Not surprisingly as a prospect's rating goes down, so too does their chance to be drafted by an NFL team. A four-star prospect who signs with a BCS-level school coming out of high school since 2002 has a 24% chance of being drafted; a three-star prospect a 14% chance; a two-star prospect a 5% chance. Only three players not rated at all, Pac Man Jones (#6 in 2005 NFL Draft), Mike Richardson (#202 in 2007 NFL Draft), and Quentin Moses (#65 in 2007 NFL Draft) have ever been drafted. (Jones and Moses were both in the first class Scout.com ever ranked in 2002).
The data shows a statistical correlation between being ranked high as a high school prospect and the probability of being drafted, which shouldn't come as a surprise. Simply put: Rankings do matter.
By the College:
Its no surprise that Georgia and Georgia Tech have signed the most players (28) from the Peach State to go on to be drafted after Scout.com started raking players in 2002. The Bulldogs have signed and had drafted 20 players since the rankings began with the class of 2002 (which means, at the earliest, the 2005 NFL Draft and beyond). That number will likely go up a healthy amount next season with a slew of draft-eligible players form its 2012 team. The Bulldogs could have as many as seven Georgia natives drafted from their defense alone next year.
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly South Carolina (8), not Florida (7), Tennessee (6), or Auburn (7), has the third-most NFL draftees signed out of high school in Georgia from the 2000 NFL Draft on. Georgia Tech's 15 draftees from Georgia ranks second best behind Georgia's 51 since the 2000 NFL Draft. Somewhat surprisingly, the Yellow Jackets have had more wide receivers from the state drafted (Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, Stephen Hill and Jonathon Smith) than Georgia (Fred Gibson, Reggie Brown and Kris Durham)
Most notably, Alabama has signed only one player from the state of Georgia out of high school and had that player drafted into the NFL (Southeast Bulloch's Justin Smiley, #46 overall in the 2004 NFL Draft). That number could change in the future, however, as the Tide's recruiting efforts in terms of number (and talent) has increased in Georgia. Alabama signed only five players from Georgia before Nick Saban became head coach and have signed 25 players since. Still, Saban himself has yet to sign a Georgian out of high school and get get that player drafted.
By the Conference:
The SEC, which had the most players selected in the NFL Draft in 2012 (42), also has had the most players drafted from out of Georgia. Of the 183 Georgians drafted since the 2000 draft 102 came from the SEC. Another 63 players were drafted after signing with a non-SEC school in Division I. 15 players made it from FCS division and three players made it from the NCAA Division II level.
It should also be noted that since Scout.com started ranking players in 2002 only four five-star players have gone on to play in a conference other than the SEC.
45 of the 184 Georgians drafted since the 2000 NFL Draft have been defensive backs of some sort (cornerback or safety) – including eight first round selections. Georgia has not produced a five-star offensive linemen in the 11 classes ranked by Scout.com. Perhaps that's why it is no surprise that only one Georgia native, Hephzibah's James Carpenter (Alabama by way of Coffeyville Community College), has been drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft in the Scout.com era.
Nine of the state's 24 first round selections played offense – the other 13 played defense. The position a Georgian is most likely to play if he has been selected in the first round is defensive back (8).
There are ten recruiting power areas in Georgia – not surprisingly seven of the ten are in the Atlanta metro area. In the suburbs, football is cultivated with youth organizations – DeKalb and Gwinnett are blessed with long-standing youth organizations that sift through communities and feed their high schools the most talented players. In the southern part of the state high school football is king. The US 84 corridor, which stretches along the state's southern border with Florida, is jammed with undeniable talent.
After looking at the data from the last ten years of recruiting in the state the talent hotbeds become clear. Here is a look at each of the ten areas of the state that have separated themselves:
Located on the border of Gwinnett County near Stone Mountain, the East DeKalb power structure has four schools in it – Tucker, MLK, Miller Grove and Stephenson. Tucker has been around for almost 100 years, but MLK, Miller Grove and Stephenson have boomed in the last 15 years thanks to sprawl in the metro Atlanta area.
