Mark Walton

Awsi Dooger

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Feb 8, 2005
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Las Vegas
Here's another related link, from a guy who has done lots of related studies on early ratings and where they point. Lots of his links are within. I'll paste his two summary paragraphs:

"In summation, five years of NFL draft data show that a higher recruiting star rating is associated with:

  1. A better chance of getting drafted in the first place
  2. Getting picked earlier in the draft
  3. A greater chance that a drafted player will appear in an NFL game
  4. Greater production once a player reaches the NFL.
If the high number of blue chippers who become All-Americans, the correlation between recruiting ratings and college team rankings, and the fact that in a given college football matchup the team with the better recruits usually wins, haven't already convinced you that recruiting ratings matter, then the NFL draft should."


I don't like to argue this stuff. I do appreciate that the recent trend has been in my favor. When I started emphasizing early evaluation more than 30 years ago on Las Vegas radio there were few who agreed or would even listen. Now I see some of the top draft guys reverting to recruiting rankings as a hint. I knew it was heading in the proper direction in spring 2018 when Rob Staton of Seahawks Draft Blog began referencing former 5-star recruits who were further down the ratings and might be a wise investment. Previously he was subjective minded, buffeted by analytics/SPARQ. But I always sensed he was sharp enough not to reject something so blatantly logical.

Nobody is claiming this is an absolute. It is a cheat. Do it often enough and allow surprise positives in your favor. I have never been a fan of Reshad Jones due to his style of play against the pass, and a couple of wagers he blew for me at Georgia. But I always remembered he was an ultra elite 5-star recruit, considered the best player in the state and among the 15 best players period. That is how you apply this angle, when someone like that slips. The last thing you want to do is exactly the opposite, to ignore high school and fixate on college only and especially late college. I would be deflated and not be posting here now if the Dolphins identified wither Daniel Jones or Andre Dillard in the first round. Jones was a nothing recruit and Dillard a mixture of 2/3 star. Even if you hit on players like that it means you are far too willing to make exceptions. That can only burn you in the long run.

Regardless of what I think, I am thrilled that the Dolphins recently have been demonstrating more magnetism toward the 5-star guys. Three of the last four picks in the first round were 5-star, The one exception is interesting. I'll paste that below. We have acquired more 5-star players in the most recent four drafts than the prior decade combined. Including the trade for 5-star Josh Rosen, at least there is a considerable chance for sustained return on investment that is many percent above the norm, instead of at or below the norm, where we're been for so long.

In any endeavor I've ever been involved in I've always respected and sought the guys who were standouts at an early age. The last person I want to listen to is a late comer. IMO, society in general is too sappy and lauding toward late bloomers and overachievers. They are acceptable tucked in the back corner of an office. But I don't want them anywhere near my sporting teams, especially not in an early round.

Here are the star ratings of our first round picks since 2006. I used Rivals as source every time since I follow their ratings and I didn't want a mixture from service to service, which can skew things. Other sites like 247 and ESPN have recruiting star ratings also. I began at 2006 solely because I could not find anything earlier. Vernon Carey and Ronnie Brown were both in the class of 2000. Neither one was 5-star because they do not appear in the Rivals 100 from 2000. I found that list. This star rating method is relatively new, as I emphasized in the other post. That's why you don't see studies dating 20 years or more:

2006: Jason Allen…4
2007: Ted Ginn…5
2008: Jake Long…4
2009: Vontae Davis…3
2010: Jared Odrick…4
2011: Mike Pouncey…4 (guard)
2012: Ryan Tannehill…3
2013: Dion Jordan…4 (tight end)
2014: Devante Parker…3
2015: Ju’Waun James...4
2016: Laremy Tunsil…5
2017: Charles Harris…2
2018: Minkah Fitzpatrick…5
2019: Christian Wilkins…5


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Mar 26, 2010
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Love the strategy by management, love Walton’s talent, but if he doesn’t get his head right he’ll be a waste to himself.

This is a move taken right out of Belicheck’s book. No loss if they cut him, good move if he turns into their 3rd down back/KR, and great move if he becomes a legit starting RB. They can also rebuild his value and trade him for a pick too.

Great talent. Love his college play before he went down. Slid in the draft because of that. Was otherwise a top 3-5 RB. Best UM RB since Gore. Huge upside potential.

If Flores is anything like Belicheck, and I think he is from what I’ve seen so far, then he’ll set appropriate expectations on/off the field. If Walton doesn’t live up to them then he should cut him. Giving guys a fresh start on a new team is a great message. Cutting them if they don’t fall in line is another great message.

It can be an all around win!


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Mar 26, 2010
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I'll continue to mention it and emphasize it. I actually don't do it nearly as much as warranted. If you don't understand the value of early excellence, I feel sorry for you but I am not surprised. The vast majority of fans and analysts are remarkably ignorant along those lines. That's why the same type mocks preseason ratings while never bothering to recognize their incredible accuracy, given the burden of identifying so far in advance. That fan mindset translates to placing absurd overboard emphasis on most recent games and results instead of the totality. I concede that nothing I say here will ever change that. It is the reason we had ping pong opinions on Ryan Tannehill depending on the week, when actually nothing of note ever changed.

5 star players are more likely to be drafted, more likely to make All Pro, more likely to make the Pro Bowl, and so forth. There have been countless studies. The star ratings are still in their infancy, which is why this is not well known. In 20 years or so it will seem silly that anyone ever argued against this. The star ratings have also become more accurate as more services are doing it and more video is available. That's why it is so difficult to unearth a hidden gem. The Canes were finding lesser rated players in the '80s and '90s who would be near the top of the recruiting rankings today.

The raw numbers is what throws people off, and leads to some silly assertions. The number of 3 star to 4 star to 5 star is hardly linear. It dwindles exponentially. That's why no kidding many 3 star players make it. There are so many of them. As always my spotlight is on more likely than not. Do the right thing. Steal percentages in your favor. Prioritizing the higher rated guys enables that type of hidden value, while ignoring them sticks a team in the ignoramus category, destined to overdraft Crowd players and therefore remain a Crowd franchise.

Here are just a couple of links, the first one depicting star rating toward being drafted, and the second one toward making the Pro Bowl. I grabbed the first things atop the Google list given the search terms I used, instead of scrambling for ones that exaggerated in my favor. As I mentioned, this type of examination is still in its infancy but the findings have all been along the same lines. They will continue to move in that supporting direction as more data is available. I appreciate the CommonManFootball guy on YouTube because he is not a conventional wisdom type, paralyzed by recency. He is the first I've seen who smartly incorporates high school results, particularly among quarterbacks, and also age of the prospect.
It’s not often I learn something new on finheaven. But, I really like your take on early talent using the star rating system and how it translates to the NFL. I’m an analytic minded guy who also uses film to evaluate talent. Your logic makes a ton of sense to me as it seems to combine the two into one approach.

Too often 4 and 5 star guys under perform in a particular system in college, slide in the draft, then exceed expectations in the NFL.

What a great litmus test for finding gems in the late rounds.
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