Rivals is my favorite recruiting system. Not my favorite site, and not my favorite rankings (ESPN is winning that title this year), but my favorite system. In addition to stars, they have a relatively simple system for ranking recruits:
The ranking system ranks prospects on a numerical scale from 6.1-4.9.
6.1 Franchise Player; considered one of the elite prospects in the country, generally among the nation's top 25 players overall; deemed to have excellent pro potential; high-major prospect
6.0-5.8 All-American Candidate; high-major prospect; considered one of the nation's top 300 prospects; deemed to have pro potential and ability to make an impact on college team
5.7-5.5 All-Region Selection; considered among the region's top prospects and among the top 750 or so prospects in the country; high-to-mid-major prospect; deemed to have pro potential and ability to make an impact on college team
5.4-5.0 Division I prospect; considered a mid-major prospect; deemed to have limited pro potential but definite Division I prospect; may be more of a role player
4.9 Sleeper; no Rivals.com expert knew much, if anything, about this player; a prospect that only a college coach really knew about
A 6.1 player is basically top 35; 6.0 = 35-85; 5.9 = 85-160; 5.8 = 160-300.
To put it in NFL terms, a 6.1 is a 1st or early 2nd-round NFL draft pick. A 6.0 is a 2nd-3rd rounder. A 5.9 is a middle-round pick. A 5.8 is a late round or undrafted FA type. A 5.7 is a player with fringe NFL potential, a 5.6 is an NFL longshot, a 5.5 isn't going to make it. 5.4 and below are guys that are unlikely to see snaps at U-M.
Keep in mind that the standard at Michigan is high. Jeff Backus keeps a picture of a Michigan huddle on his wall. Why? Because everyone in that huddle would go on to play in the NFL. While that's not typical, the majority of our starters on both sides of the ball should at least find themselves on NFL rosters for a season or two.
That said, I have taken the Rivals Rankings and re-ranked our players according to my current expectations. This is based on the evidence I have, which is obviously flimsy for the guys that haven't played yet. It's a combination of what I've seen on the field, practice buzz, and my gut. Using Derrick Green as an example, I don't think we've seen or heard anything at this point that would suggest he is a 1st-round NFL pick (PLEASE remember that I haven't seen him play an actual down of college football yet). The flipside is that Dymonte Thomas is already showing signs of an impact player, justifying his 5.9 ranking, while Gardner appears on his way to being a solid early-round NFL draft choice.
I have ONLY ranked the players I believe are likely to contribute this season.
|James Ross III||WLB||5.8||5.9|
No, I'm not going to explain the rankings one-by-one. What I will say is that I believe our average needs to be closer to 5.83 before we are considered "elite."
Also note that the rankings should be slightly inflated. Why? Because these are the guys that are projected to contribute to our team this season. They have gone from recruits to players, and have either demonstrated performance on the field or generated significant buzz.
You'll also notice that higher-ranked players are likely to see rankings revised downward. This is part common sense, part timing: a top-ranked player has nowhere to go but down and most of our higher-ranked players are young and not yet fully-developed.
Finally, you'll notice a few grades below 5.7 in the re-rank. If we are to be an elite team, we should not have any (other than kickers) players below 5.7 pushing for playing time.
Here are the rankings, with my projected starters only:
|James Ross III||LB||5.8||5.9|
This includes a slot WR, nickel CB, KR, and extra LB (JMFR). If we're looking to be a dominant team, I think we need an average closer to 5.88.
I will revisit these rankings after the season, and perhaps once in the middle.