East DeKalb certainly has been more consistent than the rest of the county over the last ten years, it should also be noted just how talented DeKalb County is in football. The other schools in the county have combined to produce 139 total BCS-level players since 2002 and 26 NFL draftees since 2000 – a stunning production level that likely has few rivals in the country. Since the class of 2002 started getting drafted in the spring of 2005, a DeKalb Country prospect who signs with a BCS-level school has a 15% chance of being drafted by an NFL team (11 of 73). That percentage includes players like Tavares Kearney and Brandon Lang, who signed with, but never played a snap at Georgia.
Players from East DeKalb who were drafted by an NFL team since 2000:
Patrick Pass – New England Patriots, 239th overall in 2000 NFL Draft
DeMario Minter – Clevland Browns, 152nd overall in 2006 NFL Draft
Anothony Cannon – Detriot Lions, 247th overall in 2006 NFL Draft
Thomas Brown – Atlanta Falcons, 172nd overall in 2008 NFL Draft
Asher Allen – Minnesota Vikings, 86th overall in 2009 NFL Draft
Jermaine Cunningham – New England Patriots, 53rd overall in 2010 NFL Draft
Perry Riley – Washington Redskins, 103rd overall in 2010 NFL Draft
Kelvin Sheppard – Buffalo Bills, 68th overall in 2011 NFL Draft
Dwayne Harris – Dallas Cowboys, 176th overall in 2011 NFL Draft
Bruce Irvin – Seattle Seahawks, 15th overall in 2012 NFL Draft
Stephen Hill – New York Jets, 43rd overall in 2012 NFL Draft
In terms of the most bang for your buck, South Fulton is the best bet to find the highest-level prospects in Georgia. It is also the area of the state where the Bulldogs seem to struggle the most. That could be the reason that the five players drafted highest in the NFL from this area all went to schools other than Georgia – Cam Newton (Florida; Auburn), Eric Berry (Tennessee), Pacman Jones (West Virginia), Kalimba Edwards (South Carolina) and Darious Watts (Marshall).
South Fulton, which (for the purposes of this study) includes all six public schools south of the City of Atlanta in the Fulton County School District as well as Sandy Creek (located in nearby Fayette County), is loaded with talent. There is no pipeline school. Somewhat like prospects in Southern California, it appears there are very few loyalties as far as the prospects from this area are concerned. Georgia has only signed six players from the area; Tech has signed only five. The thing that sticks out the most about South Fulton more than anything else is Georgia's inability to recruit the highest-level players. Sure, Georgia has signed their fair share of players from their area – Kedric Golston, Greg Blue and Sean Jones were outstanding performers for the Dawgs from this area of the state, but they missed out on Cam Newton, Eric Berry and Calvin Johnson.
In total, South Fulton has combined to produce 68 total BCS-level players, two five-star players and 12 NFL draftees in the last ten years – impressive.
Players from South Fulton who were Five-Star recruits:
Sandy Creek wide receiver Calvin Johnson
Sandy Creek defensive lineman Kedric Golston
Creekside defensive back Eric Berry
Players from South Fulton who were drafted by an NFL team since 2000:
Keith Adams – Dallas Cowboys, 232nd overall in 2001 NFL Draft
Jabari Holloway – New England Patriots, 119th overall in 2001 NFL Draft
Keyaron Fox – Kansas City Chiefs, 93rd overall in 2004 NFL Draft
Darius Watts – Denver Broncos, 54th overall in 2006 NFL Draft
Sean Jones – Cleveland Browns, 59th overall in 2005 NFL Draft
Adam "Pacman" Jones – Tennessee Titans, 6th overall in 2005 NFL Draft
Greg Blue – Minnesota Vikings, 149th overall in 2006 NFL Draft
Kedric Golston – Washington Redskins, 196th overall in 2006 NFL Draft
Calvin Johnson – Detriot Lions, 2nd overall in 2007 NFL Draft
Andrew Gardner – Miami Dolphins, 181st overall in 2009 NFL Draft
Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers, 1st overall in 2011 NFL Draft
Rokevious Watkins – St. Louis Rams, 150th overall in 2012 NFL Draft
The biggest City of Atlanta schools have had their fair share of talent over the years. Just west of the Georgia Dome and downtown Atlanta, Douglass, Mays and Washington are the three top inner-city talent producers in the state. In total, West Atlanta has combined to produce more than 40 total BCS-level players, one All-ACC performer, one five-star player and six NFL draftees since 2000.
