NFL players come from all over the place. Not only do they come from many of the 50 states they come from Canada, Puerto Rico, and more. Each location has a legacy for the players they have provided to the best football league in the world.
When it comes to Colorado, there have been a plethora of players born in the state to pass through the ranks of the NFL. That said, there are a handful of names that make the top of the list, including two current NFL players.
Christian McCaffrey, RB (2017-present)
What better place to start than win the unquestioned King of the Running Backs? McCaffrey has always been a dual-threat standout, going back to his days at Valor Christian in Highlands Ranch (he’s from Castle Rock). He no doubt inherited his athletic prowess from dad Ed, a long-time NFL veteran with the Denver Broncos.
McCaffery would attend Stanford University, really making his mark by 2015. That year, he won the AP College Football Player of the Year, and Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, was a First-Team All-Pac-12 selection, and was a consensus All-American. He also won the Jet Award and Paul Hornung Award, bringing with him sufficient hype when he declared for the 2017 NFL Draft.
The Carolina Panthers made him the 8th overall pick that year. It took some time due to injuries before McCaffrey made himself one of the best running backs in the league. He made a Pro Bowl and earned both a first- and second-team All-Pro selection in Carolina.
He has really taken off since getting traded to the San Francisco 49ers. He earned his second Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro nod in 2022 and even set the NFL record for most consecutive games with a touchdown (17). He is currently a candidate for NFL MVP as the 49ers attempt to reach the best record in the NFC this season. McCaffrey is the driving force for the 49ers and could make his first Super Bowl this year.
Dutch Clark, RB 1931-1938
Dutch has a distinction that no other Colorado-born player has. He is the only player born in the state to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The famed “Flying Dutchman” was in the first Hall of Fame class all the way back in 1963.
He played at Pueblo Central and Colorado College before ultimately joining the Portsmouth Spartans in 1931. His real claim to fame would come with a five-year run with the Detroit Lions. He picked up four of his six All-Pro selections during that time, as well as an NFL Championship in 1935.
Calais Campbell, DE 2008-present
A native of Denver, Campbell has been making a mark since his high school days. He first hit the national radar as a member of the Miami (FL) Hurricanes, picking up a whopping 39 tackles for loss during three seasons in Coral Gables.
The 50th overall pick to the Arizona Cardinals in 2008, Campbell has since established himself as one of the most consistent defensive ends in the game. He has made five Pro Bowls and one All-Pro selection (2017). He also reached the Super Bowl as a rookie with the Cardinals, as well as three conference championships.
Though he has pinballed around of late, most recently landing in Atlanta, his numbers are impressive. He has 102 sacks and 779 total tackles in 239 career games, further underscoring just how impressive he has been throughout his more than 15 years in the NFL. He’s still contributing, so those numbers will only continue to rise.
Vincent Jackson, WR 2005-2016
The Colorado Springs native was overlooked when he came out of Widefield High School. He could have gone Ivy League but turned down Columbia University so he could play basketball and football at the University of Northern Colorado. He is still one of the best NFL Players from Colorado University UNC.
He set every kind of record at UNC, leading him to be picked 61st overall by the San Diego Chargers in 2005. He quietly became one of the better receivers in the league during his time in the NFL, split between the Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He amassed 540 career receptions for 9,080 yards and 57 touchdowns across 12 years. In 2012, he led the NFL in yards-per-catch average (19.2) in one of the three seasons he attended the Pro Bowl. Though he didn’t have monster stats, Jackson was routinely one of the most reliable receivers in the NFL during his tenure.
Though it may not have the laundry list of players that football-rich states like Texas, Ohio, and California have, the impact of players from Colorado cannot be overstated. The best current running back in the game leads the list, and there are players on both sides of the ball who have made or are making an unforgettable impact.