Recruiting rankings aren’t everything. They can be an excellent indicator of what a program’s classes look like on a yearly basis, but it’s far from an exact science.

If it was, we’d hardly ever see three-star prospects hear their name called early in the NFL Draft process. But, as we’re about to learn this year, several former three-star recruits are going to be early selections in this year’s class.

This year, there will be several former three-star recruits who played B1G football who will hear their name called at some point in the NFL Draft. Rather than list them all, I wanted to take a look at some of the former three-star talents who will be turning their recruiting rankings into big paydays at the NFL Draft — likely to be selected in or before the fourth round this year.

Looking through a handful of seven-round mock drafts — CBS Sports (CBS), Sporting News (SN) and USA Today — there were 10 names that regularly popped up. All 10 are projected to be selected in Rounds 1-4 in the 2020 NFL Draft by all three mock drafts. That seems like a fair way to do this, right?

Along with those mock drafts, I provided each player’s recruiting ranking from 247Sports’ Composite Ranking recruiting model, which factors in grades from 247Sports, Rivals and ESPN.

You might be stunned to look back and see just how low some of these former B1G stars were ranked compared to how high they’re projected to be selected in the draft.

Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin

247Sports recruiting ranking: No. 371 overall — No. 24 RB

CBS: 2nd round (No. 54) — SN: 2nd round (No. 49) — USA Today: 1st round (No. 29)

Taylor narrowly missed the four-star ranking as a high school prospect, but was nonetheless considered the 24th-best running back of the 2017 recruiting class. His ranking seems crazy now, considering he performed like a five-star back the moment he took his first handoff in a Wisconsin uniform. Three years, 6,174 yards and 50 rushing touchdowns later, Taylor is projected as an early selection in the 2020 NFL Draft and one of the top ball carriers in this class. It’s still insane to think that after back-to-back 2,000-yard seasons, Taylor was never even invited to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony as a finalist.

Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State

247Sports recruiting ranking: No. 653 overall — No. 62 CB

CBS: 3rd round (No. 78) — SN: 3rd round (No. 77) — USA Today: 2nd round (No. 40)

After debating whether or not to declare for the NFL Draft following the 2018 season, Arnette made the wise decision to return to Ohio State for his final year in Columbus. That choice has propelled the cornerback from a late draft selection into a solid second- or third-round player. Out of high school, Arnette was not considered a blue-chip prospect but earned his way onto the field for the Buckeyes and enjoyed a solid career in the B1G, racking up 140 tackles, 22 pass break-ups and five interceptions in four years. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. also considers him one of the top-available defensive backs in this draft class.

Malik Harrison, LB, Ohio State

247Sports recruiting ranking: No. 683 overall — No. 48 ATH

CBS: 3rd round (No. 65) — SN: 2nd round (No. 53) — USA Today: 3rd round (No. 87)

Harrison is another Buckeye who used his full four seasons to transition into a Friday selection in the NFL Draft, with several tabbing him as a late-second or early-third round pick. The former three-star athlete has been one of Ohio State’s most sure tacklers over the last two seasons, leading the Buckeyes in that category in 2019 and finishing second on the team in 2018. In the past two years, Harrison has tallied 156 stops with 25 tackles for loss. Pretty good for a guy who barely cracked the top 700 as a high school prospect in 2016.

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Josh Uche, LB, Michigan

247Sports recruiting ranking: No. 707 overall — No. 43 WDE

CBS: 2nd round (No. 52) — SN: 4th round (No. 124) — USA Today: 2nd round (No. 64)

There are some mixed reactions on Uche, who really boosted his draft stock over the last year and in the Reese’s Senior Bowl. Not only did he demonstrate the ability to be a run-stopper, but he was also excelling in pass coverage, turning plenty of heads from NFL scouts who attended the Senior Bowl. Uche was a solid prospect and received several high-profile high schools as a Miami, Florida native, but still wasn’t considered a top 700 prospect. Now, he’s expected to be selected anywhere between the second and fourth rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft. Finishing your career at Michigan with 11.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, two pass break-ups and two forced fumbles in one season will do that for you.

DaVon Hamilton, DT, Ohio State

247Sports recruiting ranking: No. 998 overall — No.63 DT

CBS: 3rd round (No. 72) — SN: 3rd round (No. 102) — USA Today: 4th round (No. 111)

Defensive line coach Larry Johnson doesn’t just turn five-star lineman into top-five selections, he has the ability to turn average three-star talents into solid NFL prospects. That’s certainly the case with Hamilton, who narrowly cracked the top 1,000 as a member of the 2015 recruiting cycle. Hamilton received just four offers out of high school, and if he wasn’t a native of Pickerington, Ohio, he may not have received a second glance from Ohio State. But the Buckeyes took a chance and it paid off. Hamilton flourished in his final season in Columbus, totaling 10.5 tackles for loss and six sacks along a stacked defensive line. Now, he’s likely a third-round pick.

