Mississippi State football signees in the NFL Draft: 2002-2011

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

I've seen several other sites take a look at how their respective school's recruits have shaken out in the NFL Draft, so I decided to do the same for Mississippi State.

One of the more interesting analyses that I've seen in the plethora of post-NFL Draft "grades" and coverage was the work by SBNation's Bud Elliot in looking at how recruiting rankings translate to NFL Draft position.  Bud's finding showed that, as you might expect, the percentages are a great deal higher in favor for 4-and-5* recruits to wind up being drafted in the NFL Draft. With that in mind - and inspired by a look at Iowa's recruits at BHGP - I decided to take a look at MSU's recent draft picks and recruiting classes to see how the numbers shake out.

The first look I took was at the percentages of each star rating that got drafted.  I went back as far as 2002, since that seems to be the earliest point that recruiting websites have information available as of today.  I used Rivals' ratings to compile the data:

MSU Recruits in the NFL Draft, Recruiting Classes 2002-2011
5* 4* 3* 2* NR
Total 4 36 123 105 0
Drafted 1 6 8 0 0
Pro % 25% 17% 7% 0% N/A

Note: This calculation is fairly rough, and I did not account for players who signed with MSU and then went the JUCO route before re-signing with MSU.  I know there are several of these counted twice in the totals, for instance Darius Slay is in there twice.  If I get a chance I will go back and fine tune them a bit more, but for now this seems to be good enough to give you the general idea of what we're looking at.

As you can see, the numbers seem to be in the favor of 4-stars making the draft versus a 3-star or 2-star.  Sure, the percentage is higher for 5-stars, but the total from which it's drawing from is much lower.

Now that we've taken a broad look at the draft and recruiting ranking comparisons, let's take a look at things from a more individual perspective.  Going back to 2006's draft which included MSU RB Jerious Norwood, I compiled information on every pick State has had since 2006 (15 total) and where they were ranked coming out of high school or junior college.  Here's what I found.

MSU Recruits in the NFL Draft, Recruiting Classes 2002-2011
Player Year Signed Recruiting Rank Year Drafted Draft Selection
Jerious Norwood, RB 2002 5* (#3 RB) [Rivals] 2006 3rd Rd (79)
Antonio Johnson, DL 2005 3* [Rivals] 2007 5th Rd (152)
Anthony Dixon, RB 2006 4* (#22 RB) [Rivals] 2010 6th Rd (173)
Jamary Chaney, LB 2005 3* (#29 OLB) [Rivals] 2010 7th Rd (220)
Derek Sherrod, OL 2007 4* (#13 OT) [Rivals] 2011 1st Rd (32)
KJ Wright, LB 2007 3* (#52 OLB) [Rivals] 2011 4th Rd (99)
Pernell McPhee 2009 4* [Rivals] 2011 5th Rd (165)
Chris White, LB 2009 3* [Rivals] 2011 6th Rd (169)
Fletcher Cox, DL 2009 4* (#5 DE) [Rivals] 2012 1st Rd (12)
Vick Ballard, RB 2010 3* [Rivals] 2012 5th Rd (170)
Charles Mitchell, DB 2008 4* (#10 Safety) [Rivals] 2012 6th Rd (192)
Darius Slay, DB 2011 3* [Rivals] 2013 2nd Rd (36)
Johnthan Banks, DB 2009 3* (#63 ATH) [Rivals] 2013 2nd Rd (43)
Josh Boyd, DL 2009 4* (#15 DT) [Rivals] 2013 5th Rd (167)
Gabe Jackson, OL 2009 3* (#91 OT) [Rivals] 2014 3rd Rd (81)

A few trends tend to stick out as you look at the table full of recent MSU greats.  The first thing for me is, wow, that 2009 class - Mullen's first as the MSU head coach - has turned out to be one of the best ever.  That class produced six draft picks including one-1st rounder, two-2nd rounders and a 3rd rounder.  Not bad for little ole Mississippi State and a brand new incoming coach.  The other thing that sticks out, again looking at the 2009 class, is the fairly even split of players that went pro who signed out of high school versus out of junior college.  The average star rating for that class' draftees is squarely between 3* and 4* at 3.5, which seems about right to me.  That is also the average for the entire group of 15 signees/draftees, which again is exactly where I would have expected that number to fall.  State has enough 3* JUCO players on this list as well as your KJ Wright's and Gabe Jackson's to even out the average somewhere between 3* and 4*.  The average round of draft selection also comes in close but this time closer to 4 at 3.9.

The other thing that sticks out to me is the lack of 5* signees in this draft list.  No, MSU hasn't signed as many 5-stars as Alabama or USC, but there have been several others that signed and just never amounted to significant contributors.  Quinton Culberson, Darren Williams (RIP), and Deljuan Robinson were the other 5-stars that State signed between 2002 and 2011.  All four of those 5-stars interestingly enough were signed in the 2002 and 2003 classes.

So what are your thoughts on all of this?  Is this about what you expected for MSU?  Honestly the way things have gone under Dan Mullen, I expect these trends to remain the same, especially the average recruit ranking per draftee.  Dan has done a great job so far at working with under-the-radar, local talent and getting the most out of guys like a KJ Wright or Bernardrick McKinney who are 3-stars out of high school but who turn into all-SEC type players.  That's the Mullen MO at MSU, and it seems to be working. Now, it obviously never hurts when you can mix in a 4* (Ashton Shumpert) or a 5* (Chris Jones) to help your team's cause out, and we will certainly see guys like those two getting their names called soon as well as Mullen system products.

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