Players from West Atlanta who were Five-Star recruits:
Washington cornerback Branden Smith
Players from West Atlanta who were drafted by an NFL team since 2000:
Jamal Lewis – Baltimore Ravens, 5th overall in 2000 NFL Draft
Ahmad Carroll – Green Bay Packers, 25th overall in 2004 NFL Draft
Duke Robinson – Carolina Panthers, 163rd overall in 2009 NFL Draft
James Davis – Cleveland Browns, 195th overall in 2009 NFL Draft
Reshad Jones – Miami Dolphins, 163rd overall in 2010 NFL Draft
Akeem Dent – Atlanta Falcons, 91st overall in 2011 NFL Draft
The Old Gwinnett talent bed has consistently produced exceptional players through the years. Hated rivals Brookwood and Parkview were once the top two football powers in the state. While the pigskin prowess in Gwinnett has shifted to some of the newer, more sprawling areas of the county, Old Gwinnett is still holding its own in terms of producing prospects. Like most of the other prospects in Gwinnett County, most of the Old Gwinnett prospects are well developed and are used to training off campus in nearby gyms.
Georgia – located just up the road on US 78 – has a huge pull on prospects from Old Gwinnett. Gwinnett County is loaded with Georgia fans – perhaps more total Bulldog fans than any other the county in the state. That draw or "pressure" probably explains Georgia's conversion rate of prospects from this talent bed. The Bulldogs have signed eight prospects from the four schools – more than double any other college in the area. Only five players from the area have been drafted to the NFL and two of them went to Georgia – Brookwood's Rennie Curran and Parkview's Jon Stinchcomb.
Clemson and Alabama also both signed four prospects from the area. 14 schools from the ACC and SEC have combined to sign at least one player from the area in the last ten years.
Players from Old Gwinnett who were Five-Star recruits:
GAC running back Caleb King
Players from Old Gwinnett who were drafted by an NFL team since 2000:
Jeff Backus – Detroit Lions, 18th overall in 2001 NFL Draft
Jon Stinchcomb – New Orleans Saints, 27th overall in the 2003 NFL Draft
Mansfield Wrotto – Seattle Seahawks, 124th overall in 2007 NFL Draft
Larry Grant – San Francisco 49ers, 214th overall in 2008 NFL Draft
Rennie Curran – Tennessee Titans, 97th overall in 2010 NFL Draft
Jonathan Massaquoi – Atlanta Falcons, 164th overall in 2012 NFL Draft
The 1980s and 1990s saw Metro Atlanta boom from Fulton and DeKalb Counties into Gwinnett. In that time Gwinnett County surged in population from 166,903 in 1980 to 588,488 in 2000. In 20 years the suburb of Atlanta more than tripled its population. As a result, schools like Brookwood and Parkview blossomed on the gridiron. In the early 2000s, Gwinnett County continued to swell. New (or newly discovered) schools popped up, and they were the epicenter of football power in the county and state. Four schools – Peachtree Ridge, North Gwinnett, Buford and Grayson – have combined for nine state titles, 26 ten-win seasons and 48 BCS-level football players.
