The NFL Draft is a good way to try and validate recruiting rankings. Recruiting
rankings are purely about a compilation of individual talent, and the NFL Draft
is about drafting individuals. The best recruits don't always make the best
team, but the best players are typically going to be drafted, regardless of team
That said, there's a definite correlation between having the best players and
having the best teams, especially in the rugged SEC where any team can beat
virtually any other team on any given Saturday.
The last five NFL Draft Classes took place from 2007 thru 2011. The recruiting
classes in the Scout database that correspond to those draft classes are the
Classes 2003 thru 2008.
The chart below represents a compilation of the total number of players drafted
sorted by rank, followed by the conference recruiting rankings across the given
time period (average national rank in parenthesis), and finally a look at the
compiled rankings for '07 thru '12 which will correspond to the 2011 thru 2015
What the data told me:
*The 12 teams from the SEC in this period (not including Texas A&M and Missouri)
performed remarkably close to their recruiting rankings when measured by players
placed in the NFL. No team finished more than one spot away from its spot in the
recruiting rankings if Alabama and Auburn are considered tied for 4th/5th in
placing players in the NFL, with Alabama finishing 6th in recruiting rankings.
*LSU, Florida, and Georgia have a substantial advantage in players sent to the
NFL, separated by only two players from LSU to Georgia, with a sizable gap to
Alabama and Auburn at No. 4. The recruiting rankings also show a sizable gap
between No. 3 and No. 4 with those three teams finishing with an average finish
above 8th in the country from year to year, while Tennessee was the only other
team to average better than 15th.
*Texas A&M is the only team well out of line with its rankings vs. NFL
production finishing tied for 11th with Kentucky with 11 players sent to the
NFL, while having the 5th best recruiting rankings across this period. While
their projection goes down from No. 5 to No. 8, expect the Aggies to do better
than nine draftees in classes '11 thru '15.
*Missouri wins the prize for outproducing its recruiting ranking. Despite an
average finish outside the Top 40 and ranked 12th in the SEC, Missouri finished
9th in producing NFL draft picks and had only one less than South Carolina who
averaged a Top 25 finish in recruiting.
*Watch out for the SEC West. Alabama, LSU, and Auburn, have won four of the last
five BCS Championships, and their recruiting rankings from '07 thru '12 are 1,
2, and 3 in the SEC. Of Alabama's 19 NFL draftees in the last five years, 12 of
the 19 have come in '10 and '11. Recruiting and winning went to a different
level under Nick Saban.
*Speaking of Alabama, the early results on the drafts from '11 thru '15 are
already in, and Alabama had five players taken last year and should beat that
number in 2012. It won't be surprising to see Alabama lead the SEC in players
drafted after 2015 as well as top the 30 player overall mark.
Scott began with Scout as the Southeast Regional Manager in 2002. In addition to his recruiting responsibilities, Scott developed and ran the National Scout Combine series from 2005 thru 2008. Scott has been Director of Scouting since 2006 and oversees the Recruiting Rankings for Scout.
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