The 5-star relation to the NFL Draft

How accurate is a prospect ranking? The evaluation of talent by several sources suggests that 5-star high school athletes are the best in the nation and most valuable to a program. But how much of that value is retained, as the years pass and they become draft eligible? Though we have sprinkles of former 5-star prospects selected each year in the first round of the NFL draft, the majority consists of players receiving a lesser rank.

In searching for the relation between 5-star prospects and the NFL draft, I used as the evaluating source, and the Southern California football factory as the program. I was mostly looking to find the number drafted, where they were selected, and a list of players not selected at all. Those findings are displayed on the chart below.

Class Pos Player NFL Draft
2003 DE Lawrence Jackson Round 1
2004 LB Keith Rivers Round 1
2005 LB Brian Cushing Round 1
2005 QB Mark Sanchez Round 1
2002 OL Winston Justice Round 2
2003 WR Steve Smith Round 2
2004 TE Fred Davis Round 2
2004 OL Deuce Lutui Round 2
2005 LB Rey Maualuga Round 2
2005 WR Patrick Turner Round 3
2002 S Darnell Bing Round 4
2003 CB Will Poole Round 4
2002 DT Manuel Wright Round 5*
2003 QB John David Booty Round 5
2004 DE Jeff Schweiger UDFA**
2004 S Scott Ware UDFA
2003 WR Whitney Lewis Undrafted/unsigned**
2004 LB Ryan Powdrell UDFA
2004 OL Jeff Byers N/A
2005 DE Averell Spicer N/A
2005 LB Luther Brown N/A

*supplemental draft
**transferred out of program
N/A- currently on the 2009 roster

From the period of 2002 to 2005, 21 5-star players committed to USC. Of the 21, 18 entered the draft, and only 3 failed to be selected. Of the 3 players passed over by the NFL, 2 (Lewis, Schweiger) transferred out of the USC football program, being piped in for evaluation from another college source. Whitney Lewis also represents the only 5-star player to go undrafted and unsigned.

4 of the 18 draft eligible players were selected in the first round, roughly 22 percent. The Heisman Trophy Winner, Reggie Bush, does not appear on the chart, because he was ranked as a 4-star prospect by Whitney Lewis was the supposed crown jewel of that 2003 class, and Bush’s rating was equal to Chauncey Washington.

The first round total could have easily been 6, if not for off field concerns causing both Winston Justice and Rey Maualuga to slide to the second round. But it’s still quite impressive to see 9 of these players (50%) going on the first day of the draft, and 14 (82%) selected overall.

According to the numbers, a 5-star prospect in the USC football program is nearly guaranteed an NFL contract, in one form or another. The numbers also indicate that the highest percentage for failure is to transfer out of the program. What they don’t tell you is that lower ranked prospects have the same first round opportunities, though the overall percentage would be lower. Reggie Bush (4), Sam Baker (4), Sedrick Ellis (4), Mike Williams (3), and Clay Matthews (0) were all first round selections, giving the lesser ranked prospects of this time period a greater presence in the first round.


Jeff Byers
Averell Spicer
Luther Brown
Stafon Johnson
C.J. Gable
David Ausberry
Allen Bradford
Taylor Mays
Joe McKnight
Ronald Johnson
Da’John Harris
Everson Griffen
Kristofer O’Dowd
Marshall Jones
Marc Tyler
Aaron Corp
Martin Coleman
Chris Galippo
Blake Ayles
Tyron Smith
Matt Kalil
D.J. Shoemate
Devon Kennard
Hebron Fangupo
Matt Barkley
T.J. McDonald


Vidal Hazelton
Josh Tatum
Antwine Perez


~ by Anthony on May 11, 2009.

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