PFF Dream Team: Building the perfect college football roster

Steve Palazzolo picks the most dominant players from around the country for the Week 10 Dream Team.

| 1 month ago
(Photo by Joshua Gateley/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joshua Gateley/Getty Images)

PFF Dream Team: Building the perfect college football roster


It’s crunch time in college football as we head into November, as the race for the College Football Playoff is heating up — as is the race for inclusion on the PFF College Dream Team. We’re looking for the best players in the country to fill out our perfect roster. Past iterations of the Dream Team have focused on specific skillsets, but we’re back to looking to fill out the simply the most dominant roster we can construct.

Quarterback

Lamar Jackson, Louisville

Jackson continues to roll through the opposition, and even with a close win against Virginia, he still stands alone as the top quarterback in the land. He leads the nation with 772 yards on 101 designed runs (7.6 yards per attempt) to go with his 16 touchdowns. That ability to run the ball within the flow of the offense has opened up the passing game for Louisville, a big reason why Jackson is throwing for 316 yards per game. We’ll take him as our starting quarterback and build the entire offense around his special skill set.

Running backs

Dalvin Cook, Florida State

It’s been a different season for Cook who created more big plays last season, but inconsistent run blocking has hurt the overall stats. He’s still performed well, leading the nation with 49 missed tackles forced and he showed his speed and angle-changing ability in Florida State’s near-upset of Clemson last weekend. Few running backs can take over a game like Cook, and his big-play potential remains the best in the nation.

Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State

A Dream Team debut for Pumphrey who has churned out four 200-plus yard games this season. He’s quick and shifty, ranking right behind Cook with 46 missed tackles forced and he has the nation’s top rushing grade at 86.0.

Wide receivers

Corey Davis, Western Michigan

I assume everyone tuned into the Corey Davis Show on Tuesday night over Game 6 of the Word Series, as he went off for 272 yards on 12 receptions while scoring three touchdowns. Davis is an outstanding route runner with the skills to create after the catch and down the field, he’s a Dream Team lock unless injury strikes.

Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma

We’ve vaulted Westbrook right into the Heisman conversation as he’s been that dominant in recent weeks. His “Maybrook” connection with Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield is the nation’s best as they’ve found the downfield chemistry to carry that offense. Westbrook has made big plays after the catch as well, and he now has 40 catches for 881 yards (22 yards per reception0 and 11 touchdowns over his last five games alone).

Jonathan Giles, Texas Tech

We’re moving to Giles in the slot as he leads all Power-5 receivers with 905 yards from the slot while ranking second with 3.24 yards per route. He’s become the top weapon for the Texas Tech passing game, and we’ll use him as a slot and vertical threat.

Tight end

Evan Engram, Ole Miss

The top-graded receiving tight end at 87.4, Engram also leads all tight ends with 700 receiving yards. He can move around the formation to make plays and we’ll use his athleticism out wide, in the slot and out of the backfield. Engram has been just ok as a run blocker, but he’s shown well in recent years, enough to have confidence that he’s not a complete liability in the run game.

Offensive tackles

Connor Williams, Texas

Sticking with Williams at tackle as he’s allowed only two pressures all season, but it’s his run-blocking that has taken a massive step forward this season. His 84.0 grade is second in the nation as he uses his athleticism to make key second-level blocks in Texas’ power-run game.

Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky

For three straight years, Lamp has been outstanding in our grading system and he currently ranks second among tackles at 86.7. He’s allowed only one pressure all season while showing better in pass protection than any other tackle against Alabama. He’s allowed only 27 pressures (three sacks, eight hits, 16 hurries) on 1,465 attempts dating back to 2014.

Guards

Dan Feeney, Indiana

While he missed some time due to injury, Feeney has played well when healthy, now ranking fourth in the nation at 86.4 overall. He’s always been outstanding in pass protection and he’s only allowed one pressure on 116 attempts this season, bringing his three-year total to 15 pressures on 1,016 snaps. His run blocking has improved every year, and he now ranks fourth in the country at 86.1.

Cody O’Connell, Washington State

With scheme help or not, O’Connell sits atop our guard rankings at 91.3, allowing only five pressures all season and he’s currently the top run blocker at 88.3. O’Connell is one of the nation’s breakout stars and it will be difficult to unseat him on the team during the stretch run.

The Washington State scheme is generally easier on offensive linemen, but O’Connell has exceeded even the highest expectations with the highest grade among the nation’s guards at 90.1. He’s allowed only four pressures on 351 attempts while providing better run blocking than Mike Leach is used to having at guard in his Air Raid system.

