Prior to last year’s Super Bowl LI matchup between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons, we learned that there were only nine former four- and five-star recruits shared between the teams’ 44 projected starters.
SB Nation is the latest to take a dive into the past and look at the rosters of this year’s Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles ahead of Super Bowl LII on Sunday, Feb. 4.
Once again, we find that both rosters in the sport’s biggest game are not filled top to bottom with four- and five-star recruits. To the contrary, not counting kickers and punters, only 16 of the 44 projected starters were blue-chip prospects coming out of high school.*
(*While SB Nation’s list includes five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady as a presumed four-star recruit, Brady’s scholastic days predated the star system. He was, however, listed as the No. 6 pro-style quarterback by recruiting analyst Tom Lemming in 1995.)
This year, the Eagles have the sizeable edge in terms of former top-tier recruits.
The Eagles have a whopping five former five-stars, including wide receiver Nelson Agholor (USC alum), defensive tackle Tim Jernigan (Florida St.), defensive end Brandon Graham (Michigan), outside linebacker Nigel Bradham (Florida State) and cornerback Ronald Darby (Florida State).
Philadelphia also has seven former four-stars: wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (South Carolina), left tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai (TCU), left guard Stefan Wisniewski (Penn St.), tight end Zach Ertz (Stanford), running back LeGarrette Blount (Oregon), defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (Mississippi St.) and middle linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (Georgia).
Meanwhile, for the defending Super Bowl champions, Patriots defensive tackle Malcom Brown (Texas) is the Patriots’ lone former five-star recruit among their starters, while cornerback Stephon Gilmore (South Carolina), linebacker Kyle Van Noy and tight end Rob Gronkowski (Arizona) were all four-stars.
Not including Brady, that leaves us with roughly 36.4 percent of the Super Bowl starters being former four- or five-star players. Furthermore, 19 out of the Eagles’ 22 projected starters were at least three-star recruits, as opposed to 17 of 22 for New England.
Sure the Patriots have a former college lacrosse player in Chris Hogan on their roster, he of no stars out of high school. Then again, as SB Nation’s Bud Elliott points out in the piece, star Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson has an improbable tale of his own to tell. In high school, Johnson was 6-foot-5 and 202 pounds. He ended up being 6-6, 317, moving from quarterback to left tackle before attending Oklahoma.
Still, what does it all mean? As SElliott puts it, “about two in every five Super Bowl starters were four- or five-star recruits, but only about one in every 770 recruits are rated as such. So yes, your odds of starting in the Super Bowl are, unsurprisingly, much higher if you were a superstar recruit in high school.”
Fair point – but especially if want to play in the Super Bowl as a Philadelphia Eagle.
You can read the rest of Elliott’s piece here.