Which players coming out of high school are most likely to be taken in the NFL Draft, and who didn’t get drafted that “should have”?
With all of that said - who are the five-star prospects who didn’t make it, and why? And who are the two-star who did make it and why?
Five-star prospects who did not get drafted:
There have been 12 five-star prospects from Georgia who were not drafted.
LaGrange LB Tray Blackmon (Auburn), Buford DL Omar Hunter (Florida), Washington DB Branden Smith (Georgia), Cass RB Richard Samuel (Georgia), Stephenson RB Kregg Lumpkin (Georgia), Milton WR Sean Bailey (Georgia), GAC RB Caleb King (Georgia), Haralson County DL Brandon Wood (Georgia), Miller County LB Brandon Miller (Georgia), Carver RB Isaiah Crowell (Georgia), Peach County LB Darius Dewberry (Georgia) and Calhoun WR Da'Rick Rogers (Tennessee).
In many cases, players suffered what could have been career-changing injuries while in high school or in college. Kregg Lumpkin’s ACL heading into the 2004 fall really hurt Georgia’s chances of having a special season that year. It also changed Lumpkin as a player from that point forward. More to that point, perhaps no player was more effected by an injury than Caleb King, who broke his leg his senior season of high school. He went on to have nagging injuries at Georgia, but he was not the same player after the high school injury at all. Sean Bailey suffered an ACL injury in 2005.
Did that effect the NFL status of all of those players? Perhaps. Lumpkin and King went on to play in the NFL - they just were not drafted. So even after what appeared to be catastrophic injuries, two of the three players mentioned still played NFL football.
Tray Blackmon, Isaiah Crowell, Da'Rick Rogers all ran into trouble while playing college football. Rogers was suspended indefinitely by the Vols for a violation of team rules before transferring to Tennessee Tech. Crowell was kicked out of Georgia after being arrested on felony gun charges in the summer of 2012. He transferred to Alabama State to finish his playing career. Blackmon was twice suspended by Auburn before leaving to play for the Calgary Stampeders.
Rogers and Crowell didn’t get drafted by any NFL team. Rogers has played for the Colts but was released after a DUI arrest in 2014. In 2015, Rogers signed to play for the Kansas City Chiefs. Crowell was signed as a free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft. He finished his first NFL season with 607 yards and eight TDs on 148 carries.
Omar Hunter, Branden Smith, Richard Samuel, Brandon Wood, Brandon Miller and Darius Dewberry were all listed as five-star prospects. Two had solid college careers (Hunter and Smith), but the other three struggled to live up to the lofty expectations that go along with being considered one of the top high school players in the country.
Hunter, who comes from the top program in Georgia - Buford, had the professional career as every other Buford player during the .com era of recruiting. No Buford ranked or BCS-level football player from Buford has been drafted by an NFL team who signed a scholarship from 2002 until today. I would think that will change in the future, but it has yet to happen. Still, that’s an amazing statement when it comes to all of the winning the Wolves have done over the last decade - Buford lost ten total games in ten years. Amazing.
Hunter was a multi-year starter for Florida. He had a solid college career.
The same could be said for Branden Smith and Darius Dewberry at Georgia - both were starters at some point in their career, but neither played well enough to get drafted in the end.
Brandon Wood was, quite simply, over ranked. He signed in a class with Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno. There was no time at which Wood was in the same stratosphere as those two future first rounders.
Brandon Miller is the most curious case. He really should have been better, but it just never worked out. He was a starter at Georgia, but never made the impact it felt like he could. He played in one NFL football game for the Seahawks in 2008.
16 2-star players have been drafted from Georgia since the 2002 - three of which were first-round selections. Twiggs County WR Darqueze Dennard, Hephzibah OL James Carpenter and Hardaway QB Marcus Smith all played outside of the SEC or ACC - the entire South missed out or wasn’t willing to take a chance on three first round players for whatever reason.
Darqueze Dennard was the 24th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He played receiver in college, but went to Michigan State to play defensive back. He won the the Jim Thorpe Award in 2013. The entire region should be embarrassed that he left the South to go on to have such a successful college career.
James Carpenter’s path was a little different. The former two-star prospect signed with Iowa State coming out of high school. But he was forced to a junior college after failing to qualify. He stayed committed to Iowa State during his time at Coffeyville, but opened up his recruiting after leaving the junior college. He eventually signed with Alabama where he was a two-year starter in 2009 and 2010. Carpenter won the Super Bowl with Seattle in 2014. He signed a four-year, $19.1 million contract in early 2015 with the Jets.
Marcus Smith converted from quarterback to linebacker at Louisville where he had a solid career. Smith was 26th overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. He signed a four-year, $7.80 million contract in the summer of 2014. Smith struggled to make an impact his first season in the NFL. According to Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News: “Smith was the least impactful first-round pick of 2014, as he played just 74 snaps and made zero solo tackles.”
So what is the overall trend of the 2-star player? The bulk of them are looked over in one way or the other. Half of them are linemen of some sort - which is always the most difficult spot to project because body types change, and often coaching really, really matters because raw athleticism is not something that’s required to play in the trenches. 12 of the 16 players were not from metro Atlanta, perhaps suggesting that they have an exposure problem.
The only player who went to the flagship university in a state was Hiram DB Trevard Lindley, who signed with Kentucky in 2004. The other 15 players either have the word “Tech”, “Western”, “Central”, “State” or “Middle” in their school’s name or played at Louisville, Troy, Marshall or Vanderbilt.
One of the 16, Coffee County OL Garrett Scott went to Marshall and was drafted with the 199th overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, was waived after failing a team physical. Scott has a “rare heart condition” according to a release from Seattle GM John Schneider.
The most likely path to the NFL is by being an exceptional high school football prospect. Of the 340 two-star prospects from 2002-2012, only 16 have been drafted so far - or 4.71% of them. Whereas, ten of 25 five-star prospects have been drafted so far - or 40%.
That means you are ten times more likely to be drafted as a five-star prospect than as a two-star prospect as it stands today. That separation could be even higher in the future. Jordan Jenkins, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Montravius Adams, Robert Nkemdiche and Vonn Bell are all on track to be selected in future NFL Drafts. If that group is selected the percentage of five-star prospects headed to the NFL is likely to near close to over over 50%.