With the NFL season in full swing, fans will enjoy endless action and will watch key players lead their teams to victory. Over the years, a number of top-rated key players have hailed from the Garden State.
1) Greg Olsen: NFL’s Best Tight Ends
Greg Olsen is a native of Wayne, New Jersey and has enjoyed a great career with the Carolina Panthers. He is one of the best tight ends in the entire NFL league and has had 49 touchdowns. Just entering his 30s, Olsen has many years left to dazzle fans. Olsen first started his NFL career with the Chicago Bears in 2007 and played with the team until 2011, when he was traded to the Panthers. During the first year playing with the new team, Olsen recorded 45 receptions for more than 540 yards and had 5 touchdown catches.
2) Muhammed Wilkerson: Hometown Hero
Wilkerson started his professional NFL career with the New York Jets and was the 30h selection in the 2011 Draft. As the fourth player from Temple to join the Jets team, Wilkerson signed a four year contract for $7.4 million. He remained on the Jets roster until February of 2018, when he was released by the team and signed a one year contract with the Green Bay Packers. Wilkerson was one of four defensive linemen for the Jets that registered two seasons with 10 or more sacks.
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3) Neil O’Donnell: Best Passer
Many of the best NFL players from New Jersey hold records, but Neil O’Donnell is a name that many think of when they consider passers in the game. He was one of the most productive NFL passers from New Jersey, having passed over 21,500 yards. This NJ athlete signed a $25 Million deal with the Jets as a quarterback and definitely made New Jersey proud as he had an amazing and successful career. After playing with the Jets until 1997, he was traded to the Cincinnati Bengals and then quickly signed a contract in 1999 with the Tennessee Titans. O’Donnell retired in 2002, ending his professional career with just 2.11 interceptions for every 100 yd pass attempt, one of the lowest percentages in the entire NFL.
4) Franco Harris: Super Bowl Champion
Franco Harris is one of the top 10 all-time athletes from New Jersey and is a four-time Super Bowl Champion. Harris was also selected for the Pro Bowl nine times during his career and is featured in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Harris is considered to be the best from Jersey and during his professional career, he played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks. When he began his professional career with the Steelers, he was the Number 1 pick for the team and the 13th player that was selected during the 1972 NFL Draft.
5) Joe Theismann: Redskins Star
Theismann is a NJ native, born on New Brunswick and was one of the greatest players of all time for the Redskins. Having been named the NFL MVP in 1983, Theismann would have surely been a member of the Hall of Fame if his career hadn’t ended early. During a game against the Giants, the superstar sustained a broken leg that ended his career at 36. However, he is still considered to be one of the best athletes in New Jersey and led his NFL Redskins team to win Super Bowl XVII.
6) Irving Fryar: Most Touchdown Passes
Of all professional NFL players to come from New Jersey, Irving Fryar stands out as he has caught the most touchdown passes. With 84 catches in the end zone over a 17 year career, Fryar is one of the best football athletes to hail from NJ. A native of Mount Holly, he played in Five Pro Bowls and enjoyed successful seasons with the Eagles, Redskins, Patriots, and Dolphins.
7) Jim Jeffcoat – Dallas Cowboys Superstar
A native of Matawan, Jim Jeffcoat enjoy a 15-year career in the NFL and won two Super Bowls while playing with the Dallas Cowboys. Jeffcoat led the league in sacks, having 102.5 and enjoyed a streak of 224 consecutive games played. As a top pass rusher. Jeffcoat is definitely on the top of the list for the fittest NFL players to come from New Jersey. He retired as a player in 1976 and spent the next 7 seasons as the defensive end coach for the Dallas Cowboys. In 2008, he was hired to be the defensive line coach for the University of Houston and then coached at San Jose State from 2011 to 2012. From then until 2018, he was a coach for Colorado University, but will not be returning to the coaching staff for this year’s season.
The legacy of NJ in the NFL
These players have made their mark in the NFL and some are even considered game legends. With some of the best football athletes coming from New Jersey, NJ sports fans will be able to find a hometown hero to root for as they watch the amazing games to be played during this year’s season.
New Jersey has turned out some of the best athletes of all time and here, we discover the top football players that have either been natives of New Jersey or have played college ball in the state. The Garden State may be one of the smallest in the country, but it cultivates some of the greatest football talents. Many NFL rosters are dominated by the best athletes in NJ. Surprisingly, this small state has more than 63 players currently playing in the NFL, and of these players, 36 colleges are represented.
Football is one of the most watched sports in the US and with hundreds of players being drafted each year, teams are always changing and offering fresh blood, new legs, and rising talent. So many of the fittest NFL players come from the small state of New Jersey and many have gone on to become some of the best athletes of all time.
NJ Continues to Turn Out Pro NFL Players
With many of the best athletes in football coming from New Jersey, the state continues to produce top rated athletes. There are many players now playing at the college level that will soon appear in the NFL and NJ athletes have even been drafted right out of High School to play professional football in the NFL. The Garden State has surely contributed a large number of professional athletes to the football league as well as many other leagues.
In addition to professional athletes, a number of Olympians have also been from New Jersey, so this state is definitely one that is known for producing some of the best athletes in the United States. The aforementioned NFL players are just a few of the great ball players that have come from this state and fans of the NFL will be sure to see many more NJ natives pop up on rosters in the coming years.