As recruiting analysts at 247Sports, we’re always evaluating. We evaluate high school prospects and how they project to college and beyond. Once those prospects are in college, the evaluation turns towards ourselves as we evaluate how we did identifying the top talent in each class.
QB Christian Hackenberg already has the look of a No. 1 overall draft pick in a few years.
It’s still very early for the class of 2013. The verdict wont truly be in for at least two more seasons, and in some cases four. But the current freshman class is already making big plays on the field on Saturdays in meaningful games and we’re already getting a feel for where we were on the mark, and inevitably where we missed.
Below, I take a look at how I would reshuffle the 5-star rankings for the class of 2013 based on what we know today and continuing to project for NFL potential.
Note: this is purely an exercise and doesn’t affect the actual rankings. The list below also does not include prep school standouts like Georgia’s Leonard Floyd. This list is pulled strictly from freshmen that were in the high school class of 2013.
1. Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
Original 247Sports rank: 5-star (100), No. 7 overall
247Composite rank: 5-star (.9925), No. 13 overall
We knew Hackenberg had all of the physical tools: size, arm, athleticism. Now we know he has the intangibles too. He’s quickly become the early favorite to be the class of 2013’s top NFL prospect.
2. A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
Original rank: 5-star (98), No. 26 overall
247Composite rank: 5-star (.9834), No. 34 overall
Robinson had his coming-out party this past weekend versus Kentucky when he recorded six tackles and two sacks. He now leads the Tide defense in sacks and tackles for loss and he has seen playing time rise consistently since start of the season. – Tim Watts
3. Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
Original rank: 5-star (100), No. 4 overall
247Composite rank: 5-star (.9978), No. 3 overall
With 16 tackles and 3 interceptions, Hargreaves is living up to his billing and then some. Despite not having unique length at the cornerback position, Hargreaves instincts and athleticism are just that good.
4. Chris Jones, DE, Mississippi State
Original rank: 5-star (100), No. 2 overall
247Composite rank: 5-star (.9912), No. 18 overall
The same reasons that we ranked Jones so high still apply mid-way through his freshman season. His size and raw athleticism are undeniable and we’ve seen flashes of brilliance out of him with four tackles for loss, a sack and four quarterback hurries already in his career.
Chris Jones has shown early flashes of dominance.
5. Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
Original rank: 4-star (97), No. 39 overall
247Composite rank: 5-star (.9921), No. 15 overall
The first true freshman to start at cornerback at Florida State since Deon Sanders had an interception in his first game and hasn’t slowed down since. Ramsey has since been moved to safety but can play either position. He has already picked up 22 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble and 1 tackle for loss to go with his interception. He also has the length that NFL coaches love.
6. Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
Original rank: 5-star (100), No. 5 overall
247Composite rank: 5-star (.9986), No. 2 overall
Another day-one starter, Smith has piled up 27 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, a pair of pass breakups and a forced fumble mid-way through his freshman campaign. His length and athleticism make Smith unique and powered his lofty ranking but his production is nothing new either.
7. Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Original rank: 3-star (88), Unranked in the Top247
247Composite rank: 4-star (.9140), No. 210 overall
Anthony Barr has emerged as a first-round lock for UCLA but Jack has been making almost as many plays. The physical linebacker has shown a nose for the football in both the run game and the pass game as a true freshman.
8. Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas
Original rank: 5-star (99), No. 17 overall
247Composite rank: 4-star (.9795), No. 41 overall
Through seven games, Collins has rushed for 720 yards on just under six yards per carry. In Bret Bielema’s run-heavy offense, Collins has the look of a back that could touch 4,000 yards or more for his career.
9. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Original rank: 5-star (98), No. 28 overall
247Composite: 5-star (.9922), No. 14 overall
Treadwell has caught 32 passes for 327 yards and two touchdowns through a brutal schedule for Ole Miss. The best is still to come for the big wide receiver. The freshman doesn’t look anything like a freshman from a physical standpoint and as he polishes up his game, NFL scouts will start swarming.
