Do Recruiting Star Rankings Matter with SEC's First-Round NFL Draft Picks?

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Do Recruiting Star Rankings Matter with SEC's First-Round NFL Draft Picks?

From a college football perspective, the 2013 NFL draft was less about the landing spots of former SEC stars and more about the continued dominance of the nation's top college football conference.

A mind-boggling 63 players from SEC schools heard their names called, shattering the previous record of 56. It was the seventh straight season the SEC had the most players drafted.

The showing was so impressive that either SEC division would have led all conferences in players drafted [in 2013], with the SEC East sending 32 players to the draft and the SEC West tying the ACC with 31,  according to AL.com.

But does that correlate to recruiting?

Of the 12 SEC players selected in the first round, 11 had either four of five stars in the 247Sports.com composite index coming out of either high school or junior college. The only exception was former Alabama and current Tennessee Titans guard Chance Warmack, who was a 3-star prospect coming out of Atlanta's Westlake High School.

I'd say a 91.7 percent hit rate on 4- or 5-star prospects is marvelously efficient. 

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Former LSU DB Morris Claiborne

It's also the continuation of a trend.

Only two of the nine SEC players selected in the first round in 2012 had less than four stars coming out of high school—former LSU defensive back Morris Claiborne (3-star) and former South Carolina defensive end Melvin Ingram (3-star).

It was more of the same in 2011, as nine of the 10 first-round picks had four or five stars in the 247Sports.com composite index or from Rivals.com (for older prospects). Former Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley was a 3-star player coming out of Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi and when he was a high schooler in Mobile, Ala., in 2007.

So, over the past three years, 27 of the SEC's 31 first-round draft picks had four or more stars. That's 87 percent...not a bad success rate.

However, it goes the other way too.

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Former Florida DB Matt Elam

Of the six draft-eligible SEC players who received five stars in the 2010 247Sports.com composite, five were drafted in the first four rounds. Of those, four—Dee Milliner, Matt Elam, Sharrif Floyd and Alec Ogletree—went in the first round. Former South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore went in the fourth round, and former Tennessee and Tennessee Tech wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers went undrafted.

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Former Alabama DB Dee Milliner

The players who are still in school from that class—Florida's Dominique Easley and Ronald Powell— have big-time pro aspirations, as does Tennessee's Ja'Wuan James. Auburn wide receiver Trovon Reed has been a bust thus far, Michael Dyer has the talent but can't find a home, and former Florida defensive back Josh Shaw now plays for USC.

Are there misses? Of course. 

You can't account for character issues or work ethic when ranking high school players. Rogers is a perfect example of that.

However, while a player's star ranking is more of a guideline than a rule, getting that 4-or 5-star designation and signing with an SEC school is a recipe for success at the next level. "Diamonds in the rough" are few and far between.

The last three NFL drafts prove it.

 

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