Who’s the best player currently playing in the National Football League that hails from Chicago?

Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

It’s subjective, but the popular response is Pierre Thomas.

That’s not very good. While Pierre Thomas might win you a fantasy matchup in some random PPR league, he’s certainly not a name you want to boast as the best player from the country’s third largest city. That city happens to be hosting the NFL Draft for the first time this year.

Chicago has never been a rich pipeline of NFL talent, but it does have its share of names to hold its hat on.

In the early years, eventual Hall of Famers like Knute Rockne (Tuley), Dick Butkus (Chicago Vocational), Ray Nitschke (Proviso East), and Marv Levy (South Shore) anchored Chicago’s presence in the NFL.

More recently, the talent pool included the likes of Simeon Rice and Donovan McNabb (Mount Carmel), Flozell Adams (Proviso West), and Mike Alstott (Joliet Catholic).

It’s not to say that Chicago is without football talent, it’s just severely lacking in sustainable NFL-caliber talent.

Below is a list of players who played their high school ball in the Chicagoland area AND received a draftable grade for the 2015 NFL Draft by CBS Sports’ NFLDraftScout.com.

Laken Tomlinson — Duke, OG (No. 49 overall, Proj. Round 2)
Chicago, IL — Lane Tech High School

Tevin Coleman — Indiana, RB (No. 61 overall, Proj. Round 2)
Oak Forest, IL — Oak Forest High School

Andy Gallik — Boston College, C (No. 145 overall, Proj. Round 4-5)
Evergreen Park, IL — Brother Rice High School

Titus Davis — Central Michigan, WR (No. 202 overall, Proj. Round 6)
Wheaton, IL — Wheaton-Warrenville South High School

E.J. Bibbs — Iowa State, TE (No. 230 overall, Proj. Round 6-7)
Chicago, IL — Bogan Technical High School

Louis Trinca-Pasat — Iowa, DT (No. 219 overall, Proj. Round 6-7)
Chicago, IL — Lane Tech High School

DaVaris Daniels — Notre Dame, WR (No. 237 overall, Proj. Round 6-7)
Vernon Hills, IL — Vernon Hills High School

Evan Spencer — Ohio State, WR (No. 255 overall, Proj. Round 7)
Vernon Hills, IL — Vernon Hills High School

Jake Kumerow — Wisconsin-Whitewater (No. 315 overall, Proj. Round 7-FA)
Bartlett, IL — South Elgin High School

Mark Weisman — Iowa, FB (No. 341 overall, Proj. Round 7-FA)
Buffalo Grove, IL — Stevenson High School

I’m not a fortune teller, but it doesn’t take a genius to see that the players on this list aren’t transcendent talent.

But this brings me back to the context of my initial question – why is Chicagoland area football so dreadful at harvesting elite talent?

It’s certainly not in the NFL now and it’s most definitely not incoming with the 2015 class.

I mean, not only does this class only boast ten players in the top 350, but there are none projected to go in the first round, and only two projected to be drafted before the third day.

Far are we from the days of Butkus and even McNabb – names you recognize instantly if you’re from Chicago.

Pierre Thomas? Not so much.

When you think about the notable decline in Chicago-grown talent making it to the NFL, it only makes sense that the SEC’s rise to dominance has occurred in the same timeframe. The hotbed of NFL talent is primarily in the South, and schools in the region are keeping those players home.

Conversely, the Midwest’s most populous metroplex is proving that its talent base was bred to play basketball.

Not on Sundays.