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Eric Decker, who went on to have a standout career with the Gophers and just played in the Super Bowl with the Broncos, was only a two-star recruit out of Rocori High School.

Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

Rand: More than just stars, late bloomers make mark in NFL

  • Article by: Michael Rand
  • Star Tribune
  • February 4, 2014 - 11:24 AM

The Super Bowl was Sunday. College football signing day is Wednesday. Soon, we will be inundated with coverage from the NFL scouting combine, which will lead to months of draft speculation.

So now is the perfect time to remind you of this: When it comes to evaluating football talent, nobody knows anything for certain, and if they pretend otherwise it’s at best an educated guess and at worst a lie they are trying to sell the public.

Sometimes the consensus turns out to be correct. Percy Harvin was the No. 1 overall recruit in the nation in 2006, as ranked by Rivals.com. He went on to have a great career at Florida, was a first-round pick by the Vikings in 2009, and made an electric play to help cement Seattle’s Super Bowl victory.

But guys like Harvin tend to be the exceptions ... and the guys who we think of as the exceptions are more like the rules.

Let’s start with this fun fact, tweeted by Dallas Jackson of NationalHSFootball.com: 46 players in the Super Bowl came out of high school ranked with either two stars or zero stars. Locally famous among them? Eric Decker, a two-star recruit who went on to star with the Gophers before becoming a 1,000-yard receiver with the Broncos. Only four players in the Super Bowl — Harvin included — received the prestigious five-star rating.

Sure, Harvin’s second-half kick return for a touchdown helped seal the game for Seattle, but the Seahawks did much of their damage all year and on Sunday without him. Instead, they relied heavily on those unheralded guys.

On their 53-man Super Bowl roster, 21 of the players were not drafted by any team. According to nationalfootballpost.com, another 16 were chosen after the third round. So as that site points out, 37 of 53 — 70 percent — were selected in what is now the last of the three days of the draft or not picked at all.

Remember all of that if you are a high school football player obsessed with your star rating, a college player fretting about where you might get picked or just a fan who gobbles up all this information as if it is telling the rock-solid gospel of the future.

 

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