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NFL Top 100: Nos. 76-100 as high school recruits

James Conner
James Conner (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 conclude with Nos. 76-100.

THIS SERIES: Nos. 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75


MORE GORNEY: Recruiting rumor mill | Ranking the first-year coaches

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76. Brian Burns

One notch in the rankings below a five-star prospect, Burns was ranked as the fourth-best weakside defensive end in the 2016 class. The high four-star picked Florida State over Florida and Georgia on signing day after a late visit to Tallahassee. After posting 23 sacks in three seasons for the Seminoles, Burns left early and was the No. 16 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.


77. Darius Slay

Slay was a two-star prospect coming out of high school but a three-star at Fulton (Miss.) Itawamba CC before transferring to Mississippi State. A star running back and defensive back, Slay ran 4.36 in the 40-yard dash during the pre-draft process and was a second-round pick of the Detroit Lions in the 2013 draft.


78. Trey Hendrickson

Ranked as a two-star tight end coming out of Apopka, Fla., Hendrickson played at Florida Atlantic over offers from Western Kentucky and Florida A&M. He developed into a defensive end in college and was a third-round selection in the 2017 draft.


79. Rashawn Slater

Listed as a three-star offensive guard out of Sugar Land (Texas) Clements, Slater picked Northwestern over offers from Illinois, Kansas, Rice and Wyoming. It was in Evanston where Slater really blossomed as a player and he was the No. 13 overall pick in the 2021 draft.


80. James Conner

Rated as a high three-star weakside defensive end, Conner was also a star running back at Erie (Pa.) McDowell and that’s where he’s played in college and now the NFL. Conner chose Pitt over a host of MAC offers and while with the Panthers he tore his knee. During that process, he was also diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma but became cancer-free and it was one of the feel-good stories in the sport. Conner ended up as a third-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers.


81. Justin Simmons

A mid-level three-star defensive back out of Stuart (Fla.) Martin County, Simmons chose Boston College over Illinois, Purdue and others but his recruitment really didn’t take off. He played both corner and safety for the Eagles and then had great testing results at the combine before being picked in the third round of the 2016 draft.


82. Kenny Moore

Moore did not play football in his senior season at Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes and then went to Valdosta State before being an undrafted free agent pickup of the Indianapolis Colts in 2017. He was not in the Rivals database.


83. Wyatt Teller

Wyatt Teller
Wyatt Teller (USA Today Sports Images)

Ranked as a high four-star defensive end one notch below five-star status, Teller picked Virginia Tech over Virginia, which was considered the front-runner for a long time. Teller played offensive line for the Hokies and then was a fifth-round pick of the Buffalo Bills in 2018.


84. Roquan Smith

Smith originally committed to UCLA on signing day but never sent his letter of intent and when he learned his position coach was leaving the Bruins, Smith backed off his pledge and took a couple weeks before landing at Georgia. The four-star prospect was excellent in Athens, won the Butkus Award and was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 draft.


85. Mac Jones

Rated as a mid-level four-star and the ninth-best QB in a class that was led by Davis Mills, Jones originally committed to Kentucky but then picked Alabama in the summer before his senior season. Jones waited his turn at Alabama following Tua Tagovailoa and then was the No. 15 pick in the 2021 draft.


86. Shaquil Barrett

Barrett is not in the Rivals database as he played at Nebraska-Omaha and then transferred to Colorado State. He started 35 of 38 games at Colorado State where he totaled 246 tackles before going undrafted in the 2014 class but was then picked up by the Denver Broncos.


87. Denzel Ward

After working out at summer camp, Ward committed on the spot following an offer from the Buckeyes as Ohio State beat Kentucky, Rutgers, Washington State and others. In three seasons in Columbus, Ward had 67 tackles and just two interceptions but he was impressive enough to be the No. 4 overall pick in the 2018 draft.


