The stars seem to be getting more accurate.
For the second consecutive year, we looked back at the top NFL draft prospects through the eyes of college football recruiting services. Rivals.com's top-ranked quarterback (
As recruits, last year's first-rounders averaged a star rating of 3.42 (out of five) and included five five-star prospects. This year, the players selected in
Even though the Rivals rankings should get more accurate as recruiting coverage becomes more refined, the recruiting gurus still will miss players such as
Here's how this year's projected first round picks ranked coming out of high school:
Though dual-threat wonder
Almost everyone whiffed on the offensive guard from W.T. White (Dallas, Texas) High. Kansas and Minnesota also showed interest, but Smith stuck with Baylor, where he started eight games at tight end as a redshirt freshman. He moved to right tackle as a sophomore and left tackle as a junior.
Everyone wanted the 6-foot-6, 320-pounder from Plainfield, N.J. Monroe wound up deciding between Maryland and Virginia.
Sanchez already had committed to USC when he blew away the field at the 2004 Elite 11 camp. Fellow campers that year included
Oklahoma and Texas A&M also wanted the football/basketball star from Skyline (Dallas, Texas) High. Unfortunately for the Sooners and Aggies, they couldn't compete against the one-two recruiting punch of
Four days before National Signing Day, fans at Florida's O'Connell Center chanted the name of official visitor Smith, who also was considering Alabama, LSU and USC. The giant from Birmingham caused a lot of angst in his home state, but worry turned to joy when he slipped a houndstooth hat on his head on Signing Day.
Maclin called himself a "soft verbal" when he committed to Oklahoma in August 2005. The speedy receiver from St. Louis changed his mind a few months later, and his choice set the stage for Missouri's rise.
Curry, from Fayetteville, N.C., hoped for offers from other ACC schools, but they never came. So Curry went to Wake Forest, put on 35 pounds of muscle and turned into one of the nation's best linebackers.
Raji, from Washington Township, N.J., flew under the radar until his senior season because he didn't go to the usual combines and camps the previous summer. That was lucky for B.C. and Rutgers, which discovered him first and wound up being his finalists.
A trip to a Nike camp in College Station in May 2003 put Orakpo on the recruiting map, but the Houston native held out for an offer from Texas. When he got it that June, he jumped on it.
Ayers, the No. 2-ranked player in South Carolina in 2004, knew he would play in the SEC, but he didn't decide where until the day before Signing Day. That's when he chose Tennessee over Florida and South Carolina.
A late-January visit to Miami forced Jackson to rethink his commitment to LSU, but in the end, Jackson decided to head to Baton Rouge. The choice netted him a national-title ring.
Jenkins, from Piscataway, N.J., also received offers from Rutgers, Syracuse and Virginia Tech. The fact that the Hokies and Buckeyes wanted him should have been the tip-off that Jenkins was no three-star.
It came down to USC, Boston College, Florida and Miami for the Bulldog of Bergen, N.J. Cushing chose Troy, where he would join Sanchez and Maualuga in the class of 2005.
If not for the distance, Wells might have chosen USC, where he would have taken his place among a legendary collection of backs. Of course, the Akron native had a fair program in his own backyard, and he helped the Buckeyes to two BCS title-game appearances.
Freeman wasn't even considering Kansas State until the Wildcats hired
Practically every school on the eastern seaboard wanted Maybin, a 6-3, 211-pounder from Ellicot City, Md. In October 2005, Penn State coach
Matthews, whose father,
While at Hargrave Military Academy in 2004, Jerry played alongside 2008 first-rounder
Even though Moreno is from New Jersey, two of the SEC's biggest rivals wound up vying for his services. He chose Georgia over Florida, then burst on the national stage as a redshirt freshman by gaining 188 yards and scoring three touchdowns in a 2007 win against the Gators in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.
Though Tebow gets most of the credit for Florida's high-powered offense, Harvin was the X factor defenses couldn't contain. Durability issues have hurt Harvin's draft stock, but his 11.6-yard average from scrimmage -- with many of those touches coming as straight handoffs from the tailback spot -- made him college football's most dangerous weapon.
This diamond in the rough started for four seasons after redshirting in 2004. Judging by
A knee injury suffered during Pettigrew's junior season at Tyler (Texas) Lee High threw college coaches off his scent, but he drew plenty of interest going into his senior season.
Britt appeared set to sign with Illinois, but the speedster from Bayonne, N.J., decided on Signing Day he wanted to play closer to home.
The rich got richer in January 2005. During the broadcast of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, this Eureka, Calif., star picked defending national champ USC over Oregon.
This speedy receiver from Owing Mills, Md., considered heading south to Alabama, but just before his senior season at McDonogh High, he decided to stay home and play for the Terrapins.
Much of the Pac-10 offered this giant from Burbank, Calif., but he considered Arizona a perfect fit.
Nicks caught passes at Independence (Charlotte, N.C.) High, from
Davis, from Dunbar High in Washington, had a tough time choosing between Illinois and Maryland. In the end, the brother of San Francisco 49ers tight end
UConn's program has begun to produce NFL talent, but in 2005, Storrs wasn't a sexy destination in the eyes of recruiting analysts. Brown, who gained 2,036 yards and scored 27 touchdowns as a senior at Catholic (Red Bank, N.J.) High, never stopped finding the end zone.
The two Oregon schools were the only programs to offer Unger, then a 6-5, 280-pounder from Kamuela, Hawaii. The Ducks were the lucky winners of a brainy, athletic lineman. Unger started at left tackle as a freshman and sophomore and moved to center in 2007.