Blue-chip prospects (four- or five-star recruits) have a higher chance of success both at the college and professional levels. It's not a perfect science, however -- there are a lot more non-blue-chip prospects, and for one reason or another, some of those kids who might have been undervalued in high school end up being stars.
I've compiled every first-round draft selection since 2005 who was not a blue-chip prospect coming out of high school or junior college. The players include NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers and NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt, among other notable names.
The whole map is here. Click on team logos for more on each player, with all ratings via the 247Sports Composite, which combines grades from all four major recruiting services. Some locations have been slightly adjusted to make all icons visible when zoomed out.
Also, some particular areas of note:
When people complain about recruiting ratings missing on some players, they often use the Badgers in general and Watt in particular as examples. And there could be something to it.
Four non-blue-chip prospects out of Wisconsin have been drafted in the first round over the past decade. All four of them went to Wisconsin, though that will likely change thanks to former three-star Michigan State corner Trae Waynes.
The Badgers have done an excellent job developing underscouted local talent, producing NFL players like Watt and Kevin Zeitler from their own backyard. The Badgers produced an additional non-blue-chip first rounder who didn't come from their state: Florida prospect Erasmus James, a defensive end selected in the first round in 2005.
Iowa, a somewhat similar school, could see in-state three-star Brandon Scherff and import Carl Davis added to its list.
Despite the presence of three of the seven largest major metropolitan areas in the nation and remarkably easy transit between them, the Northeast Corridor between Washington D.C. and New York has gone largely underutilized by national powers (and is perhaps underrated by the recruiting services).
Local programs like Boston College, Maryland and Rutgers have been able to take advantage with stars like Matt Ryan, Shawne Merriman and Devin McCourty.
Texas might be even richer in talent than you'd thought.
One of the nation's three top-tier recruiting states, along with Florida and California, Texas dwarfed the other two in surprise first-round draftees over the past decade. Even without the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, Texas had as many as Florida and one fewer than California. Add in DFW's six, and it's a blowout.
Texas A&M leads the way with four of the players in the state, while Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Texas each have three.
California could make up ground in this draft, perhaps thanks to Washington corner Marcus Peters.
Georgia, another top-five recruiting state overall and one with 10 players on this map, could add Clemson's Vic Beasley, Kentucky's Bud Dupree and Florida State's Cameron Irving in this draft.
Like Wisconsin, successes in the Carolinas have largely come at the local schools. Eight of the nine surprise first rounders went to college at in-state schools, with future Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (UAB) the lone exception. North Carolina leads the way in the area, with four in-state representatives.
The schools with the most, regardless of state
Boston College, 6
Ohio State, 5
Oklahoma State, 5
Boise State, 4
Florida State, 4
North Carolina, 4
Texas A&M, 4