It’s the stars, stupid.

Every year, people get sucked into reading data like this…

… and jump to the conclusion that it’s proof recruiting rankings are meaningless.

Here’s what those folks should be looking at, instead.

For broader scope, let’s take a look at the entirety of the 2018 NFL Draft in terms of the draftees’ high school recruiting ranking in the 247Sports Composite.

2018 NFL Draftees

5-star: 19
4-star: 70
3-star: 106
2-star: 19
NR: 42

If one were to look at those numbers without an explanation, you’d see that 167 of 254 drafted players ranked as a three-star prospect or below. That’s 65.7 percent of all players drafted. But one also needs to consider the pool in which these players are coming from. To do, let’s take a look at the 2014 class, those players that would’ve been fourth-year seniors in 2017, along with the percentage of them drafted based on the 2018 NFL Draft.

2014 Class – 247Sports Composite

5-star: 33 (57.6%)
4-star: 296 (23.6%)
3-star: 1,541 (6.9%)
2-star: 1,666 (1.1%)

In other words, if you were a ’14 five-star recruit out of high school, your chances of being drafted by an NFL team were almost ten times more likely than if you were a three-star kid.

Last year’s draft numbers tell a similar story.

2017 NFL Draft

Five-star: 23
Four-star: 76
Three-star: 90
Two-star: 25
NR: 38

2013 Class – 247Sports Composite

Five-star: 35 (65.7%)
Four-star: 330 (23%)
Three-star: 1,790 (5%)
Two-star: 1,720 (1.4%)

Let’s face it.  Nick Saban and Kirby Smart aren’t killing themselves chasing the top high school talent because their goal in life is to finish first in the recruiting rankings.  It’s because there aren’t a lot of five-star recruits out there and the odds that any one of them will wind up being a major contributor are significantly greater.  Baker Mayfield’s recruiting ranking notwithstanding…


Filed under Recruiting

26 responses to “It’s the stars, stupid.

  1. Brandon

    Chris Low is trying to give his Tennessee fans a lil’ pick me up.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Bright Idea

    Aren’t most stars assigned based on what showcase camps these kids are invited to and who is recruiting them? The meat market will always be an inexact science but it’s now more of a science than ever but still mostly an art.


    • Not exactly sure. I know there are certainly some areas that lack checks and balances, or could be described as self-fulfilling ratings.

      In other words, it’s obviously clear that Alabama has landed the best players over the last decade. But there is still somewhat of a missing “control” element because some kids actually pick up an additional star rating upon receiving an offer from Alabama (or maybe Alabama AND somebody else big). We are then unable to accurately decipher exactly how well of a talent evaluator and developer Nick Saban is. He would probably jump at the chance to tell you that many of his guys are actually 3 stars (in a world of blind offers) that they merely developed etc. Some of that is probably true.


  3. ASEF

    It is absolutely true that some 3 stars by the end of high school are going to grow in college, physically and/or emotionally, faster than guys who finished ahead of them. And given that there are multiple 3s for every 1 5, the 3s have more bites at the draft apple. But the average 5 stands a much better chance than the average 3.

    If the recruiting rankings didn’t mean anything or were routinely wrong, you would often see 3 stars show up and dominate as freshmen in the same way Ed Oliver did at Houston. But you don’t see that.

    Then again, if we were any good at math, casinos and banks would not inhabit such large buildings. Why probabilities and finances aren’t a required course in high schools has always been a mystery to me. Or maybe not, given how much money those institutions throw at state legislators.

    Liked by 1 person

    • DawgFlan

      Great post. I am not a recruit-nik, but years ago I read a piece about how the 4 & 5 star ratings tend to go to kids with 1) great measurables and 2) high floors. This combo make them much more likely year 1 contributors at the college level, whether as quality depth or starters. The recruiting services tend to default to 3 stars for good players that have high ceiling potential but either lack prototypical size or are raw from a development perspective. It makes sense that some “3 star hearts” will realize outperform their higher-rated peers in college and get drafted, but the NFL still loves the measurables and polish of blue chips.


