Expert Analysis


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How Do High School Rankings Translate to The 33rd Team’s Prospect Board?

How Do High School Rankings Translate

Less than two weeks out from the NFL Draft, it’s interesting to explore how far some of these athletes have come. Some, such as Kayvon Thibodeaux, were highly touted since high school with blue-blood programs vying for their signatures on an intent letter. Others, such as Trevor Penning, went unnoticed by high-level college recruiters and scouts. Nonetheless, both Penning and Thibodeaux figure to hear their names called in the first round.

Below, we take a look at some notable prospects who have cracked The 33rd Team Big Board’s Top 50 and what star rating they earned in high school.

Notable Former Five-Star Recruits:

33rd Team Ranking Player Recruit Level
1 Evan Neal 5
2 Kyle Hamilton 5
3 Kayvon Thibodeaux 5

Notable Former Four-Star Recruits:

33rd Team Ranking Player Recruit Level
4 Aidan Hutchinson 4
10 Drake London 4
12 Jameson Williams 4

Notable Former Three-Star Recruits:

33rd Team Ranking Player Recruit Level
5 Ikem Ekwonu 3
6 Ahmad Gardner 3
16 Tyler Linderbaum 3

Notable Former Two-Star Recruits:

33rd Team Ranking Player HS Rank
8 Devin Lloyd 2
31 Travis Jones 2
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Notable Former Unranked High School Recruits

33rd Team Ranking Player HS Rank
17 Trevor Penning N/A
30 Zion Johnson N/A
46 Troy Andersen N/A

This is a rather typical year in terms of high school ranking translating to NFL Draft position, with as many five-star recruits in the first round according to the 33rd Team’s Prospect Board as last year’s (eight). Notably, five of the top nine prospects on our board are former five-star recruits (Evan Neal, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Kyle Hamilton, Garrett Wilson, and Charles Cross).

Last year’s top ten featured Trevor Lawrence, Jaylen Waddle, and Patrick Surtain II. Five stars in the 2020 draft’s top ten included Chase Young, Jeff Okudah, Tua Tagovailoa, and Derrick Brown, while three five stars were taken in the top ten in 2019 (Kyler Murray, Nick Bosa, and Ed Oliver). Only one former five-star was selected in the top ten in 2018 – Josh Rosen.

This year is the first time we could see five former five-star recruits in the top ten in over a decade. There has been a trend since 2011 that has seen teams draft former five-stars more often in the top ten. From 2011-16, the top ten had not boasted more than two former five-stars in a given draft class. In 2017, there were three (Myles Garrett, Solomon Thomas, and Leonard Fournette). The 2017 class also set the record for most five-star recruits selected in the first round with ten.

Only one class between 2011 and 2018 topped three former five-stars in the top ten. Now, the 2022 draft class can be the fourth consecutive to reach such a mark. 

Taking a bird’s eye view, there have been between six and ten former-five stars selected in the first round since 2017. If all eight five-stars ranked in the top 32 of the 33rd Team’s prospect board are in fact selected in the first round, it will tie for the second-highest mark since 2017. Still, four-star recruits dominate the top 50 and the top 32, representing 21 and 13 spots, respectively.

There are 13 former three-star recruits in the 33rd Team’s top 50 prospects, two former two-stars, and four former unranked high school recruits. Interestingly, there are twice as many unranked recruits in the top 50 than former two-star recruits. Once rankings get down to that level, though, it is mostly arbitrary and at best murky.

Former four-star and former three-star recruits largely composed the pool of NFL Draftees in general, considering there are usually only 30 or so five-star recruits in a given high school recruiting class, hundreds of four-star recruits, and even more three-star recruits. By way of sheer size, those categories of players are likely to be selected more often

It will be interesting to see how the draft actually shakes out, though. The NFL Draft is the great equalizer when it comes to college players looking to prove their high school doubters wrong. The Draft provides a stage for someone like Carson Wentz, an unranked recruit, to become the second overall draft selection over several former “blue-chip” high school prospects. 

This year has the potential to be an atypical class in the sense that former-five stars could be drafted early and often before making way for the modestly ranked high school players. It is one of the most exciting times of the year for football fans, and it marks the culmination of these young players’ journey through high school and college ball. No matter which path they took, very differently situated people who seemed to be in entirely different leagues coming out of high school can now be joined. It is only then that we can know who was wrong and who was right.