ST. LOUIS – Heading into year eight without an NFL team in St. Louis, it might still be difficult for some locals to invest their fandom in the Rams or another football team.

Fortunately, there are lots of homegrown talents to follow with the 2023 NFL season on the horizon. At least a dozen players between both states of the St. Louis metropolitan area will be rostered on NFL teams to start the upcoming season.

The new NFL season kicks off Thursday with the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs set to host the Detroit Lions. And after that, we’re only a few more days away from the first NFL Sunday of the 2023 season.

Before many months of touchdowns, tailgates and checking fantasy football lineups, these are eight players to know with St. Louis roots.

Ezekiel Elliott

Team: New England Patriots
Position: Running back
Born: Alton, Illinois
High School: John Burroughs High School

Zeke’s impressive run as the Dallas Cowboys’ lead rusher came to an end last season. He still proved effective in certain spots with 12 touchdowns last year, though his 876 rushing yards in 2022 were a career-low. At 28 years old, Elliott will start the season as the Patriots handcuff to Rhamondre Stevenson.

Foyesade Oluokun

Team: Jacksonville Jaguars
Position: Linebacker
Born: St. Louis, Missouri
High School: John Burroughs High School

Once a lottery-ticket draft pick, Oluokun ended up leading the NFL with 184 tackles last year in his first year with Jacksonville. Previously with the Atlanta Falcons, he has also forced five interceptions and seven sacks over the last three years. Oluokon has yet to earn a Pro Bowl selection, but is primed for another big year on a Jaguars team primarily favored to win the AFC South.

Jonathan Owens

Team: Green Bay Packers
Position: Safety
Born: St. Louis, Missouri
High School: Christian Brothers College High School (CBC)

Owens enjoyed a breakout year with the Houston Texans last year, competing with Oluokun for the tackles title for much of the first half of the season. He ended up with 125 tackles and a new contract with the Packers. Owens is also well known for tying the knot with famous Olympics star Simone Biles earlier this year.

Terron Armstead

Team: Miami Dolphins
Position: Offensive tackle
Born: Cahokia, Illinois
High School: Cahokia High School

A four-time Pro Bowl pick, Armstead has proven durable in the later stages of his NFL career. He made his NFL debut in 2013 with the Saints and anchored several playoff-bound offensive lines before joining the Dolphins last year. Now 31 years old, Armstead has organized many charity efforts in recent years for his hometown Cahokia and St. Louis at large.

Blaine Gabbert

Team: Kansas City Chiefs
Position: Quarterback
Born: Ballwin, Missouri
High School: Parkway West High School

After various stints starting for the Jaguars and San Francisco 49ers in the 2010s, Gabbert has settled for a backup role in recent years. By joining the Chiefs, Gabbert will dress for six teams in his decade-plus NFL career. His opportunities will be limited though unless star quarterback Patrick Mahomes is rested or battling an injury.

Markus Golden

Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
Position: Linebacker
Born: St. Louis, Missouri
High School: Affton High School

A longtime force for the Arizona Cardinals, Golden is preparing for just his second season away from the Grand Canyon State. He has three seasons with at least 10 sacks and remains steady all-around. He will settle for a backup role to start the season, but on a Steelers defense that projects as one of the toughest for opponents to battle this season.

Khalen Saunders

Team: New Orleans Saints
Position: Defensive tackle
Born: St. Louis, Missouri
High School: Parkway Central High School

A two-time Super Bowl champion, Saunders began and ended his Chiefs career with Super Bowl titles in 2020 and 2023. He played a key role in Super Bowl LVII with two tackles and a sack in the Chiefs comeback win. Saunders cashed in for a three-year deal with the Saints and lines up as an everyday starter as long as he stays healthy.

Jameson Williams

Team: Detroit Lions
Position: Wide receiver
Born: St. Louis, Missouri
High School: Cardinal Ritter High School

A college star with the Alabama Crimson Tide, Williams has battled the injury bug since joining the Lions in last year’s draft. He is also serving a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s gambling policy, but is expected back later this season and could slot in as Detroit’s next top receiver as Amon-Ra St. Brown. Williams scored one touchdown with the Lions in limited attempts last year.

In addition to the previous eight mentioned, these are among others with St. Louis roots on NFL rosters and/or looking for opporunities this season.

  • Sam LaPorta (Detroit Lions – TE)
  • Christian Kirksey (Buffalo Bills – LB)
  • A.J. Epenesa (Buffalo Bills – DE)
  • Armon Watts (Pittsburgh Steelers – DE)
  • Renell Wren (Pittsburgh Steelers – DE)
  • Adoree’ Jackson (New York Giants – CB)
  • Mike Ford (Cleveland Browns – CB)
  • Austin Siebert (Free agent – K)
  • Brandon Williams (Free agent – DT)