A look at how recruiting rankings have stacked up at the top of the NFL Draft since 2008

uspw_6210926 (1)

No matter which recruiting agency you pledge your allegiance to, there’s going to be drastic differences between Rivals, 247Sports, ESPN and Scout. Each has their own set of rankings, evaluators and trending factors that make up their rankings. And when projecting four- and five-star players over the years, evaluators want to obviously get them as close as possible for future implications such as the NFL Draft.

Sometimes talent evaluators get them wrong and four- and five-star players turn out to be busts. But with increased media attention tilted toward recruiting, with more showcases and all-star games, and with the evolution of YouTube and game film, more and more prospects are being discovered and correctly evaluated…or you would think.

And to the recruiting services’ defense, it’s hard to predict how 18-year-old kids will project when they are in their early 20s. It can be very tough to nearly impossible.

Let’s take a look at the last five years of the NFL Draft and look at where Rivals.com – the network with the most historical data – ranked first-round draft picks.

In 2013 alone, the SEC will set a record with as many as 16 first-round draft picks in April.

Here’s a look at a 2013 mock draft with recruiting star rankings, including 10 other prospects who could land in the first round:

Pick Player Po. College Stars
1 Luke Joeckel OT Texas A&M ****
2 Bjoern Werner DE FSU ***
3 Geno Smith QB WVU ****
4 Chance Warmack OG Alabama ***
5 Dee Milliner CB Alabama *****
6 Damontre Moore DE Texas A&M ***
7 Matt Barkley QB USC *****
8 Alec Ogletree LB Georgia ****
9 Jarvis Jones LB Georgia ****
10 Star Lotulelei DT Utah ***
11 Dion Jordan LB Oregon ****
12 Ezekiel Ansah DE BYU NA
13 DJ Fluker OT Alabama *****
14 Terrance Williams WR Baylor **
15 Kenny Vaccaro SS Texas ****
16 Eddie Lacy RB Alabama ****
17 Sheldon Richardson DT Missouri *****
18 Eric Fisher OT Central Michigan ***
19 Manti Te’o LB Notre Dame *****
20 Zach Ertz TE Stanford ***
21 Barkevious Mingo DE LSU ****
22 Keenan Allen WR California *****
23 Sharrif Floyd DT Florida *****
24 Alex Okafor DE Texas *****
25 DeAndre Hopkins WR Clemson ****
26 Travis Frederick C Wisconsin ***
27 Tyler Eifert TE Notre Dame ***
28 Johnthan Banks CB Miss State ***
29 Sam Montgomery DE LSU ****
30 Johnathan Hankins DT Ohio State ***
31 John Jenkins DT Georgia ****
32 Kawann Short DT Purdue ***
33 Cordarrelle Patterson WR Tennessee ****
34 Mike Glennon QB NC State ****
35 Xavier Rhones CB FSU ***
36 Lane Johnson OT Oklahoma NR
37 Jonathan Cooper OG UNC ***
38 Eric Reid S LSU ****
39 Justin Hunter WR Tennessee ****
40 Kevin Minter LB LSU ****
41 Jesse Williams DT Alabama ****
42 Matt Elam S Florida *****
  • Of the 42 top-rated prospects who could go in the first round, there’s only one two-star player.  There are, however, 13 three-stars, 17 four-stars, nine five-stars and two unranked stars.
  • 38 percent were three-stars or less.

2012 NFL Draft

  • 4 two-stars
  • 10 three-stars
  • 13 four-stars
  • 4 five-stars
  • One unranked prospect

2011 NFL Draft

  • 3 two-stars
  • 10 three-stars
  • 12 four-stars
  • 7 five-stars

2010 NFL Draft

  • 5 two-stars
  • 7 three-stars
  • 15 four-stars
  • 5 five-stars

2009 NFL Draft

  • 7 two-stars
  • 6 three-stars
  • 12 four-stars
  • 6 five-stars
  • One unranked prospect 
2008 NFL Draft
  • 7 two-stars
  • 7 three-stars
  • 11 four-stars
  • 5 five-stars
  • One unranked player
  • Patriots had no pick because of SpyGate

Summary by star rating (159 picks)

  • 26 2-stars (16.4 percent)
  • 40 3-stars (25.3 percent)
  • 63 4-stars (39.6 percent)
  • 27 5-stars (17 percent)
  • Three players were unranked (1.9 percent)
  • Forty-three percent of the players selected were underrated as either a zero, two or three-star player.
Rivals rankings from 2004-2009 have supplied most of the players for the past five drafts, and there were a total of 173 five stars in those classes. So, one out of every 6.4 five stars go on to become first round picks.
Photo Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports




You must be logged in to post a comment. Please sign in or register

  • Interesting article, though I don’t think anyone expects Matt Barkley to go in the first round, much less at #7

  • These numbers don’t mean a lot. You need to show the percentage of five stars, four stars, three stars, etc… that end up as first round picks…. the raw number means nothing if you are trying to say whether the star rating is a good predictor or not.

    • That’s a much more in-depth study. This was merely a quick observation that seemed interesting, but without having access to a quick number of two, three and four stars from 04-09, it would be tough. Add in the fact that there were over 10,000 players that were three stars or less in the last couple of years. Five stars make up just about 1% of the rankings each year. That would be a fascinating study.

  • This year in the ESPN 300: 3.6% of players are 5 Stars. In the ESPN 150: (which is closest to the 159 person sample size) 7.3% of players are 5 Stars. The highest percentage of rated and recruited players are 4 Stars and compose 96.3% of the 300 and 92.6% of the 150. There are 4 Star athletes who aren’t even ranked and god knows how many 3 Star athletes are floating around cyber space decreasing the percentages of the 5*. Basically, of rare and very small percentage of players that earn the 5 Star rating each year, these players have the highest percentage of being drafted per the total amount of ranked players.

  • This data would be much more interesting if it were put onto a line graph and transposed on one another on the odds of someone being ranked at various stars vs the draft. There should be less 5 stars going pro because there are less period.

Continue scrolling for more articles.