[Editor's note: This story was originally published on PFF.com on January 23, 2020]
As with any list put together by PFF, the goal of the PFF College 101 is to identify the best players from the past season. It's generally understood that not all positions are created equal at the college level, so while the list of top 101 players from 2019 is mostly backed by our PFF play-by-play grades, some leeway is granted to individual players based on factors such as positional value, workload as a percentage of their respective team's snaps and level of competition on a game-by-game basis.
The adjustment for competition is a tough ask, and as such, some players with higher PFF grades will find themselves lower than other players at their position, and vice versa. For example, players with above-average grades against elite teams will receive a boost, while players who put forth elite grades against below-average teams may not see themselves as high as it seems they should be. For that reason, the representatives from the Group of 5 conferences who made the list did so on the strength of truly excellent grades over the course of multiple games.
Keep in mind that this list is all about college football and the past 2019 season. We are not projecting for the NFL or any future drafts.
1. JOE BURROW, QB, LSU
The season Burrow put forth in 2019-20 is unlike we’ve ever seen. And that's not just in the PFF College era, and it's not just in the PFF era — it is the most accurate, most decorated, most celebrated and most unseen in college football history. He’s rocketed from mid-tier SEC quarterback to sure-fire first overall pick and national stardom. Burrow’s emergence started as early as Week 2 against Texas and saw no let down along the way. He set all sorts of SEC records, all sorts of PFF records, and he never had a game grade lower than 69.3 while he fielded no passing game grade lower than 68.2. His lows would have ranked among the top 30 overall in each of those weeks, proving just how good he was this year. He finished the season with an incredible 10 elite-graded games, including elite grades in his final four outings. He uncorked more big-time throws than any quarterback this season and did so with accurately placed balls the likes of which we haven’t seen. In fact, his 22.0% “accurate plus” pass rate is not only the best of 2019 but the best we’ve seen in a single season. He led the country with a 70.9% accuracy rating overall and threw an inaccurate, uncatchable pass at the third-lowest rate, all doing so while still sporting an average depth of target of 10.0 yards downfield.
No matter which way you slice it, Burrow was the nation’s best player at the sport’s most important position. His 2019 season will go down in history as the best quarterback season ever.
2. CHASE YOUNG, DE, OHIO STATE
No one defensive player impacted the opposing offense quite like Young did in 2019. He recorded a pass-rush win rate of 27.2% despite being consistently double- or even triple-teamed. Young affected the game plan of his opponents before he even stepped foot on the field, and he finished with the highest grade we’ve ever given to an edge defender in a single season. Young finished the year with 56 total pressures, including 18 sacks, seven hits and 31 hurries, but his impact went as far as seeing him record 33 additional pass-rushes that beat the defender, but the offense either unleashed a quick pass, QB draw or simply threw it away before Young could register a pressure. He was a true game-wrecker, the likes of which even bested the efforts of both Bosa Brothers before him.
Take, for instance, the Northwestern game. After a successful run play, the Wildcats attempted a straight-dropback pass. Young sacked the quarterback so fast that their game plan changed to avoid Young’s impact over the course of the next 16 plays:
His impact reached far beyond the box score in 2019; it was a season for the ages. Young finished his season with an incredible 133 positively graded plays to just 17 negatively graded plays. That’s a ratio that we’ve never seen before.
3. PENEI SEWELL, OT, OREGON
There are few players who could influence a game like Sewell did in 2019. He finished the season as the highest-graded offensive player, regardless of position, and his incredible rise to the top of the charts is among the very best in PFF history. After finishing his true freshman season as the highest-graded true freshman tackle of the PFF College era, Sewell set the bar for a Power-5 tackle with his 95.5 overall grade that saw him reach an elite game grade in six outings and saw him grade lower than 73.3 just twice. He’s an elite pass protector and the best run-blocking offensive lineman we’ve seen, and given his rise from elite freshman to best sophomore to ever do it, his junior year could well be something even more special. Sewell gets our vote to head to New York for the 2020 Heisman Trophy ceremony if he can improve on what already seems like the single greatest season from an offensive lineman at the college level.
Sewell possesses strength, hand speed, elite sense of balance, bend, quickness and athleticism. Think of a word to describe an offensive lineman, and you can pencil Sewell’s name next to it as the definition. Think of a word to describe a defensive lineman, and he’s probably got that too. He’s a rare breed at left tackle, who gave up just seven total pressures on 491 pass-blocking snaps and should be more than just a name to know entering 2020 — he is the name to know.
4. DEREK STINGLEY JR., CB, LSU
Playing well above his age in 2019, Stingley looked every bit like the top-rated high school recruit that he was entering his first year of play in Baton Rouge. Stingley was tasked with covering top-notch receivers from Day 1 and didn’t waste any time in showcasing his elite coverage abilities. In their greatly anticipated showdown with Texas in Week 2, Stingley spent 64 snaps in coverage, saw four passes come his way and allowed just two catches for 20 yards with two pass breakups, registering both pass breakups against All-Big 12 WR Collin Johnson. That wasn’t even the highest of the highs for Stingley, though, who routinely made the kind of plays on the ball that even the most experienced cornerbacks couldn’t make in their first season for the Tigers. He led the country with 22 forced incompletions and fielded a forced incompletion percentage of 22.9% on all his targets, finishing the year with six interceptions and 15 pass breakups. The mark of a great player also came through in Stingley’s debut year, as he was beaten for two long plays against Alabama’s DeVonta Smith but came back the next week and didn’t allow a catch and actually finished the year without allowing a catch longer than 19 yards after the Alabama game. He put his few lapses behind him quickly and put forth the highest-graded debut season from a cornerback that we’ve ever seen. Stingley is a special player by all accounts, and he will certainly be avoided by opposing offenses next season (and the next season).
5. ISAIAH SIMMONS, LB, CLEMSON
Simmons had our vote for the Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most versatile player in 2019. He put forth elite grades across the board and just couldn’t be contained. Despite logging snaps at nearly every position on defense, Simmons graded below 62.3 in only one game and even went as far as finishing 12 games with well-above-average game grades. He was dominant against the run, with his tackling and when he rushed the passer, but he was at his best in coverage. He rushed the passer just 72 times and came away with 30 total pressures, including eight sacks, four hits and 18 hurries. He saw 359 snaps against the run and made a run stop on 22 plays (14th-most among all FBS players lined up at safety). He attempted a whopping 94 tackles and missed just nine of those solo tackle attempts. In coverage, however, where he shined, Simmons saw 42 targets as the primary coverage defender and allowed no reception longer than 30 yards. He broke up five passes, intercepted three and forced eight incompletions. He flew to the ball with great skill and was a dominant player in all facets of play. No one in college football is more prepared for the NFL of today at the linebacker position than Isaiah Simmons, and that translated to the most versatile and best season from a linebacker/safety hybrid.
6. TREVOR LAWRENCE, QB, CLEMSON
The second half of the season’s highest-graded quarterback didn’t get the final result he or the Clemson faithful had hoped for when they lost to LSU in the National Championship, but Lawrence has his Tigers rolling into 2020 as the nation’s No. 1 team — and for good reason. Lawrence recorded his second straight season with an overall grade of at least 90.7 to go along with his second consecutive elite passing grade. His highs are the highest we’ve seen for a quarterback his age, and he was able to shake off some lows that plagued the beginning of his season. He’s a resilient quarterback — just ask Ohio State — and a tough kid with an incredible heart. But when you do break down what he’s been able to do on the football field, the picture of him being the best returning quarterback to college football becomes even clearer. His two-year grade is the highest among any returning quarterback, and his pocket play is among the very best we've ever seen from a freshman and now sophomore. Lawrence has already taken Clemson to new heights, and if his season baseline is a 90.0 overall grade, the sky is truly the limit for the talented signal-caller.
7. JUSTIN FIELDS, QB, OHIO STATE
To shake any misconception of him being a “dual-threat quarterback,” Fields is a downfield passer first and foremost, but he is an incredible athlete when he decides to tuck the ball and run. Fields ran the ball 72 times for 366 yards on designed rush attempts and added 322 yards on scrambles with 10 touchdowns and 35 first-down carries, but all that pales in comparison to his downfield and overall throwing ability. He finished the year with an elite passing grade of 92.5 after completing 238 of his 356 attempts for 3,273 yards and 41 touchdowns against just three interceptions, two of which came against Clemson in the playoff. Overall, Fields was the nation’s highest-graded quarterback on straight-dropback pass attempts, completing 193 of 270 attempts for 2,556 yards and 33 touchdowns. He kept his offense on pace and on schedule while possessing a downfield throwing ability the likes of which Ohio State has not seen in some time. After the way his first season in Columbus went, it’s no surprise to see him atop the charts next to Trevor Lawrence as one of the favorites to win the Heisman in 2020.
8. JALEN HURTS, QB, OKLAHOMA
Donning a new uniform for his final collegiate season, Hurts was every bit the Heisman contender early in the season. Turnover woes haunted him for a few games down the backstretch, but he revitalized his team more often than not. Hurts was the second-highest overall graded quarterback and had the country’s fourth-best passer rating from a clean pocket. He was also one of the better downfield throwers this year, something that he did not showcase during his time at Alabama. On all deep shots targeted at least 20 yards downfield, Hurts finished 33 of 66 for 1,234 yards and 10 touchdowns, fielding a passer rating of 116.5.
