Every February, the buzz of National Signing Day in college football can be felt across the country.
Recruiting day specials can be found on major television networks, while online recruiting services profiling each potential recruit are scrutinized by devoted fans. Perhaps the most widely viewed item on these reports is the “star” ranking provided to each recruit. From numbers one through five, a prospect is ranked according to his potential at the college level and, to a certain extent, beyond.
While accumulating higher ranked players certainly gives a college program its best chance for a high level of success, it is not the be-all-end-all for assessing the long term pro potential of the athlete. In last season’s Super Bowl, the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots combined for a total of three starters with a five-star ranking and five with four stars. A whopping 53% of the starters were three-star recruits, proving further that value can be found across schools of all sizes and in prospects of all stars.
That idea also holds true with the Green Bay Packers’ draft history, as even Aaron Rodgers was a three-star prospect out of Butte College.
Rivals, ESPN, 247Sports, and Scout are four major recruiting services that evaluate high school football prospects. Over the past three seasons, as shown below, Green Bay’s draft classes have averaged 3.25 out of five stars per draftee when taking the combined composite rankings into account. Some prospects in the charts were not ranked by a service, either because they were lower-profile recruits like Devante Mays, or initial walk-ons such as Kyler Fackrell and Aaron Ripkowski.
2017 Composite Average = 3.40 Stars
|2||Josh Jones||NC State||3||3||3||3||3|
|6||Kofi Amichia||South Florida||3||3||3||3||3|
|7||Devante Mays||Utah State||3||Unranked||2||Unranked||2|
2016 Composite Average = 3.14 Stars
|3||Kyler Fackrell||Utah State||Unranked||Unranked||2||Unranked||2|
|5||Trevor Davis||Hawai’I (later Cal)||2||3||2||2||2|
2015 Composite Average = 3.14 Stars
|1||Damarious Randall||Arizona State||3||3||3||3||3|
|2||Quinten Rollins||Miami (Ohio)||Unranked||Unranked||Unranked||4||4|
A franchise known for its development of players from within, the data is telling that Green Bay has seen most of its recent production through three-star talent. Randall, Ryan, Martinez, and Lowry headline that bunch and much is expected of rookies King, Jones, and Williams this season. It’s safe to say that most of these athletes were developmental coming into college as well and flourished with college coaching. Meanwhile, only four players – Montravius Adams, Malachi Dupre, Kyle Murphy, and Brett Hundley – garnered a single five-star grade out of high school, and none were picked before the fifth round.
Beyond recent drafts, some of Green Bay’s Pro Bowl talent also flew under the recruiting radar. Randall Cobb received three stars. Jordy Nelson and B.J. Raji were two-star recruits. Clay Matthews was a walk-on at USC before rising to stardom.
The NFL remains a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league and Ted Thompson’s mantra of drafting true “football players,” not necessarily workout warriors, is backed up by the classes he’s put together.