10. Brandon Facyson, CB, Virginia Tech
Original rank: 3-star (89), Unranked in the Top247
247Compsite rank: 3-star (.8737), Unranked nationally
Though 247Sports had him higher than most, nobody had him high enough. Facyson has been an immediate impact player for Virginia Tech as a day-one starter on one of the nation’s most dominant defenses.
11. Montravius Adams, DT, Auburn
Original rank: 5-star (99), No. 10 overall
247Composite rank: 5-star (.9945), No. 10 overall
Still polishing up his game, coming to the SEC from small-school Georgia football, Adams has lived up to expectations as an elite defensive tackle body with unique athleticism.
12. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Original rank: 5-star (100), No. 3 overall
247Composite rank: 5-star (.9975), No. 4 overall
The big man came into camp as the most impressive looking offensive lineman on the Ole Miss roster from the eyeball test. He quickly took over the starting left tackle job for the Rebels as a true freshman, which is almost unheard of in the SEC. No one his size should move with the quickness and ease Tunsil navigates with. – David Johnson
Brandon Facyson has performed well above his high school ranking for the Hokies.
13. Matthew Thomas, LB, Florida State
Original rank: 5-star (99), No. 14 overall
247Composite rank: 5-star (.9956), No. 8 overall
Thomas has appeared in four of Florida State's five games this season. He has 4 tackles and 1 sack. When he arrived on campus, Thomas weighed 208-pounds, he's now up to 220 and is being used as a third-down pass-rusher. As the season progresses, Thomas will see more and more playing time. – Josh Newberg
14. Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
Original rank: 5-star (99), No. 11 overall
247Composite rank: 5-star (.9920), No. 16 overall
Allen is another learning the ropes behind seasoned veterans but he's been playing in the 2nd half of the some games and has held his own especially from a physical standpoint. He's currently listed at 6-foot-3, 264 pounds, but he looks bigger and has filled out nicely. – Tim Watts
15. Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Original rank: 5-star (98), No. 31 overall
247Composite rank: 5-star (.9920), No. 17 overall
An immediate starter at nickel, Fuller has made the most of every snap with more than 25 tackles and two interceptions. He has been battling with Facyson in Virginia Tech’s defense for best freshman performer.
16. Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
Original rank: 5-star (99), No. 12 overall
247Composite rank: 5-star (.9828), No. 12 overall
Playing behind TJ Yeldon, Kenyan Drake and a few others Henry has seen most of his carries late in the ballgames but he's shown the potential everyone talked about. His best game was 50 yards on five carries against Georgia State in mop-up duty. – Tim Watts
17. Su’a Cravens, S, USC
Original rank: 5-star (99), No. 16 overall
247Composite rank: 5-star (.9960), No. 5 overall
Cravens was a crucial addition to USC’s class because he was viewed as a player that can play right away. With 41 tackles and two interceptions, Cravens has lived up to his billing as an instinctive ball-hawking safety.
18. Elijah Daniel, DL, Auburn
Original rank: 5-star (98), No. 27 overall
247Composite rank: 5-star (.9740), No. 51 overall
With one sack on the year, Daniel has shown flashes of elite ability. Ultimately he likely lands at defensive tackle and as he grows into that transition, he has a chance to be a very disruptive player.
19. O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Original rank: 5-star (98), No. 20 overall
247Composite rank: 5-star (.9909), No. 19 overall
OJ has played in all six games as a Tide freshman including two starts. He currently leads all tight ends in receptions, receiving yards and yards per catch. Has been used to stretch the middle of the field and looks more comfortable each week. – Tim Watts
20. Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
Original rank: 5-star (99), No. 9 overall
247Composite rank: 4-star (.9732), No. 54 overall
After earning a rare starting job as a true freshman in LSU’s always stout defense, White has gotten better every week and his best performances have been his last two. White had seven tackles and a breakup against Florida and had 3 tackles, and interception and two pass deflections one week earlier against Mississippi State.
O.J. Howard has really come on at tight end for the Tide.