His downfield passing ability and penchant for big-time throws overshadowed how important his rushing ability was to the Sooners' offense, though, as he was just a phenomenal asset with his legs, an asset that head coach Lincoln Riley exploited. Hurts led all non-option quarterbacks (and was third overall) with a whopping 1,422 rushing yards this season, with 918 of those coming on designed carries. He chipped in another 504 yards on 59 scrambles and scored 20 touchdowns on the ground in total. His 61 runs for a first down were the most among non-option quarterbacks, and his 47 broken tackles ranked second among that group. He was a terrific all-around athlete, and he presented troubles for defenses this season like no other quarterback.
9. TUA TAGOVAILOA, QB, ALABAMA
It didn’t end the way he (or the rest of the country) had planned, but Tagovailoa’s 2019 season was something to behold and something that we should have seen coming. Tagovailoa had the country’s seventh-highest percentage of “accurate plus passes,” meaning he threw a perfect pass on 16.4% of his attempts, which was also the second-best mark in the SEC. He was tremendous from a clean pocket, and for the second straight season, had the nation’s top passer rating when kept clean. He completed 156 of his 205 attempts for 2,470 yards, 29 touchdowns and just one interception, and his 153.3 passer rating was both better than anyone else in the country and was an improvement from a season ago in which he finished with a 141.6 passer rating.
Even when he was pressured, Tagovailoa didn’t let it affect him much, as he completed nearly 50% of those passes and threw just two interceptions. He completed passes to every level of the field with ease, and when given a chance, he was the only quarterback to beat sensational true freshman Derek Stingley on the outside. What he was able to accomplish before his hip injury is unparalleled — he’ll go down as perhaps the best Crimson Tide quarterback of all time.
10. JA’MARR CHASE, WR, LSU
The Biletnikoff Award winner’s record-setting season did not go overlooked at all in the PFF grades, as Chase finished the 2019 season with both an elite overall grade and an elite receiving grade. He hauled in 84 catches for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns while 58 other receptions moved the chains for first downs. He dominated outside and averaged 21.2 yards per reception, 8.1 of which came after the catch. Chase led the nation with 431 of his receiving yards coming after the catch and after contact with a defender, as he was incredibly difficult to bring down. He forced 22 missed tackles and also came down with 16 contested catches, which was something that he was rarely given the opportunity to do with Burrow’s accuracy. His 21.2 yards per catch was by far the highest among receivers with at least 100 targets, and his 141.3 passer rating when targeted was second to only his teammate among that same group.
11. ANDREW THOMAS, OT, GEORGIA
Thomas looked every bit the seasoned, veteran left tackle for the Bulldogs in 2019. In his final season for Georgia, Thomas logged 816 total snaps at left tackle and finished every game with an overall grade at 65.3 or above. He did not see a game or facet grade finish below average and finished the season with the third-highest overall grade among tackles. His pass-blocking was simply elite, and he surrendered all of nine pressures on 410 pass-blocking snaps to give him a grand total of 37 total pressures on 1,075 career pass-blocking snaps over the past three seasons combined. He increased his pass-blocking grade each season at Athens and even saw his pressures total decrease in each season going from 17 allowed in 2017 to just 11 in 2018 to his career-low nine pressures given up this season. What sets him apart from most other elite pass-blocking tackles was his elite run-blocking grade. He finished third overall in that facet as Georgia running backs averaged a whopping 5.83 yards before contact when rushing to his side. Thomas’ speed, strength and athleticism were put on display anytime the ‘Dawgs ran his direction, and after declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft, he will find himself a new home earlier rather than later this April.
12. TYLER JOHNSON, WR, MINNESOTA
An absolute monster at the catch point, Johnson actually finished the year with the highest overall grade among all receivers in 2019. He was unstoppable on a bevy of routes, but he particularly excelled on go-route concepts where he hauled in 17 catches for 445 yards and nine touchdowns. Each of his go-route receptions converted a touchdown or first down, and he finished with the 12th-most contested catches (16) on only the 34th-most contested catch opportunities. Johnson was a hard man to bring down, and he even racked up 240 yards after contact with a defender, not just total yards after the catch, proving how tough he was to bring down last season.
His spectacular plays are at the forefront of the Minnesota Golden Gophers’ 2019 highlight reel, and his career year likely paves the way for a high draft pick after two consecutive seasons with at least 1,160 yards and 12 touchdowns.
13. TRAVIS ETIENNE, RB, CLEMSON
No running back in the PFF College era has done the kind of things that Etienne did in 2019. He shattered the previous record for most missed tackles forced per carry, setting the new benchmark at 44% (previously set at 33% by David Montgomery). He also became the first running back in the PFF College era to break 80 tackles before reaching 200 carries, and he subsequently became the first running back to reach 90 forced missed tackles without totaling 250 total carries. Put simply, the fact that Etienne ran for 1,606 yards, 1,044 yards after contact, 19 touchdowns, 53 first downs and 90 missed tackles forced all without reaching more than 16 carries in a single game this year is astounding. Etienne led the country in yards per carry (7.8), yards after contact per carry (5.1), total missed tackles forced (102) while possessing multiple other top-10 marks. Etienne’s impact in the run game may have outshined his impact in the passing game, as well, as he also chipped in with 38 catches for 441 yards, 484 yards after the catch, four scores, 16 first downs and another 12 missed tackles, generating a 144.0 passer rating when targeted. He was the most dynamic back we have ever seen in our years of grading college football.
14. ZACK MOSS, RB, UTAH
Had it not been for the man above him here, Moss’ 37% missed-tackle forced percentage would have set the new PFF College record. Moss finished the season with a whopping 87 missed tackles forced on his 234 carries, generating 1,412 yards and 1,042 yards after contact. It was all too often that the opposing defense knew Moss was going to get the ball, yet it didn’t matter, as he ripped off 4.5 yards after contact per attempt in 2019, second among running backs with at least 200 carries. Moss’ terrific year on the ground saw him reach 1,000 yards for the third straight season, and he set career-high marks in every major rushing category in the process. Moss also chipped in with another two touchdowns, 387 yards, 15 more missed tackles forced and seven more first downs through the air as he was a true dual-threat for the Utes offense.
15. QUINCY ROCHE, DE, TEMPLE
Heading to Miami this offseason, Roche will get to put his incredible pass-rushing skills to the test against ACC tackles in 2020. He finished second in pass-rush grade this year behind only Chase Young, finishing with 68 total pressures on his 392 pass-rushes. His 68 pressures were second-most in the nation, and they consisted of the pass-rush triple-double of 13 sacks, 13 hits and 42 hurries. He batted down four more passes at the line of scrimmage and even made 18 defensive stops in the run game. What separates Roche from other Group of 5 edge defenders this season was his utter dominance as clearly the best player on the field. He dominated the AAC schedule and even went as far as putting forth elite pass-rushing grades against Maryland and Georgia Tech. In total against Power-5 opponents this season, Roche recorded nine pressures against the Terps, seven pressures against the Yellow Jackets and three more pressures against North Carolina.
He didn’t just beat up on the inferior opponents, either. He also did it against top-notch talent. When he was on, he was unstoppable — Roche won 20.4% of his pass-rushes and got home with pressure on 18.6% of his total pass-rush attempts in 2019.
16. JUSTIN JEFFERSON, WR, LSU
Crushing the competition from the slot, Jefferson led the nation with 109 receptions, 1,518 yards and 18 touchdowns from an inside alignment. He ran 98.6% of his snaps from the slot, so the majority of his damage was bound to come inside, but the kind of figures he put up in the LSU offense were almost unheard of before 2019. Jefferson’s slot receiving yards would rank third nationally (like his 1,540 yards already do), and his 23 missed tackles forced led all slot-primary receivers. He took advantage of linebackers, safeties and cornerbacks alike from inside and saw the nation’s highest passer rating when targeted (147.9) among all receivers with 100 targets thrown their way. His shift inside to the slot clearly paid dividends for him and for the Tigers' offense. They set new heights of what a college offense can do this past season, and Jefferson was an integral part of that success.
17. TEE HIGGINS, WR, CLEMSON
The highest-graded receiver over the second half of the season, Higgins looked more and more like potentially the best player at the position for the 2020 draft as the season wore on. He benefitted greatly from Lawrence’s improvement down the backstretch, but he was also a huge reason why Lawrence was able to improve. For a man his size, Higgins possesses an incredible sense of balance and hands as well as a monster catch radius and terrific body control. He routinely made sideline catches look easy and took the next play to the house with his speed and route-running ability that saw him run himself wide open more times than not. He finished the season with 59 catches for 1,167 yards, 13 touchdowns, 35 first downs and 12 missed tackles forced en route to 341 yards after the catch. His high-end production is among the best we’ve seen from a college football receiver in some time, and Higgins used the ACC Championship game to put the rest of the nation on notice.
