The sites are primarily for fans, so yes they work in that regard. But to say that it boils down to coaches have an opinion vs. the sites having an opinion being basically the same is kind of crazy. What goes into formulating that opinion is vastly much more detailed and in depth for most coaches. What I will say is that if a site was started where all the evaluations were done by a staff of former college and NFL coaches, it would be much more trustworthy. If you do rankings that fans primarily pay attention to your best 250 players, it's not hard to make that work. Like I said before, spotting the best in the sport is not hard.
The funny thing is, I know three former recruiting site employees and one current one. Two of those had/have had input into the rankings. The current one is a name you all know and weigh his opinion heavily (at least in terms of his opinion of where a recruit will sign).
They have admitted to me what you and I are saying (which is partly why I’m saying it). So it’s funny to see all these people arguing that website evaluators are dead on accurate when a few of these guys themselves have told me the opposite. Now granted, each thinks he’s the exception. 😉
Where these guys ARE good is in the “crystal ball” aspect. The fact that they aren’t reporters means that they often get more trust and info from families, meaning they can more accurately predict (or flat-out report) the kid’s destination.
Two of these guys have told me stories of programs cheating, with specifics. I was told about Laramy Tunsill and Ole Miss’ transgressions with him years before any of that came out. How did these guys know? The families told them. In Tunsill’s case, his mama told this analyst and laughed about it. Reason: they trust these guys. They’re not reporters who will break the story. Their job is to develop trust in order to predict school destination and if they report this stuff, their career as a recruiting analyst is over, so they have no incentive to break their trust.
Anyway, that’s their true value…telling us where recruits are headed (or at least who has the best shot). Evaluating talent just isn’t it.