88. Jonathan Allen

Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, Penn State and Virginia Tech made the top five for Allen, a five-star defensive end who picked the Crimson Tide in the spring before his senior season. Allen finished his career with the Crimson Tide having 152 tackles and 28 sacks and then he was the No. 17 overall pick.


89. Marshon Lattimore

Rated as a four-star athlete and No. 7 at that position that was led by Adoree’ Jackson, Lattimore committed to Ohio State over Alabama, Georgia Tech and others. Lattimore was the No. 11 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft and then he was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.


90. Odell Beckham Jr.

Rated as a mid-level four-star and the sixth-best receiver in the 2011 class, Beckham narrowed his choices to LSU and Miami at the Army All-American Bowl but the Tigers were always the leader and that’s where he ended up. One of the most-known players in recent NFL history, Beckham was the No. 12 pick of the 2014 NFL Draft.


91. Kyle Pitts

Kyle Pitts
Kyle Pitts (USA Today Sports Images)

Florida, Georgia and Virginia Tech were the finalists for the four-star tight end from Warminster (Pa.) Archbishop Wood and he picked the Gators in the summer before his senior season. Pitts ended up as a dominant tight end in the SEC and then was taken fourth overall by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2021 draft, the highest a player at his position was ever picked.


92. Tyron Smith

UCLA was the early leader for the Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde prospect but USC made moves throughout his recruitment and the five-star offensive lineman ended up playing for the Trojans. Smith played for three seasons at USC before becoming the No. 9 pick in the 2011 draft.


93. Von Miller

The DeSoto, Texas standout was a four-star prospect but was outside the Rivals250 and considering his illustrious career that was far too low. Miller got off to a rocky start at Texas A&M but thrived in his later years in College Station before becoming the second overall pick in the 2011 draft behind Cam Newton.


94. Justin Tucker

Although he played in the Army All-American Bowl, Tucker is not found in the Rivals database and so does not have a ranking. The Austin (Texas) Westlake kicker played at Texas before going undrafted in 2012. He’s arguably becoming the best kicker in NFL history.


95. CeeDee Lamb

Lamb originally committed to Oklahoma only to back off that pledge and then in the summer before his senior season he again picked the Sooners over Texas A&M and Ole Miss. Rated as the No. 10 receiver in the 2017 class that was led by Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tee Higgins and Jerry Jeudy at receiver, Lamb had 3,292 yards and 32 TDs in three years in Norman before becoming the No. 17 overall pick.


96. Jimmie Ward

A two-star safety who picked Northern Illinois over offers from Jacksonville State, ULM, New Mexico and Southern Illinois, Ward had about 200 tackles in his final two years of high school and then was a big contributor in college as well before becoming a late first-round pick in the 2014 draft.


97. Leonard Williams

Auburn and Florida were both confident in landing Williams but it was USC that beat out the two SEC programs for the high four-star defensive end. As a defensive end and defensive tackle at USC, Williams dominated especially in his sophomore and junior seasons and then Williams was the sixth pick in the 2015 draft.


98. David Montgomery

David Montgomery
David Montgomery (USA Today Sports Images)

Rated as a two-star running back, Montgomery mainly played dual-threat quarterback at Cincinnati (Ohio) Mount Healthy and only had offers from Iowa State, Ball State, Buffalo, Illinois and Marshall. Montgomery then totaled nearly 3,000 yards in three seasons with the Cyclones before becoming a third-round pick of the Chicago Bears.


99. Kirk Cousins

A low three-star prospect at Holland (Mich.) Holland Christian, Cousins was going to sign with Toledo, Western Michigan or UConn before Mark Dantonio got the Michigan State job and offered him late in the recruiting process. Cousins ended up throwing for more than 9,000 yards and 66 touchdowns mostly in three seasons before being picked in the fourth round.


100. Kyle Juszczyk

Out of Lodi (Ohio) Cloverleaf, Juszczyk was not in the Rivals database as the fullback played at Harvard and then was a fourth-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens. He now plays with the San Francisco 49ers.