Players from the area are more sophisticated in nearly every aspect of football as they are trained by the top local trainers, receive some of the best coaching in the state and are inundated with the importance of football year round. A player from New Gwinnett is more likely to be a finished product when he arrives on campus at a college. There are very few "raw" players coming from this area of the state as they are all as polished as they get – they hit as close to their full potential as possible while in high school. That is both an indictment of the likelihood of their development in future as well as a testament to the coaching they get at their schools.
Players from New Gwinnett who were Five-Star recruits:
Buford defensive lineman Omar Hunter
Players from New Gwinnett who were drafted by an NFL team since 2000:
Tim Wansley – Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 233rd overall in the 2002 NFL Draft
P.K. Sam – New England Patriots, 164th overall in 2004 NFL Draft
Jared Cook – Tennessee Titans, 89th overall in 2009 NFL Draft
Cameron Heyward – Pittsburgh Steelers, 31st overall in 2011 NFL Draft
An area of the state that is often overlooked in terms of football prowess, Macon and Warner Robbins does very well for itself considering the number of players in the area. Warner Robbins is a hotbed of high school football, and the schools from that area have dumped high-level players into colleges for years. Macon, a bit like schools in Columbus and in the City of Atlanta, has a high conversion rate of players getting to the NFL once they get to a BCS school. Peach County has a steady stream of very good players and is the only school in the area with a five-star player.
An area with a high percentage of players to the NFL for players in BCS-level schools, Macon and Warner Robins both have to be considered a hidden jewel in the state as it relates to college football prospects.
Players from Macon/Warner Robbins who were Five-Star recruits:
Peach County linebacker Darius Dewberry
Players from Macon/Warner Robbins who were drafted by an NFL team since 2000:
Kiwaukee Thomas – Jacksonville Jaguars, 159th overall in the 2000 NFL Draft
Willie Blade – Dallas Cowboys, 93rd overall in the 2001 NFL Draft
Randy McMichael – Miami Dolphins, 114th overall in the 2002 NFL Draft
Tony Gilbert – Jacksonville Jaguars, 210th overall in the 2003 NFL Draft
George Foster – Denver Broncos, 20th overall in the 2003 NFL Draft
Dontarrious Thomas – Minnesota Vikings, 48th overall in 2004 NFL Draft
Corey Williams – Green Bay Packers, 179th overall in 2004 NFL Draft
Willie Reid – Pittsburgh Steelers, 95th overall in 2006 NFL Draft
Le Kevin Smith – New England Patriots, 206th overall in 2006 NFL Draft
Mike Richardson – New England Patriots, 207th overall in 2006 NFL Draft
Chansi Stuckey – New York Jets, 235th overall in 2007 NFL Draft
Durant Brooks – Washington Redskins, 168th overall in 2008 NFL Draft
Kyle Moore – Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 117th overall in 2009 NFL Draft
Kareem Jackson – Houston Texans, 20th overall in 2010 NFL Draft
Casey Hayward – Green Bay Packers, 62nd overall in 2012 NFL Draft
There may not be an area of the state or country where football matters more than along US 84 in South Georgia. Winnersville, USA is home to two of the most powerful football programs in the state – rivals Lowndes and Valdosta. The two have produced many NFL and high-level college football players in their histories. They continue to push talent to colleges today. Thomasville and Thomas County Central are no different – even if they don't get the national and statewide attention the rivalry in Valdosta produces. Players from this area of the state are often raw and undeveloped, but many are tremendously athletic.
Located on the border of Florida, the US 84 talent bed is, at the most, only an hour and a half from Tallahassee and at least a four-hour drive to Athens. While the area is most certainly in Georgia, it is much closer to Florida State and Florida than it is to Athens – which can certainly be a big recruiting hurdle in the way of the Dawgs. Still, the pull and pressure in South Georgia to play for the Bulldogs is strong.
