba: The first wide receiver drafted, JSN went No. 20 overall to the Seattle Seahawks and attended Rockwall High School in Rockwall, Texas.
- Quentin Johnston: Johnston stayed in the state after attending Temple High School and went to TCU. He was drafted No. 21 overall by the Los Angeles Chargers.
3. Georgia, 23 Players
Interestingly enough, the first player selected from Georgia attended college at the state's bitter SEC rival, Alabama — edge rusher Will Anderson Jr.
After a trade that launched the Houston Texans from No. 12 overall to No. 3 overall, they selected Anderson, who attended Dutchtown High School in Hampton, Georgia.
The state of Georgia had more representation in the first round, with three other players getting drafted:
- Jahmyr Gibbs: After starting his college career at Georgia Tech, Gibbs transferred to Alabama and played alongside Anderson. Gibbs was drafted No. 12 overall by the Detroit Lions. He attended Dalton High School in Dalton, Ga.
- Broderick Jones: A stud offensive lineman for the Georgia Bulldogs, Jones is homegrown from the state. He attended Lithonia High School and was drafted No. 14 overall after the Pittsburgh Steelers traded up with the New England Patriots from No. 17 overall.
- Myles Murphy: Toward the end of the first round, we saw another Georgia high school athlete come off the board: Clemson edge rusher Myles Murphy. He was drafted No. 28 overall by the Cincinnati Bengals. He's a product of Hillgrove High School in Marietta, Ga.
4. California, 21 Players
Considering California is the most populous state in the nation, it's no surprise to see it toward the top of the list, although it did have 15 fewer than than the No. 1 Florida.
That said, it didn't take long for the first California man to get taken, as the Carolina Panthers selected former Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young with the No. 1 overall selection. Earlier in the offseason, the Panthers sent a massive trade package to the Chicago Bears to earn the No. 1 spot. Young attended Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana.
Even more intriguing is that only one other California player was taken in the first round. He was the second player off the board: C.J. Stroud, whom the Houston Texans took at No. 2 overall. He played college football at Ohio State but attended Rancho Cucamonga High School.
The next California-based player to come off the board wasn't selected until the second round, when the New Orleans Saints selected Notre Dame edge rusher Isaiah Foskey at No. 40 overall. He attended De La Salle in Concord, Calif.
5. Illinois, 12 Players
Of the 12 Illinois-based players, five of them were selected in the first two rounds. The first one off the board was offensive lineman Peter Skoronski, who stayed in state after attending Maine South High School in Park Ridge, playing for Northwestern. He was drafted No. 11 overall to the Tennessee Titans.
The next Illinois player off the board was chosen two picks later, when the Green Bay Packers — who were now drafting No. 13 overall after a pick swap in the Aaron Rodgers trade — drafted Iowa edge rusher Lukas Van Ness. He attended Barrington High School.
Here are the remaining 10 players drafted from Illinois:
- Detroit Lions, No. 34 overall: Sam LaPorta, tight end, Iowa (attended Highland High School).
- Green Bay Packers, No. 50 overall: Jayden Reed, wide receiver, Michigan State (attended Naperville Central High School).
- Cincinnati Bengals, No. 131 overall: Charlie Jones, wide receiver, Purdue (attended Deerfield High School).
- New York Giants, No. 57 overall: John Michael Schmitz, center, Minnesota (attended Homewood-Flossmoor High School).
- Las Vegas Raiders, No. 135 overall: Aidan O'Connell, quarterback, Purdue (attended Stevenson High School).
- Cleveland Browns, No. 142 overall: Cameron Mitchell, cornerback, Northwestern (attended Bolingbrook).
- Jacksonville Jaguars, No. 160 overall: Antonio Johnson, safety, Texas A&M (attended East St. Louis High School).
- New York Jets, No. 184 overall: Zaire Barnes, linebacker, Western Michigan (attended Carmel Catholic High School).
- Jacksonville Jaguars, No. 227 overall: Raymond Vohasek, defensive tackle, North Carolina (attended McHenry East High School).
- Buffalo Bills, No. 230 overall: Nick Broeker, outside linebacker, Ole Miss (attended Sacred Heart Griffin High School).
