Morning Roar: Reviewing high school ranks

February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
8:00
AM ET
Good morning and ROOOOAAARRR!!!!

One of the biggest things fans -- and, to be fair, reporters do this as well -- latch on to when it comes to evaluating high school prospects for college is their ranking.

Is he a five-star player? Is he rated as the top player in the state? Gather up as many highly rated players as you can, the thought goes, and you'll win the most. In some cases -- see Alabama -- this is completely true.

But the talent evaluation and the development of players led to a small project I worked on Wednesday looking at where the Lions were ranked coming out of high school.

Heading into the research, I've never been a big believer in the star rankings. As I learned covering colleges for a decade, the rule of thumb is always that a third of highly ranked prospects become sure-fire NFL stars. A third end up being good college players and reach the league and a third never get anywhere close.

Then I took at the Lions and the results were surprising. Here's a look at the Lions' rankings on offense and the Lions' rankings on defense.

On offense, other than Matthew Stafford, Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson, few Detroit players were in the top 20 at their position when they came out of high school. Actually, there were two. Dorin Dickerson, now a tight end, was the number 11 receiver in his class. Joseph Fauria was the No. 15 tight end in his class.

That's it.

On defense, only one player was in the top 10 of his position group: Ndamukong Suh. Two others were somewhat highly rated: defensive end Willie Young and linebacker Rocky McIntosh. Other than that, the Lions defenders either were rated at an average level, at best, if they had any national accolades at all.

All this says is just because a player is highly rated at one point doesn't mean he'll have success in the future. Something to keep in mind as you watch your favorite college team.

Of course, this is only one NFL team out of 32. But considering the Lions were often a team considered to be talented and finished with an average record this season, it was something interesting to review.

One caveat, though. Player scouting at the high school level has increased greatly over the past three or four years, so it will be interesting to track how many more hits there are in the future among top-ranked players versus misses.

And now, a look around the Interwebs in search of Lions news:

Michael Rothstein | email

ESPN Detroit Lions reporter

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