Reevaluating the draft with high school recruiting rankings
This week, I took a trip down memory lane, examining the Rivals.com and Scout.com evaluations of all the players included the mock draft SI NFL writer
While recruitniks have their own Waterloos (
1. Miami --
Just about everyone in the Big Ten -- except Ohio State -- wanted Long, who drew attention in 2002 as a 6-foot-6, 295-pound junior at East High in Lapeer, Mich.
2. St. Louis --
Long might have been more hyped had he not chosen Virginia so early in the recruiting process. Still, some realized the apple hadn't fallen far from the tree.
3. Atlanta --
Quarterbacks can be tough to project up a level. Case in point: Ryan was ranked far behind future Miami quarterback
4. Oakland --
About a year before Signing Day 2004, Dorsey wasn't a lock to qualify academically. That cut down on his offers, but then-LSU coach
5. Kansas City --
Only two of the players in Clady's signing class received three-star rankings. The rest received two, including Clady and America's Sweetheart, tailback Ian
6. New York Jets --
McFadden received a scholarship offer from then-Arkansas coach
7. New England --
This ranking is a bit puzzling. Recruitniks and NFL scouts usually are drawn to freakish athleticism like sportswriters to a buffet, but somehow the recruiting folks failed to pick up the scent here. Gholston, the most freakish athlete in this draft, didn't get much buzz until just before his senior season in high school.
8. Baltimore --
Rodgers-Cromartie's NFL.com bio claims he received a four-star ranking from Rivals, but no record of that rating appears in the Rivals database. It's amazing any college noticed Rodgers-Cromartie, considering he played for four different high schools and spent his senior season strictly as a receiver.
9. Cincinnati --
Want to hear something scary? Ellis, one of the nation's top interior linemen in 2003, seriously considered LSU. That's right. He and Dorsey could have played together for at least three years.
10. New Orleans --
Like Hawkins and successor
11. Buffalo --
Thomas considered Junior College University -- Kansas State -- but dropped the Wildcats after
12. Denver --
It's been a good year for the Lake Mary (Fla.) High football program. In January, a slow, undersized offensive lineman from the class of 1996 began writing for SI.com. In April, the best player in the program's history will be an NFL first-rounder. It's amazing to think that in 2004, the big debate in Florida was whether Rivers or Willie Williams was the Sunshine State's best defender.
13. Carolina --
Recruitniks were all over Stewart before college coaches were even allowed to send him a letter. As a high school sophomore, he rushed for 1,524 yards and 15 touchdowns -- in five games.
14. Chicago --
When hunting JUCO players, it's good to get in early. Pitt coaches recognized "Baby Shaq" (6-6, 340) could be something special before their colleagues, and that helped the Panthers beat out Oklahoma, South Carolina and West Virginia.
15. Detroit --
Harvey's sky-high rankings were almost entirely projections. He didn't play organized football until his junior year of high school, but the former basketball player's athleticism was off the meter.
16. Arizona --
Academic issues in high school kept McKelvin off the recruiting radar. Otherwise, he might have been a four-star Georgia signee.
17. Kansas City --
Entering his senior year at Brenham (Texas) High, Sweed was considered the best receiver in the Lone Star State. After performing at such a high level in a talent-rich state, Sweed was a near-lock to succeed at higher levels of football.
18. Houston --
The smart guys never get the hype. This late bloomer was the vice president of Glynn (La.) Catholic's National Honor Society.
19. Philadelphia --
Jackson began his junior season at Long Beach (Calif.) Poly -- also the alma mater of Snoop Dogg and
20. Baltimore (trade with Tampa Bay) --
Henne came from the same high school (Wilson in West Lawn, Pa.) that produced
21. Washington --
Merling, a combo TE/DE in high school, drew attention from home state Clemson and South Carolina before moving to Memphis for his senior year, but the top-tier teams didn't recruit him. One coach recognized Merling's athletic ability, though. Former Winthrop hoops coach
22. Dallas --
Mendenhall committed to former Illini coach
23. Pittsburgh --
Albert was a 6-7, 330-pound high school basketball star who didn't begin playing football until his junior year of high school. He turned down a hoops scholarship to Niagara to play for the Cavaliers.
24. Tennessee --
Mayo, from Hampton, Va., drew interest from plenty of schools, including childhood favorite Virginia Tech. In the end, Mayo chose the Volunteers over the Hokies.
25. Seattle --
Even though Balmer didn't get much publicity from recruitniks, North Carolina coaches saw something special in him when he came to Chapel Hill for a camp in 2003. They offered him on the spot, and he accepted.
26. Carolina (trade with Jacksonville) --
Brohm turned down Tennessee, Notre Dame and Nebraska to go to the school where his father and brothers played. His brother,
27. San Diego --
Coming from the same Tulsa, Okla., high school that produced Saints receiver
28. Dallas --
The recruiting analysts -- and plenty of college coaches -- whiffed on Talib, who also had offers from Arizona, Baylor and Wyoming. That's how
29. San Francisco --
The Haiti native wanted to play at Miami, but the Hurricanes didn't offer. Instead, Cherlius picked Boston College over Iowa, South Carolina and Pitt.
30. Green Bay --
Keller was set to go to Toledo until a week before Signing Day, when the hometown Boilermakers finally offered a scholarship. This happens quite often; when a coach misses on some targets, he will offer a local star who, while good, wouldn't typically be recruited at that level. Those players often wind up succeeding in college.
31. New York Giants --