But on Thursday, on the opening day of the annual Draft where teams go searching for the players they hope will win them a Super Bowl, there was a small sea change that offered a fresh insight into the changing face of the game.
Three players, one from west Africa, one from Europe and another from the Southern Pacific Ocean, were among the 32 first-round picks, which is reserved for the cream of the college system.
Ghana's Ezekiel Ansah, who only began playing the sport three years ago, was selected as the fifth overall pick by the Detroit Lions.
Star Lotulelei, who was born in the Polynesian kingdom of Tonga, was selected as the 14th overall pick by the Carolina Panthers, two places above the only quarterback who got picked in the first round.
Then Germany's Bjoern Werner was chosen as the 24th pick by the Indianapolis Colts, providing a rare international trio in the ultimate version of playground pick-a-team.
There are a handful of other players, including four from England and from as far flung countries as Australia, Jamaica and Estonia, who could be selected in the latter rounds but it was the unusually high number of first round picks that was most startling.
Few players who had made it to the NFL have taken a road as unlikely as Ansah, who had never seen a game of American football until he moved to the U.S. from Ghana in 2008 on an academic scholarship.
After failing to make the basketball team at Brigham Young University, 6ft 5in (1.96 metre) Ansah decide to try his luck at American football and proved a natural as a defensive end.
"I can't be more humble that I am today," Ansah said at Radio City Music Hall. "I never envisioned myself five years ago being here."
Lotulelei and Werner also took unconventional paths to the ultra-professional world of the NFL.
Lotulelei, a defensive tackle, moved from Tonga when he was nine years old after his father, a Mormon teacher, accepted a position in Utah.
Liker many of his compatriots who grow up playing the bruising rugby codes of union and league, he proved a perfect fit for the physical demands of American football.
Werner was raised to play soccer but got a taste of American football with a team in Germany before he won a scholarship at Florida State as a defensive end.