18. CHRIS RUMPH II, EDGE, DUKE
The owner of the nation’s highest pass-rush win rate, the Blue Devils did an incredible job of pitting their pass-rush to Rumph’s strengths in 2019. He certainly found his way into the backfield more often than not and did so from a variety of alignments in 2019. He reached the quarterback 49 times by way of seven sacks, 11 hits and 31 hurries, and he utilized his speed and an incredible swim move to combat the hands of tackles, guards or centers on his way to winning 30.8% of his pass-rush attempts this year.
Combine that with the fact that he made 18 run stops — a run stop for every 9.3 snaps he played the run — and you have yourself a true three-down threat to stop anything the opposing offense can muster. Rumph deserves all the praise for the way he played in 2019 and the way he ended the season — with the highest-graded game from an edge defender all year, with 14 pressures, including four sacks, against Miami in Week 14.
19. CEEDEE LAMB, WR, OKLAHOMA
A man among boys at times this season, Lamb routinely broke free from not just a single tackler but multiple tacklers. He finished second in the nation with 26 missed tackles forced on just 62 receptions while he also gained 683 yards after the catch and averaged 11.0 YAC/reception. Lamb dominated at the catch point and finished the year with 1,325 yards, 14 touchdowns and 29 more first downs through the air. He dropped just three catchable targets all season long and took over games seemingly at will.
He was unstoppable when Oklahoma needed him against Texas, he took over against Iowa State in crunch time and then even sparked the Oklahoma offense when Baylor was closing in during the Big 12 Title Game. He’s perhaps the best all-around receiver in the 2020 NFL Draft and in all of college football.
20. HARRISON BRYANT, TE, FAU
The cream of the crop at the tight end position this year, no player even came close to the production Bryant saw in 2019. He finished the year with 65 catches (1st) for 1,004 yards (1st) and 45 first-down receptions, which are more than any other tight end had combined touchdowns and first downs. Bryant could find the hole in zone coverage just the same as he could run by a linebacker or safety in coverage, and he even went as far as forcing 12 missed tackles and 395 yards after the catch. Rounding out his incredible Mackey Award-winning season, Bryant also finished with the eighth-highest pass-blocking grade among qualified tight ends, keeping a clean sheet on his 36 pass-blocking snaps. His run-blocking was also among the nation’s best and ranked seventh in run-blocking grade among the same group of qualified tight ends. He was the most well-rounded tight end in all of college football, and it wasn’t even close.
21. DERRICK BROWN, DI, AUBURN
The only interior defensive lineman with elite grades in run defense, tackling and pass-rushing, Brown was in a class of his own during the 2019 season. He ripped through for 35 total pressures that included five sacks, 10 hits and 20 hurries despite seeing multiple double-teams in the middle. He secured 36 total defensive stops, forced two fumbles and batted two more passes at the line of scrimmage. In run defense alone, he secured 25 stops and brought home a stop on 9.7% of his snaps against the run. All of these are great, but what separated Brown from the top was his safe, sure tackling at the point of attack. Brown was the nation’s best tackler from the interior of the defensive line and secured 46 total tackles that included 35 solo tackles and another 11 assists, all without missing a single tackle.
22. TUTU ATWELL, WR, LOUISVILLE
The best receiver from the slot in 2019, Atwell blew the doors off the season for Louisville, recording 70 receptions for 1,270 yards, 12 touchdowns and another 38 first downs. He led the country in yards after the catch with 752 yards and was one just one of two receivers who saw over 100 targets and averaged at least 10.0 yards after the catch per reception. Atwell dominated mainly from the slot, where he secured 4.37 yards for every route he ran, with the next closest receiver being Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson at 3.49. The Louisville speedster scored 12 touchdowns from the slot and hauled in 65.1% of his targets this year, finishing as by far the nation’s highest-graded receiver inside.
23. JONATHAN TAYLOR, RB, WISCONSIN
The back-to-back Doak Walker Award winner exits Wisconsin after one of the most illustrious careers for a running back in the history of college football. He ran for 2,002 yards on 320 carries in 2019, generating 1,257 yards after contact on the ground. Both of those figures were good enough to rank second in the country, but his effectiveness on a down-to-down basis is what truly separated him from the pack. No running back secured more first-down or touchdown runs than Taylor’s 108, as he scored 21 touchdowns and ran for 86 first downs. His 86 first-down runs alone would rank fifth among all running backs in combined first-down and touchdown carries this season, and his 108 in total were two more than Jaret Patterson and nine more than his Big Ten counterpart J.K. Dobbins. Taylor also added a receiving component to his all-around game in 2019 and hauled in 26 catches for 243 yards and five touchdowns as he broke five more scores and secured another six first downs through the air. It was yet another dominant season from the Wisconsin running back, who finishes his career with 6,159 rushing yards, 3,921 yards after contact, 219 missed tackles forced and 292 total rushing conversions.
24. CHUBA HUBBARD, RB, OKLAHOMA STATE
Leading the nation in yards this season, Hubbard was one of three backs to reach the 2,000-yard plateau as he capped out at 2,090 total rushing yards on his 328 carries. He toted the rock for 21 touchdowns, tying for third-most, and he secured another 76 first-down carries while breaking 77 tackles on his attempts. Hubbard forced a missed tackle on 23% of his carries and secured a touchdown or first down on 29.6% of his attempts in 2019. Perhaps the most important aspect of Hubbard’s success on the ground this season was the fact that he didn’t lose a single fumble despite leading the nation in carries. His safe set of hands also saw him secure 23 catches out of the backfield and force another eight tackles after the catch. Hubbard enters the 2020 season as one of the odds-on favorites to win the Doak Walker Award.
25. KEVIN DOTSON, OG, LOUISIANA
As the nation’s highest-graded guard by a long shot, no other guard came close to the production Dotson had in 2019. He finished the year with a 92.1 overall grade, with the next highest-graded guard finishing at 85.4 overall. Dotson allowed all of three total pressures on his 411 pass-blocking snaps; he was called for just three penalties, and he also had the nation’s highest run-blocking grade by a wide margin. Dotson was his best in the run game, for sure, and routinely paved wide-open lanes for the Ragin’ Cajuns’ rushing attack. When rushing behind Dotson, Louisiana running backs averaged a whopping 8.7 yards per carry and 4.1 yards before contact — he was that good.
He’s as strong as he is fast, and that get-off coupled with his strength was unparalleled at the position this season.
26. JERRY JEUDY, WR, ALABAMA
Perhaps the best route runner to come out of college football in some time, Jeudy dominated the early action for Alabama in 2019. He finished the year with 77 receptions for 1,163 yards and 10 touchdowns while 43 other receptions moved the chains. Jeudy also had 33 receptions go for at least 15 yards, the eighth-most explosive plays from a receiver this season, and he finished the year with top receiving grades on almost every bucketed route concept, as well.
Jeudy not only dominated across the college football landscape; he dominated in his own receiving corps, and that was a unit that featured four viable WR1s. That’s a feat in and of itself.
27. JOSH JONES, OT, HOUSTON
The owner of eight of the highest game grades for the Cougars this season, Jones was the highest-graded player in all but one of the games he played in 2019. He was so dominant over the span of nine games that he finished with just four pressures allowed on 325 pass-blocking snaps and the country’s second-highest run-blocking grade at the position. Few left tackles moved as well as he did this season, and he routinely made blocks at the second level look easy. Jones didn’t just do his damage against lesser competition either, as he had an elite single-game pass-blocking grade against Oklahoma and an elite single-game run-blocking grade against Washington State. For a man his size, his hand speed, strength, mobility and athleticism only bode well for him to make a ton of waves at the next level.
28. JORDAN ELLIOTT, DI, MISSOURI
The nation’s highest-graded interior defender, Elliott was pegged as a breakout candidate before the season, and break out he did. He racked up 34 total pressures on just 290 pass-rushes, including four sacks, nine hits and 21 more hurries. He even batted two passes at the line of scrimmage despite being routinely double-teamed up the middle, as he was a true game-wrecker for the Tigers. He also chipped in with a whopping 24 stops in run defense and finished the season with the nation’s second-highest run-defense grade in the process.
29. TRISTAN WIRFS, OT, IOWA
Increasing his overall game grades as the season went along, Wirfs finished the year with four of his five highest-graded games coming in the Hawkeyes' final five outings. He had six games with an elite pass-blocking grade and another handful with an elite run-blocking grade as he was one of only six tackles to finish the 2019 season with elite grades in each facet. He allowed a total of seven pressures on 461 reps in pass protection and even had eight games without a single pressure given up, while in the run game, Iowa running backs averaged over 3.0 yards before contact when running outside Wirfs. Limiting penalties was also an area in which he shined, as he was called for just three penalties all season long. All in all, his improvement as the year went along not only put him in place to be the fourth-highest graded tackle overall but also firmly in the conversation as possibly the first tackle drafted in April.
30. LOGAN WILSON, LB, WYOMING
The player who we would have given the Butkus Award to for best linebacker in the regular season gets the tick over Parsons after a lackluster bowl game performance. Still, Wilson was every bit of a dominant linebacker in every facet of play and finished as the only linebacker in the country with a 77.3 grade or higher in every grade category for a linebacker. Wilson recorded 17 total pressures on just 54 pass-rushes, 40 stops against the run and 50 total defensive stops, all while he missed just 12 of the 115 tackles he attempted this year. He didn’t allow a catch longer than 37 yards and made four interceptions and another five pass breakups on throws into his primary coverage.