Center

Frank Ragnow, Arkansas

The top run-blocking center in the nation at 86.1, Ragnow works well to the second level while rarely losing blocks against opposing nose tackles. A favorite of SEC analyst Gordon McGuinness, Ragnow caps his well-rounded game with an 82.3 grade in pass protection.

Edge rushers

Myles Garrett, Texas A&M

Injuries have slowed Garrett in recent weeks, but he still performed well in Texas A&M’s loss to Alabama before sitting out last week. When healthy, he’s the nation’s most explosive pass-rusher and one of the most productive at 89.5 (fourth) but it’s his improved ability against the run that has turned heads this season (87.7 grade ranks third in nation).

Derek Barnett, Tennessee

Barnett and Garrett are forever linked as their production since stepping in as true freshmen in 2014 has been outstanding. Barnett is now the top-graded pass-rusher in the Power-5 at 91.5 where he’s notched nine sacks, 13 hits, and 22 hurries on 234 rushes while continuing his strong play against the run. 

Defensive interior

Dexter Lawrence, Clemson

Houston’s Ed Oliver was the first true freshman defensive lineman to make the Dream Team two weeks ago, and this time it’s Lawrence’s turn who has been right there with Oliver all season from a grading standpoint. He ranks sixth among interior defensive linemen at 87.6 and seventh against the run at 87.1 and he’s now up to four sacks, eight hits, and 17 hurries as a pass-rusher.

Jonathan Allen, Alabama

This is a no-brainer as Allen is the most disruptive player in the nation this season and the top-graded interior defensive lineman at 92.3 overall. His 94.8 pass rush grade also leads the way, fueled by six sacks, seven hits, and 27 hurries on 242 rushes while still grading at 85.3 against the run.

Linebacker

Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt

The No. 3 linebacker against the run at 88.1, Cunningham beats blockers with his great hands while using his athleticism to find the ball carrier. He leads the Power-5 linebackers with 49 stops and if he can just cut down on his 12 missed tackles, he could push to be the best linebacker in the country.

Reuben Foster, Alabama

The top-graded linebacker in the country at 92.5, Foster has been the nation’s best all-around player at the position. He has the top grade against the run at 89.5 while ranking 12th in coverage at 87.8, topping it off with sure tackling as he’s only missed two all season.

Jarrad Davis, Florida

An attacker in the run game, Davis ranks fourth at 87.9 against the run while getting after the quarterback with two sacks, four hits and 10 hurries as a pass rusher. He’s added three pass break ups in coverage while generally keeping the ball in front of him in coverage.

Cornerbacks

Desmond King, Iowa

The best tackling corner in the country, it’s always fun to cite King’s three-year missed tackle total that now sits at only seven misses on 177 attempts. He has the nation’s No. 3 grade against the run at 86.1 while grading well in coverage at 88.5 as he’s the nation’s most well-rounded corner.

Jaire Alexander, Louisville

Welcome to the team, Jaire, who now sits atop our cornerback grades at 90.7 overall including a 90.1 coverage grade. He’s been the best playmaker on the Louisville defense, picking off five passes and getting his hands on four more. He’s added a touchdown on a punt return in a breakout season.

Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

Manning the slot for the Dream Team, Fitzpatrick can play the run, blitz off the edge, and of course cover where he’s grading at 84.8 in coverage this season. He’s gotten his hands on seven passes this season (three interceptions, four passes defensed) while playing sound run defense as a versatile piece of the Alabama defense.

Safeties

Jabrill Peppers, Michigan

We’re putting Peppers at strong safety on our team, letting him road around the line of scrimmage to use his 83.7 run-stopping grade to use while covering running backs and tight ends. He’s a movable chess piece on the Michigan defense and we may just see more of him on offense down the stretch.

Nate Gerry, Nebraska

The best playmaking free safety in the country, Gerry leads the way with a 94.9 coverage grade, just as he led the nation in 2014. He’s cut down on his missed tackles this season, missing four on 57 attempts and he’s managed four interceptions and five passed defensed as he’s quietly been one of the best defensive players in the country.

With the top coverage grade among the nation’s safeties at 92.1, Gerry has two interceptions and three passes defensed while improving his tackling issues with only two misses on 40 attempts. He was outstanding in coverage in 2014 and he’s gotten back to those ways this season.

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

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