How each Super Bowl 2018 starter was rated as a high school recruit

Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

The Super Bowl is the biggest game in football. But every player in the game had to start somewhere. And most were recruited out of high school and evaluated by scouts.

With the help of the 247Sports Composite, we’ve got a time machine that tells us how almost every player in Super Bowl 52’s Eagles-Patriots game was rated coming out of high school. Not counting kickers and punters (who’ve rarely been rated), each team has a handful of starters who didn’t get ranked before college, either because they weren’t scouted well enough, developed late, or came through high school before the modern recruiting industry. Recruits have been ranked publicly only since the early 2000s.

How the Patriots’ starters rated as recruits

Player Stars College
Player Stars College
WR Chris Hogan 0 or N/A Monmouth
LT Trent Brown 3 Florida
LG Joe Thuney 2 NC State
C David Andrews 3 Georgia
RG Shaq Mason 3 Georgia Tech
RT Marcus Cannon 3 TCU
TE Rob Gronkowski 4 Arizona
WR Julian Edelman 3 Kent State
QB Tom Brady 4* Michigan
RB Sony Michel 5 Georgia
RB James White 3 Wisconsin
DE Trey Flowers 3 Arkansas
DT Lawrence Guy 4 Arizona State
DT Malcolm Brown 5 Texas
DE Deatrich Wise Jr. 3 Arkansas
LB Dont'a Hightower 4 Alabama
LB Elandon Roberts 0 or N/A Houston
LB Kyle Van Noy 4 BYU
CB Stephon Gilmore 4 South Carolina
CB Jason McCourty 0 or N/A Rutgers
S Patrick Chung 2 Oregon
S Devin McCourty 2 Rutgers

Though 17 out of 22 Patriots starters were rated at least three-stars, the Patriots average star rating sits at 2.7, thanks to five unrated recruits.

* Tom Brady was around before recruiting rankings, but we’ve retroactively made him a four-star with an asterisk. From California, he was a Michigan signee with plenty of offers from other national powers and attention in national media outlets. In today’s landscape, he would’ve unquestionably been a blue-chip.

*Chris Hogan was actually a lacrosse player in college, for Penn State. And he was a damn good one, being selected as a 2006 Under Armour High School All-American.

The Eagles are a much different story.

How the Rams’ starters rated as recruits

Player Stars College
Player Stars College
QB Jared Goff 4 Cal
RB Todd Gurley 4 Georgia
WR Brandin Cooks 3 Oregon State
WR Robert Woods 5 USC
WR Josh Reynolds 3 Texas A&M
TE Tyler Higbee 2 WKU
LT Andrew Whitworth 5 LSU
LG Roger Saffold 2 Indiana
C John Sullivan 4 Notre Dame
RG Austin Blythe 4 Iowa
RT Rob Havenstein 3 Wisconsin
DE Michael Brockers 4 LSU
NT Ndamukong Suh 4 Nebraska
DT Aaron Donald 3 Pitt
WLB Dante Fowler Jr. 5 Florida
OLB Samson Ebukam 0 or N/A Eastern Washington
ILB Corey Littleton 3 Washington
ILB Mark Barron 4 Alabama
CB Marcus Peters 3 Washington
CB Aqib Talib 2 Kansas
S John Johnson III 2 Boston College
S Lamarcus Joyner 5 Florida State

The Eagles on the other hand, skew much, much higher, with an average star rating of 3.5. Recruiting fans scanning the Eagles’ roster will be familiar with those like Nelson Agholor, Tim Jernigan, Brandon Graham, Nigel Bradham, Ronald Darby, and Alshon Jeffery.

Perhaps the most interesting story on the Eagles is Lane Johnson. In high school, Johnson was 6’5 and 202 pounds. He went to junior college and just kept growing. And growing. And growing.

Lane Johnson

Eventually, Johnson wound up as a 6’6, 317-pounder. He went from a QB to a left tackle. That is rather unheard of:

“He was starving himself to play at 270 (pounds) to play D-end,” coach Bob Stoops said. “I asked (strength) Coach (Jerry) Schmidt how long it would take him to get to 300 pounds. He said, ‘About a week and a cheeseburger.’

Let’s get nerdy

Thirty-nine percent of the Super Bowl starters were four- or five-star recruits. To put it another way, about two in every five Super Bowl starters were four- or five-star recruits, but only about one in every 770 recruits are rated as such. So yes, your odds of starting in the Super Bowl are, unsurprisingly, much higher if you were a superstar recruit in high school.

Comments

The Eagles are rather known

for going after players who were blue chip prospects in high school. This isn’t surprising.

27 of the 44 players listed

on the Patriots and Eagles were three star recruits or lower. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the recruiting rankings.

Not really

Rivals identifies 3-star recruits as "basic" (sub-3rd round picks) pro prospects. The vast majority of that 27 were 3-star recruits- it would be something if we were talking about a bunch of 2-star recruits but if anything this all makes sense- the majority of the rosters are made up of players who were projected to be draftable as high school recruits with a handful of outliers.

Read the last paragraph

From the last paragraph:

To put it another way, about two in every five Super Bowl starters were four- or five-star recruits, but only about one in every 770 recruits are rated as such.

So, yes, this is absolutely a ringing endorsement of the recruiting rankings.

In aggregate

they are a decent predictor of collegiate and pro success. Of course, colleges and pro teams can misuse talent, or injuries to key starters can cause an otherwise talented roster to underperform.

I wonder how many highly ranked recruits the teams at the top of the draft order have right now?

Right.

Individual results can and do vary, for a variety of reasons. Some highly-rated recruits flame out, quit the sport, or just turn out to be bad; on the other end, everyone likes to trot out examples like Marcus Mariota being a 3-star. But as you say, in the aggregate, they’re pretty good predictors.

You should do

A whole list of these for everyteam… and every player

OH SNAP

Gilmore might be covering Jeffrey.
This is fantastic.
Only downside is that I have something positive to say about a Pats player.

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