NFL Draft: Former five-stars hear their names called, but early enough?
On Monday, Rivals covered the five-star misses in this year’s NFL Draft and today we take a look at the remaining draft-eligible five-stars who were picked in the first round (hits) or players who were selected but not that high.
Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney offers his thoughts on each.
MORE NFL DRAFT: Gorney's memories, grades of first-rounders | Thirteen five-stars that went undrafted
MORE GORNEY: Prospects setting up summer visits | Programs that could load up on Rivals100 talent | Three-Point Stance: Red Raiders rolling, more
CLASS OF 2023 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State
CLASS OF 2024 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State
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RIVALS CAMP SERIES: Info for 2022 series
Selected: Round 1, Pick 3
Overview: Stingley dealt with injuries and other issues at LSU where some were out of his control but any pre-draft chatter about the former No. 1 overall prospect not having great desire or focus seemed like a lot of teams trying to get others off of him because Stingley is a phenomenal talent.
He covered some of the best receivers in college football and dealt with Ja’Marr Chase in practice and won more than he lost. From a physical standpoint, there are not many corners as special as Stingley. Houston was very wise for taking him this early.
Selected: Round 1, Pick 5
Overview: Thibodeaux was ranked sixth in the 2019 class and went fifth overall so we nailed this one perfectly but it was not all that difficult because he was special since being in middle school.
There were times when Thibodeaux didn’t give max effort in high school but when he turned the dial up there was no stopping him whether at Los Angeles Dorsey or when he transferred to Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian or at Oregon. Focus needs to stay constant but from a skill standpoint, Thibodeaux is special.
Selected: Round 1, Pick 7
Overview: Neal struggled with weight issues early in his high school career but got those under control, became the No. 1 offensive tackle in the 2019 class and one could easily argue he should’ve come off the board first – not second – in last week’s NFL Draft at that position.
He’s a rare athlete at his size, he can play guard or tackle and Neal plays with a toughness and physicality that makes him really special.
Selected: Round 1, Pick 9
Overview: We saw Cross play in high school but he was not at many national events and so his week at the Army All-American Bowl was crucial for his final ranking. That’s where he showed out as a five-star prospect, earning his fifth star after that event. He was long, super athletic, surprisingly powerful for only being 270 pounds at the time and his ability to move and dominate physically was really impressive.
Selected: Round 1, Pick 15
Overview: There was some agreement between the Rivals team and how NFL decision-makers saw Green as someone who could be a tackle or guard, someone who plays tough and nasty but is probably toward the middle to back end of the five-star class.
Also, though, as someone whose position versatility makes them more attractive than at first glance.
Ranked behind Evan Neal and Charles Cross in the 2019 position rankings, Green gives teams optionality along the offensive line and that is one thing that makes him so valuable.
Selected: Round 1, Pick 31
Overview: Rivals never rated Hill a five-star because of his insane length or because he looked like a freak show on the hoof. It was more because Hill could cover anybody from any position on the field whether from the slot, outside, he can be a one-high safety. Hill just had a knack for being around the ball and making plays.
Cincinnati saw that ability as well and picked him late in the first round.
OTHER FIVE-STARS DRAFTED
Selected: Round 2, Pick 10
Overview: Booth ended up as the second-best corner in the 2019 class behind Stingley as he had instincts, speed and playmaking ability that’s rare. Not exactly a fringe first-rounder but someone we don’t feel we missed on going early in the second round.
Selected: Round 2, Pick 31
Overview: Another year where a running back was not taken in the first round, Cook had flashes and moments where his dual-threat abilities of running the ball and catching it were utilized at Georgia but he’s someone who could shine even more in the NFL.
Not taking running backs in the first round has informed our thinking in how we rank that position each recruiting cycle.
Selected: Round 4, Pick 16
Overview: Jones was probably a little over-ranked coming out of Long Beach (Calif.) Poly in the 2016 class but he was a two-way star that had crazy athletic ability. Some off-field issues slowed down his NFL potential but he still got drafted in the middle rounds.
Selected: Round 6, Pick 33
Overview: Kendrick was one of the last five-stars in the 2018 class which had some misses especially toward the tail end of that group. While Kendrick was drafted, his college career and draft position didn’t match a five-star ranking.
A few years ago, Kendrick was a wide receiver going to Clemson. He ended up as a cornerback at Georgia. A lot of changes but Kendrick does have a lot of talent and he was an NFL Draft selection.
Selected: Round 3, Pick 21
Overview: Second at strong-side defensive end and No. 10 nationally in the 2019 class was a little high but Leal was outstanding and unstoppable at the Army All-American Bowl. He was a bit lumbering and I understand the concern over suddenness but in the right system, at the right position, Leal could still be a star after totaling 8.5 sacks this past season at Texas A&M.
Selected: Round 6, Pick 20
Overview: Injuries and a messy transfer from Georgia to Tennessee slowed down Mays’ progress and probably his draft positioning but he has a great frame, excellent toughness and position versatility. If he can stay on the field, he should have a chance in the NFL.
Selected: Round 3, Pick 5
Overview: Aidan Hutchinson had Petit-Frere’s lunch and that got a lot of people’s attention but his athleticism and length could be valuable if the Ohio State lineman continues to develop and is given time in the NFL. Looking back, it was clear Penei Sewell should have been the No. 1 offensive tackle in the 2018 class.
Selected: Round 2, Pick 20
Overview: I do wonder if there weren’t some character questions through the pre-draft process and Pickens stayed injury-free would he have been not only a first-rounder but one of the first receivers taken? He always had freakish athletic ability and length but hit some roadblocks along the way. Still, a second-round pick justifies our ranking more.
Selected: Round 6, Pick 16
Overview: Salyer was definitely too high at ninth nationally in the 2018 rankings but he was so dominant and powerful and had such a strong build in high school we were pretty confident he would compete at a high level for a long time at Georgia.
He moved from inside to outside throughout his time with the Bulldogs and that position versatility will be important in the NFL but he does need to clean up some stuff or NFL guys will have a field day.
Selected: Round 4, Pick 17
Overview: Looking back, the 2018 rankings seem like a hundred years ago especially with the newest trends taking place in the NFL of running backs being devalued in terms of first-round picks. With that consideration in mind, White was probably a touch high at No. 10 in the country especially – and because of another trend – big, pounding running backs aren’t seen as valuable as dual-threats coming out of the backfield.
White had a solid career at Georgia and was drafted but trends have changed quickly in recent years.