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NFL Top 100: Nos. 1-25 as high school recruits

Tom Brady
Tom Brady (USA Today Sports Images)

The NFL Network recently released its list of top 100 players for the 2022 season. We take a look at where those players were ranked coming out of high school with hits and misses along the way. Today we start with Nos. 1-25.

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1. Tom Brady

Tom Brady at Michigan
Tom Brady at Michigan (AP Images)

Rivals rankings started in 2002. Brady was drafted in 2002. But we would like to think he would have clearly been No. 1 coming out of San Mateo (Calif.) Serra even if he did redshirt and then was a backup for a few years at Michigan.

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2. Aaron Donald

Looking back, Donald was one of the all-time misses at Rivals as he was a high three-star coming out of Pittsburgh (Pa.) Penn Hills. But at the time, Donald’s commitment to Pitt was as non-descript as could be as he chose the Panthers over Rutgers, Toledo and Akron.

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3. Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers at Cal
Aaron Rodgers at Cal (Getty Images)

One of the greatest NFL players of all time, Rodgers’ high school days at Chico (Calif.) Pleasant Valley was before Rivals rankings started. He went to Butte College before transferring to Cal and becoming a first-round NFL Draft pick.

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4. Cooper Kupp

Kupp didn’t receive any offers until weeks after his senior season when Eastern Washington offered and that was followed by Idaho State. That was it. He was an unranked prospect out of Yakima (Wash.) A.C. Davis who went on to become a third-round NFL Draft pick and arguably the best receiver in the NFL now.

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5. Jonathan Taylor

An early Rutgers commit who flipped to Wisconsin after his official visit, Taylor was a four-star prospect out of Salem, N.J., who ended up as the No. 13 running back in a 2017 class that was led by Najee Harris, Cam Akers, D’Andre Swift, J.K. Dobbins and others.

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6. T.J. Watt

The Pewaukee, Wis., prospect was a three-star tight end in the 2013 class and went to Wisconsin to play offense. Only after an injury that sidelined him for a long stretch did Watt switch over to defense and his career absolutely took off. Minnesota and Northern Illinois were his only other offers.

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7. Davante Adams

Despite 64 catches for more than 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns and a state title in his senior year at Palo Alto, Calif., Adams was a two-star prospect who picked Fresno State over San Diego State, his only other offer. Fresno State basically threw the ball to him on almost every play for two-straight seasons and he ended up as a second-round NFL Draft pick.

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8. Patrick Mahomes

Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes (USA Today Sports Images)

After DJ Gillins decommitted from Texas Tech, Mahomes became option No. 1 for then-coach Kliff Kingsbury and the high three-star prospect committed to the Red Raiders over Houston and Rice, his other offers. Mahomes was the classic example of a QB who developed physically later and it held back his ranking in a QB class that was led by Deshaun Watson. But it featured a whole lot of misses between Watson and Mahomes.

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9. Jalen Ramsey

Ramsey was a five-star cornerback who was committed to USC early in his recruitment but flipped to Florida State and then was the fifth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Vernon Hargreaves III and Kendall Fuller were the only corners ranked higher in the 2013 class.

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10. Travis Kelce

A two-star athlete out of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Kelce picked Cincinnati and was the third quarterback taken in the Bearcats’ 2008 class. Yes, a quarterback. Then-coach Brian Kelly and his staff told Kelce he’d get a shot at QB and if that didn’t work, would move him to tight end or defensive end. Tight end has certainly worked out.

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11. Myles Garrett

A five-star prospect out of Arlington (Texas) Martin, Garrett finished as the No. 2 prospect in the 2014 class behind only Da’Shawn Hand. Looking back, Garrett should have been No. 1 as he was the top pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

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12. Derrick Henry

One notch below a five-star prospect in the 2013 class, Henry was committed to Georgia but backed off that pledge and picked Alabama over the Bulldogs and Tennessee. The Yulee, Fla., standout was fifth at his position in that recruiting class but looking back that was far too low even if there was concern over Henry’s speed in high school.

