The Eagles have had a large number of former high school stars on their roster, and what that could mean for the upcoming draft

In the first week of free agency, the Eagles signed free agent Kenny Phillips and traded for Arrelious Benn. What do Phillips and Benn have in common? As Seniors in high school, they both appeared in Rivals.com’s Top 100 high school football prospect list; Phillips in 2004, Benn in 2007.

This is nothing new for the Eagles. Since 2002, Rivals.com has been publishing Top 100 lists of the best high school football recruits in the nation. A staggering number of players appearing on those lists, 30 to be exact, have found their way onto the Eagles’ roster. In fact, three of them (Bryce Brown in 2009, Ernie Sims in 2003 and Vince Young in 2002) were each the #1 overall recruit in the nation. Here is the list in full:

Player Position Year on Rivals Top 100 Overall ranking How aquired
Bryce Brown RB 2009 1 Drafted – 7
Cliff Harris CB 2009 41 UDFA
Fletcher Cox DT 2009 94 Drafted – 1
DeAndre Brown WR 2008 22 UDFA
Ronald Johnson WR 2007 8 FA
Noel Devine RB 2007 15 UDFA
Arrelious Benn WR 2007 24 Trade
Brandon Graham DE 2006 15 Drafted – 1
Ricky Sapp DE 2006 21 Drafted – 5
LeSean McCoy RB 2006 33 Drafted – 2
Charles Scott RB 2006 50 Drafted – 6
Riley Cooper WR 2006 99 Drafted – 5
DeSean Jackson WR 2005 18 Drafted – 2
Macho Harris DB 2005 28 Drafted – 5
Kevin Thomas CB 2005 70 Trade
Keenan Clayton LB 2005 74 Drafted – 4
Everette Brown DE 2005 78 FA
Kenny Phillips S 2004 12 FA
Cornelius Ingram TE 2004 62 Drafted – 5
Marlon Favorite DT 2004 72 FA
Ernie Sims OLB 2003 1 Trade
Victor Abiamiri DE 2003 23 Drafted – 2
Steve Smith WR 2003 30 FA
Dennis Dixon QB 2003 57 FA
Vince Young QB 2002 1 FA
Lorenzo Booker RB 2002 3 Trade
Trent Edwards QB 2002 20 FA
Jarrad Page S 2002 55 FA
Winston Justice OT 2002 56 Drafted – 2
Derek Landri DT 2002 66 FA

The Eagles have acquired these players in wide variety of ways:

  • 13 were drafted: Fletcher Cox (1), Brandon Graham (1), LeSean McCoy (2), DeSean Jackson (2), Victor Abiamiri (2), Winston Justice (2), Keenan Clayton (4), Ricky Sapp (5), Riley Cooper (5), Cornelius Ingram (5), Charles Scott (6), and Bryce Brown (7).
  • 10 were free agent acquisitions: Ronald Johnson, Everette Brown, Kenny Phillips, Marlon Favorite, Steve Smith, Dennis Dixon, Vince Young, Trent Edwards, Jarrad Page, and Derek Landri.
  • 3 were undrafted free agents: Cliff Harris, DeAndre Brown, and Noel Devine.
  • 4 were acquired via trade: Arrelious Benn, Kevin Thomas, Ernie Sims and Lorenzo Booker.

So what is the significance of this? Do the Eagles go as far back to the high school level to scout football players? Or are they simply mindful of college and professional players that used to be the cream of the crop in high school, and factor that in to their thinking in terms of whether or not to acquire a player from an “upside” perspective?

Whatever the case, the acquisition of 30 players, all of whom entered the NFL after 2006, seems like too high of a number for that to just be a coincidence.

With that in mind, here is a list of players that are eligible to be drafted this year, are in CBS Sports’ 2013 Top 750 prospects, and who all once appeared in Rivals.com’s Top 100 H.S. prospect list. It will be interesting to see if the Eagles continue this trend.

