As national signing day approaches Wednesday, a look at the Seahawks' roster shows those star ratings out of high school don't mean anything when you get to the NFL.
The arrival of another national signing day Wednesday comes with the annual note of caution to keep it all in perspective.
That doesn’t mean to forget about the team rankings and the star ratings that are a ubiquitous part of the process. Though there are notable exceptions, many studies (such as those detailed here) have proven that the players rated as five-stars are more likely to be big-time producers than two- or one-star recruits and the schools that sign the highest-rated classes have a better chance to succeed.
But as in all things in life, there are no guarantees.
The sheer number of players needed in football, and the different paths people take from ages 18-22, means you might want to pay as much attention to that two- or three-star player your school is signing as the five-star.
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Consider the Seattle Seahawks’ roster. Their most common starting lineup in 2015 did not include a player who was a consensus five-star recruit coming out of high school, and just three were four-stars — running back Marshawn Lynch, safety Earl Thomas and center Patrick Lewis. Linebacker Bruce Irvin was rated four stars out of Mt. San Antonio College.
Again, this isn’t an indictment of the rating system. It’s just there are only so many five-star recruits to go around — typically around 30 each year.
The same holds true for the top-100 lists from the likes of Scout.com and Rivals.com, which obviously include just 100 players.
The Seahawks had 70 players who saw action in a regular-season game this season, so there were going to be a lot more guys on their roster who ddn’t make those lists than those who did.
In fact, their final 53-man roster included just six players who were on either the Rivals.com or Scout.com list of the top 100 recruits coming out of high school — Lynch in 2004, linebacker Mike Morgan (who was No. 67 on the Rivals list in 2006, one spot ahead of a quarterback from Ferndale High named Jake Locker), running backs Bryce Brown and Christine Michael in 2009 (Brown, in fact, was No. 1 on both the Rivals and Scout lists), defensive lineman Cassius Marsh in 2010, and receiver Kasen Williams of Skyline High in 2011.
Two other players on the Seahawks’ roster also were top-100 recruits — linebacker Nick Moody (now on injured reserve) in 2008 and recently signed quarterback Phillip Sims in 2010.
In fact, the average star rating (using either those of Rivals or the 247 Sports consensus) of the Seahawks’ usual 22-man starting lineup this season was 2.7.
The most common star rating of a Seahawks starter this season was three — quarterback Russell Wilson, left tackle Russell Okung, guard Justin Britt, receivers Jermaine Kearse and Tyler Lockett, defensive end Cliff Avril, defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin, defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, linebacker K.J. Wright, cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Kam Chancellor were given three stars out of high school.
But, in a way, that all makes some sense when you consider that five stars tend to make up about 1 percent of all recruits, with four-star players consisting of about 10 percent and three stars almost 40 percent.
Seahawks starters rated as two stars were offensive linemen Garry Gilliam and J.R. Sweezy, tight end Luke Willson, receiver Doug Baldwin, defensive lineman Michael Bennett and linebacker Bobby Wagner. Cornerbacks Jeremy Lane and DeShawn Shead were unrated. Tight end Jimmy Graham, meanwhile, was a four-star basketball recruit who switched to football at Miami.
Hindsight, of course, makes it easy to view the high-school ratings of some of the current Seahawks with a skeptical eye. Maybe more instructive is simply understanding that it’s hard for anyone — coaches and recruiting analysts alike — to know how a high-school player will progress.
Take Wilson. He was rated by Scout.com as the 67th-best quarterback in the class of 2007. Among those rated ahead of him was Ronnie Fouch, rated No. 44 that year. He signed with Washington and had a starstruck career, starting much of the 2008 season when Locker was injured and then later transferring when Locker returned.
Also rated ahead of Wilson was former Seahawks receiver Phil Bates, who was then a quarterback and rated 64th. The top-rated quarterback that year was Jimmy Clausen, who also was the consensus No. 1 recruit. Cam Newton was 28th.
Pete Carroll, then at USC, signed the No. 4 quarterback in that class that year, Aaron Corp. His only start as a Trojan came in 2009 at Washington in place of an injured Matt Barkley, a game won 16-13 by the Huskies.
Or consider Sherman, who was the No. 61 receiver in the class of 2006 by Scout, with Rivals possibly being more prescient in listing Sherman simply as an athlete.
Sherman was No. 65 on Rivals’ athletes list (Taylor Mays of O’Dea High was No. 2) in a year a year when the consensus top recruit in the nation by every major recruiting analyst was another receiver with the Seattle in his future — Percy Harvin.