Mayfield, McCaffrey headline PFF’s 2015 All-American teams

Steve Palazzolo unveils his first-team and second-team selections for our roundup of the best players in the country.

| 12 months ago
(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Mayfield, McCaffrey headline PFF’s 2015 All-American teams


After three-plus months of excitement, the college football regular season sprint is over and the playoffs and bowl season are right around the corner. As All-American teams come out by various sites and publications, PFF is in position to give the most unique insight into the nation’s top players. With every last snap of all 850+ FBS games graded and analyzed, each player on our college All American teams has truly earned his status.

Here’s a look:

Quarterback

First Team: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma +52.9

One of the great stories of the season, Mayfield’s emergence has led Oklahoma into the College Football Playoff. He was our top-graded quarterback at +52.9 on the season and when looking at games against just power-5 competition, he remained at the top at +42.4. Mayfield was good no matter which way we slice it, whether blitzed (+14.0) or facing pressure (+6.5) and our own Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Dooley, loves to remind us that his NFL passer rating of 119.0 when pressured would rank first among all FBS QBs whether they were pressured or not. While the Baylor game was the highlight of Mayfield’s season as he made big-time throws and key runs throughout the night, he was consistent on a week-to-week basis, grading positively in every game.

Second Team: Jared Goff, Cal

Honorable Mention: Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State; Deshaun Watson, Clemson; Brandon Doughty, Western Kentucky; Matt Johnson, Bowling Green; Nick Mullens, Southern Miss; Paxton Lynch, Memphis; Trevone Boykin, TCU


Running back

First Team: Christian McCaffrey, Stanford +43.1

Dubbed the “Year of the Running Back,” there were many options at the position, but McCaffrey’s all-around game stood out above the rest. His +29.5 rushing grade ranked second in the nation and his +13.3 receiving grade topped all running backs. We know all about his passing the legendary Barry Sanders in all-purpose yards, but McCaffrey’s work as a kick returner was more than just empty stats as his +9.5 grade also led the nation. When you add it up, few players impacted his team in as many areas as McCaffrey and he was one of — if not the — best players in the nation.

Second Team: Leonard Fournette, LSU

Honorable Mention: Dalvin Cook, Florida State; Derrick Henry, Alabama; Ezekial Elliott, Ohio State, Devontae Booker, Utah; Royce Freeman, Oregon; Paul Perkins, UCLA; Jordan Howard, Indiana;


Fullback

First Team: Dakota Gordon, San Diego State +35.2

The options are limited at fullback, but Gordon stood out as a strong blocker while also being the only fullback to play more than 600 snaps (he finished with 723). Gordon’s +31.0 grade as a blocker dwarfed the next closest competitor and he added a +4.6 grade as a runner for good measure.

Second Team: Derek Watt, Wisconsin


Wide receiver

First Team: Josh Doctson, TCU +25.6 and Corey Coleman, Baylor +19.2

Despite a late-season injury, Doctson was still one of the nation’s most productive receivers and he did it all over the field. He caught 72.2 percent of his targets, including 53.1 percent of his deep passes for 553 yards, good for fourth in the country. Doctson has a great combination of big-play ability to allow for those numbers while also showing the body control to make the spectacular catch on inaccurate passes.

Right there with Doctson all season was Coleman, who was slowed at the end of the season by drop issues and quarterback injuries, but his first 10 games were special. He finished with a nation-high 20 touchdowns while averaging 18.4 yards per reception on his 74 catches. Coleman’s 3.86 yards per route finished third in the nation, but that number was at a gaudy 5.22 before the quarterback issues started to pop up in Week 11. He finished right behind Doctson with 551 yards on deep passes while also averaging 7.8 yards after the catch per reception.

Second Team: Corey Davis, Western Michigan and Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky

Honorable Mention: Tajae Sharpe, UMass; Jordan Payton, UCLA; Tyler Boyd, Pittsburgh; Aaron Burbridge, Michigan State; Rashard Higgins, Colorado State; Will Fuller, Notre Dame; JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC


Slot

First Team: Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma +30.8

A late surge allowed Shepard to post the nation’s top receiving grade at +26.5, as the Big 12 wins the trifecta at first team wide receiver. Shepard was Mayfield’s top target, dropping only 4.9 percent of his catchable attempts (22nd in nation) while averaging a Power-5-high 3.12 yards per route from the slot. Shepard made plays on the outside as well, but 903 of his 1,201 yards came from the slot.

Second Team: Daniel Braverman, Western Michigan

Honorable Mention: Shaq Washington, Cincinnati; Richie James, Middle Tennessee State


Tight end

First Team: David Morgan II, UTSA +36.6

One of the few throwback tight ends in the country, Morgan II was the nation’s top blocker, whether lined up on the line of scrimmage, on the move, or on the perimeter in the screen game. His +32.9 blocking grade led the nation by a wide margin and he complemented it with a +6.9 receiving grade that ranked eighth. While he overwhelmed his competition for most of the season, Morgan II showed well with a +5.8 grade on 218 snaps against Power-5 schools, so he was no fluke.