31. MICAH PARSONS, LB, PENN STATE
Parsons put an exclamation point on his 2019 season with a dominant performance in the Cotton Bowl against Memphis, so much so that Parsons actually leaped into the lead for highest-graded linebacker overall this year. Parsons was far from a liability in coverage, as he didn’t allow a single touchdown on any of the 64 targets thrown his way, but he really shined against the run, when he blitzed and with his tackling. In fact, Parsons was the only linebacker with elite grades in all three facets this year — he recorded a national-best 94.8 run-defense grade, fourth-highest 90.0 tackling grade and 17th-best pass-rush grade of 85.0. When he did rush the passer, Parsons recorded 26 pressures on 94 attempts, including five sacks, eight hits and 13 more hurries. He tallied 38 run stops (and 50 total stops all season long) while his run-stop percentage of 12.3% ranked 23rd. Perhaps the most impressive, however, was the fact that he attempted a total of 111 tackles this year and missed just six. He was a sure tackler who also made incredible strides across the field in every facet of play.
32. JUSTIN HERBERT, QB, OREGON
Despite his career-year in terms of yards, touchdowns and completions, Herbert’s 2019 season totals could have been even higher had he not seen 32 of his catchable passes dropped by his receivers. In all, Herbert’s 75.3% adjusted completion percentage was the 15th-best rate in the country, and he saw nearly 390 yards dropped. Still, he completed 66.0% of his throws for 3,456 yards and 32 scores while he had the country’s 11th-best grade on all throws downfield. He limited turnover-worthy passes much more so than he did a year ago, as he reached highs he saw during his prolific 2017 season. Herbert didn’t let pressure faze him much, but when he was kept clean, he was one of the nation’s best passers, completing 71.3% of his attempts from a clean pocket for 2,884 yards and 28 of his touchdowns.
33. ELIJAH MOLDEN, CB, WASHINGTON
Heavily targeted and rarely beaten in coverage, Molden led the country with 26 defensive stops against the pass and 54 solo tackles in coverage. He bent but did not break and allowed just two catches longer than 29 yards this season while he allowed just two touchdowns compared to his four interceptions and 10 pass breakups. Molden earned a below-average grade in just one game this season, and he had multiple elite game grades in his bag. He wasn’t just a one-trick pony either, as he recorded another seven stops against the run and even chipped in with six quarterback pressures on blitzes. Molden finished the year as one of just three cornerbacks to finish with grades of 81.0 or higher in run defense, coverage and tackling.
His read and react ability took him to new heights in 2019, and 2020 should be no different.
34. TANNER MORGAN, QB, MINNESOTA
Morgan’s high-end performances were among the best in the nation, and actually, the highest-graded outing from a Power-5 quarterback against a Power-5 defense was his game against Penn State in which he carved up the Nittany Lions' defense. He avoided negative plays at a high rate and piled up the ‘NFL throws’ targeted at least 10 yards downfield this season. He still finished with the country’s 25th-ranked adjusted completion percentage, and his highs — like that against Purdue and Penn State — certainly give hope for even higher highs in 2020. He didn’t field a game grade lower than 62.0 against Power-5 defenses and had three single-game grades well above the PFF elite threshold in his dominant season at the helm of the Minnesota offense.
35. CARLTON MARTIAL, LB, TROY
The best defensive player when he was on the field, Martial capped his second straight year with an overall grade of 90.9 or higher and finished with the country’s second-highest overall grade at 91.3. Martial hardly lapsed at all this season for Troy, finishing multiple games with elite grades overall as he was equally elite against the run and in coverage. He made three interceptions and three pass breakups against just one touchdown allowed in coverage while he didn’t allow a single reception to go over 20 yards this season. He chipped in with 64 total defensive stops, three of which were sacks, another 13 that came in coverage and 48 that came against the run, the latter ranking as the fourth-most in the country. A true three-down threat at the Group of 5 level, Martial is set to make waves as potentially one of the better linebackers to ever do it within the Sun Belt.
36. JEFFREY OKUDAH, CB, OHIO STATE
Okudah was incredibly stingy in coverage, as you’d expect a likely top pick in this year’s draft to be. He was tasked with the primary coverage duties out wide and routinely lined up in press-man coverage, which gave him the freedom to work his athleticism to his benefit. He rewarded the Buckeyes with a catch rate of just 46.6% on throws into his coverage, and he didn't allow a pass longer than 28 yards all year long. He made three interceptions, nine pass breakups, had just one penalty called against him and limited quarterbacks to a passer rating of just 45.3 when targeting him. He limited missed tackles and was a ballhawk across the field, even forcing two additional fumbles and a total of 12 incompletions across his targets. Okudah is certainly one of the better cornerback prospects in recent memory, just as he was one of the best lockdown cornerbacks in football this season.
37. TREVON MOEHRIG, S, TCU
The nation’s highest-graded safety, Moehrig was an absolute force on the backend for the Horned Frogs’ coverage unit. He logged 437 snaps in coverage and was targeted 47 times as a result. Still, he allowed just 25 receptions for just 288 yards while he made four interceptions and had 12 pass breakups to sport a lowly 57.8 passer rating when targeted. He roamed around freely at times and made multiple plays on passes that weren’t even in his coverage area. As such, he finished the season with the highest coverage grade regardless of position, besting even Derek Stingley at cornerback in coverage grade. He was also a sure tackler, and he chipped in with 18 defensive stops, two forced fumbles and 15 total forced incompletions for the most well-rounded season from a safety in the country.
38. CURTIS WEAVER, DE, BOISE STATE
Capping an incredible career with his second straight season that earned the pass-rush triple-double, Weaver was unstoppable off the edge for the Broncos in 2019. He finished the year with 15 sacks, 13 QB hits and another 31 hurries, just a year after reaching 12 sacks, 12 hits and 31 hurries. He was unblockable at times and recorded multiple pressures in all but three games and more than five pressures in six games. He recorded another 18 stops in the run game and even dropped back in coverage on 101 snaps with great success. He’s a gifted athlete, and it showed against lesser competition, but he shined even when he went up against Power-5 schools like Florida State (6 pressures) and Oregon (3 pressures, two sacks). For his career, Weaver rushed the passer 831 times and brought in 147 pressures, recording double-digit sacks in each year of his Boise State career — one of the best pass-rushing stints in college football over the past decade.
39. AMIK ROBERTSON, CB, LOUISIANA TECH
A ballhawk in coverage, Robertson made the Bulldogs' defense safe on the backend with his play, as he led the nation with 17 pass breakups and even had five more interceptions. His 22 total plays on the ball were the second-most in the country, and his 91.3 coverage grade ranked third in the nation. In total, he allowed just 52.6% of the throws into his coverage to be caught, giving up just two scores and committing just two penalties, as he was a true hawk to the ball but played a safe brand of football as well. He was no stranger to forcing incompletions even if he didn’t get his hands on the football, as his sticky, tight coverage saw him finish third in the nation with 20 total forced incompletions. Combine his coverage prowess with the fact that he chipped in with three QB pressures and another 11 stops in run defense, and you have a complete, three-down cornerback with incredible upside.
40. ISAIAH HODGINS, WR, OREGON STATE
The country’s top receiver in the red zone, Hodgins completely dominated in the Oregon State offense in 2019. He ripped off 86 receptions on 118 targets, securing 13 touchdowns and 1,164 yards with another 50 first-down receptions. He broke seven tackles and gained 299 yards after the catch, but his ability to high-point the football in the red zone was second to none this year. He was targeted 12 times inside the opponent’s 20-yard line and made all 12 catches for 110 yards, nine touchdowns and three additional first downs. He converted every red-zone target into a first down or touchdown, and he was the only receiver in college football to finish with a catch rate of 100% on more than five targeted red-zone passes. The red zone may have been where he shined the most, but that isn’t to say he wasn’t dominant across the field, as he even finished the season with just one drop on 87 catchable targets thrown his way. He also found his way to 13 contested catches, and his contested-catch rate of 59.1% also ranked among the nation's best. He’s a do-it-all receiver with reliable hands, and he showcased that during one of the best receiving seasons on the west coast in some time.
41. RASHAWN SLATER, OT, NORTHWESTERN
An absolute stud across the field, Slater didn’t allow a single sack and only gave up one QB hit all season long for the Wildcats. He finished the year with just five total pressures allowed on his 355 pass-blocking snaps, garnering an 88.2 pass-blocking grade in the process. He was one of just six tackles to finish the year with elite grades in pass-blocking, run-blocking and overall, and on runs to his side, Northwestern running backs gained nearly two full yards before contact and scored five of the team’s 17 rushing touchdowns on the ground. Slater finished his season by not allowing a single pressure on the 118 pass-blocking snaps over his final five outings and only gave up one pressure against both Iowa and Ohio State. He was a bright spot in an otherwise down season for Northwestern in 2019.
