The NFL’s Diversity by Position

The NFL’s Diversity by Position

We ran 2017–18 NFL player profile photos through a neural net to objectively classify ethnicity and determine the diversity in the NFL position groups.


  • The NFL in 2017 was predominantly comprised of black (66%) and white (27%) players
  • There is a disproportionate dispersion of white players on offense vs. defense, with Centers and Quarterbacks each at 82% and 78%, respectively
  • While the highest frequency of white players on defense is Linebackers (18% white)
  • There are 0 white Cornerbacks currently in the NFL
  • The special teams only positions (Kicker, Punter, and Long Snapper) are all 97%+ white
  • NFL position groups show statistical significance of heterodeskacity


Tom Brady

Using profile photos from, we put each player through a trained neural network to classify the highest probability of a player’s ethnicity. The results are given back as probabilities. We then classify each player based on their maximum likelihood ethnicity.

Next Steps

This study is a starting point of a study of diversity in the NFL. While race is a hot topic across the NFL and America, we are not going to preemptively jump to any conclusions or provide hot takes. We are simply presenting the data.




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