National Signing Day Meets the NFL Draft

Thousands of high school football players across the country will sign their name on a national letter of intent today and officially pledge their services to the college or university of their choice. You will hear a lot about what schools have the top recruiting classes, star ratings and position rankings.

Meanwhile, a new crop of professional football hopefuls are preparing themselves for the NFL draft. National signing day is a “been there, done that” for these guys and now their goal is to hear their name called by commissioner Goodell as first round draft picks.

What makes a top recruit and what makes a top draft choice? Do the two groups of players have anything in common?

There is no shortage of mock draft on the internet so there are a number of names floating around that project to be first round picks in the NFL draft next April. Mel Kiper Jr. is the most well known draft guru so I took his first round mock and went back into each player’s profile on to see how highly these guys were regarded going into college. The results were somewhat interesting. Kiper’s first round mock draft has eight players that were five star recruits, nine players that were four star recruits, 12 players that were three star recruits and three players that were two star recruits. Check out the full list below, including each player’s position ranking:

# Name Class Rating Pos. Rank
1 Nick Fairley 2007 3 Star #27 OG
2 Patrick Peterson 2007 5 Star #1 CB
3 Marcell Dareus 2008 4 Star #5 DT
4 Da’Quan Bowers 2008 5 Star #1 DE
5 Blaine Gabbert 2008 4 Star #7 QB
6 A.J. Green 2008 5 Star #2 WR
7 Robert Quinn 2008 4 Star #19 DE
8 Von Miller 2007 4 Star #6 MLB
9 Prince Amukamara 2007 3 Star #47 RB
10 Cam Newton 2007 4 Star #14 QB
11 Aldon Smith 2008 3 Star #54 DE
12 Nate Solder 2006 2 Star NR OL
13 Akeem Ayers 2007 4 Star #12 DE
14 Julio Jones 2007 5 Star #1 WR
15 Mark Ingram 2008 3 Star #58 RB
16 Adrian Clayborn 2006 4 Star #18 DE
17 J.J. Watt 2007 2 Star NR DE
18 Cameron Jordan 2007 3 Star #55 DE
19 Mike Pouncey 2007 4 Star #7 OG
20 Ryan Kerrigan 2007 3 Star #88 DE
21 Stephen Paea 2007 3 Star JC DT
22 Anthony Castonzo 2007 2 Star NR OT
23 Gabe Carimi 2006 3 Star NR OL
24 Justin Houston 2007 3 Star #42 DE
25 Ryan Mallett 2007 5 Star #2 QB
26 Brandon Harris 2008 5 Star #5 CB
27 Torrey Smith 2007 3 Star NR WR
28 Mikel Leshoure 2008 3 Star #52 RB
29 Christian Ballard 2007 4 Star #10 DE
30 Muhammad Wilkerson 2008 3 Star NR DE
31 Aaron Williams 2008 5 Star #2 CB
32 Tyron Smith 2008 5 Star #1 OT

It doesn’t take long to see the first big surprise; Nick Fairley was profiled as an offensive guard coming out of high school but could end up going number one overall in the NFL draft as a defensive tackle. Prince Amukamara is another potential top ten pick that was recruited at a different position. While a three star rating and 47th best running back in the country coming out of high school is nothing to sneeze at, it doesn’t hold a candle to being regarded as a blue chip NFL prospect and #2 rated cornerback in this year’s draft.

Everyone can point to a big time NFL draft bust and the list shows that a five star rating coming out of high school isn’t a guarantee of future success either. The Patriots found a draft day gem in Tom Brady and there will be many college teams that find their own gems this recruiting season.

Just because the recruiting rankings set up a pecking order of talent now doesn’t mean it will look the same three or four years from now.

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Tags: College Football Letter Of Intent LOI Mock Draft National Signing Day NFL Draft

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