(Recruiting) Star Wars: Eagles are far "better" than Patriots

Submitted by robpollard on January 24th, 2018 at 11:38 AM

As we debate and debate our current recruiting class, and its relative bevy of three-stars, I thought this recent SB Nation article was interesting.


To sum up: the Pats team is dominated by 3 stars, with only 1 five-star (Malcolm Brown) and only 4 four-stars (incl the incomparable Tom Brady).

In contrast, the Eagles are much more slanted towards the top end, with 5 five-stars (including the awesome Brandon Graham) and 7 four-stars.

This does not prove recruiting rankings don't matter (it is of course better, on average, to have on your team five-stars instead of a three-stars, Kevin Grady and Mike Hart notwithstanding, as predictor of success in both college, not to mention the NFL), but it is interesting that the most dominant franchise in the last 25 years of pro football does not lean on "can't miss" players nearly as much as you might think.



January 24th, 2018 at 4:11 PM ^

By the time a 3* is in the league,

(1) It becomes clear that others missed on him

(2) He has demonstrated a nice little chip on his shoulder, and the will to out-effort and out-learn his competition

(3) He has had time to develop that chip and that drive into overcoming any actual talent gap that there was

or, most likely 

(4) All of the above


So, the pool of those under consideration in the OP data is basically full of hard-working 4-5 star guys who were extremely driven by having been considered 3 stars coming into college, and have had time to see the fruit of that drive/effort

What does this tell us about recruiting three stars for a college team? Those who will turn out to play for a team like the Pats in a super-bowl aren't readily identifiable and are likely to take several years before they can make the kind of contribution that you're hoping for.

So, if you'd like a team with a couple of diamonds and a couple more still in the rough, and a whole bunch of serviceable guys who can beat poorer teams on effort, but haven't yet gotten to the point where they can out-effort their talent gap, then by all means let's keep saying stars aren't imortant!


January 24th, 2018 at 6:49 PM ^

Just imagine if you have a system of being able to identify these kinds of kids with reasonable accuracy.  Recruiting becomes much easier because most kids will take an offer from M over the other mid-tier offers they have and you spend less time schmoozing entitled 17 year-olds.  I can't help but wonder if Harbaugh is trying to replicate Belichick's talent identification system on the college level.  Now if he can just get a workable system on the field it could succeed very well.


January 24th, 2018 at 7:17 PM ^

acting like it is part of some comprehensive evaluation system. We offered a kid because his high school football game happened to be on ESPN for God's sake!

The reasons we have taken so many low ranked kids, isn't because they were our top targets, it was because we lost out on our Plan A, Plan B, Plan C and even Plan D kids. If these were the kids we targeted all along, you wouldn't see a frenzy of offers and committments coming within a week of the early signing day. That speaks of deserpation. If they were the kids we wanted to begin with the offers would have been issed far sooner.

And honestly, I care as much about the number of 3-star recruits in the Super Bowl than I care about how manny 3-star recruits won the Nobel prize. You're not recruting kids to win Super Bowl, you are recruiting them to win National Champiionship. I shouldn't have to tell you what NC-winners recruit.



January 24th, 2018 at 10:20 PM ^

problem. There are 3 stars we grabbed, as you say, because we struck out on some higher ranked. There are also three stars we grabbed because we missed out on higher rated 3 starts that we wanted. There are also 3 stars we grabbed because we wanted them over some 4 stars our staff was not enamored with, but probably didn't pay attention to the ratings and grabbed them simply because they wanted them. 

But because it does, often time, correlate to their talent, we've nabbed a hell of a lot of 4 stars and more 5s than any other couple year period I can recall in awhile. Remember pls both Dylan and Kareem were rated 5s at one time in their recruiting. Our recruiting over the past three years really has never been better. True story. 


January 24th, 2018 at 12:30 PM ^

I'll use 2017 as an example. At some point I may look at other years because this is interesting.

# of players drafted by star ranking:

5 star: 23

4 star: 76

3 star: 90

2 star: 26

Unranked: 38

Patriots (would have been, had picks not been taken) draft position.


#32, #64, #72(from Pathers), #96, #131(from Seahawks), #163(from Broncos), #183, #200(from Colts), #239(from Lions)

There were only 99 former 4&5 star recruits drafted. If you have picks 32, 64, 72 & 96 out of your 9 draft picks, and you are having to account for filling team needs, it is more likely New England would have to be selecting from a smaller pool of 4 & 5 star players vs teams higher in the draft. 

I don't think it is as much of an issue of avoiding 4 & 5 start recruits as it is taking the best player available to fill your needs when you have the pick. Consistenly, the high end talent is off the board by the time the Patriots need to select someone. 



January 24th, 2018 at 11:52 AM ^

as proof of Belichick's genius for some time. That doesn't mean it's not fascinating. I really to think it speaks volumes for the prowess of someone like Belichick or Beilein that they go out and try to assemble teams. In basketball especially it's so much about harmonizing the skills of players. . . 

