I'm sure you've heard that Tom Brady was picked in the sixth round of the NFL Draft.
If you have watched pro football in the last fifteen years, then it's been impossible to miss that fact. The media continues to remind us of it and will keep doing it until the day he gives his speech in Canton, Ohio after being elected in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
This happens all the time whenever someone that turns out to be great gets passed over in the Draft and it happens in college football too whenever a player has a low ranking or a lack of scholarships offers. It's just human nature to wonder why people got it wrong.
With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to take a look at where all of the top NFL Draft prospects were ranked coming out of high school and who they had (reported) scholarship offers from. I'm using former NFL scout, and current NFL Draft analyst for the NFL Network, Daniel Jeremiah's top 50 list to pull the names of the highest rated NFL prospects.
(Jeremiah's ranking is in brackets)
Leonard Williams (1)
247Sports composite ranking - 4 star, 50th overall
Scholarship offers: Just about everyone
The major recruiting services all knew Williams was going to be great. That's why they had him as a top 100 player. I don't know if any of them expected him to be the top ranked player going into the Draft a few years later though.
Marcus Mariota (7)
247Sports composite ranking - 3 star, 518th overall
Scholarship offers: Oregon and Memphis
This was a whiff by the recruiting sites and college coaches. It would seem that no one had any clue he was going to be a Heisman winner and a potential franchise quarterback in the NFL. The apparent outlier with his ranking is 247Sports, who had him as a 4 star and almost a top 250 player in the nation. I have looked at old rankings before for previous articles and I don't remember seeing that ranking earlier, but I must have missed it. Kudos to them for knowing what so many others didn't know.
Danny Shelton (9)
247Sports composite ranking - 3 star, 331st overall
Scholarship offers: Most of the Pac-12 with USC, Stanford, and the Arizona schools being the exceptions.
I'm sure USC wishes they could go back in time to offer Shelton and have him on the same defensive line as Williams. It seems like if Shelton was from a region that was more of a hotbed for recruits than Auburn, Washington, then he probably would have received a lot more offers and likely a higher ranking. Rivals was the outlier in this case. They had him as a 4 star and a top 150 player nationally.
Arik Armstead (14)
247Sports composite ranking - 5 star, 14th overall
Scholarship offers: Any program you can think of
There was no outlier for Armstead. Everyone knew what kind of potential he had and he lived up to the hype.
Andrus Peat (22)
247Sports composite ranking - 5 star, 30th overall
Scholarships offers: Any program you can think of
Peat pretty much came out of the womb as a 5 star recruit and has been hyped ever since.
Jaelen Strong (28)
247Sports composite ranking - 3 star, 32nd overall in junior college rankings
Scholarship offers: Out of junior college he had several including Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Arizona, Nebraska, Tennessee, and South Carolina. Prior to that he had just one: Arizona State.
Junior college players always tend to be tough to rank so it's tough to say anyone got it way wrong with Strong. The Sun Devils obviously got it right though by identifying him early in the process and being his first offer. The rankings outlier was ESPN, who had him as a 4 star and the 17th ranked player coming out of junior college.
Marcus Peters (31)
247Sports composite ranking - 3 star, 509th overall
Scholarship offers: Coming out of Oakland, he didn't have a scholarship offer from any of the California schools in the Pac-12. Washington, Arizona State, Utah, and Oregon State were his best reported offers.
There was no outlier for Peters. Every service had him ranked around the same area. Part of the reason for the lack of interest by some schools may be that he played so many different positions in high school (quarterback, running back, and returner in addition to cornerback).
Nelson Agholor (32)
247Sports composite ranking - 5 star, 31st overall
Scholarship offers: Any program you can think of
Agholor was another top recruit that was projected to be a star at the college level and was one for the Trojans.
Jake Fisher (46)
247Sports composite ranking - 3 star, 354th overall
Scholarship offers: The Michigan native had offers from the Wolverines, Spartans, and Florida Gators in addition to Oregon.
Fisher has been climbing up the Draft boards and anyone who watched college football last season knew about his value to Oregon's offense. He's likely another case of a player being from a place (Traverse City, Michigan) which doesn't get the attention of some other more fertile recruiting areas. The local programs noticed him and the Ducks and Gators obviously did a great job of noticing him as well. Scout.com was the outlier having him ranked as a 4 star.
Eric Kendricks (47)
247Sports composite ranking - 3 star, 729th overall
Scholarship offers: UCLA, Washington State, Nevada, and Fresno State.
Woof. I think every school in the Pac-12 wishes they could hop in the DeLorean to go back and offer Kendricks. His size, he weighed 205 at the time, was likely a big factor in them passing on him. Kendricks is clearly a case of developmental prospect progressing in a way that only a few programs thought he could. He has to be one of the top sleeper recruits in the past decade from the conference.
Owamagbe Odighizuwa (49)
247Sports composite ranking - 5 star, 17th overall
Scholarship offers: Everybody in the Pac-12 and other national programs like Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Florida
If Odighizuwa didn't have injuries during his career, he likely would have been ranked even higher by NFL scouts. He's maintained the perception that he is a 5 star talent with his level of play and had a very good career at UCLA even with the missed time.