1. NFL players are better – less than 10% of Div I players every play a down in the pros
2. College talent is thinner – there are 32 NFL teams, but over 200 Div I-A and Div I-AA college teams, so the average talent level on each team is lower
3. NFL players are more experienced – a typically college player might get 1 or 2 seasons as a starter, compared to a 10 year pro in the NFL
4. NFL players are bigger – a typical male does not stop growing until his early twenties…NFL players aren’t getting used to changing bodies
5. NFL players are pros – they don’t have to worry about passing grades or how their parents are going to make rent…they can dedicate themselves completely to learning a complex playbook
6. NFL teams have tighter competition – a top college program is designed to beat up on creampuffs and maybe have 2 or 3 competitive games each year…most games are competitive in the NFL
7. College is a different game – it has different rules and is officiated in a different manor…different games need different strategies
Take the QB position. The worst starting QB in the NFL is around the 32nd best QB in the league…he might be worse the a few backups, but probably at least mid 30’s. The same is true with other positions, every NFL team can assume that worse case, they’ll have at least the 30th some odd worst player in the league.
In college, there are 119 Div I-A football teams last time I counted. That means the worst QB is at best in the 100’s, and because top teams horde prospects, possibly in the 200 or 300’s. And the same is true with other positions. Plus there is a lot more uncertainty with athletes coming out of high school. So even a top team might have the best QB, but only the 70th best receiver. You have to design an offense that works for a broader range of skill levels, and that means dumbing things down.
Why don’t we see this in soccer? Well, soccer, especially in Europe, is not tied to universities. In England alone, there are 140 leagues with nearly 500 divisions, arranged in 24 levels of amateurs, semi-pros, youth, B-team, regionals, all the way up to 5 levels of premiere leagues. This ensure that players are well stratified based on ability level. Compare this to the American football, which basically has 4 or 5 levels, most of which are artificially attached to colleges.