42. AJ DILLON, RB, BOSTON COLLEGE
Dillon finished third in the country with 317 total rushing attempts, but he still averaged 5.4 yards per carry, scored 14 touchdowns and moved the chains on 81 carries as a result of his strength through contact, balance to stay on his feet and innate ability to find the hole that his line had paved for him. He’s a big, bruising back, and he used that physicality well as he led the nation with a whopping 240 attempts against a stacked box with eight or more defenders. He led the country in overall grade against a stacked box as a result, and he scored 12 touchdowns, 61 first downs and recorded an incredible 1,236 yards against stacked boxes. In fact, his 5.2 yards per carry and 3.4 yards after contact per carry were both among the best figures in the country, despite the fact that he saw 95 more carries against a stacked box than the next closest running back. His 823 yards after contact against stacked boxes were more than any other running back had in total in the same facet.
Over 75% of his carries came against a stacked box in 2019, yet it didn’t matter. He was a force to bring down and one of the nation’s best running backs over his three seasons at Boston College.
43. NICK BOLTON, LB, MISSOURI
No linebacker finished with a higher grade in coverage than Bolton did in 2019. He forced an incompletion on 27.3% of the targets over the middle while he forced an incompletion on 26.3% of his targets outside the numbers, and he led the nation in coverage grade on all throws up to 19 yards downfield after allowing just eight catches on 18 targets for just 64 yards while making two interceptions and forcing seven total incompletions. He also finished the year with an elite grade against the run and top-25 grades in the pass-rush and with his tackling. He missed fewer than 10% of his tackle attempts while still making 82 total solo tackles and another 38 assists. Bolton dominated across the field and did more than pick up the slack following Cale Garrett’s injury in 2019.
44. SHAUN JOLLY, CB, APPALACHIAN STATE
Absolutely dominant in coverage this year, Jolly’s overall and coverage grade trail just Derek Stingley for the nation’s best, and Jolly was every bit as stingy in coverage as any other top cornerback in the country. He was targeted 64 times and allowed just 34 catches and just 58 yards after the catch. He was rarely beat in coverage, and when he was, he more than made up for it with just two missed tackles to his credit and just one reception longer than 27 yards. He recorded five picks and another 10 interceptions to see a passer rating of just 54.9 when targeted, but that doesn’t even tell the full story for Jolly’s incredible season. He was at his best when targeted downfield and was the country’s third-ranked cornerback on all throws at least 10 yards past the line of scrimmage. On such throws, he forced an incompletion on 22.9% of his targeted passes and made nearly twice as many interceptions as the number of touchdowns he surrendered. He did all this despite routinely lining up against the offense’s top receiver, sporting nearly identical splits on the outside: 416 snaps at left cornerback and 429 at right cornerback.
45. JAKE FROMM, QB, GEORGIA
The games largely didn’t call for Fromm to go deep, and as such, he was mislabeled with the ‘game manager’ moniker in 2019. However, Fromm was far from that, as he disposed of defenses when he was tasked with throwing it downfield. He was among the 20 highest-graded quarterbacks on all throws at least 10 yards downfield, and he even limited himself to just five turnover-worthy passes on such throws, tying for second-lowest number of turnover-worthy passes among qualified signal-callers. His 24 big-time throws also ranked 15th in the country in that scenario and had he been given more opportunities to sling it downfield, the game-manager label surely would have been shaken off. Still, Fromm’s seven turnover-worthy passes were the country’s 12th-lowest total, and he should make an NFL franchise very happy with his propensity to create positively graded plays while almost completely avoiding the negatively graded plays.
46. DANNY PINTER, OT, BALL STATE
The nation’s second-highest graded right tackle, Pinter was a force to be reckoned with for the Cardinals this season. He finished the year as the fifth-ranked tackle overall and had one of the nation’s five overall grades of 91.0 or higher, as he finished with a mark of 91.2 overall for Ball State. He was solid in pass protection, allowing just two combined sacks and hits on his 460 pass-blocking snaps, but his run-blocking stood out the most. In fact, Pinter was the nation’s highest-graded right tackle in run-blocking grade, as he routinely won the point of attack and pushed defenders well off the ball with ease. When rushing to either side of Pinter, Ball State running backs averaged 5.75 yards per carry, and nearly two full yards of those came before contact.
47. JORDAN SMITH, DE, UAB
Winning 23.7% of his pass-rushes this year, Smith completely dominated the seemingly inferior competition in front of him down in and down out. He racked up 52 total pressures, including eight sacks and a national-best 21 QB hits. And those 52 pressures were done on just 304 pass-rushes, giving him a 19.1% pressure percentage that was the third-best rate in the country. Perhaps the most telling of Smith’s advanced numbers was the fact that he only got home with a handful of clean-up pressures, meaning his opponents knew to attempt to beat him to the point of attack, but they just couldn’t do it.
48. SAM HOWELL, QB, NORTH CAROLINA
Setting true freshman records in the process, Howell dominated his first season as a collegiate and finished with the top true-freshman grade for a quarterback this year. He had an elite passing grade in 2019 and found home to multiple big-time throws than almost every other quarterback this year. In fact, only Justin Fields and Joe Burrow had more big-time throws than Howell did in 2019 as the true freshman played well beyond his age for the Tar Heels. He excelled at all levels of the field but had a particular penchant for finding receivers deep down the field and to the left of the numbers where he set PFF records for highest grade on throws to the deep left portion of the field. Howell completed 14-of-26 passes for 491 yards and 10 touchdowns with 15 big-time throws and zero turnover-worthy passes.
49. KRISTIAN FULTON, CB, LSU
Overshadowed a bit by his teammate Stingley, Fulton deserves better than that after his terrific 2019 season for the national champions. He was targeted 69 times and allowed just 31 receptions (44.9%) with just 146 yards after the catch and one reception longer than 35 yards given up all year. He may not have had the interception totals that a box-score junkie would like to see, but Fulton more than made up for that with 13 pass breakups and 20 forced incompletions, tying Derek Stingley for most in the nation. Fulton’s 29.0% forced incompletion percentage was the highest among cornerbacks who saw more than 51 targets as he was nearly unstoppable in 2019.
50. TYLER HUNTLEY, QB, UTAH
Huntley didn’t just lead the nation in adjusted completion percentage this season; he also had the country’s seventh-highest accuracy percentage, meaning that he was spot on with his targets more often than not. Huntley’s accuracy figure of 65.6% and “accurate plus” figure of 11.3% saw him limit his uncatchable, inaccurate passes at the country’s lowest rate, as well. The offense didn’t call for him to throw down the field too often, but when Huntley did sling it deep, he was the nation’s sixth-ranked quarterback. On all throws targeted 20 or more yards downfield, Huntley completed 20 of his 44 passes for 851 yards and nine scores against just two interceptions, with 17 big-time throws and only two turnover-worthy passes. He was terrific to all levels of the field, he didn’t let pressure get to him, and although the season ended on a sour note, he proved he was much more than a game manager this year for the Utes.
51. MALCOLM PERRY, QB, NAVY
Perhaps the best option quarterback of this generation, Perry put an emphatic cap on an illustrious career with a career-best rushing performance in 2019. Having broken all of 77 tackles in his previous three years combined, Perry forced 88 missed tackles this season alone, besting all but one of the nation’s running backs for most missed tackles forced this year. Only Travis Etienne (who played in two more games than Perry) broke more tackles on the ground, but Perry led the nation with 2,093 rushing yards in 2019. In fact, he was so dominant on the ground that his 1,113 yards after contact would have ranked as the nation's 34th-most total rushing yards. He secured 21 touchdowns on his 287 carries with another 82 going for first downs and another national-best 65 runs going for at least 10 yards. Perry was the country’s top option quarterback, and he deserves to be in the conversation for one of 2019’s top rushing threats overall after his dominant season.
52. JULIAN BLACKMON, S, UTAH
The transition from cornerback to safety truly paid off for Blackmon in 2019, as he dominated in coverage to the tune of four interceptions and five pass breakups compared to just 17 receptions allowed. He didn’t surrender a pass reception longer than 42 yards and allowed only three catches to go for more than 10 yards. He was terrific in coverage but just as solid across the field; he missed just seven of his 59 tackle attempts and even came away with one of the nation’s best blitzing plays for his sack on Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
His transition paid dividends for the Utes just as it likely did for his future NFL career.
53. DUSTIN CRUM, QB, KENT STATE
Dominating the MAC to a level we haven’t really seen from a PFF grade standpoint, Crum finished the year as the nation’s third-highest graded quarterback overall after he completed 69.5% of his passes for 2,606 yards and 20 touchdowns against just two interceptions. He was lights out at times in 2019 and finished the season on a tear with three elite-graded games over his final six contests. On deep shots, Crum threw 11 touchdowns and just one interception. On throws over the middle, he was 72% completion percentage guy. To throws to the deep right of the field, no quarterback graded higher. The superlatives could go on for a while, but the most important aspect of his terrific year is the fact that he was among the nation’s highest-graded passers from a clean pocket, throwing for a 77.0% completion percentage and 15 of his touchdowns when kept free from pressure, which bodes well for his future.
