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Five-stars? Two-stars? NFL pays it no mind

Dontari Poe AP

Every February there’s a frenzy of hype as a fresh new recruiting class for every college football program is announced, with hope springing eternal From Fan Base X that this group of incoming freshman will push Team X over the top.  Or keep them there.

Nearly three months later, the drill is repeated at the NFL, with the draft signaling a new day has dawned for woebegone franchises as fans cling to any sliver of hope that this is the draft that will turn things around.  (In Cleveland, this is commonly referred to as “our Super Bowl”.)

Does one in any way, shape or form relate to the other, though?  Not particularly, but the numbers are nonetheless (mildly) intriguing.

Counting last night’s opening segment, there have been 128 players selected during the first round of the NFL draft the past four years.  Interestingly, there have been nearly as many two-star-or-lower players* selected in the first round between 2009 and 2012 (20) as there have been five-star prospects (23).  The latter’s numbers are somewhat skewed, however, as there were just 120 recruits given four-star ratings between 2006-09.  For comparison, there were more than 900 recruits — may be more than 1,000; I didn’t go beyond the Rivals250 — who received a four-star rating during the same time frame.

Continuing down that same path, where the NFL really finds the bulk of its players, however, is in the other two ratings slots.

In those four years, nearly 40 percent of the first-round selections (51) came into the collegiate ranks as four-star recruits.  Three-star recruits have a significant impact as well, with 33 of those players over the four years taken in the first round.  All told, nearly 66 percent of the players taken in the first round since 2009 have been three- or four-star recruits.

If you’re looking to become the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, however, the brighter the hue of the blue-chip player coming into college, the better the odds are that recruit will hear his name called first by the commissioner.  Of the eight No. 1 overall picks since 2005, six have either been four-star — Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, 2012; Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long, 2008; LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell, 2007; North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams, 2006 — or five-star — Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, 2011; Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, 2009 — prospects in their respective recruiting classes.

The only No. 1 overall pick who fell outside that rarefied star air?  Utah quarterback Alex Smith, who parlayed a two-star entry into college football into being the first pick of the San Francisco 49ers in the 2005 NFL draft.

(Writer’s note: Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford was a three-star prospect and the top pick of the 2010 draft)

Below is a year-by-year breakdown of  the first round of the NFL draft:

2012
5-star — 4
4-star — 13
3-star — 10
2-star — 4

2011
5-star — 7
4-star — 11
3-star — 11
2-star — 3

2010
5-star — 6
4-star — 15
3-star — 6
2-star — 5

2009
5-star — 6
4-star — 12
3-star — 6
2-star — 7

(*Brandon Weeden, selected by the Cleveland Browns at No. 22 overall, was drafted by the New York Yankees in 2002 and played professional baseball through 2006.  He enrolled at Oklahoma State in 2007 as a “no-star recruit”.)

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5 Responses to “Five-stars? Two-stars? NFL pays it no mind”
  1. drummerhoff says: Apr 27, 2012 1:38 PM

    last night i was wondering the same …

    1st round pick, rivals stars
    andrew luck 4
    robert griffin 4
    trent richardson 5
    matt kahlil 5
    justin blackmon 3
    morris claiborne 3
    mark barron 4
    ryan tannehill 3
    luke kuechly 3
    stephon gilmore 4

    dontari poe 2
    fletcher cox 4
    michael floyd 5
    michael brockers 4
    bruce irvin 4
    quinton coples 4
    dre kirkpatrick 5
    melvin ingram 4
    shea mcclellin 2
    kendall wright 3

    chandler jones 2
    brandon weeden *
    riley reiff 3
    david decastro 3
    donta hightower 4
    whitney mercilus 3
    kevin zeitler 3
    nick perry 4
    harrison smith 4
    aj jenkins 4

    doug martin 2
    david wilson 4

  2. rolltide510 says: Apr 27, 2012 1:50 PM

    A lot of times the star ranking reflects more then talent. Marcel Dareus was a five-star talent given a three-star ranking because he wasn’t expected to be able to qualify academically. A lot of the kids that play for the smaller schools find themselves in this situation as well.

  3. atxcane says: Apr 27, 2012 2:33 PM

    I wonder what the breakdown is as percentage of overall stars in that class? For instance, there are WAY more 4*s and 3*s, so it’s not surprising that you see more in terms of raw numbers in the first round.

    I’d want to see percentages for those coming out that year. For example, if there were 12 previous 5*s coming out this year, 33% of them would go in the first round. If there were 80 4*s coming out, 16% go in the first round; for 150 3*s, the success rate is 7%.

  4. papacrick says: Apr 27, 2012 2:50 PM

    It’s funny Stafford is the only 5 star QB considering he got zero hype and analysts like Mayock trashed him to no end. There’s a reason he’s better than every other top QB drafted yet all I ever heard about back then was how great Sloth Bradford is.

  5. philsgoodman says: May 17, 2012 4:23 AM

    Maybe Alex Smith and Sam Bradford should start serving as precautionary tales…

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