21. Robbie Rhodes, WR, Baylor
Original rank: 5-star (98), No. 21 overall
247Composite rank: 5-star (.9860), No. 28 overall
Rhodes’ role continues to increase in Baylor’s explosive offense and sources around Waco have indicated that he has a chance to be the best wide receiver that Baylor has had under Art Briles.
22. Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
Original rank: 5-star (98), No. 24 overall
247Composite rank: 5-star (.9897), No. 21 overall
Lawson’s best, highlighted by a two-sack effort against Ole Miss, is as good as any prospect on this list. If he can bring that kind of impact regularly he may even be ranked too low.
23. Ricky Seals-Jones, WR, Texas A&M
Original rank: 5-star (98), No. 23 overall
247Composite rank: 5-star (.9869), No. 25 overall
Seals-Jones made the transition to wide receiver from quarterback a lot quicker than expected and was on the verge of cracking the starting lineup before suffering an injury in the second game that knocked him out for the year. He should be awarded a medical redshirt. – Brian Perroni
24. Tony Conner, S, Ole Miss
Original rank: 5-star (98), No. 25 overall
247Composite rank: 5-star (.9837), No. 32 overall
Has been on the field since Game 1 making plays for the Rebels at the huskie/safety position. Conner is very quiet and unassuming and leads with his abilities. As a true freshman, he is already one of the most dependable defenders on the field and within the program is thought to be a sure-fire NFL prospect. – David Johnson
25. Max Browne, QB, USC
Original rank: 5-star (98), No. 30 overall
247Composite: 5-star (.9939), No. 11 overall
With more experienced quarterbacks in place at USC in Max Wittek and Cody Kessler, Browne was not expected to start as a true freshman so his redshirt year as a freshman does nothing to dampen our expectations.
26. Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Ole Miss
Original rank: 5-star (101), No. 1 overall
247Composite: 5-star (1.0000), No. 1 overall
There is little doubt that Robert Nkemdiche is a special talent. He has forged his way into the starting lineup and has played both defensive end and defensive tackle this season. His future is likely as a three technique with his hand in the dirt. He has made an impact, but has been out-shined by others in Ole Miss' heralded 2013 signing class. – David Johnson
27. Joey Bosa, DT, Ohio State
Original rank: 4-star (95), No. 53 overall
247Composite: 4-star (.9809), No. 37 overall
The 6-foot-5, 275-pound Bosa is the first true freshman to start on Ohio State's defensive line in recent memory. Of the Buckeyes' No. 2-ranked recruiting class from 2013, he's certainly been the most impressive. – Dave Biddle
28. Justin Davis, RB, USC
Original rank: 4-star (92), No. 202 overall
247Composite rank: 4-star (.9524), No. 98 overall
Davis is averaging 6.8 yards per carry six games into the season and has had breakout performances against Boston College (10 caries for 96 yards) and Arizona State (10 for 122).
29. Tyler Boyd, WR, Pitt
Original rank: 4-star (93), No. 166 overall
247Composite rank: 4-star (.9391), No. 126 overall
Boyd has three 100-yard games in only five Pitt contests to date. The only two teams to hold him under 100 yards are two of the nation’s top two defenses: Virginia Tech and Florida State.
30. Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, UCLA
Original rank: 5-star (100), No. 6 overall
247Composite: 5-star (.9958), No. 6 overall
With six tackles in his career opener against Nevada, Vanderdoes has made an instant impact and is only going to get better. He still has the look of a future NFL draft pick in what is increasingly looking like a loaded year for defensive linemen.
31. Rashard Robinson, CB, LSU
Original rank: 4-star (94), No. 118 overall
247Composite rank: 4-star (.8903), No. 328 overall
Robinson's academic status kept him from enrolling at LSU until three weeks before the season opener, but he's already made a splash during his short time with the program. Robinson has come off the bench as the No. 2 cornerback during nickel and dime sets, with the coaching staff hoping he will soon emerge as the No. 2 cornerback in all sets. – Shea Dixon
32. Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Original rank: 5-star (99), No. 15 overall
247Composite rank: 5-star (.9958), No. 7 overall
With a handful of tackles during his freshman campaign, Foster is on pace to continue Alabama’s strong tradition of productive inside linebackers.