The early round guys:

Player Position School Year in Rivals Top 100 Rivals Ranking CBS ranking
Luke Joeckel OT Texas A&M 2010 39 1
Sharrif Floyd DT Florida 2010 4 4
Jarvis Jones OLB Georgia 2009 72 12
Sheldon Richardson DT Missouri 2009 4 17
Matt Barkley QB USC 2009 5 22
D.J. Fluker OT Alabama 2009 3 23
Alex Okafor DE Texas 2009 14 31
Keenan Allen WR California 2010 5 32
Matt Elam S Florida 2010 25 34
Robert Woods WR USC 2010 6 36
Alec Ogletree OLB Georgia 2010 40 38
Manti Te’o ILB Notre Dame 2009 12 39
Arthur Brown LB Kansas St. 2008 23 40
E.J. Manuel QB Florida St. 2008 43 51
Eric Reid S LSU 2010 90 55
Barrett Jones C Alabama 2008 60 56
Justin Hunter WR Tennessee 2010 75 62
Mike Glennon QB NC State 2008 59 69
Da’rick Rogers WR Tennessee Tech 2010 9 82
Corey Lemonier OLB Auburn 2010 35 91
T.J. McDonald S USC 2009 30 100

Mid-rounders:

Player Position School Year in Rivals Top 100 Rivals Ranking CBS ranking
Malliciah Goodman DE Clemson 2009 38 105
Tavarres King WR Georgia 2008 88 110
Christine Michael RB Texas A&M 2009 22 113
Chris Faulk OT LSU 2009 47 116
Jon Bostic ILB Florida 2009 64 121
Jelani Jenkins OLB Florida 2009 10 131
Brandon McGee CB Miami 2009 92 134
Nico Johnson ILB Alabama 2009 32 135
Xavier Nixon OT Florida 2009 37 141
Marcus Lattimore RB South Carolina 2010 10 143
Nick Kasa TE Colorado 2009 42 149
Terry Hawthorne CB Illinois 2009 58 156
Tony Jefferson S Oklahoma 2010 62 158
William Gholston DE Michigan St. 2010 21 161
Etienne Sabino OLB Ohio St. 2008 46 168
Rodney Smith WR Florida St. 2009 65 197
Cierre Wood RB Notre Dame 2009 76 200

The rest of the bunch:

Player Position School Year in Rivals Top 100 Rivals Ranking CBS ranking
Abry Jones DT Georgia 2009 95 291
Michael Ford RB LSU 2009 59 292
Branden Smith CB Georgia 2009 28 298
Wes Horton DE USC 2008 40 303
Ray Ray Armstrong S Miami 2009 13 304
William Campbell DT Michigan 2009 26 324
Zeke Motta S Notre Dame 2009 54 326
Dayne Crist QB Kansas 2008 25 355
Dan Buckner WR Arizona 2008 95 358
Marlon Brown WR Georgia 2009 53 367
Russell Shepard WR LSU 2009 7 375
Aaron Hester CB UCLA 2008 63 378
Nick Moody OLB Florida St. 2008 100 403
Dann O’Neill OT Western Michigan 2008 49 406
Spencer Ware RB LSU 2010 19 407
Greg Reid CB Valdosta St. 2009 27 445
Richard Samuel FB Georgia 2008 24 468
Josh Jarboe WR Arkansas St. 2008 69 486
Baker Steinkuhler DT Nebraska 2008 8 493
Uona Kaveinga ILB BYU 2008 97 555
Darryl Stonum WR Baylor 2008 41 571
Jamarkus McFarland DT Oklahoma 2009 36 584
D.J. Monroe WR Texas 2008 48 618
Omar Hunter DT Florida 2008 17 620
Ramon Buchanon OLB Miami 2008 61 630
Duron Carter WR Florida Atlantic 2009 90 682
Jheranie Boyd WR UNC 2009 48 702
Brice Butler WR San Diego St. 2008 79 715
Garrett Goebel DT Ohio St. 2008 64 721

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29 Comments

  1. I think the high school connection is probably simple to understand. The most likely answer is that they Eagles gravitate and prefer players who play at major BCS Schools as opposed to the Jaguars who like to find diamond in the roughs. The major BCS School players-generally have a large portion of the top 100 high school players from each year.

    I bet the Giants list looks similar because a majority of their high draft picks seem to come from these types of school (Ross, Phillips, Nicks, Amukamara, Thomas, Manningham…etc)

  2. mjoedgaard says:

    ahh Marlon Favorite

    http://imgur.com/nNblV

  3. Bob says:

    You need to clarify the information in the articles since this site seems to have an aversion to benchmarking.LOUD NOISES!!!

  4. Mflick says:

    This is interesting. Thinking about this, I think one of the biggest reasons why is the method of how they rank High School players and their development.

