OT: TheRinger - The Inexact Science - Top NFL draft prospects and their ranking coming out of HS

Submitted by Rico616 on January 21st, 2011 at 7:50 PM


An interesting article from TheRinger. It compares the inexact science of how HS players are ranked and actually turn out through college and to the next level.

I think as Michigan fans the example most used is Mike Hart. Other notables in the past were Michael Crabtree. In this article you'll notice that Nick Fairley was #27 ranked OG on Scout and NR per rivals. Prince Amukamara is another one that stands out also. However you will notice a lot of the top prospects were highly ranked coming out of HS too.

An interesting read.



January 21st, 2011 at 7:59 PM ^

I still don't get why people don't get recruiting rankings and constantly misuse their meaning all the time. It's just a probability of success. A 5 star doesn't mean you're going to get a Brandon Graham every time but the probability is pretty high. A three star doesn't mean you're going to get a bomb every time either, but the probability of success for three stars is significantly lower than 4/5 star players.


January 21st, 2011 at 8:08 PM ^

I think the main grievance is that people get upset when a three star is signed, assuming they won't turn out as good as a four/five star counterpart. The fact that there are guys like Fairley, or Clay Matthews or Sam Bradford show that the system is flawed and that there are aspects of the game that can't be measured.

This all seems obvious but people will always argue that the system could be a little less deliberate and literal in their rankings. I don't see a huge problem with how the system is, but there are people who will just look at a star rating and make up their mind on whether that player is good based solely on the star. That just gets annoying, though.

The recruiting sites are mostly correct. When in doubt, look at the school's that offered a scholarship. Oklahoma signed Sam Bradford for a reason, Mainly because they're better at evaluating talent than sports writers are.


January 21st, 2011 at 8:39 PM ^

Wrong.  This is not only non-obvious, it is false.  Say I tell you that 100 players each has a 60% chance of becoming a D1 starter.  If 60 of them do, the 40 that don't do not prove that the "system is flawed."  These are projections based on available evidence made by imperfect people, but they are very good indicators of the probability of success.  People are justified in being less happy about a 3-star than a 5-star because a 5-star is more likely to succeed.  This does not mean the 3-star can't succeed.

If you could choose one of two tickets, which would you take:  the first gives you a 10% chance of winning $100 and the second gives you an 80% chance of winning $100?  Yes, you would take the second.  If someone told you you should be just as happy with the first ticket, because it could also win you $100, you would think they were a fucking moron.  And you would be right.

turd ferguson

January 21st, 2011 at 9:28 PM ^

I agree with this (+1), but there is a possible source of bias here that's important to consider.

NFL draft stock isn't based on college production.  In fact, both the NFL scouts and the Rivals/Scout guys are looking at a lot of the same things:  speed, height, weight, agility, etc.  In other words, a freakish athlete - as most of these guys are - could get 5-star rankings, contribute little to his college team, and then still be rated very high on NFL boards. 

A more useful measure than this would one that somehow rates players' college productivity and then shows how they were rated coming out of high school.  I'm sure there's a strong correlation between recruiting ranking and college contribution, but I doubt that it's nearly as high as the one between recruiting ranking and projected NFL draft order.

Edward Khil

January 22nd, 2011 at 3:06 AM ^

But I looked around a litrtle, found an article (http://www.andthevalleyshook.com/2009/4/28/854166/nfl-draft-and-recruiting-rankings) that shows that, last year, six former 5-stars were picked in the 1st round (and one in the 2nd), along with

4-stars:  12 in the first round, including #7 overall Darius Heyward-Bey, 5 in the 2nd round

3-stars:  6 in the first round, including #3 overall Tyson Jackson, 11 in the 2nd round

2-stars:  7 in the first round, including #2 overall Jason Smith, 14 in the 2nd round

I thought, see, rankings don't mean that much.

Then, I noticed these were Rivals rankings.  Rivals only has 15 2011 recruits ranked as 5-stars.

If they had 15 last year, they saw 40% of their 5-stars go in the 1st round.  That's a pretty strong correlation.

skunk bear

January 21st, 2011 at 9:59 PM ^

People are not lottery tickets. If they were, then this way of thinking would be fine.

Football players are more than just their measurables. Or how they look on film. Intelligence, discipline, attitude, whether the high school player is physically mature for his age, whether the player will act maturely when in college all play a role.

Opportunities to fulfill your dreams are being given out or denied. A player could be more likely to succeed, have less impressive measurables and be denied the chance to play where they want to ( or possibly, even at all ), if all people went on were the rankings put out by some fat guy with glasses sitting at a desk, watching film at Rivals.

These are people. This isn't a video game. It is real life.

Steve in PA

January 21st, 2011 at 10:28 PM ^

I posted this in another thread this week, but I'll repost it here too.  Bill King on Rivals Radio explained the star system this week and it's not what people think.

5 stars means that the kid projects to play on Sunday

4 stars is an all-conference player

3 stars is a D1 starter

2 stars is a D1 player, but probably not a starter.

Why they imply success at the college level and we've taken them to mean that, it isn't what they are about.


January 21st, 2011 at 8:30 PM ^

You can also say of the top 32 players (1st round) 14 of them were 3 stars or lower on Scout or Rivals with a couple of them being 2 stars. Thats just below half for the non math whiz out there.

