2017 Pro Bowl rosters: Do recruiting star ratings actually predict NFL success?

When it comes to winning a national championship in college, the recruiting star system matters. There's a science behind this, but all you actually have to do is look at the past several national title winners and where they finished in recruiting the 3-4 years prior. Five-star and 4-star players dominate these rosters, particularly when it comes to recent champions like Alabama, Ohio State and Florida State.

However, when it comes to winning a Super Bowl or making the Pro Bowl, how prospects rated out of high school or JUCO seems to matter less.

There are a few reasons for this. For one, not every player in the league was around at the time recruiting rankings became a thing, though that number is getting smaller by the year. Two, stars aren't an indicator of performance at the professional level of the game. Ratings are made by evaluators based on the level of a player's talent and how a particular recruit projects as a success playing college football.

And three, the math doesn't favor a high percentage of blue-chip recruits, and it never will.

With the 2017 Pro Bowl rosters being released, it's interesting to see how each player rated coming out of high school or JUCO. The players are placed into categories below based on their rating, from 5-star prospects to ones that weren't rated. 247Sports Composite rankings were used to provide a more complete assessment of the player as a recruit, though this admittedly gets more difficult the further back you go.

5-stars (11)

WR A.J. Green (Cincinnati)
WR Julio Jones (Atlanta)
RB DeMarco Murray (Tennessee)
DE Jadeveon Clowney (Houston)
DB Eric Berry (Kansas City)
TE Greg Olsen (Carolina)
DE Everson Griffen (Minnesota)
DT Gerald McCoy (Tampa Bay)
DB Patrick Peterson (Arizona)
DB HaHa Clinton-Dix (Green Bay)
DB Landon Collins (New York Giants)

4-star (24)

RB LeSean McCoy (Buffalo)
WR Tyreek Hill (Kansas City)
OL Joe Thomas (Cleveland)
WR Amari Cooper (Oakland)
OL Taylor Lewan (Tennessee)
OL Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh)
QB Derek Carr (Oakland)
DT Ndamukong Suh (Miami)
LB Dont'a Hightower (New England)
LB C.J. Mosley (Baltimore)
DB Reggie Nelson (Oakland)
DE Cameron Wake (Miami)
OL Tyron Smith (Dallas)
WR Odell Beckham (New York Giants)
WR Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona)
RB Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas)
RB Devonta Freeman (Atlanta)
DT Fletcher Cox (Philadelphia)
DB Janoris Jenkins (New York Giants)
DB Harrison Smith (Minnesota)
OL Zack Martin (Dallas)
TE Jordan Reed (Washington)
OL Jason Peters (Philadelphia)
WR Cordarrelle Patterson (Minnesota)

3-star (26)

OL David DeCastro (Pittsburgh)
LB Von Miller (Denver)
TE Travis Kelce (Kansas City)
DT Geno Atkins (Cincinnati)
DE Jurrell Casey (Tennessee)
LB Brian Orakpo (Tennessee)
DB Marcus Peters (Kansas City)
OL Marshal Yanda (Baltimore)
OL Kelechi Osemele (Oakland)
RB Le'Veon Bell (Pittsburgh)
DB Casey Hayward (San Diego)
DB Devin McCourty (New England)
PK Justin Tucker (Baltimore)
QB Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay)
DT Aaron Donald (Los Angeles)
WR Mike Evans (Tampa Bay)
OL Trent Williams (Washington)
OL Brandon Scherff (Washington)
QB Matt Ryan (Atlanta)
QB Dak Prescott (Dallas)
LB Vic Beasley (Atlanta)
LB Ryan Kerrigan (Washington)
LB Luke Kuechly (Carolina)
DB Richard Sherman (Seattle)
OL Travis Frederick (Dallas)
DE Cliff Avril (Seattle)

2-star (6)

LB Khalil Mack (Oakland)
WR T.Y. Hilton (Indianapolis)
CB Aqib Talib (Denver)
P Pat McAfee (Indianapolis)
LB Bobby Wagner (Seattle)
OL T.J. Lang (Green Bay)

Not rated (13)

TE Delanie Walker (Tennessee)
CB Chris Harris (Denver)
WR Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh)
OL Donald Penn (Oakland)
QB Tom Brady (New England)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh)
FB Kyle Juszczyk (Baltimore)
LB Lorenzo Alexander (Buffalo)
RS Matthew Slater (New England)
RB David Johnson (Arizona)
FB Mike Tolbert (Carolina)
DE Michael Bennett (Seattle)
LB Thomas Davis (Carolina)

So when you really think about it, 35 of the 80 players named to the Pro Bowl (43.8 percent) were rated as either 5-star or 4-star players coming out of high school per the 247Sports Composite, which is an incredibly high hit percentage considering the aforementioned limited number of players that receive such distinctions. Also impressive is that 19 players were rated as 2-star prospects or not rated at all, meaning nearly one-quarter of the players at the top of the league in 2016 brushed off the lack of belief in them by talent evaluators and grinded all the way to NFL greatness.

CBS Sports Writer

Ben Kercheval joined CBS Sports in 2016 and has been covering college football since 2010. Before CBS, Ben worked at Bleacher Report, UPROXX Sports and NBC Sports. As a long-suffering North Texas graduate,... Full Bio

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