I think that what's impressive about Belichick for NFL execs is how he manages to assemble great teams so so cheaply, or to place a lot of money on a handful of players--like Brady--to make it work. Of course, without Brady Belichick is not as successful, which if you believe ESPN may have come to rankle a bit. 


January 24th, 2018 at 11:47 AM ^

By the time the Patriots draft or sign college players, they've been vetted by playing in college for 3 or 4 years.

They're all 4/5-stars by the time the Patriots get them.

Look at Tom Brady.  He was a late round "what the hell" pick.  Yet he had just come off of totally dismantling Alabama in the Orange Bowl.

The Patriots are not signing any actual 3 stars.


January 24th, 2018 at 11:55 AM ^

- Dion Lewis bounced around the league (and was out of it for multiple years) before he caught on with them

- Danny Amendola (and Julian Edelman) were not well "vetted" or ranked

- Chris Hogan was more a lacrosse player

- Kyle Van Noy was seen as a draft bust by the Lions (well...no one ever said the Lions knew anything)

- Malcolm Butler came out of basically nowhere

- Elandon Roberts was a zero-star who was a sixth-round pick

So plenty of players were not Orange Bowl MVPs who happened to drop to the sixth round (and Brady was a four-star, in this ranking, anyway).


Whole Milk

January 24th, 2018 at 12:24 PM ^

Danny Amendola had 3 very solid years in St. Louis (including his best season) before coming to New England. Chris Hogan had two years in Buffalo that were comparable to his production the last few years in New England. They may be the best at finding guys to fit their system that failed elsewhere (such as Van Noy and Lewis), but I would never consider the Patriots the best at finding diamonds in the rough.

There was an article at the end of last season analysing the amount of undrafted free agents and their usage. Out of the 16 teams with winning records, the Patriots only had more undrafted free agents (7) than the Lions (5). The Seahawks (18) Texans (16), and Packers (13) are all consistently better at finding guys who flew under the radar.


January 24th, 2018 at 11:57 AM ^

This is exactly it.  As MGoBlog has proven many times, STATISTICALLY, stars DO matter overall.  But it's only one data point as of the kid's senior year in high school.

But evaluations are going to be more accurate if they rely on more recent information and when the player is playing harder competition.  People also mature physically at different rates.

That 3-4 year "vetting" at the college level is a huge factor.  It'd be like comparing a preliminary 247 Top 100 of high school freshmen & sophomores versus what the 247 composite top 100 would look like 3 years later as they are all seniors.  I'd imagine huge turnover & movement in the ranks.

Similarly, there's a likely additional 3-5 years of "vetting" in the NFLin instances were players were obtained in trades or in the free agent market.

It's clear the Patriots are still better at talent evaluation and/or fitting guys who fit their scheme than other NFL squads.  But simply looking at what star ranking the kid was in HS I don't think is a reliable metric at all.  A somewhat more reliable metric might be what the average DRAFT pick the guy was when they initially came into the league.

Ron Utah

January 24th, 2018 at 12:12 PM ^

That simply is not true, at least not any more true for the Patriots than it is for all NFL teams.  The Patriots take players that other teams could not get any production out of--and many of these guys were not great college players--and turn them into highly productive players.

Any player that is drafted is viewed to have more talent than a HS 3-star player.  Otherwise he would not be drafted.  But the Pats draft and sign guys that are/were under the radar all the time, and turn them into playmakers.


January 24th, 2018 at 11:59 AM ^

This same stupid fucking argument every year. There are more 3 and 4 star football players on every pro football team in the NFL, because there are simply more of them. How many 3 and 4 star football players made All Pro is the question. 


January 24th, 2018 at 12:07 PM ^

I'm not sure if you're responding to the OP, but of course five-stars (on average) are more likely to make the NFL, and are more likely to be All-Pro (again, on average, since there are less of them). And so on down the line.

This is just pointing out that it is interesting that the consensus best team in football is weighted more heavily than you might think to lower stars, including 2 and no stars. That's all.


January 24th, 2018 at 12:30 PM ^

and as other people have stated, they usually have the worst drafting position, but also have what is considered 1 of the best scouting and drafting depts. They don't miss on 1st 2nd and 3rd round picks. Every team has more 3 stars becasue there are more of them to choose from. It's just simple math. Every team that made the playoffs will draft lower, reducing the number of 4 and 5 star players available. I'm not arguing with you, it's just not that big of a surprise. 

Perkis-Size Me

January 24th, 2018 at 12:39 PM ^

And how much good will this do them next Sunday? Survey says: not much at all. College rankings don't mean shit in the NFL. What matters is what you do when you get to the league. 

The Patriots are just better. They're smarter, they're far more experienced in this type of game, all of them have been in this situation before, and while they may not have as much star power top to bottom, they have literally the greatest QB to ever play the game running the show for them.