Players from US 84 who were Five-Star recruits:
Thomas County Central defensive end Ray Drew
Players from US 84 who were drafted by an NFL team since 2000:
Vincent Burns – Indianapolis Colts, 92nd overall in the 2005 NFL Draft
Jay Ratliff – Dallas Cowboys, 224th overall in the 2005 NFL Draft
Brandon Thompson – Cincinnati Bengals, 93rd overall in the 2012 NFL Draft
I-85 South/West Georgia
Where does Atlanta end and West Georgia begin? Somewhere down I-85 around Newnan. The drive south from the Atlanta Airport to the border with Alabama has talent oozing out of it. Schools in the area range from very large (Newnan) to rather small (Carver), but one thing remains true: this area of Georgia is a fighting ground for many SEC schools. Georgia does not dominate the area as they would like, because many of the prospects in the area are closer to Auburn than they are Athens. Still, other SEC schools like Kentucky and Arkansas have signed All-SEC players from this area. The only SEC schools not to sign a player from this area? Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Why come to this region of the state? Because three five-star prospects have called this area home. Another ten four-star players have played in these schools in the last ten years. In short, this area is packed with potential.
Players from I-85 South/West Georgia who were drafted by an NFL team since 2000:
Quentin McCord – Atlanta Falcons, 236th overall in the 2001 NFL Draft
Bruce Thornton – Dallas Cowboys, 121st overall in the 2004 NFL Draft
Airport – US 19/41
South Atlanta has never been an easy place for Georgia to recruit. It's hard to know the reason why. Perhaps it's that this is not an area that has many Georgia fans. Clayton County has changed over the last few decades. Its school district became a full-blown disaster in 2008 when it became the only school system in the country to lose accreditation since 1969. School systems like that make people leave – particularly parents with high-school aged children. Still, three Clayton schools – Lovejoy, North Clayton and Riverdale – have continued to produce on the gridiron. Woodward, a private school, has continued to send players to schools associated with academics more than football. Meanwhile, Griffin, which is directly south of Clayton County, continues to produce solid prospects seemingly every couple of years.
Players from Airport – US 19/41 who were drafted by an NFL team since 2000:
Mareno Philyaw – Atlanta Falcons, 172nd overall in the 2000 NFL Draft
Johnathan Sullivan – New Orleans Saints, 6th overall in the 2003 NFL Draft
Julian Jenkins – Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 156th overall in the 2006 NFL Draft
D.J. Shockley – Atlanta Falcons, 223rd overall in the 2006 NFL Draft
Tashard Choice – Dallas Cowboys, 122nd overall in the 2008 NFL Draft
Sherrod Martin – Carolina Panthers, 59th overall in the 2009 NFL Draft
Morgan Burnett – Green Bay Packers, 71st overall in the 2010 NFL Draft
Chris Scott – Pittsburgh Steelers, 151st overall in the 2010 NFL Draft
William Rackley – Jacksonville Jaguars, 76th overall in the 2011 NFL Draft
Cordy Glenn – Buffalo Bills, 41st overall in the 2012 NFL Draft
Cobb County is very similar to Gwinnett County in many ways. One of the things that separates the two suburbs of Atlanta (besides Fulton County) is the passion for sports at the high school level. Football runs Gwinnett, while it seems baseball still holds the top spot in Cobb. In terms of pure numbers East Atlanta suburbs outpace West Atlanta. But there are still gems in northwest corner of the metro area. Like their neighbors in Gwinnett many of the players from Cobb and northwest Atlanta are well-developed prospects.
Players from Cobb/Northwest Metro who were Five-Star recruits:
Calhoun wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers
Players from Cobb/Northwest Metro who were drafted by an NFL team since 2000:
Ronnie Brown – Miami Dolphins, 2nd overall in the 2005 NFL Draft
Paul Oliver – San Diego Chargers, 4th Round of the 2007 Supplemental NFL Draft
Andre Fluellen – Detroit Lions, 87th overall in the 2008 NFL Draft
Gerald McRath – New York Giants, 130th overall in the 2009 NFL Draft
Kris Durham – Seattle Seahawks, 107th overall in the 2011 NFL Draft