Recruiting a 1st Round Pick

South Carolina defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Michael Conroy/AP

Every year, during NFL Draft time, the debate on whether or not stars matter rages on. The draft is a measuring stick for recruiting rankings, not that being drafted in the 1st Round is any more of a guarantee of NFL success as being ranked as a 5-star is of college success, but it is a point at which we can see which kids capitalized on their high school success and talents and which came from nowhere to rise to the top.

So using Jamie Newberg’s Top 100 Draft Prospects, we broke down several demographics to see where the top 32 kids came from.

Stars: Of the top 32, the average star rating was just short of four-stars at 3.75. Seven were five-stars, 14 were four-stars, seven were three-stars and four were two-stars. I’ve seen people take data like this and say, ‘so it’s just as likely to be a 1st Round pick as a three-star as a five-star?’ The answer is no, as there are roughly 20 times more three-stars than fives, so that must be considered when looking at the numbers.

Offers: I hear fans often say they look at offer list rather than stars. It can be a good metric, but again, offer list is no guarantee either. The same kids the stars missed, the offers missed. The four two-star kids had only ten offers between them. For Jason Verrett and Khalil Mack, the two schools they ended up at, TCU and Buffalo respectively, were their only offers. Michigan State was Darqueze Dennard‘s only BCS offer.

Location: Where do the 1st Rounders come from? An astounding 18 of the 32 were from the South followed by the Midlands (5), West (4), East (2) and Midwest (2). The state of Florida alone has more than any of the other regions with 11 kids on Newberg’s top 32 list. 

Size of High School: I hadn’t seen anyone break this down before, but I was curious. Do these kids come from big high schools or small high schools? The assumption is that most of them would be coming from bigger schools, but I wanted to know for sure.

The average enrollment at the schools of the top 32 was 1,487, a very good sized high school. Only eight of the 32 attended a high school with an enrollment under 1,000 with just two at schools under 500. The smallest school producing a 1st Rounder is Twiggs County in Georgia (307 students) where the aforementioned Darqueze Dennard hails from. The largest school on the list is Orlando’s Dr. Phillips High School (3624 students) where Alabama safety HaHa Clinton-Dix was a five-star prospect.

What Did We Learn?

There are so many kids playing high school ball out there. There is never a sure-thing. And just because this year’s data shows certain trends, doesn’t mean next year’s class will fall right in line.

However, we can glean that if you’re at a bigger high school from the South (and moreso if you’re in Florida) and a four or five star prospect, you have a good shot. That does not mean there will not be Khalil Macks or Darqueze Dennards that pop up, but that is what the data shows.


Rank Name High School City State Rating HS Enroll
1 Jadeveon Clowney South Pointe HS Rock Hill SC 5 1520
2 Khalil Mack Westwood HS Fort Pierce FL 2 1328
3 Greg Robinson Thibodaux HS Thibodaux LA 4 1505
4 Sammy Watkins South Ft. Myers HS Fort Myers FL 5 1708
5 Jake Matthews Ft. Bend Elkins HS Missouri City TX 5 1996
6 Anthony Barr Loyola HS Los Angeles CA 4 1256
7 Blake Bortles Oviedo HS Oviedo FL 2 2191
8 Johnny Manziel Tivy HS Kerrville TX 3 1320
9 Taylor Lewan Chaparral HS Scottsdale AZ 4 2111
10 Teddy Bridgewater Northwestern HS Miami FL 4 1773
11 Timmy Jernigan Columbia HS North Lake City FL 5 1768
12 Aaron Donald Penn Hills SHS Pittsburgh PA 4 1527
13 C.J. Mosley Theodore HS Theodore AL 4 1700
14 Mike Evans Ball HS Galveston TX 3 1873
15 Darqueze Dennard Twiggs County HS Jeffersonville GA 2 307
16 Ryan Shazier Plantation HS Plantation FL 4 2137
17 Justin Gilbert Huntsville HS Huntsville TX 3 1624
18 Marqise Lee Junipero Serra HS Gardena CA 4 187
19 Eric Ebron Ben L Smith HS Greensboro NC 3 1171
20 Zack Martin Bishop Chatard HS Indianapolis IN 3 730
21 Ra’shede Hageman Washburn HS Minneapolis MN 4 970
22 HaHa Clinton-Dix Dr. Phillips HS Orlando FL 5 3624
23 Louis Nix Raines HS Jacksonville FL 4 974
24 Derek Carr Bakersfield Christian HS Bakersfield CA 4 2755
25 Kony Ealy Central HS New Madrid MO 4 575
26 Lamarcus Joyner St. Thomas Aquinas HS Ft. Lauderdale FL 5 2194
27 Dee Ford St. Clair County HS Odenville AL 4 566
28 Cyrus Kouandijo Dematha Catholic HS Hyattsville MD 5 1000
29 Jason Verrett Santa Rosa HS Santa Rosa CA 2 1745
30 Calvin Pryor Port St. Joe HS Port St. Joe FL 3 347
31 Kelvin Benjamin Glades Central HS Belle Glade FL 4 1110
32 David Yankey Centennial HS Roswell GA 3 2000