What can we take from this? Nothing except like the title says, inexact science. Whether it be coming out of HS going into college or college to the NFL, its hard to determine who will be successful.

I agree though I'd rather have Michigan sign 10 5 star players opposed to 10 three stars but the point is just because they're a 5 star doesnt mean they'll be great and just because they're a 3 star doesnt mean they'll suck.

SN: The draft and the baseball season opener is all we have to look forward to after the Super Bowl is done.

SC Wolverine

January 21st, 2011 at 8:55 PM ^

One of the huge variables is player development.  Of course recruiting matters a ton.  But so does player development.  This is yet another reason why I am excited about our current regime.  Something tells me that Hoke and Mattison can develop defensive talent.  Not so sure about offense, but as a whole I think this will be a vital emphasis.


January 21st, 2011 at 11:10 PM ^

There are far fewer 5 Stars to begin with.  

There are 50 5 Stars each year; if 10 get taken in the first round then 20% were extremely successful.  There are 300 4 Stars each year; if 10 get taken in the first round then 0.3% were extremely successful.  There are probably 500 3 Stars each year; if 10 get taken in the first round then 0.2% were extremely successful.

As you can see, the recruiting services rankings are an indication of success.  If you don't believe it, pull up the the list of 5 Stars from both 5 & 6 years ago (100 players), then see where they are now.   I'll bet half have been part of an NFL team at some point.  4, 3, & 2 Star players won't come close to that success rate.

This doesn't mean there won't be exceptions, but odds are greater for higher ranked players.

skunk bear

January 21st, 2011 at 11:36 PM ^

I know the point I want to make, but I am not sure that I know how to articulate it.

I believe that star rating does not matter because whether somebody at Rivals decides to give a fifth star to a recruit or not does not change the abilities of that recruit.

The supporters of the star system can only be looking at it from the standpoint of those doing the rating. Yes, amazingly, the people at Rivals can tell a five star athlete from a two star athlete. There is a postive correlation between their predictions (ratings) and future success.

However, their ratings do not influence success except to the degree that they influence the opportunity for success.

Edit: There is no cause and effect. No: "We're going to give you a fifth star so now your chances of succeeding are better."

There is only the observation that this prospective player has potential.


January 22nd, 2011 at 12:17 AM ^

So we agree.  We should want players with the most potential.  5 Star players have the most potential, so we should want 5 Star players.

Obviously we hope for the best from any player we recruit.  We rationalize that our coach found a diamond when the recruiting services rated him low, but 99% of 3 Stars never make it to the NFL.  

I really hope Tramani Carter is the next Charles Woodson, but chances are he will just be a solid contributer who never plays on Sunday.  If someone said you can have DeAnthony Thomas (5 Star) or Tramani, I doubt many people would hesitate to make the change.

skunk bear

January 22nd, 2011 at 1:01 AM ^

I am not sure we agree. Let us say Rivals gives Kris Frost a fifth star (I know there was talk of it). Does that make Kris Frost bigger? Stronger? Faster? No, whatever Kris Frost's abilities were before the fifth star they remain so. And so, Kris Frost's desirability to the UofM is also unchanged. All that is different is some guy's opinion of Kris Frost.

What about Dee Hart? If Dee gets a fifth star does that make Dee a better back? No, it doesn't. All it means is that someone's opinion of Hart is different.

Well, if it doesn't make any difference for Frost or Hart then who does it matter for?

Star rating doesn't make a player better or worse. All it affects is the accuracy of the ratings (when that player being rated either succeeds or not).


January 22nd, 2011 at 4:49 PM ^

You're right that Star Ratings don't make the player play better.  That's not the point.

Star Ratings are a third party assessment of a players potential.  If a player you have recruited earns a fifth star then you know that the skills he has shown make him an elite player.

The Rankings aren't arbitrary.  26 Recruiting Experts on Scout evaluate close to 2000 players every year.  They consider physical traits like size and speed, stats versus competition, technique, and combine results.  Then they rank them.

If you play fantasy football then you may be able to relate.  First round picks have the most upside while tenth round picks are usually sleepers that you hope will pan out.  Obviously some first round picks become busts but they are more apt to succeed than late rounders.

Can't you see that 5 Star player succeed at a higher rate than other players?


January 21st, 2011 at 8:10 PM ^

A gap also exists between round of the NFL draft the player was taken, and said players success in the NFL.  First round busts are common.   Basically, there are way too many factors to accurately predict a player's success in any sport and any level based on information from the past level.  Talent alone doesn't always translate.   


January 21st, 2011 at 8:13 PM ^

One more thing articles like this dont take into account is improvement throughout college. It could be that all 5 star players actually are better, but some hit a plateau earlier than some 3 star players who thus improve over their 3-4 years in college past the original 5 star prospect. If a 5 star player goes to a school that doesnt develop talent as well, then perhaps it is the college's fault that he isnt a higher pick rather than the HS ranking services' fault.


January 21st, 2011 at 9:30 PM ^

I refuse to believe this.  A star rating MUST make a player awesome in college.  The round they were selected in the draft MUST make a player a highly polished pro athlete.

Na na na na na.......I cant hear you.