Hot Reads: Grading Talent Development Using the NFL Draft
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

Hot Reads: Grading Talent Development Using the NFL Draft

May 01, 2020

Chris Hummer of 247Sports put out a five-year look at which teams developed talent the best. The model here is pretty straightforward, take the number of Top 247 recruits signed by school and then look at where they were drafted and score them on a 3-point scale (3 for a first-round pick, 2 for a Day 2 pick, 1 for a Day 3 pick).

This is, as is noted in the story, a somewhat limited view of development. Wisconsin, for example, doesn't sign a ton of Top 247 recruits but it holds its own when it comes to draft picks, but the Badgers don’t make the top 31. Limitations disclosed, the research was still enough to pique Urban Meyer's interest.

It piqued my interest as well. I wasn't surprised that Nebraska didn't make the top 31, but I did wonder what its development rating was so I started looking back at the 2011–15 recruiting classes. (The model is limited to those years as the draft is the scoring system.) I was surprised by the final tally.

Nebraska's development rating under these parameters is 0.00.

The Huskers signed 16 Top 247 prospects between 2011 and 2015. From that you remove, as 247 did, any player that was dismissed, didn't qualify, medically retired or transferred after two or fewer seasons. That takes Nebraska's Top 247 total down to eight players.

None of those eight players were drafted, a group that includes Jamal Turner, Terrell Newby, Marcus Newby and Nick Gates among others.

What happened to the eight that were eliminated via one of the parameters above? None of them were drafted either, a group that includes Aaron Green (good career at TCU), Bubba Starling ("went pro in something other than" football), Tyler Moore (transferred to Florida), Todd Peat Jr. (transferred) and Jared Afalava (left the program).

It's not a guarantee that Nebraska's going to score any points using this scoring method in the near future. The Huskers signed three Top 247 recruits in each of the 2016 and 2017 classes, the next two classes up for scoring in the next two years. Patrick O'Brien (2016), Elijah Blades (2017) and Tyjon Lindsey (2017) are all already removed from consideration. Lamar Jackson was in the 2016 class but wasn't drafted and thus produced no points. That leaves Matt Farniok (2016) and Deontre Thomas (2017) as potential point-getters from the end of the Mike Riley era.

Scott Frost's staff has signed 10 Top 247 recruits in three cycles so far (two in 2018, six in 2019 and two in 2020). Of that group, just two are already off the board––Cam Jones (SMU) and Darien Chase (TBD).

While this model is far from a comprehensive view of talent development, it's limited scope does provide an interesting spotlight in which to view things. What happens to the eight remaining Top 247 recruits Frost has signed so far? That group is: Cam Jurgens, Wan'Dale Robinson. Nick Henrich, Bryce Benhart, Noa Pola-Gates, Ty Robinson, Keyshawn Greene and Marcus Fleming.

While that group won't tell us everything about how Nebraska is developing players, I feel like I can pretty confidently say this: The Huskers can't go 0-for-8 with that group and be anywhere close to where they want to be.

The Grab Bag

  • Jacob Padilla looks at the history of DII-to-DI transfers in college basketball. (Premium)
  • Greg Smith catches up with 3-star wide receiver Jaylin Noel, who recently narrowed his list to two––Nebraska and Iowa State. (Premium)
  • Taking a look back at the Huskers’ last tie in the latest Tom’s Time.

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