Numbers don't lie

Clowney at '11 Under Armour Game

Let's take a look back at the high school rankings of the current top 100 draft prospects. It's always a fun exercise to see how we did. So, how did we do?

Yesterday was the release of the final version of the Scout.com 2014 Top 100 NFL Draft prospects . I thought it might be an interesting exercise to see where these players were ranked and rated coming out of high school.

So how did we do?

First things first, this draft class pool is primarily made up of players from the Classes of 2009, 2010 and 2011. Of course, the nation's consensus top recruit in the Class of 2011 was none other than defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney also happens to be the top prospect in this draft class.

Former 5-Star recruits on Scout.com
DE Jadeveon Clowney
WR Sammy Watkins
OT Jake Matthews
DT Timmy Jernigan
S HaHa Clinton-Dix
DB Lamarcus Joyner
OT Cyrus Kouandjio
DT Dominique Easley
DE Stephon Tuitt
DT Anthony Johnson
QB Aaron Murray
WR Jarvis Landry
RB Lache Seastrunk
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins
RB De'Anthony Thomas
Wide receiver Sammy Watkins, offensive tackle Jake Matthews, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan and safety HaHa Clinton-Dix, were also all five-star recruits when they came out of high school and now find themselves inside the top 20 in the top 100 NFL Draft prospects. In all, there are 15 former five-star recruits in the Top 100 .

What is a five-star prospect? Different networks have different meanings for the stars next to a recruit's name. For Scout.com it was pretty simple; for many years a five-star prospect was a top 50 high school recruit in the nation in any given year or class. A four-star prospect fell somewhere between 51-300. So in reality, Scout.com always had a few more five-stars than other recruiting services, but less (and in many years significantly less) four-star players. In reality, a true five-star is a kid that can play for anyone in the country and that truly means anyone.

Of late though, especially the past year or two, we have gotten a little tougher with the five-stars and eased up on handing out more four-stars. I have always believed each year is different and we shouldn't pigeon hole ourselves into a set number of five-stars, four-stars, etc.

Now, back to the exercise in hand. 40 of the final Top 100 draft prospects were four-star recruits in high school, including 14 of the top 32. Add the former fives and four stars together and 55 made the Top 100 .

I have to admit, those numbers are pretty good. But as this industry evolves so do we. I can't speak for everyone but I can speak for the group at Scout.com. It's deep, talented and there are a lot of guys in my shoes, my teammates, who are veterans of this business who know what they are looking for and what they are doing. We are at all the big events, camps, combines, 7-on-7s, and games. Of course, with HUDL, there is video on virtually every prospect.

But we have our share of misses just like the NFL coaches, general managers and scouts. This is where I like to go and dig and see who we missed on.

The big miss for all parties involved was outside linebacker Khalil Mack. Coming out of high school at Ft. Pierce (Fla.) Westwood he had one scholarship offer to Liberty. The Liberty coach [Robert Wimberly] recruiting him at the time took at job at Buffalo and convinced then Bulls head coach Turner Gill to offer Mack. The rest is history.

Scott Kennedy, the Director of Recruiting for Scout.com, is the guy that oversees the Scout.com rankings of high school players. He knows the numbers inside and out.

"The old saying is there are lies, damn lies and statistics," Kennedy said. "Looking at the Top 100 prospects and their relative high school rankings, I've seen people come to the conclusion that there is roughly the same chance a player was a two or three-star as opposed to a four or five-star in the NFL Draft. And that's true. But to use that as a basis for disregarding recruiting rankings as an indicator of success is misleading at best and intellectually dishonest at worst."

It's all about the numbers for Kennedy. In 2011, there were 50 five-stars, 250 four-stars, 1,100 three-stars and 1,300 two-stars.

"That means that your chances of being a Top 100 NFL Draft prospect based on your high school rating are approximately one in three if you are a five-star, one in six if you are a four-star, one in 35 if you are a three-star and one in 90 is you are a two-star," Kennedy said.

"When trying to predict the future of a prospect, I always say to ignore the ranking of any single player because that one player could turn out to be two-star Khalil Mack or one of a dozen five-stars who faded into oblivion. But pay attention to the trends. It would take you nearly 100 two-stars to find Khalil Mack."

Mack checks in at No. 2 in the top 100. There were five other former two-star recruits in the draft Top 100 inside the top 50 – quarterback Blake Bortles, cornerbacks Darqueze Dennard and Jason Verrett, and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. In all there were only 14 players in the draft top 100 that were two-star prospects in high school. Another cornerback, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, wasn't even rated at all.

2014 NFL Draft Top 100 Breakdown
Where they were rated in high school?
Five-stars 15
Four-stars 40
Three-stars 30
Two-stars 14
Unrated 1
There's a strong contingent of former three-star prospects like quarterback Johnny Manziel, offensive tackle Zack Martin, wide receiver Mike Evans, tight end Eric Ebron, and defensive backs Calvin Pryor and Justin Gilbert.

How does this group stack up to 2013 draft class?

If you look at the top 100 players that were drafted last year, 17 were five-star prospects, 23 were four-star prospects, 33 were three-star prospects and 27 were two-star prospects coming out of high school.

The numbers don't lie.

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