54. DILLON GABRIEL, QB, UCF
Gabriel entered the UCF lineup and immediately made the Knights a better football team. He was one of the nation’s best throwers across the entire route tree, but he's certainly in the conversation for best go-ball thrower anywhere in the nation. Gabriel was also the country’s best deep-ball thrower outside the numbers and routinely lofted perfectly placed deep shots to a place where only his receivers could make the play. In fact, UCF wideouts Tre Nixon and Gabriel Davis each found themselves as two of the 10 most-targeted receivers on deep go routes this year, as the connection forged between young quarterback and his talented playmakers outside was one of the best connections anywhere in college football. Gabriel will take the UCF offense to new heights with more play like that in 2020.
55. J.K. DOBBINS, RB, OHIO STATE
Finishing the year with 2,002 yards (the same as Jonathan Taylor), Dobbins averaged a whopping 6.7 yards per carry and gained 1,207 yards after contact in 2019. He broke 73 tackles and scored 21 touchdowns with another 78 first-down carries to his credit. Proving to be a man among boys at times, Dobbins’ stiff arms were the prettiest in college football, and he did it all with just three fumbles to his name. He capped his OSU career with his third straight season with at least 1,000 yards and even broke more tackles this season (73) than he did in his first two seasons combined (69).
56. PARNELL MOTLEY, CB, OKLAHOMA
Yes, the best player on the Sooners' defense wasn’t their star linebacker nor even their stout defensive tackle. Rather, it was their lockdown cornerback in Motley, who allowed just 43.4% of the passes thrown his way to be caught. He was heavily tested, seeing 53 targets come his way, and although he didn’t have the interception totals of other cornerbacks this year, he truly did limit big plays. In fact, the longest reception Motley allowed this year was a mere 37 yards, and he gave up only two other receptions longer than 20 yards. He was routinely tasked with following the opposing team’s No. 1 receiver, and he locked them down in the process.
Motley has since wowed at the East-West Shrine Bowl and is ready to prove his career-year in coverage wasn’t a fluke. He finished the year with 16 total forced incompletions, ranking as the ninth-most in the country at the position.
57. DEVIN DUVERNAY, WR, TEXAS
Possessing perhaps the nation’s best set of hands, Duvernay has dropped just five of the 180 catchable passes thrown his way over the years at Texas, and he capped that with career-highs in targets, yards, touchdowns and grades across the board in 2019. For the year, Duvernay hauled in 105 catches for 1,392 yards, nine scores and another 59 first-down receptions, the latter leading the nation. He also broke 23 tackles after the catch and finished third in the nation with 719 total yards after the catch. Duvernay also showed off his hands and ball skills with a zero in the fumble column as he went his entire career at Texas without a fumble on offense.
58. JORDYN BROOKS, LB, TEXAS TECH
An every-down threat for the Red Raiders, Brooks finished the year as the country’s fifth-highest graded linebacker after earning impressive grades across the board. He was dominant against the run and strong in coverage, but when he did blitz the passer, there was almost no one better at the position. Brooks finished the season with 44 total QB pressures, tying for the national lead with Chris Orr, but Brooks needed 16 fewer pass-rushes to do so. Rounding out his incredible season was his sure tackling and reliable coverage; he missed just 12 of his 121 total attempts on the year and didn’t allow a touchdown or a pass reception longer than 32 into his primary coverage.
59. JAVON KINLAW, DI, SOUTH CAROLINA
Seemingly unblockable at times, Kinlaw’s 40 total pressures ranked seventh-most in the country at the position as he totaled seven sacks, seven hits and another 26 hurries. He was a sure tackler and possessed a clean set of pass-rush moves for a man his size at 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds. He recorded at least one pressure in every game in 2019 and had eight games with multiple pressures, including seven in a row to start the year. He saw a career-high nine total pressures against Texas A&M in Week 12 and even ended the season with 12 other stops in run defense. He presented a problem for opposing offenses in both the passing and running game all season long.
60. JARET PATTERSON, RB, BUFFALO
Finishing fourth in the nation in total rushing yards, Patterson is one of just a handful of running backs who fielded elite grades in rushing, fumbling and overall as he put the ball on the turf just once on his 313 carries. He ripped off 1,804 yards on 313 carries and broke 85 tackles in the process. He also gained 1,125 yards after contact and was just one of two running backs to provide triple-digit rushing conversions, as he scored 19 touchdowns and had another 87 first-down carries to give him 106 total conversions for the year. Patterson eclipsed 100 yards in six consecutive games to close the season and went over 130 yards in eight contests this year. He forced at least five missed tackles in 10 games during his incredible 2019 season and actually gained at least 100 yards after contact in five outings. Patterson is set to perhaps even take the rushing crown in 2020 after a dominant year this past season.
61. ANTOINE WINFIELD JR., S, MINNESOTA
Playing with arguably the nation’s top football IQ, Winfield Jr.’s pedigree as the son of a former NFL great showed in his final season for the Gophers. He finished the year with an elite coverage, pass-rush and overall grade, finding himself towards the highlight-reel just the same as he made the necessary, routine plays to keep his Minnesota defense in it. Winfield finished with seven interceptions and an additional pass breakup on just 22 targeted passes in coverage, and he routinely made plays that weren’t even in his coverage. Chipping in with another nine pressures, including three sacks, Winfield’s down-to-down reliability saw him finish with a career-high in nearly every advanced metric this season.
62. GARRETT MARINO, DI, UAB
Marino finished third in total pressures among all interior defenders, as he racked up 46 of them on his 370 total pass-rushes. He finished the 2019 season with the country’s fourth-highest pass-rush grade among interior defensive linemen and influenced every game for the Blazers. He recorded a pressure in every contest and multiple pressures in 12 outings for UAB, as he truly couldn’t be contained on the inside. He also finished the year with a career-high 29 defensive stops and an elite run-defense grade of 90.3, as 21 of those stops came against the run. A journeyman of sorts, Marino capped a fine college career as one of the nation’s top players at his position.
63. DEOMMODORE LENOIR, CB, OREGON
Owner of one of the most impressive interceptions of the year, Lenoir was stout in coverage all season for the Ducks. He was routinely asked to cover the offense’s top receiver on the outside, and he routinely delivered in coverage. Whether it was limiting Auburn’s Seth Williams to just 10 yards, Nevada’s Elijah Cooks to no catches, Colorado’s Laviska Shenault to just 15 yards on two targets or removing Washington State’s Easop Winston Jr. from the game altogether, Lenoir shined. He capped a good day in coverage against USC with a pick against Tyler Vaughns and Kedon Slovis and put an exclamation point on his regular season with a four-target, two-reception day against Oregon State's Isaiah Hodgins, who is one of the country’s top receivers. Lenoir truly locked down some of the nation’s best, and his impact on the Ducks' defense in 2020 should not be overlooked.
64. SAM EHLINGER, QB, TEXAS
The nation’s sixth-highest passing grade at the quarterback position belongs to none other than Ehlinger, who shook off some midseason rust to cap what became a career-year in Austin. Despite upping his overall attempts in each season, he has now increased his yards per attempt average every year over the past three years, and 2019 was his best yet, as he finished the year with an 8.0 yards per attempt with a whopping 456 passing attempts to his credit. He threw 32 touchdowns and finished with an elite passing grade of 87.1, nearly a full six points ahead of his previous career-best. Ehlinger can hit any level of the field but really did shine in the intermediate range (10-19 yards) of the field, as he completed 67 of his 108 attempts for 1,083 yards and 13 touchdowns against just four interceptions on such throws. Save for an ugly performance against TCU, the Longhorn signal-caller finished 2019 as the best passing quarterback in the conference.
65. NIGEL WARRIOR, S, TENNESSEE
Warrior was a stalwart in coverage just as he was a true run-stuffer from the safety position. He was targeted 28 times, gave up just 14 catches for 180 yards and made four picks with another eight pass breakups to his credit. In total, he allowed a passer rating of just 54.8 in his coverage and was terrific against the run. Warrior made 18 total defensive stops and was the only Power-5 safety to finish the year with an elite grade against the run, in coverage and in tackling; he missed just three of the 67 attempts he tried this year, and he was every bit the dominant safety on the backend for the Volunteers in 2019.
66. OMAR BAYLESS, WR, ARKANSAS STATE
He may have lost his national lead in receiving yards to Ja’Marr Chase (who played one more game than he did), but Bayless was one of the nation’s top playmakers at the position in 2019, and he ended the season with 93 receptions for 1,654 yards, 17 touchdowns and 51 first-down receptions. Bayless possesses an innate ability to high-point the football just the same as he can run a full route tree. He can haul in a deep go route 50 yards downfield on one play and catch an underneath, short pass the very next, and he secured at least three catches in every game this year. He totaled 100 or more yards in eight games and went over 150 yards in four, all while catching at least a touchdown in all but two games during a dominant 2019 season.
67. CALEB FARLEY, CB, VIRGINIA TECH
Targeted 50 times this season, Farley locked down receivers in his coverage better than almost anyone else in the country. In fact, of all cornerbacks who saw at least 25 passes thrown their way, Farley finished second with just a passer rating of 29.2 when targeted. As an example of how impressive that is, a quarterback receives a 39.6 for simply spiking the ball every play, and therefore, signal-callers were statistically better off by throwing the ball away than by testing Farley’s coverage this season. He allowed just 19 receptions for 265 yards and one touchdown against four interceptions and another nine pass breakups. He was one of the stingiest cornerbacks in the country when it came to limiting plays, and he did so all across the field.