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13. Josh Allen

After trying unsuccessfully to get a scholarship to Fresno State, San Diego State offered Allen a walk-on spot but he turned that down to attend Reedley College and then transferred to Wyoming. Allen was a two-star prospect who was originally from the Central Valley of California and his only other offer coming out of junior college was Eastern Michigan.

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14. Trent Williams

Oklahoma beat out Arkansas, LSU, Oklahoma State and others for the Longview, Texas, standout who was never offered by the Longhorns. Williams became the fourth overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft and has been widely regarded as one of the best offensive tackles in the league for more than a decade.

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15. Tyreek Hill

Coming out of Garden City (Kan.) C.C., Hill picked Oklahoma State over USC, Alabama, Florida State and others because coach Mike Gundy told Hill he’d line him up in the slot and get him the ball often. The mid-level four-star played one season in Stillwater before legal issues got him dismissed and he finished at West Alabama before being a fifth-round draft pick.

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16. Micah Parsons

A five-star outside linebacker who finished No. 6 overall in the 2018 class that was led by Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, Parsons picked Penn State early on but then decommitted from the Nittany Lions. Ohio State looked like the spot but he was allowed on the set of ESPN Gameday to take a picture with Kirk Herbstreit, a former Buckeyes player, and that is against NCAA rules. Ohio State stopped recruiting him and Parsons again picked Penn State.

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17. Justin Jefferson

Jefferson could not commit to LSU until months after National Signing Day and his only other offer was from Nicholls State so the Destrehan, La., prospect was a two-star coming out of high school. He ended up having a prolific career in Baton Rouge and was a first-round NFL Draft pick in 2020.

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18. Shaquille Leonard

Leonard, from Lake View, S.C., played at South Carolina State out of high school and is not in the Rivals database. He was a second-round NFL Draft selection in 2018.

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19. Deebo Samuel

After a strong summer camp performance, a big senior season and a qualifying test score, South Carolina offered the high three-star receiver from Inman (S.C.) Chapman and he committed to the Gamecocks in December. Vanderbilt, North Carolina and others were also involved with Samuel, who ended up as an early second-round pick.

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20. J.C. Jackson

A former Florida State commit, Jackson backed off that pledge and committed to Florida after summer camp in Gainesville. A low four-star out of Immokalee, Fla., Jackson went to Florida, had legal issues, transferred to Riverside (Calif.) C.C. and then to Maryland to finish his college career. He went undrafted but has had a major impact for the New England Patriots and now Los Angeles Chargers.

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21. Joe Burrow

A three-star prospect out of Athens, Ohio, Burrow signed with Ohio State and was a backup to J.T. Barrett and then lost the starting job to Dwayne Haskins so he transferred to LSU. That’s when his career absolutely took off as he led the Tigers to the national championship and then was the No. 1 overall pick in 2020.

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22. George Kittle

Kittle’s father, Bruce, played at Iowa and was a coach, so the Hawkeyes took the three-star receiver at that time from Norman, Okla., as his only other offer was from Air Force. During his four years in Iowa City, Kittle had only 48 catches for 737 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was then a fifth-round NFL Draft pick and his career has essentially taken off from there.

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23. Trevon Diggs

Ranked as a mid-level four-star receiver, Diggs picked Alabama over Maryland, LSU, Clemson, West Virginia and others, and played in all three phases when he first got to Tuscaloosa. He was then moved to cornerback full-time and became a second-round NFL Draft pick in 2020. His brother, Stefon, is slightly lower on this list and was a five-star in the 2012 class.

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24. Ja’Marr Chase

Chase had a wild recruitment. He was supposed to commit on the NFL Network but they botched his announcement (it was highly expected he would pick TCU) and so after that Chase re-evaluated his options and pledged to Florida. After backing off that pledge, it looked like Auburn had a real shot at him but the Metairie (La.) Rummel standout picked LSU on signing day. He was ranked as the No. 12 receiver in the 2018 class and one notch from five-star status.

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25. Nick Bosa

A five-star prospect who finished No. 21 overall in the 2016 class, Bosa committed to Ohio State in the summer before his senior season as the Buckeyes were always considered the favorite. The only strong-side defensive end ranked higher than Bosa in that recruiting class was Jeffery Simmons.

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