- Tom Luginbill, ESPN Staff Writer
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— Richard Scarcelli (@RollTideRichard) September 11, 2013
Very, very close. One of the reasons we have a pro personnel-based grading scale, coupled with a star system, is to give fans a sense of the difference between two players at opposite ends of the grading scale spectrum.
For example, there is a difference in our minds between an 81 four-star and an 86 four-star, but there is very little difference between a 79 three-star and 81 four-star or 89 four-star and 92 five-star. To be honest, there is barely an eyelash difference between all prospects past the top 10-15 at each position. The reality is that the 34th-ranked player likely isn’t much different than the 20th or 50th-ranked player at the same position, but you have to slot everyone somewhere.
An 85 or 87 is essentially the same guy with maybe some very subtle, minimal differences. Could be work ethic, motor, speed, explosiveness or a variety of other little nuances that can create a slight gap between one player and the next.
Everything we can verify and confirm about a player will come into play in every player's evaluation. Often times this brings a lot of heat on us publicly from fans who have a beef with where we have a guy slotted because we may be privy to inside/private information that we cannot go public with, but have confirmed. It’s not all talent and hype -- it’s the stuff that ultimately will determine the success or failure of a player, and often times that is not related to physical talent, nor is it in the public arena. These players are kids; we must be very careful making definitive judgments.
Grading is difficult, and while you might see an 82 or 85, we have to grade out a few more decimal places in our database so that players with the same grade don’t default to alphabetical order. So we actually must give grades like an 82.25 or 82.67 which means with hundreds of kids at an 82, the difference between the 21st-ranked player with a grade 82 and the 39th grade 82 is negligible and differentiated by a 10th or 100th of a point.