He lined up in press coverage on 99 snaps and was impressive in both man and zone coverage during his incredible 2019 season.
68. MARVIN WILSON, DI, FLORIDA STATE
Noticeably absent after his season was cut short following the Miami game in Week 10, Wilson still finished with a 90.0-plus grade for the second straight year in Tallahassee. He generated 26 total QB pressures — including five sacks, six hits and 15 more hurries — on just 291 pass-rushes through his nine games, and he had multiple pressures over a four-game stretch in which he had the nation’s top pass-rush win percentage regardless of position. After he exited for the season, FSU as a whole failed to produce a team pass-rush grade higher than 71.1, yet they racked up six such games during Wilson’s time in the lineup. The 2020 season is looking up with a clean bill of health for the Seminoles’ best defensive player.
69. JAUAN JENNINGS, WR, TENNESSEE
No receiver broke more tackles after the catch than Jennings in 2019, as the Tennessee receiver broke 30 tackles on just 59 receptions. He turned those 59 receptions into 969 yards and eight touchdowns, 34 first downs and another 474 yards after the catch. Nearly half of his yards came after the catch on every reception, as he saw a total average of 16.4 yards per catch but gained 8.0 of those after hauling in the pass. These kinds of figures not only put him in the conversation as best tackle-breaking receiver this season but also of the past decade, as he broke the PFF record by breaking a tackle on 50.8% of his catches.
70. GABRIEL DAVIS, WR, UCF
One of the nation’s best receivers on deep routes in 2019, Davis saw the benefit of Dillon Gabriel’s emergence and ripped off career numbers for the Knights this year. Davis finished with 72 catches for 1,241 yards and 12 scores, and he broke 10 tackles after the catch and had another 37 first-down receptions. Davis was at his best on passes targeted at least 20 yards downfield, as he produced 620 yards, five scores and just one drop on only 16 deep receptions. He was among the nation’s best across several routes on the route tree and had multiple games with a perfect or near-perfect passer rating when targeted, finishing the year with a dominant 117.4 passer rating on his targets while still averaging a ridiculous depth of target and 17.2 yards per catch.
71. AR’DARIUS WASHINGTON, S, TCU
He may have only been targeted in coverage as the primary defender on 14 plays this season, but Washington made his presence felt against the opponent’s passing attack in a tremendous way. Washington made more plays on the ball than he allowed receptions, making five interceptions and two pass breakups while giving up just five receptions for a mere 65 yards. He dominated in coverage from either the box or as a free safety, as well, providing irreplaceable versatility at the safety position when it came to coverage on the backend. He also missed just three of his 48 total tackle attempts this year and didn’t surrender a touchdown.
72. RASHOD BATEMAN, WR, MINNESOTA
Bateman cemented his name in the 2019 record books with a dramatic one-handed catch that was certainly in the running for the best catch of the season when he snared a deep go route at the goal line against South Dakota State for a touchdown.
That wasn’t his only spectacular play of the year, but it certainly was in line with the best catches of the 2019 season as he dominated opposite Tyler Johnson. He finished the year with an average yards per catch figure of 20.3 and was just one of four receivers to see 50 or more catches and still average above 20.0 yards per catch, joining Dyami Brown, Ja’Marr Chase and Ceedee Lamb. That’s quite a list of talented playmakers.
73. KYLE HAMILTON, S, NOTRE DAME
The fabulous true freshman safety for the Fighting Irish wowed in his first season in South Bend, picking off four passes and breaking up another five while allowing just seven catches to be caught into his primary coverage. He missed a few too many tackles to come away with an elite-graded season overall, but he more than made up for that with his prowess on the backend. He didn’t allow a single reception over 20 yards and saw a completion percentage of just 30.4% when he was the primary coverage defender. In fact, he allowed a passer rating of just 1.6 when he was targeted, and no, that’s no typo…one point six. He made 38 solo tackles, and 12 of them went down as a defensive stop. He continually began to improve his overall game grades as the season wore on — the sky is the limit for No. 14.
74. AHMAD GARDNER, CB, CINCINNATI
Just like LSU's Derek Stingley, Gardner was every bit of a lockdown cornerback in his first year of college football. Gardner had 16 forced incompletions and allowed a completion percentage of just 39.7%, all while not allowing a single touchdown his way. He made three interceptions and four pass breakups as he limited quarterbacks to a 39.4 passer rating when targeted – that’s lower than if the QB had just thrown an incomplete pass into the dirt instead.
75. MEIKO DOTSON, CB, FAU
Dotson led the nation with nine interceptions this season, but that certainly wasn’t the only extent of his damage to opposing offenses this year for the Owls. Dotson made another two pass breakups and another handful of forced incompletions with his sticky coverage, as he truly dominated outside for FAU. He was targeted 44 times and allowed no reception longer than 35 yards all year long and even chipped in with another five stops in run defense. His transfer announcement certainly brings with it a multitude of Power-5 schools that should heavily desire his services at cornerback.
76. COREY STRAUGHTER, CB, UL-MONROE
The nation’s leader in the clubhouse for lowest passer rating when targeted, Straughter’s coverage numbers look like something out of a video game: 43 targets, 12 receptions allowed, 190 yards allowed, one touchdown, five interceptions and six pass breakups. His 13.7 passer rating when targeted was more than 15.0 points lower than the next closest qualified cornerback. In fact, he had a total of 15 forced incompletions, three more than the number of receptions he allowed.
77. TRAVION BANKS, CB, MIAMI (OH.)
A big reason for the RedHawks' MAC Championship, Banks was as sticky in coverage as any other Group of 5 cornerback. He saw 33 targets on the year and allowed just 19 receptions compared to 11 plays on the ball that included five picks and six more breakups. He allowed a passer rating of 48.5 into his coverage and was penalized just once all season long. Just twice this season did Banks allow a catch longer than 19 yards as he locked down opposing offenses in 2019.
78. A.J. EPENESA, DE, IOWA
A member of the pass-rush triple-double, Epenesa took his game to the next level in 2019 just a year after teasing it in 2018. He finished with 13 sacks, 14 hits and another 31 pressures, as his 58 total pressures were the eighth-most among edge defenders across the country. Epenesa finished with an elite overall grade and an elite pass-rushing grade while winning 17.5% of his pass-rushes and generating pressure on 13.4% of his snaps. He limited missed tackles against the run and even batted another three passes down at the line of scrimmage — he was clearly the best Hawkeye when he was on the field.
79. CHARLIE KOLAR, TE, IOWA STATE
It comes as no surprise to see Kolar crack the list, as the Iowa State tight end was every bit the dominant big man on the receiving end of Brock Purdy passes in 2019. Kolar finished the year with 51 receptions for 697 yards and seven scores; he moved the chains on 32 other receptions and racked up 165 yards after the catch. He dropped just two catchable passes his way, broke five tackles after the catch and had impressive grades in the run game, proving to be a true three-down tight end for the Cyclones this season.
80. MYLES BRYANT, S, WASHINGTON
The owner of some of the stickiest ball skills in the nation this year, Bryant routinely ripped the football from opponents just the same as he deflected or intercepted passes into his coverage in 2019. He was the primary coverage defender on 21 targets and allowed just 118 yards on 14 catches while allowing no reception longer than 28 yards and no touchdowns. He made three interceptions and another pass breakup while holding quarterbacks to a 41.5 passer rating when targeted. He also chipped in with eight total pressures on just 43 pass-rushes and also had 18 defensive stops, all en route to an elite overall grade for the year.
81. DEVONTA SMITH, WR, ALABAMA
A near-unstoppable force with the ball in his hands, Smith took 66 receptions for 1,261 receiving yards this season, utilizing his speed and elusiveness to rack up 743 yards after the catch, the second-most in the country. He broke 15 tackles after the catch and averaged 11.3 yards after the catch per reception, leading qualifying receivers in such a metric. Smith possessed perhaps the nation’s best get-off at the line of scrimmage this year and was the benefactor of that against All-American cornerback Derek Stingley, as he was the only wide receiver to really get the better of the fabulous true freshman corner in 2019.
82. CLYDE EDWARDS-HELAIRE, RB, LSU
A man who will make even the best tackler miss in a phone booth, Edwards-Helaire broke 70 tackles on just 214 carries this season while gaining 782 of his 1,419 yards after contact. He added incredible value for a running back by limiting himself to just one fumble and by hauling in 55 receptions for another 453 yards and one touchdown. He led the country with 25 first-down receptions out of the backfield and had the nation’s seventh-most broken tackles after the catch. CEH was one of the nation’s best backs from an all-around perspective, and he, like the rest of the LSU offense, did not finish a single game with a below-average grade in 2019.
83. JUSTIN MADUBUIKE, DI, TEXAS A&M
Unblockable at his best, Madubuike changed games for the Aggies in 2019. He ripped through for 41 total pressures, including six sacks, nine hits and another 26 hurries as he finished with the fifth-most pressures among all interior defensive linemen. Madubuike utilized his impressive speed at his size more often than not and won an impressive 14.9% of his pass-rushes despite being double-teamed at will. He was also one of the nation’s best against the run, and he missed just a handful of tackle attempts while making 26 solo tackles and 26 defensive stops.