    The Andy Reid era was basically all about speed. Usually by the time guys graduate from HS, they are close to as fast as they will be when they get out of college. There is some improvements, but not anything drastic.

    Their size development however varies dramatically. When a guy enters a major college program, the coach has to predict where he will be when he grows up. Frequently they grow a couple inches, and always they gain muscle mass.

    When they rank High school players, it is not like the NFL scouting. There is exponentially more kids, and much less scouts. So the top ranked guys are the ones that time fast. That is not 100% true, but as a general rule the athletic guys are easier to rank.

    So if you get fast college guys, they likely were fast HS guys thus ranked high. Kelly likes bigger guys, and that is something that happens while in college, so looking forward they may not get as many of those guys.

    At least that is a theory.

    1. I was thinking the same.

    2. deg0ey says:

      That might also explain why Oregon didn’t generally recruit many of the ‘top-ranked’ guys either.

  5. David_Does_Dallas says:

    Word on the street is this site seems to have an aversion to benchmarking. I am not sure how I feel about this.

    1. Tim says:

      Ugh…the benchmarking comment was a throwaway line in like 10 paragraphs of total posting. Sorry I ever said it. My question was just about whether 30 is really a high number, which was the point of the whole post. It seemed like a reasonable question to me. Obviously everyone’s free to ignore it.

  6. Don’t waste your breath with this guy, Jimmy. He is just here to nitpick over points that are essentially insignificant. You run a tight ship and offer great insight. If he don’t like it, he can kick rocks.

  7. Tim says:

    Again, Jimmy, it’s impossible to know if 30 is a significant number without doing some sort of comparison against the # of these Rivals 100 players that have made their way to other teams. It’s a sample size of….what? 1100 players, if we’re counting 2002-2012? 30 does not seem like that many. Especially since we’re just saying these guys were on the Eagles AT ONE POINT– many will easily count for other franchises as well.

    This site seems to have an aversion to benchmarking.

    1. First, let’s address the “This site has an aversion to benchmarking” comment. I’m curious to hear other examples of articles where valid comparative examples were not given but should have been, since you’re implying that I fail to make valid comparisons regularly. Hell, look at the article just below this one from this morning, where I dug up all the PED/substance suspensions in the NFL since 2011 to prove that the Skins had an abnormal number. Criticize my opinions all you like, but if there’s one thing I do well, it’s thorough research. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

      As for the difference between the number of Rivals Top 100 players on the Eagles roster compared to the rest of the league, it’s a significant difference. Problem with “benchmarking” in this case is that I have no idea how many guys had cups of coffee with other teams, as I’m not as knowledgeable on the Jaguars and the like as I am on the Eagles.

      If you want to drill down and look just at draft picks, the Eagles drafted 13 of these guys. And the years would not be 2002-2012. It would be 2002 to roughly 2008/2009. If I looked up all 100 prospects from 2002-2009 to see if they were drafted, it would take… I don’t know… 10 hours? So apologies for not going to that length to benchmark something that’s pretty obviously a large number. Got a team that you think probably drafted a large number of these guys? Let me know, and I’ll take the Pepsi challenge and do the research for that team. I like my odds that the Eagles will have more, and more likely… a lot more. Hell, go ahead and look at the lists yourself and try to find a team where you can recognize 2 or 3 picks so you have a nice head start. I’ll wait.

      1. Tim says:

        The last post that could have benefited from comparative data, rather than analysis in a one-team vacuum, was from your string of Cowboys’ GM criticisms where you cited the large amount of dead money incurred by the Cowboys due to inopportune contract extensions. Certainly valid to say that the players extended didn’t live up to their contracts, but tough to know what a “large amount of dead money due to extensions” is without having a standard around the league. I get that it’s difficult and time-consuming to do legit analysis in a statistically significant way when you’re doing the amount of posts that you do. That’s fine. That’s why this site is different than a site like http://www.footballperspective.com.

        Regarding this specific post, though– I don’t know that 30 players out of 800 (why is it just through 2008/2009? Why wouldn’t the more recent years be valid as well?) is a significant number. Given the high amount of player movement in the NFL, is it unreasonable to believe that other teams would have at least 30 players from the top 800 high school prospects cross their rosters? After all, that 800 is a very biased sample size– it’s the 800 high school players in the country who are MOST LIKELY to end up on NFL teams! And there are only 32 NFL teams!

