With the 2023 NFL Draft beginning Thursday, let’s take a look at the history of Pennsylvania high school graduates throughout the history of the draft. The following data is as complete as I could make it at the moment, but small tweaks will likely be made if and when additions and corrections are to be found.
Here is a list of every player from a Pennsylvania high school who has been drafted into the NFL since the first draft in 1936.
Here is a list of every Pennsylvania player drafted into the AFL (1960-1966).
Here are all of the players from Pennsylvania drafted into the short-lived All-America Football Conference (1947-1949).
[UPDATE: Thanks to the suggestion of Bob Greenburg, I’ve added a list of players drafted by the NFL, AFL, and AAFC sorted by their high school. Now you can easily view every draftee from a high school. Here is the link.]
On a school-by-school basis, eight high schools have had at least 15 draftees (counting players twice if they were picked by two leagues) across these three professional leagues. All of these schools are current WPIAL members with the exception of Bethlehem Liberty, Johnstown (which left the WPIAL in 2000), and Altoona, which has been a WPIAL member at times over the years.
|Pittsburgh Central Catholic||23|
Bethlehem Liberty (15), Allentown Allen (14), Hazleton (13) have the most selections by non-WPIAL schools. This total includes players who may have attended multiple schools (such as Micah Parsons, who gives both Central Dauphin and Harrisburg one draft selection each). There are likely a few inconsistencies in this list due to high schools changing their names over the years (like Neumann-Goretti, which used to be St. John Neumann High School), but this data should be nearly entirely complete. See the list of every school with a draftee here.
There likely aren’t many surprises when it comes to the most common colleges attended by Pennsylvania HS grads who were drafted, other than perhaps Miami’s presence in the top 10:
Player positions are sometimes very fluid in the draft process and players in the two-way era were usually only listed by their offensive position, but here are the ten most common positions played by Pennsylvania grads who were drafted:
|Back (TB, HB, FB, etc.)||140|
As for the teams that have drafted the most Pennsylvanians, there aren’t many surprises here, either:
The number of drafted Pennsylvania players has dropped greatly over time. There are many reasons for this, but two stand out to me: fewer players are drafted today and the concentration of football talent has largely shifted south and west over the past 50 years or so. In 1976, there were 487 total selections in the NFL Draft. Today, that number fluctuates between about 253 and 260 depending on compensatory picks, so the total volume of selections is much lower today.
The peak years for Pennsylvanians in the NFL Draft came from the mid-1940s through the late-1960s. From 1942 through 1971, there were only two NFL Drafts where fewer than 20 Pennsylvanians were selected. In twelve of those drafts, more than thirty players from the state were selected, with an all-time high of 39 in 1957. Compare that to more modern times, when only three drafts since 2005 have seen 10 Pennsylvanians chosen. The last time twenty players from the state were drafted in one year was 1984.
When it comes to first round picks, Pennsylvania high schools have produced 94 of them in the NFL Draft, from Boyd Brumbaugh of Steel Valley in 1938 to Jahan Dotson of Nazareth last year. A list of all Pennsylvanian first round picks can be found here.
The 1956 draft was the high-water mark for the state, with four alums going in the top 10 and five in the top 12. Bob Pellegrini (Shannock Valley) went 4th, Joe Marconi (East Bethlehem) went 6th, Jack Losch (Williamsport) went 8th, Lenny Moore (Reading) went 9th, and Ed Vereb (Pittsburgh Central Catholic) went 12th.
The following schools have had multiple first round selections:
|HIGH SCHOOL||FIRST ROUND PICKS|
|Penn Charter School||2|
|Pittsburgh Central Catholic||2|
That’s a decent amount of info to digest, so we’ll stop there. Please send any corrections or additions my way and, as always, thanks for reading.