The Best Current NFL Players Born in California

Just about every one of the 50 states has produced an NFL star or two. However, few states can boast the “NFL factory” status the way California can. Some of the game’s top talents have called the Golden State home during their primitive years. That’s why we’re here today –to look at some of the best players currently in the league who were born in California. Trust me when I say that there’s a ton of star power on this list.

So without further ado, let’s dive into the top 20 current NFL players who once called CA home.

20. ILB Eric Kendricks, Minnesota Vikings
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Born in Clovis

One of the NFL’s most underrated linebackers, Eric Kendricks has spent the last two seasons leading the charge for the Minnesota Vikings‘ elite defense. Featuring impeccable instincts and playmaking skills, the former second-round pick has burst onto the scene as a dynamic difference-maker for Minnesota. Only two seasons into his NFL career, the sky appears to be the limit for Kendricks as he continues to gain respect around the league as a linebacker to avoid.

19. QB Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
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Born in Fresno

A couple of years ago, Carson Palmer would have been higher on this list. Now that his age is finally catching up to him, though, the Arizona Cardinals‘ starter has watched his effectiveness and production slide. Despite that fact, Palmer is still one of the better veteran quarterbacks in the league who once called California home. Retirement appears to be in the near future, but he has plenty to be proud of from his 14 NFL seasons.

18. OLB Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers
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Born in Northridge

Much like Palmer, Clay Matthews has seen his play begin to deteriorate as his age continues to climb. Once one of the most feared pass rushers in the league, he’s since become an inconsistent-but-effective piece of the Green Bay Packers‘ defensive front. It appears as though the end is nearing for Matthews, but that doesn’t mean he should be disregarded as one of the great California natives still making waves in the NFL.

17. FS Tony Jefferson, Baltimore Ravens
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Born in Chula Vista

One of the most underrated safeties in the NFL, Tony Jefferson has quietly developed into an outstanding asset in the secondary. Signed by the Baltimore Ravens this offseason, he figures to play a key role in helping their defense finish the year among the best in the league. A versatile, well-rounded playmaker who can stuff the run or slow the pass, Jefferson is one worth watching as he heads into his fifth season.

16. DT Jurrell Casey, Tennessee Titans
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Born in Long Beach

Another top-tier defender who doesn’t get the credit he deserves, Jurrell Casey has spent his entire NFL career dominating opposing blockers. Over the last seven years, he’s served as one of the key pieces of the Tennessee Titans defense. Although his standing as a star on a lackluster team has forced him to fly under most folks’ radars, the California native has earned the right to be a household name.

15. TE Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
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Born in Orange

It took some time, but Zach Ertz has finally emerged as one of the best receiving tight ends throughout the league. With his excellent athleticism, reliable hands and improving route running, he’s quickly earned the role of Carson Wentz‘ go-to option in the passing game despite the presence of players such as Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. This could be the year the former Stanford star finally earns that coveted “star” status.

14. OT David Bakhtiari, Green Bay Packers
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Born in Burlingame

When folks watch the Packers, they tend to focus on Aaron Rodgers while assuming that everyone else on that offense is just another guy. However, David Bakhtiari simply can’t be overlooked as one of the main driving forces behind the Green Bay offense. He’s served as Rodgers’ blindside blocker since his rookie 2013 campaign. During that time, he’s proven that he’s one of the most reliable left tackles from around the NFL.

13. WR Brandin Cooks, New England Patriots
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Born in Stockton

Despite coming off the board in the same round as receivers like Mike Evans and Odell Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks has held his own as a top receiver in the NFL. While his time with the New Orleans Saints ended rather abruptly, the future appears bright for the speedy pass catcher with the New England Patriots. Teamed with one of the greatest gunslingers in league history, Cooks can only go up from here.

12. DT Leonard Williams, New York Jets
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Born in Bakersfield

Leonard Williams may only have two full NFL seasons under his belt, but he’s already one of the best interior defenders in the league. The reason he doesn’t quite get the recognition from the casual fan is because he plays for the New York Jets, the laughingstock of the NFL. Still, his efforts through two years are more than enough evidence of his potential to be a truly elite defensive tackle.

11. OT Donald Penn, Oakland Raiders
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Born in Los Angeles

For much of his NFL career, Donald Penn has flown under the radar as an outstanding left tackle. His days with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were praised, but not to the same extent as his time with the Oakland Raiders. Since joining the Silver and Black in 2014, Penn has been recognized as one of the best blindside protectors in the game. The two-year, $21 million extension he signed is further evidence of that.