Tyler Biadasz, OL, Wisconsin

247Sports recruiting ranking: No. 1,061 overall — No. 52 SDE

CBS: 4th round (No. 117) — SN: 2nd round (No. 55) — USA Today: 3rd round (No. 78)

For quite some time, it seemed like Biadasz was a first-round lock in this year’s NFL Draft. Since the end of the 2019 season and the NFL Scouting Combine, the two-time first-team All-B1G selection has drifted away from most Day 1 projections, but is still considered to be selected between the second and fourth rounds. Not bad for an offensive lineman who, coming out of high school, was tabbed as a defensive end. Biadasz didn’t even crack the top 1,000 overall prospects, but still ended up being a Rimington Trophy winner, an All-American selection and one of the top centers available in the 2020 draft class. It’s just further evidence that Wisconsin does an excellent job developing talent.

Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin

247Sports recruiting ranking: No. 1,073 overall — No. 85 ATH

CBS: 1st round (No. 32) — SN: 1st round (No. 27) — USA Today: 2nd round (No. 36)

As a high school prospect, Baun had two offers — Wisconsin and South Dakota State. That’s right, Baun is going from one FBS offer out of high school to a likely first-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. Not bad, huh? Baun was one of Wisconsin’s top defenders over the last two seasons, totaling 27 tackles for loss, breaking up four passes, forcing two fumbles and intercepting two passes. His size and athleticism are now preferred qualities for several NFL teams, which is likely going to get his name called on the first day of the draft. Most agree that, at the very latest, the ex-Badger will be a Day 2 selection. It took Baun five years to complete his career at Wisconsin, but that extra time in Madison is going to land him a nice chunk of change.

Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Minnesota

247Sports recruiting ranking: No. 1,415 overall — No. 128 CB

CBS: 2nd round (No. 50) — SN: 2nd round (No. 36) — USA Today: 2nd round (No. 45)

It’s almost hard to believe that Winfield, the son of an Ohio State and NFL star, was rated so low during the recruiting process. A member of the 2016 class, Winfield received offers from primary Group of Five and FCS programs and jumped at the opportunity to play at Minnesota. Though he battled some injuries during his career, he emerged as one of the B1G’s top defensive players. Last season, after finishing the year with 88 tackles, seven interceptions, three sacks and two forced fumbles, Winfield was named the B1G Defensive Back of the Year, beating out Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah for the honor. Kiper has Winfield pegged as the No. 10 safety in this year’s draft class and he appears to be a lock as a second-round selection.

Michael Ojemudia, CB, Iowa

247Sports recruiting ranking: No. 1,795 overall — No. 123 OLB

CBS: 4th round (No. 126) — SN: 3rd round (No. 103) — USA Today: 3rd round (No. 72)

Kirk Ferentz has made a habit of turning under-recruited prospects into NFL talent. That’s certainly the case again this year with Ojemudia projected to be an early-third to early-fourth round pick in this year’s draft. Ojemudia wasn’t even a top 1,500 player when he committed to Iowa as a member of the 2015 class and received just four total offers as a recruit. As Ojemudia transitioned from a linebacker into a defensive back, his potential really soared. He totaled 52 stops this past season, but was even better in coverage, breaking up nine passes and hauling in three interceptions for the Hawkeyes during a 10-win year. He leaves Iowa with 115 tackles, 17 pass break-ups and six picks in his career.

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Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue

247Sports recruiting ranking: No. 1,977 overall — No. 73 TE

CBS: 3rd round (No. 93) — SN: 3rd round (No. 87) — USA Today: 4th round (No. 125)

Barely cracking the top 2,000 prospects as a high school recruit is Hopkins, who also had just four offers as a prospect in the 2015 class. Now, he’s listed as Kiper’s fifth-best tight end of the 2020 draft class and is expected to be a third-round pick, with some suggesting he may slip to the fourth round. Hopkins became a prolific target in Jeff Brohm’s offense, which certainly helped his draft status. Hopkins was the B1G’s leading tight end in receiving yards, totaling 830 yards and seven touchdowns on 61 receptions. He leaves Purdue with 1,925 receiving yards and 16 touchdown catches in his career, and improved significantly throughout his career as a blocker. From the 73rd-ranked tight end of his class to the fifth-best available in the draft is a pretty impressive transition for Hopkins.