        Look at the 2004 list. This is the first list I chose, and I only scanned the first 20 players before I found two Saints– Robert Meachem and Reggie Bush. You get two Bears easily as well, with Greg Olsen and Michael Bush in the top 28.

        That’s only scanning 20 or 30 of your 800-900 player sample size. It’s a big extrapolation, but if either of those franchises continued to average 2 players per 20 through the list, they’d hit EIGHTY players in the top 800. It’s of course more likely that players from the top of the Rivals list make the NFL than the bottom of the list, so your hit rate will diminish as you move further from the top, but even if you cut this rate in half, it’s a potential 40 players on either the Bears or the Saints.

        It continues to seem to me like 30 players from this Rivals top 100 across 8+ years crossing the Eagles roster at some point in their careers may not be that big a deal. Certainly not big enough to predict their draft behavior this year.

        1. Tim says:

          Reading further through this 2004 list, I am perhaps not surprisingly (if you reason that high school prospects succeed mostly on athleticism) coming across a disproportionately high number of Raiders…

          http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/recruiting/rankings/rank-255

        2. Lol… OK, here we go:

          The last post that could have benefited from comparative data, rather than analysis in a one-team vacuum, was from your string of Cowboys’ GM criticisms where you cited the large amount of dead money incurred by the Cowboys due to inopportune contract extensions.

          That article was awesome. It was informative and thorough. It was a rare post here that was not written by me. It got linked to by several media outlets. The level of comparative analysis you’re looking for there is absurd. To compare the Cowboys’ cap situation to the rest of the league’s would require a full understanding of the way all 32 teams operate, and then we’re talking about a 20,000 word post that takes weeks to do. That post is here, by the way, for anyone that’s interested:

          http://bloggingthebeast.com/2013/03/06/explaining-the-cowboys-likely-future-pitfalls-of-restructured-contracts-in-more-detail/

          If you can’t understand that having $130 million committed to the 2014 cap is a crazy high number, then I don’t know what to tell you. I really don’t.

          Why is it just through 2008/2009? Why wouldn’t the more recent years be valid as well?

          Hmmm… Maybe it’s because kids that were in high school in 2012 won’t be eligible for the NFL until 2016. Here’s the 2010 list.

          http://rivals.yahoo.com/footballrecruiting/football/recruiting/rankings/rank-rivals100/2010

          How many of those guys are already in the NFL?

          After all, that 800 is a very biased sample size– it’s the 800 high school players in the country who are MOST LIKELY to end up on NFL teams! And there are only 32 NFL teams!

          Did you actually look at any of the lists? Most of those kids don’t make it to the bigs. It’s a low %. The majority of them never sniff an NFL roster.

          That’s only scanning 20 or 30 of your 800-900 player sample size. It’s a big extrapolation, but if either of those franchises continued to average 2 players per 20 through the list, they’d hit EIGHTY players in the top 800. It’s of course more likely that players from the top of the Rivals list make the NFL than the bottom of the list, so your hit rate will diminish as you move further from the top, but even if you cut this rate in half, it’s a potential 40 players on either the Bears or the Saints.

          Just… wow.

          Anyway… The Raiders. An outstanding guess, for the reasons you noted, hand-picked, and definitely a team that has more than the average. They drafted 9.

          2007 – Joseph Barksdale, OT, LSU, 67th.
          2006 – David Ausberry, WR, USC, 66th.
          2007 – Rolando McClain, LB, 36th.
          2006 – Lamarr Houston, DT, 86th.
          2005 – Darren McFadden, RB, 23rd.
          2003 – JaMarcus Russell, QB, 79th.
          2004 – Zach Miller, TE, 33rd.
          2003 – Michael Bush, RB, 23rd.
          2002 – Darnell Bing, S, 52nd.

          Think about what I did there. I gave you a full pick of the litter to come up with one team that drafted more players appearing on those lists than the Eagles… And you actually thought of a great one. The Eagles drafted 13. Do you really think I’d throw out that kind of challenge if I wasn’t confident that I knew what I was talking about?

          I do full comparative analysis whenever it’s appropriate, and whenever the research can be done in a reasonable time frame. Football blogs are growing in popularity, but for now, colleges aren’t giving credits to their students to be blogger interns… at least for little one-man operation blogs like mine they aren’t. Until they do, I just don’t have 30 hours worth of time to allocate to every post where I’m trying to make a minor point.

