With this year’s NFL Draft set to kick off tonight, there’s no better time to look back and see how coveted the top pro prospects were coming out of high school.
Baylor QB Robert Griffin III was surrounded by good company at No. 42 in Rivals' Texas rankings; Oregon standouts LaMichael James and Darron Thomas came in at Nos. 39 and 43.
Considering 247Sports had yet to exist at that point, we dig into the facts and figures of the rankings released by Rivals, Scout and ESPN. (It should be noted, and heavily emphasized, that none of the info below is intended to scrutinize or differentiate from the competing networks).
Number of first-round picks, including 2012 projections, from ESPN’s No. 1 class in 2008: Miami.
Still an asterisk here, though, as linebacker Arthur Brown was the network’s highest-ranked prospect in the Canes’ class by far, and the Kansas State transfer elected to return for his senior season.
But remember that ridiculous stretch when Miami went 14 straight years with a first-rounder?
Well, now it appears the Hurricanes will be shut out of the first round for the fourth consecutive year.
Adding further insult to insult …
Boise State's last two recruiting classes have come in at Nos. 62 (2012) and 47, respectively, in 247Sports' rankings.
The highest-ranked prospect, per ESPN’s Scouts Inc., to finish his career at a Florida college is Miami running back Lamar Miller.
UCF corner Josh Robinson (59th) follows shortly thereafter, and the next ranked prospect from one of Florida’s big three is FSU offensive lineman Zebrie Sanders, who at No. 91 would theoretically be a low third-rounder.
Whether this shortcoming is cause or effect for the head coaching turnover at each of those three programs in recent years is for you to debate.
Prospects in Texas ranked higher than Andrew Luck by Rivals in the 2008 class.
Above him were, in order: Oklahoma DE R.J. Washington, Oklahoma RB Jermie Calhoun, Oklahoma OL Stephen Good, Texas DB Aaron Williams, Michigan WR Darryl Stonum, Texas DB D.J. Monroe, Texas DT Jarvis Humphrey and Texas RB DeSean Hales.
Williams went early second round last year. The rest either have fizzled out or play bit roles entering their redshirt senior seasons.
Ranking of Boise State’s 2007 recruiting class, by Scout. Neither ESPN nor Rivals went that high in their rankings.
Here is what Chris Peterson’s initial class yielded:
QB Kellen Moore
WR Titus Young – 2011 2nd-rounder
WR Austin Pettis – 2011 3rd-rounder
RB Doug Martin – 2012 projected 1st- or 2nd-rounder
DE Shea McClellin – 2012 projected late 1st-rounder
CB Brandyn Thompson – 2011 7th-rounder, made Washington Redskins roster
DT Billy Winn – 2012 projected 3rd- to 5th-rounder
Not too shabby …
Expected number of first-round picks to have evolved from Rivals’ and Scout’s top 100 rankings for the 2008 class.
Rivals got Patrick Peterson as well, and Landry Jones would make 10 for its list next season.
Scout pegged Blaine Gabbert (for better and worse) and could reach 10 if corner Janoris Jenkins overcomes the red flags to have his name called tonight.
The 2008 rankings bode quite a bit more favorably for the networks than the 2009 listings.
Trent Richardson, Stephon Gilmore and Dre’ Kirkpatrick figure to be first-rounders this draft, as could 2013 entry Jarvis Jones and maybe even receivers Alshon Jeffery and Reuben Randle. But that appears about it.
Alabama could have five first-rounders, most from one program since Miami posted six in 2004.
Three of those five – Mark Barron, Courtney Upshaw and Dont’a Hightower – are products of the 2008 class ranked No. 1 by Scout and Rivals and No. 3 by ESPN (behind Miami and Clemson).
Ingram was tabbed a three-star by Scout as the nation’s No. 58 running back. Rivals had Terrence Cody as a three-star.
So one could even argue the nation’s No. 1 haul was undervalued.
Here’s a look at how some of the projected top picks were viewed coming out of high school:
Andrew Luck (2008)
Rivals: 4-star, No. 68 nationally, No. 4 QB
Scout: 5-star, No. 47 nationally, No. 4 QB
Robert Griffin III (2008)
Rivals: 4-star, No. 42 in Texas, No. 4 dual-threat
Scout: 4-star, No. 67 in Texas, No. 12 quarterback
Morris Claiborne (2009)
Rivals: 3-star, No. 58 athlete, No. 21 in La.
Scout: 3-star, No. 90 WR
Trent Richardson (2009)
Rivals: 5-star, No. 6 nationally, No. 2 running back (behind Bryce Brown)
Scout: 5-star, No. 13 nationally, No. 2 back (behind Brown)
Luke Kuechly (2009)
Rivals: 3-star, No. 37 in Ohio, No. 44 outside linebacker
Scout: 3-star, No. 23 strong side linebacker
Justin Blackmon (2008)
Rivals: 3-star, No. 91 receiver, No. 10 in Oklahoma
Scout: 3-star, No. 58 receiver
Fletcher Cox (2009)
Rivals: 4-star, No. 94 nationally, No. 2 in Mississippi, No. 5 weakside defensive end
Scout: 4-star, No. 17 defensive end
Ryan Tannehill (2007)
Rivals: 3-star, No. 88 in Texas, No. 23 dual-threat quarterback
Scout: 3-star, No. 58 dual-threat quarterback
Matt Kalil (2008)
Rivals: 5-star, No. 11 nationally
Scout: 5-star, No. 12 nationally
Stephon Gilmore (2009)
Rivals: 4-star, No. 84 nationally
Scout: 5-star, No. 44 nationally
Melvin Ingram (2007)
Rivals: 4-star, No. 21 outside linebacker, No. 10 in N.C.
Scout: 3-star, No. 20 middle linebacker
Mark Barron (2008)
Rivals: 4-star, No. 55 nationally
Scout: 5-star, No. 46 nationally
Chandler Jones (2008)
Rivals: 2-star, 5.2 rated tight end
Scout: 2-star, No. 95 defensive end
Shea McClellin (2007)
Rivals: 2-star, 5.3 rated strong side end, No. 7 in Idaho
Scout: 2-star, unranked defensive end