Every year, we at ITL like to compile the players cut by NFL teams, first from 90 to 75, then from 75 to 53 (after practice squad players have been added, of course). These are the players who are almost good enough, but not quite, and usually they’re the ones who are told they’ll be the first ones called when injuries strike.

They’re also the ones who are in most demand by other teams as well as other leagues; many of these players will show up on FXFL rosters in just a few weeks. Though these players get no press, they’re just a heartbeat away from making a 53-man roster.

The lists always tell a story about who’s in demand and who’s not in the NFL. Here are a few observations based on our list of the 716 players cut just under two weeks ago.

  •  There were 114 wide receivers cut, which is almost 20 more than any other position. This isn’t so surprising; the NFL has become a very pass-friendly league, and every team is hoping to take a flier on a player who has speed, size, or both, and could become a real difference-maker. It’s also worth noting that speedy players look the best at pro day, so teams are more likely to fall in love with them even without any real college production.
  • Second-most popular cuts were linebackers (89). Linebackers, like tight ends, are required to be super-athletic as well as sizable; I think teams are always tempted to bring in players who can run and jump but who might not have football figured out yet. Even with expanded practice squads, you can’t keep all of them.
  • It’s generally agreed that three states are the biggest hotbeds for high school football, and those numbers were borne out at cut time. California high schools produced 91, while Texas was the home state for 78 of them, and Florida bred 66 of them.
  • Three college conferences led the way as the Big Ten produced 92 players in the group, the SEC 82, and the ACC 79.
  • You’re always hearing about the small-school player who beats the odds and makes a roster, but the odds are pretty long. Five-hundred and sixty-six players (almost 80 percent) were from Division I/FBS schools, and 106 (about 15 percent) were from Division I-AA (FCS). There were 32 from Division II and just four from both Division III and the NAIA.
  • It’s interesting how quickly age catches up to you in the NFL. Of the players who populated NFL rosters up until final cuts, players from only two draft classes (2014 and 2013) had more than 100 released. No draft class since 2008 had more than 21 players represented.

Again, these are the kinds of numbers that may interest only me; analyzing the players who DIDN’T make it may make me a certifiable football nerd. Still, I find it interesting.

We’ll take an up-close look at the players who DID make it next week.

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