          So are we done here?

          1. Tim says:

            Seems like an unnecessary amount of anger directed here towards someone who reads your blog frequently and with enough interest to engage in lengthy responses in the comments section.

            The Cowboys thing is not worth arguing, because you continue to ignore the terms of my argument. I am not saying the Cowboys have a good cap situation. I am saying that it is unclear that the Cowboys have incurred more dead money due to premature contract extensions (which was the crux of the post) than other teams. That’s a relative point. A more straightforward, non-relative, and totally valid point would be: The Cowboys gave out several hefty contract extensions to players that did not live up to them. Certainly a true statement.

            On this topic, the number 30 was a number of players that have crossed the Eagles’ roster at some time, not been drafted by them. And that is the number I took issue with, in both of my posts. A large part of my argument above was that due to the high level of player movement in today’s NFL, it’s not at all unreasonable that 30 players of the 800 would cross a team’s roster. I am still not convinced that that’s not true.

            If you want to make an argument that 13 drafted is an unusually high number, that’s a separate conversation. If 8 or so ended up being about average, a difference of 4 or 5 over the 8 years and 800 prospects certainly isn’t statistically significant.

            1. There’s no anger. I appreciate the people that read my stuff. Without readers, this site doesn’t exist. But at the same time, I take pride in the work I put into all of this, so when a reader throws out incorrect, disrespectful nonsense like “This site seems to have an aversion to benchmarking,” I’m going to defend it vigorously.

              1. Greg says:

                I would just like to say that I don’t think he was right about that last part. You make valid points and shouldn’t always have to do weeks of research for each post.

                However, i dont think he was disagreeong with your post, and he is right that this data would be helpful in proving your point. When i first read this, I too was hoping there would be a point of comparison, because i had no idea what a normal number would be. I know you’ve done this in other articles, like when you timed vick and foles throws, you included a variety of other numbers which allowed me to see what is typical. Having something to compare the data to certainly helps us in absorbing and interpreting the data. I don’t think he is saying your data is wrong or not credible. He’s just saying that he wasn’t sure whether or not this number is high. For an article trying to prove that point, having at least one or two other teams data would help allow everyone to see what is so obvious to you. Because if an average team has 25 then 30 isnt much different. Without such data I still enjoyed the article and i just trusted your knowledge that the number was high, since i know nothing about this topic. But having a couple other figures would prove this to me so i dont have to take your word. would also allow me to observe and interpret exactly how huge or important the difference is.

                Again, i dont think this kind of comparison is necessary if it takes a lot of time, but it certainly helps whenever possible. I think that’s all he was trying to say.

              2. Tim says:

                Thanks Greg. Exactly right on my intentions– a throwaway sentence using the term “benchmarking” seems to have gotten me ganged up on by the rest of the posters here, which I didn’t enjoy, but you’re correct that my question was just around the number 30 and trying to get a sense of perspective.

                I also thought the comment at the top here was very savvy– if 30 is in fact a high number, it might not mean that the Eagles scout high schoolers more heavily, but that they scout major conference schools more heavily, where many of these Rivals Top 100 type prospects end up. Also speculative, but makes sense intuitively.

  8. sveltegodzilla says:

    Along with the obvious top guys, Mallicaiah Goodman, Brandon McGee, Nick Kasa, and Wes Horton all show up on walterfootball’s “met with the Eagles” list, and scouts were at least at the pro day of a few others- seems to agree with this.

  9. Isn’t taking this out to the top 750 going a bit far?

    1. What would be the appropriate cutoff for you?

      1. MFlick says:

        749

        1. MightyFlye says:

          I’m thinking more like 673. Yeah, 673 is the right number. That would be the perfect place, where the comparative data intersects with the aversion to bench-marking.

          Also, a better explanation of “dead-money” is in order. Is this money that has been buried, cremated, or simply walking around, biting people, and creating more “dead-money”.

          Please clear these things up for me, or I will be forced to cancel my subscription, to your no-cost blog.

          Thank you, in advance, for your cooperation.

  10. Frank says:

    Baker Steinkuhler: From the #8 player in the nation to the #493 in just 5 short years. I’m guessing his college career didn’t go quite like he expected.

  11. Russell Shepard – lock to be a UDFA camp body for eagles 2013 – you heard it here first.

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