84. TREVON DIGGS, CB, ALABAMA
Every bit of a lockdown cornerback, Diggs saw 52 passes come his way and finished the season by allowing just 22 receptions for 309 yards and only 92 yards after the catch. So seldom was he beaten that he allowed just three catches go for more than 20 yards all season, and he made 11 total plays on the ball, half the number of receptions as he allowed. He chipped in with nine stops and a bevy of solo tackles in run defense as he was a three-down cornerstone for the Crimson Tide this year.
85. JAYLON JOHNSON, CB, UTAH
Making his mark on the backend of the Utes' defense, Johnson was tremendous in coverage this season, allowing just 44.6% of the targets thrown his way to be caught. He allowed just one touchdown compared to 10 total plays on the ball (two interceptions, eight pass breakups) and, like Diggs above him, allowed just three total receptions for longer than 20 yards this season. What separates him from other cornerbacks this year was the fact that he attempted 39 solo tackles and missed just two of them for a new, career-high tackle percentage and one of the nation’s top tackling grades at the position.
86. AUSTIN LEE, S, BYU
One of the better seasons in coverage from a safety, Lee was a stalwart on the backend for the Cougars in 2019, even if you didn’t hear about it. He was the primary coverage defender on just 14 targeted passes this year, yet he still made nearly as many plays on the ball (six) as he allowed receptions (nine). He roamed freely around the backend of the defense for BYU and was an absolute safety net when called upon. He didn’t allow a catch longer than 32 yards and allowed just 25 yards after the catch while he limited missed tackles at a career-high rate.
87. MATT PEART, OT, UCONN
Possessing elite-level grades at each facet, Peart was by far the Huskies' best player in 2019. He finished the year with an 86.0 pass-blocking grade after giving up just seven total pressures on his 415 pass-blocking snaps. Peart also had a 90.1 run-blocking grade, the fourth-highest in the country, while he was one of only six tackles with elite grades in all facets this year.
88. TERRELL BURGESS, S, UTAH
A true three-down force for the Utes, Burgess had an incredibly efficient year for Utah in 2019. He came through with six total plays on the ball, one interception and five pass breakups, while not allowing a touchdown into his coverage. He made 25 defensive stops, missed just eight of his 83 total tackle attempts and even chipped in with another 15 total pressures on the quarterback, despite blitzing just 46 times. The Utes' defense was among the nation’s best across the board, but it's most certainly in the conversation for the nation’s best in the secondary.
89. K’VON WALLACE, S, CLEMSON
Moving freely about the defense like his teammates, Wallace had a statistical season like he’d never seen before for the Tigers in 2019. He set career-highs across the board but markedly in total QB pressures (13), and he blitzed the quarterback just 53 times to do so. On the backend, he was the primary coverage defender on 47 total targets, allowing 27 receptions and no catch longer than 35 yards while making 10 plays on the ball and allowing just one touchdown in his coverage. Perhaps the biggest improvement to his game was his tackling skill, as he also set a career-high in tacking grade. He attempted 73 total attempts and missed just six of those this year; 55 of them went down as solo tackles and another 22 went down as a defensive stop.
90. WYATT DAVIS, OG, OHIO STATE
The dominance displayed by Davis in 2019 was nothing short of amazing to watch. He constantly made plays at the first level and the second level just the same, as he possesses an incredible athletic skillset for a man his size. Davis finished with the nation’s fourth-highest overall grade but finished first among full-time, Power-5 starters at the position. He allowed just 15 hurries, with no sacks nor hits credited to him during his 459 pass-blocking snaps, and he had the country’s fourth-highest run-blocking grade among all guards. If you saw an offensive lineman downfield in Scarlet and Grey pancaking someone, you can bet it was No. 52.
91. CARLOS BASHAM JR., DE, WAKE FOREST
With 11 sacks, 13 hits and 36 hurries to his credit, Basham’s 60 total pressures were the sixth-most in the country among edge defenders. He had one of the nation’s top pass-rushing grades and one of the best overall grades at the position, as he was solid against the run and won a bevy of his snaps across the board. Basham limited missed tackles against the run while batting down another three passes with his incredibly long reach at the line of scrimmage.
92. TYLAN WALLACE, WR, OKLAHOMA STATE
When he was on the field, Wallace was a one-man wrecking crew for the Cowboys in 2019. Had he not been hurt, he certainly would have found his way much higher on this list, but a torn ACL sidelined him after just eight games. Still, during that time, Wallace recorded 53 receptions for 903 yards, eight touchdowns and 25 first downs while breaking 13 tackles after the catch. Even with just eight games under his belt, Wallace’s 530 yards after the catch were the 19th-most among all FBS receivers, and his 10.0 yards after the catch per reception ranked 10th in the country. He had one of the nation’s marquee moments at the position this season and will be primed to do the same thing in 2020.
93. MATT HENNESSY, C, TEMPLE
Hennessy was one of the more productive players at any position this year, leading the nation in overall grade at the center position in 2019. He allowed a mere five total pressures up the middle on his 494 total pass-blocking snaps and had the country’s second-highest run-blocking grade at the position. Temple running backs averaged over 1.5 yards before contact on the ground this year as Hennessy constantly dominated at the point of attack.
94. BLAKE BRANDEL, OT, OREGON STATE
It may come as a surprise that the nation’s best pass-blocking grade among tackles did come from a tackle in Oregon, but it did not belong to Penei Sewell. However, but Brandel was that good. He spent 473 snaps in pass protection and gave up just five total pressures. He finished the year with five straight games without allowing pressure and had eight total games this year in which he didn’t allow a single pressure, a marked improvement from a year ago when he gave up 30 total pressures. He was no slouch in the run game either, as he earned the Pac-12’s second-highest run-blocking grade to cap off his excellent year.
95. BRADY CHRISTENSEN, OT, BYU
The BYU offensive line had great success across the board this year, but that mainly in pass protection, and Christensen was the biggest reason for that. Spending a whopping 542 snaps in pass protection, Christensen gave up just 13 total pressures and just one combined sack or hit this year. He finished the year with clean sheets in pass protection during four games and another five games with just one hurry allowed. He closed the season with six straight games of elite pass-blocking grades and gave up just three pressures over that final stretch, potentially setting the tone for an even bigger 2020.
96. ALEX HIGHSMITH, DE, CHARLOTTE
Dominant at the Group of 5 level, Highsmith even showed up big-time against Charlotte’s lone Power-5 matchup, recording a sack and four total pressures on 26 pass-rushes against Clemson. He finished the year with a whopping 16 sacks, nine hits and 26 additional hurries, and he won 21.7% of his pass-rush snaps. He beat the offensive lineman in front of him seemingly at will and was a true game-changer in a historic season for the 49ers.
97. AARON CRAWFORD, DI, NORTH CAROLINA
The nation’s best interior defender against the run, Crawford was an integral part of the Tar Heels' defensive success this season. He made a whopping 31 total defensive stops and even came through with 17 total pressures up the middle. For a big man his size, he possesses an incredible balance with his tackle radius and missed just five of the 52 total tackle attempts he made this year. His 25 stops in run defense alone were among the most at the position, and his run-defense grade was the highest among any player at his position this year.
98. SAMUEL COSMI, OT, TEXAS
An anchor on the Texas line and an anchor for Ehlinger’s blindside, Cosmi dominated in 2019. Allowing just one combined sack or hit all season long, Cosmi’s 14 total pressures allowed look even better when you realize that 13 of them were just hurries. He finished three games with a clean sheet in pass protection and had another seven outings with just one hurry surrendered. He set a career-high in every grade facet this season and was even dominant among his peers in run-blocking, fielding the Big 12’s second-highest run-blocking grade in 2019.
99. LUQ BARCOO, CB, SAN DIEGO STATE
Barcoo had a dominant year in coverage for the Aztecs, racking up a whopping nine interceptions and another 14 pass breakups, tying for the national lead in interceptions. He combined for the most total passes defended with his 23 total plays on the ball as he was a true playmaker on the backend. In total, he was targeted 92 times this year; he allowed just 45.7% of those to be caught and allowed just 137 yards after the catch.
100. JAMES PROCHE, WR, SMU
The real benefactor of the Shane Buechele impact was Proche, as he hauled in 111 receptions for 1,231 yards and 15 touchdowns. He averaged 11.1 yards per catch and 4.4 yards after the catch per reception, breaking 11 tackles after hauling in passes this season. He secured 47 first-down receptions, a new career-high, and he also recorded career-highs in yards, receptions and touchdowns.
101. STANLEY GREEN, S, ILLINOIS
The Illini defense was a different unit in 2019 with Green playing. Green’s real season started in Week 7 against Michigan after he logged just 32 snaps over the first two weeks of action, but he still finished the campaign with career-highs in tackles, stops and grades across the board. Illinois won four of the first five games with Green in the lineup, as the defense limited opponents to 23 points or fewer in four of those first five games upon his return. He finished the season as the Illini’s highest-graded player on either side of the ball.