    • Sides

      I agree. I consider the stars more of an immediate impact rating. A five star should be ready to step in and play as a freshman (like a first round draft pick) and a 3-4 star has similar long term potential but needs more development to get there.

      I am surprised that only 57% of five stars were drafted. I don’t consider that to be a great hit rate considering the signing day hype. I wonder what that number is if it were limited to the first 3-4 rounds? Anything after that would have to be considered a bust.


  4. Superb data. If you are lazy, you can throw data out like that, making it incredibly misleading. Glad you took the time to dig into it.


  5. Charlottedawg

    In addition (and one could argue this fact is more relevant to a college program than where its players get drafted) every national champion for the last ten years has finished with I wanna say top 5 recruiting class in the 2 years prior to winning said national championship. Which means that all but 10 teams are eliminated from contention for the national championship before the first snap of every college football season. But keep recruiting those 5 star hearts!!!!


  6. ChiliDawg



  7. HiAltDawg

    “There’s something about a 3-Star that inspires the unexceptional”–Robert Amadeus California, Sesame Street Enthusiast

    Bad the Office reference aside, good for EVERY PLAYER DRAFTED.

    Mainly, I want Kirby on the mother: getting the best players possible, a full roster and dudes lighting it up between the lines until the whistle blows. The stats and happy talk will follow. Go Dawgs!


  8. David K.

    Thinking like this is what you get from a generation that grew up watching “Rudy” and “Hoosiers” hundreds of times.



    Who were the 3 walk ons? I can’t believe that out of High School that NO ONE offered them some type of scholarship? Just maybe not at their dream school.


    • Red Cup

      You do realize that many walk ons had scholarship offers at other schools but choose to walk on- i e Stetson Bennett. I believe Baker Mayfield was a walk on.


      • PTC DAWG

        Yeah I get all that, but the jist of the original comment was that nobody had 3 of the first round rated at all, I think that’s misleading…


  10. Comments like Low’s and ones that some of the yokels around here used to make about wanting 2 star players with 5 star hearts make me realize most of us are just bad at basic math.


  11. Spur 21

    Someone is channeling old turkey neck.


    • Red Cup

      yeah CPJ is such a developer of talent that he takes 2 stars that no one wants and coaches them up. Anyone find a list of the Jackets who were drafted?


  12. Atticus

    Still amazing that 42 players unranked got drafted. And Trent Thompson who was #1 did not.


  13. The Browns passed on Deshaun Watson and drafted Baker Mayfield and Johnny Manziel. That should tell you something about the people in that front office (Nick Chubb not withstanding).

    On the topic at hand, Chris Low’s tweet shows you can support almost anything with sloppy statistics. The bottom line is that the star rankings absolutely are an indicator of both short term upside to contribute and combined with development long term NFL potential.

    To our local example, there’s no doubt the recruiting ranking got it right the kid had 5 star potential. No one knew how brittle he would be and could measure how much he wanted to be great.


  14. Mayor

    You know, there’s another way of looking at this. Damn near half of the 5 stars playing CFB who were eligible for the NFL draft didn’t get drafted and a whole bunch of 3 stars DID.


    • I think that should tell everyone that development is darn important for a kid who wants to play in the league.


      • Biggus Rickus

        I would be interested to see how big a part injuries or other forms of attrition played.


      • Mayor

        I agree but also I’m one who thinks that the rankings are waaaay too interested in how fast a kid can run, how much he can bench and how high he can jump. As the saying goes: “It ain’t the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”


  15. W Cobb Dawg

    Of course we want to land the stud players. But I’ll give Kirby credit for having a keen eye for talent. Rice, Herrien, McGhee, Marshall, & Kindley were 3-star recruits that have made, and continue to make, some nice contributions.


  16. Jared S.

    Too many words, Senator! If you can’t fit your explanation of facts into a single tweet then it’s not true!!!!