6. Michigan, 11 Players
The first Michigan resident to come off the board was Michigan Wolverines defensive tackle Mazi Smith. He was taken No. 26 overall by the Dallas Cowboys. Staying in the state, Smith was the only player drafted from Michigan in the first round. Another wouldn't be selected until the San Francisco 49ers took Smith's teammate, kicker Jake Moody at No. 99. Smith attended East Kentwood High School, while Moody went to Northville High School.
Other players from Michigan include the following:
- Seattle Seahawks, No. 108 overall: Anthony Bradford, outside linebacker, LSU (attended Muskegon High School).
- Green Bay Packers, No. 179 overall: Karl Brooks, defensive lineman, Bowling Green (attended Sexton High School).
- New England Patriots, No. 192 overall: Bryce Baringer, punter, Michigan State (attended Notre Dame Prep High School).
- Green Bay Packers, No. 235 overall: Lew Nichols III, running back, Central Michigan (attended Cass Tech High School).
- Indianapolis Colts, No. 236 overall: Jake Witt, offensive tackle, Northern Michigan (attended Stevenson High School).
- Miami Dolphins, No. 238 overall: Ryan Hayes, offensive tackle, Michigan (attended Traverse City West High School).
- Kansas City Chiefs, No. 250 overall: Nic Jones, cornerback, Ball State (attended Southfield High School).
- San Francisco 49ers No. 255 overall: Jalen Graham, linebacker, Purdue (attended Cass Tech High School).
- Los Angeles Rams, No. 259 overall: Desjuan Johnson, edge rusher, Toledo (attended East English Village Prep High School).
As was noted above, Johnson was drafted No. 259th overall and was "Mr. Irrelevant" in the 2023 class.
7. North Carolina, 10 Players
North Carolina didn't have any representation in the first round, but Georgia Tech edge rusher Keion White, who was invited to attend the 2023 NFL Draft, was taken No. 46 overall by the New England Patriots. He attended Garner High School.
The next North Carolina native was Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Hendon Hooker, who tore his ACL in November 2022. He was selected by the Detroit Lions at No. 68 overall. He attended Dudley High School.
The state would go on to have eight other players selected, including two more in the third round, one in the fourth round, one in the fifth round, and four in the seventh.
- Arizona Cardinals, No. 72 overall: Garrett Williams, cornerback, Syracuse (attended Hickory Ridge High School).
- Baltimore Ravens, No. 86 overall: Trenton Simpson, linebacker, Clemson (attended Mallard Creek High School).
- New Orleans Saints, No. 103 overall: Nick Saldiveri, offensive tackle, Old Dominion (attended Parkwood High School).
- Washington Commanders, No. 137 overall: KJ Henry, edge rusher, Clemson (attended West Forsyth High School).
- Los Angeles Rams, No. 223 overall: Ethan Evans, punter, Wingate (attended North Surry High School).
- Atlanta Falcons, No. 225 overall: Jovaughn Gwyn, outside linebacker, South Carolina (attended Harding University High School).
- New York Giants, No. 243 overall: Jordon Riley, defensive tackle, Oregon (attended Riverside High School).
- Dallas Cowboys, No. 255 overall: Jalen Brooks, wide receiver, South Carolina (attended Hickory Ridge High School).
8. Louisiana, 9 Players
Louisiana is home to Louisiana State University, which has produced notable talents including Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase.
As for those who went to high school there, nine players were selected in 2023, with the first being new Buffalo Bills guard O'Cyrus Torrence. Torrence originally played for the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns in college but transferred to Florida for the 2022 season to protect Anthony Richardson. He was selected No. 59 overall by the team in the second round and attended St. Helena Central High School.
The next Louisiana native off the board was Tulane running back Tyjae Spears. He went to the Tennessee Titans at No. 81 overall and attended Ponchatoula High School.
- Los Angeles Chargers, No. 125 overall: Derius Davis, wide receiver, TCU (attended West Feliciana High School).
- Minnesota Vikings, No. 141 overall: Jaquelin Roy, defensive tackle, LSU (attended University Lab High School).
- Green Bay Packers, No. 159 overall: Dontayvion Wicks, wide receiver, Virginia (attended Parkwood High School).
