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Alabama Football Recruiting 2014: Stars to NFL?

A statistical look at the accuracy of recruiting ratings.

Joe Robbins

Jadeveon Clowney was a consensus number one overall recruit in 2011. He ended up being the number one overall draft pick in the 2014 draft.

....Aaaannnddd then there was Bryce Brown. The number one overall recruit from 2009 ended up being picked at the end of the seventh round.


*I think Trent is okay with being considered the second best running back in high school that year*

Recruiting rankings take a considerable amount of flak from both fans and media for their inaccuracies. I myself have even tended to doubt the rankings, depending more on my own vain attempts at scouting recruits to form opinions. So, I decided to put the rankings to the test. Initially, I was going to check the high school ratings of all the first rounders, but Bud Elliot beat me to it with this impressive article.

So, since this is, you know, an Alabama blog, I figured I would focus just on Alabama players.

At this point in time, we have 41 total players on an NFL team. A few of those were undrafted free agents, and another few were players such as DeMeco Ryans, Roman Harper, and Andre Smith that were recruited by Mike Shula. For the purposes of this article, I threw out these players, since we are looking only at players that Nick Saban has recruited who have in turn been drafted. In other words, players between the recruiting classes of 2007 and 2011 are the only ones considered.

The Five Stars's description of a five star player:

Franchise Player; considered one of the elite prospects in the country, generally among the nation's top 25 players overall; deemed to have excellent pro potential; high-major prospect.

These guys are expected to be the best of the best. They should elevate their team to another level. And Alabama managed to recruit 11 of them in 5 years.

An astonishing 72.7% of them have since been drafted into the NFL. Of that percentage, the average draft pick is 26.25. This means that the average five star player from Alabama to go the NFL is drafted in the first round. Nico Johnson and Cyrus Kouandjio are the only two outliers, as they were drafted in the 4th and 2nd rounds, respectively.

Dee Hart also has the chance to bump up the percentage here, as he will likely get drafted out of Colorado State if he keeps up his monstrous production this year.

The Four Stars

While the five stars exceeded expectations, the fours seem to fall short. Only 25.4% of all the four stars heard their names called in the draft.  Four stars are typically considered impact recruits for any program, and the fact that only a fourth of these guys make it to the NFL is disconcerting. The average draft pick of our four stars  is 89.67, or the 3rd round.

The Three Stars

The threes are not expected to do much, especially for Alabama. As expected, an even smaller percentage of 3 stars make it to the next level: 14.6%. However, the few that have made it have done so with flying colors. Led by Marcell Dareus, the threes have and average draft pick 103.3, which is only slightly lower than the vaunted four stars.

Positional Breakdown

Next, I decided to look at each position and how they all fared in the high school vs. NFL debate. Instead of paragraphs, I compiled a handy little chart with my calculations.

Total Drafted % Drafted ADP Average Star Rating
QB 1 16.70% 164 4
RB 3 25% 30.67 4.33
WR 2 10% 64.5 4.5
TE 2 33% 229 3.5
OL 5 26.30% 40.6 4.2
DL 7 25.90% 118.1 3.57
LB 5 38.50% 36.8 4.2
CB 4 36.40% 48 4.5
S 3 30% 65 4
Total 32 25.60% 76.38 4.06

Because Everyone Loves Bullet Points
  • A whopping 38.5% of the linebackers Saban has recruited have ended up being drafted. The real LinebackerU.
  • On the flip side of the scale, we really aren't developing WR's very well, with only 10% making it to the next level. With Lane Kiffin now at the helm, that trend will hopefully balance out.
  • The running backs hold the lead for highest average draft position.
  • The tight ends are the lowest, with Michael Williams and Brad Smelly both being drafted in the 7th. O.J. Howard will bump that average up soon.
  • Were it not for De'Quan Menzie and Vinnie Sunseri, all of the DBs would have been drafted in the first round.
  • A.J. McCarron made my averaging easy.
  • The two positions with the lowest ADP, tight end and defensive line, also have the lowest average star rating.
  • Four of the five offensive linemen were on that vaunted 2012 line, with the other being James Carpenter.
  • Auburn still sucks.
  • Our average player was drafted in the third round. Oddly enough, we've had no actual third round draft picks.
  • The defense has developed much better than the offense under Saban (who woulda thought?)
  • The 2010 class only put 3 players into the NFL (although a few 5th year seniors have a chance). That is tied with Saban's 2007 class for the lowest output. Even the 2011 has already surpassed it.
  • 25% of the 2007-2011 classes made it to the NFL, I feel like that is a pretty good pitch for Saban to use to sway future recruits.

The Overachiever


Marcell Dareus was a lowly 3 star recruit coming out of high school, and played his way into being a third overall draft choice, tying Trent Richardson for the highest draft pick of the Saban Era.

Honorable mention goes to Chance Warmack

The Disappointing Stepchildren


The ballyhooed 2008 class brought in some high caliber players, and ushered in a new era of Alabama football. This revolution was led by five stars Julio Jones, Tyler Love, and B.J. Scott. I bet you remember one of those names. The other two, however, only made it a couple of years at the Capstone. Scott transferred to South Alabama, while Love gave up football altogether.

Do you think recruiting rankings are accurate? How do you feel about the lack of receiver development (and doesn't that just feel right when thinking about how long it would take McElroy to find an open receiver)? And let me know if you want any more specific things of data, as I have plenty of it that I decided to leave out in order to be somewhat brief.