CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 12: Dre Kirkpatrick #27 of the Cincinnati Bengals talks with coach Hue Jackson during a rookie minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium on May 12, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Year after year on college signing day, we all watch with anticipation whether the top talent coming out of high school is going to choose to go to Texas or USC, LSU or Alabama, Ohio State or Michigan. We wait to see if our favorite college team is going to have one of the top draft classes and secure a promising future of 12-0 seasons and BCS Championships.
Greg Gabriel, from nationalfootballpost.com, came out with an article on where the 2012 NFL Draft class was ranked and how the high school ranking system has become one of the most overrated systems in all of sports.
Gabriel notes that each year in high school football there are about 15-20, maybe less or maybe more depending on the quality of players that year, players that are marked as "can't miss" 5 star players. If you were guessing conservatively, one might be inclined to say that at least half of those players were taken in the first round of whatever draft they decide to declare for because they were all-star talent coming out of high school and you only get better with experience, age, and a college workout regimen, right?!
Well, not exactly. Out of those 20 5 star players, only four were taken in this years draft: Richardson, Kalil, Floyd, and Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick. 20 percent of the most talented players in high school football were drafted in the first round of this year's draft. Along with Kirkpatrick, other notable Bengals rookies in this article are Kevin Zeitler (three-star player) and Devon Still (four-star player).
What does all of this mean? According to Gabriel, and my personal opinion, absolutely nothing. It is impossible to determine, by means of a rating system, how well a 17 or 18 year old kid will do in college. There are far too many variables that come into play for this type of system to have any validity, and the first round of the 2012 NFL draft proves this fact. Two players taken in the first round, Dontari Poe and Chandler Jones, were rated as two-star players coming out of high school and eight of the other first round picks were rated as three-star players. Not to mention, Brandon Weeden was not rated at all coming out of high school, though, as Gabriel notes, he was highly touted for his baseball talent.
This system does not take into account injuries, desire, intelligence, nor maturity. All of these variable can amount to a top 20 high school football player not even starting on his college team, whether because of injuries, his work ethic, or he just wasn't able to develop like everyone thought. At the same time, players who are ranked as No.1 or No.2 star players out of high school end up developing into All-American talent and being drafted in the first round. Needless to say, it is impossible to rate high school football players based solely on their high school statistics.
Granted, there are some players who are highly ranked out of high school that end up being great college players and flourishing in the NFL (Adrian Peterson, A.J. Green, and Julio Jones for instance). So, I suppose that the high school rating system is not totally invalid, but the significance that we give to high school players based on this system is misleading and outrageous. Let these kids pick what school they want to play ball at, let them develop and mature as young men and football players, then when they are a bit older evaluate their talent.
The pressure that these rating systems put on kids is too much for them to take on their own and is mainly for our own viewing pleasure rather than an actual, meaningful rating. Let these kids be kids for a while before they decide to make the jump into the limelight of the NCAA and NFL.