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:

#NameClassRatingPos. Rank
1Nick Fairley20073 Star#27 OG
2Patrick Peterson20075 Star#1 CB
3Marcell Dareus20084 Star#5 DT
4Da’Quan Bowers20085 Star#1 DE
5Blaine Gabbert20084 Star#7 QB
6A.J. Green20085 Star#2 WR
7Robert Quinn20084 Star#19 DE
8Von Miller20074 Star#6 MLB
9Prince Amukamara20073 Star#47 RB
10Cam Newton20074 Star#14 QB
11Aldon Smith20083 Star#54 DE
12Nate Solder20062 StarNR OL
13Akeem Ayers20074 Star#12 DE
14Julio Jones20075 Star#1 WR
15Mark Ingram20083 Star#58 RB
16Adrian Clayborn20064 Star#18 DE
17J.J. Watt20072 StarNR DE
18Cameron Jordan20073 Star#55 DE
19Mike Pouncey20074 Star#7 OG
20Ryan Kerrigan20073 Star#88 DE
21Stephen Paea20073 StarJC DT
22Anthony Castonzo20072 StarNR OT
23Gabe Carimi20063 StarNR OL
24Justin Houston20073 Star#42 DE
25Ryan Mallett20075 Star#2 QB
26Brandon Harris20085 Star#5 CB
27Torrey Smith20073 StarNR WR
28Mikel Leshoure20083 Star#52 RB
29Christian Ballard20074 Star#10 DE
30Muhammad Wilkerson20083 StarNR DE
31Aaron Williams20085 Star#2 CB
32Tyron Smith20085 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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