10. CB Marcus Peters, Kansas City Chiefs
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Born in Oakland

Prior to his selection during the 2015 NFL Draft, there was significant concern about Marcus Peters‘ character. This stemmed from his removal from the team at Washington and a particular in-game sideline incident. However, since joining the Kansas City Chiefs, Peters has been nothing short of sensational. With a knack for creating turnovers, the rising star at cornerback is quickly making a name for himself as one of the league’s top playmaking cornerbacks.

9. C Ryan Kalil, Carolina Panthers
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Born in Corona

Over the past decade or so, the Carolina Panthers have boasted one of the best centers in the NFL. Yes, I’m talking about Ryan Kalil, a two-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowler who has set the standard for star centers. While he does play a position that receives almost none of the glory, he’s anchored some outstanding front fives for the Panthers while spending much of his career protecting one of the league’s most dynamic quarterbacks, Cam Newton.

8. RB Marshawn Lynch, Oakland Raiders
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Born in Oakland

Realistically, Marshawn Lynch is no longer the superstar he once was with the Seattle Seahawks. However, now that he’s made his triumphant return with the Raiders, we all have another opportunity to see what a special running back he can be. Possessing outstanding power, vision and explosiveness, he earned the nickname “Beast Mode” for his ability to bulldozer his way through defenses with reckless abandon. Even after taking a year off, Lynch is still one of the most exciting runners in the league.

7. ILB Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks
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Born in Los Angeles

Utah State isn’t exactly known as an NFL talent factory, but it got something right with Bobby Wagner. The LA native shined during his college career, convincing the Seahawks to take him off the board in the second round. He immediately earned the starting job and never looked back, immediately emerging as one of the best inside linebackers throughout the league. The heart of the Seattle defense, Wagner figures to dominate opponents for years to come.

6. FS Eric Weddle, Baltimore Ravens
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Born in Fontana

It amazes me how often Eric Weddle is overlooked as one of the top safeties in the NFL. Having spent most of his career with the then-San Diego Chargers may have played a part in it, but it’s still criminal to have not given the star safety the recognition he deserves. He’s a dynamic playmaker on the backend who does a great job of reading and reacting to whatever the offense throws at him. Now with the Ravens, Weddle should continue to shine even during his 11th season as a pro.

5. QB Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
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Born in Bakersfield

Coming into the league, Derek Carr faced significant criticism. Despite tearing it up at Fresno State, his older brother’s struggles in the NFL brought up questions about Carr’s own abilities to handle the pressure. However, through three seasons, we’ve already seen that he was more than up to the challenge. In fact, he nearly made a run at the 2016 NFL MVP award before a broken leg ended his year prematurely. The leader of the Raiders offense should have no trouble putting together another MVP campaign in 2017.

4. OT Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys
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Born in Moreno Valley

Many casual fans don’t know most of the big-name offensive lineman from around the league. However, one of the most recognizable names among hog mollies is Tyron Smith, the Dallas Cowboys‘ elite left tackle. He’s spent much of his NFL career owning opponents in the trenches while being entrusted with keeping Tony Romo‘s backside well protected. Now trusted with keeping Dak Prescott upright, Smith figures to remain a cornerstone of the Dallas offensive line for years to come.

3. CB Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks
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Born in Compton

Another one of the Seahawks’ top talents, Richard Sherman came out of nowhere to become one of the NFL’s true shutdown cornerbacks. A fifth-round pick out of Stanford, it didn’t take long for the Compton native to show his elite mix of coverage instincts and ball skills, racking up 30 interceptions through his first six seasons. While he has had some clashes with coaching and was rumored to be on the trading block this past offseason, Sherman is undoubtedly still one of the game’s best cover men.

2. QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
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Born in Chico

If it wasn’t for the next guy on this list, Aaron Rodgers would be seen as the best quarterback in the NFL. Even though he doesn’t currently own that designation, that’s no knock on the impact he’s had for the Packers through nine seasons as the starter. Gifted with elite arm talent, tremendous leadership and uncanny pocket poise, Rodgers figures to continue improving well into his mid-30s. Despite being a first-round pick (No. 24 overall), the Cal product is largely considered one of the biggest draft steals of the 21st century.

1. QB Tom Brady, New England Patriots
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Born in San Mateo

Considered by many to the GOAT, Tom Brady went from unheralded NFL prospect to one of the greatest gunslingers to ever grace the gridiron. If you take a look in his trophy case, you’ll find five Super Bowl rings, two MVP awards and more Pro Bowl honors than you can count on two hands. The Patriots never would have emerged as a dynasty if it weren’t for the efforts of Brady, who has cemented his name among the league’s legends.