- Washington Commanders, No. 137 overall: KJ Henry, edge rusher, Clemson (attended West Forsyth High School).
- New England Patriots, No. 187 overall: Kayshon Boutte, wide receiver, LSU (attended Westgate High School).
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers, No. 191 overall: Trey Palmer, wide receiver, Nebraska (attended Harding University High School).
- New York Jets, No. 204 overall: Jarrick Bernard-Converse, CB, LSU (attended Evangel Christian Academy).
9. Ohio, 8 Players
Ohio started off red hot with offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. getting selected by the Arizona Cardinals at No. 6 overall. The Cardinals originally had No. 3, then traded down to No. 12, then back up to No. 6. Johnson was the first offensive tackle off the board. He attended Princeton High School and stayed in state to go to Ohio State, protecting No. 2 overall pick C.J. Stroud while there.
The next Ohio native off the board was Johnson's teammate, Zach Harrison. He's an edge rusher who was selected No. 75 overall by the Atlanta Falcons and attended Olentangy Orange High School.
- Las Vegas Raiders, No. 100 overall: Tre Tucker, wide receiver, Cincinnati (attended Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy).
- Chicago Bears, No. 133 overall: Tyler Scott, wide receiver, Cincinnati (attended Norton High School).
- Tennessee Titans, No. 147 overall: Josh Whyle, tight end, Cincinnati (attended La Salle High School).
- Green Bay Packers, No. 149 overall: Sean Clifford, quarterback, Penn State (attended St. Xavier).
- Cincinnati Bengals, No. 217 overall: Brad Robbins, punter, Michigan (attended Westerville South High School).
- Green Bay Packers, No. 232 overall: Carrington Valentine, cornerback, Kentucky (attended Archbishop Moeller High School).
10. South Carolina, 8 Players
South Carolina rounds out the top 10, having tied Ohio for the next most drafted players.
South Carolina joins North Carolina and Louisiana as the only schools in this top 10 list to not have players drafted in the first round. The first South Carolina native to come off the board attended Westwood High School and stayed in the state to play for the Gamecocks: cornerback Cam Smith, who went No. 51 overall to the Miami Dolphins.
South Carolina then saw another Gamecocks player come off the board atop the third round at No. 64 overall, as the Chicago Bears selected defensive tackle and T.L. Hanna High School alum Zacch Pickens.
Going No. 73 overall was a player who received some first-round hype but fell to the New York Giants in the third round: Tennessee Volunteers wide receiver and speedster Jalin Hyatt.
- Los Angeles Rams, No. 77overall: Byron Young, edge rusher, Tennessee (attended Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy).
- Buffalo Bills, No. 91 overall: Dorian Williams, linebacker, Tulane (attended Indian Land High School).
- Indianapolis Colts, No. 138 overall: Darius Rush, cornerback, South Carolina (attended C.E. Murray High School).
- Los Angeles Chargers, No. 156 overall: Jordan McFadden, outside linebacker, Clemson (attended Dorman High School).
- Los Angeles Rams, No. 161 overall: Nick Hampton, edge rusher, Appalachian State (attended Westside High School).
The Best Of The Rest
Out of all 250-plus selections, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, North Dakota and South Dakota each had just one player selected. Of the 50 states, 40 had NFL players selected, and Washington, D.C., had two selected.
Of the states with just one player selected, the highest draft pick belongs to North Dakota, with offensive lineman Cody Mauch getting picked by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second round at No. 48 overall.
Florida again led the way with 36 NFL draft picks this year, ahead of Texas and Georgia for most from any state. This is based on where they finished high school. pic.twitter.com/jYCs8fITow
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) May 5, 2023
Looking at the first-round picks, the most obscure state to have a player selected here based on the list was Atlanta Falcons' No. 8 overall selection Bijan Robinson, who attended Salpointe Catholic High School in Arizona. Anton Harrison, who was selected No. 27 overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars, attended Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C.. Both locations were home to just one other draft pick.
The next Arizona player taken was Georgia Bulldogs cornerback Kelee Ringo (Saguaro High School) by the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 105 overall. And the next D.C. player was another Jaguars selection, Christian Braswell (Friendship Collegiate Academy), a cornerback from Rutgers selected No. 202 overall.
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