Second Team: Tyler Higbee, Western Kentucky

Honorable Mention: George Kittle, Iowa; Daniel Brunskill, San Diego State; Hunter Henry, Arkansas


Offensive tackles

First Team: Jack Conklin, Michigan State +34.4 and Zach Banner, USC +24.0

Last year’s No. 3-rated offensive tackle made a late push to earn All-American status as he finished with the top grade against Power-5 competition at +31.6. He’s a perfect fit for Michigan State’s power running attack, equally proficient moving blockers at the point of attack as he is getting to the second level to open running lanes. Conklin’s +20.6 run blocking grade ranked fourth in the nation while his +11.6 mark ranked sixth as he gave up only 10 pressures on 368 attempts.

At right tackle, Banner gets the nod as the 6-foot-9, 350-pounder is starting to live up to the high hopes USC had when recruiting him. He ranked third among right tackles with a +17.3 run blocking grade while ranking fifth among all tackles with a +11.9 grade in pass protection (one sack, one hit, eight hurries on 395 attempts).

Second Team: Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky and Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame

Honorable Mention: Cody Whitehair, Kansas State; Joe Thuney, NC State; Spencer Drango, Baylor; Le’Raven Clark, Texas Tech; Joe Dahl, Washington Stat


Guards

First Team: Joshua Garnett, Stanford +38.3 and Landon Turner, North Carolina +28.4

Garnett will man the left guard spot on our All-American team after leading the nation with a +33.5 run blocking grade. Stanford’s power scheme takes advantage of his ability to move defenders as a drive blocker while still being able to lock on when on the move as a puller. He also tacked on a +3.0 grade in the screen game while allowing 14 pressures on 353 attempts in pass protection.

On the other side, Turner did a fine job in pass protection, a huge improvement over his work in 2014. His +12.0 pass blocking grade ranks fifth in the country as he gave up just one QB hit and two hurries on 416 attempts. Turner was strong in the run game as well, grading at +19.7 to rank 14th in the nation.

Second Team: Chase Roullier, Wyoming and Jarell Broxton, Baylor

Honorable Mention: Isaac Seumalo, Oregon State; Aidan Conlon, Northern Illinois; Colby Gossett, Appalachian State


Center

First Team: Matt Skura, Duke

Skura graded positively in all but two games as he showed well as a run blocker at +29.2 (first among Power-5 centers) and pass protection at +6.2 (seventh in nation). He works well whether blocking inline or at the second level and he gave up only 10 pressures on 523 pass blocking attempts.

Second Team: Austin Blythe, Iowa

Honorable Mention: Jesse Chapman, Appalachian State; Jon Toth, Kentucky; Joey Hunt, TCU


Edge

First Team: Joey Bosa, Ohio State +66.6 and Derek Barnett, Tennessee +45.6

Our top-graded edge defender for the second straight year, Bosa’s combination of pass rushing and run stopping ability is unmatched at the position. His +45.2 pass rush grade leads the nation as he picked up seven sacks, 21 hits, and 41 hurries on only 344 rushes while his +26.0 grade against the run also leads the position while ranking sixth among 4-3 defensive ends in run stop percentage at 9.2 percent. Bosa is the nation’s most disruptive defensive player and likely a top-10 pick in the NFL draft.

While Bosa was a clear selection, Barnett held off a number of close challengers as the second tier of edge defenders is very deep. The true sophomore is forever linked with classmate, Myles Garrett, as they both took the SEC by storm as freshmen last season. Barnett finished third in the nation with a +35.6 pass rush grade (nine sacks, 10 hits, 37 hurries on 369 rushes) while posting a +11.6 grade in the run game. His +41.4 mark against Power-5 competition ranked second only to Bosa and was the differentiator when putting him on the first team.

Second Team: Myles Garrett, Texas A&M and Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State

Honorable Mention: Joe Schobert, Wisconsin; Charles Harris, Missouri; Leonard Floyd, Georgia; Vince Biegel, Wisconsin; Dawuane Smoot, Illinois; Carl Nassib, Penn State; Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State; Kyler Fackrell, Utah State; Dean Lowry, Northwestern; Shaq Lawson, Clemson


Defensive interior: End

First Team: DeForest Buckner, Oregon +61.6 and Jonathan Bullard, Florida +53.3

Buckner was right there with Bosa as one of the nation’s best combinations of pass rushing and run-stopping ability along the defensive line. He graded at +28.5 as a run defender, good for fourth in the nation, and his run stop percentage of 9.8 percent ranked fourth among 3-4 defensive ends. As a pass rusher, his +34.7 grade led all interior defensive linemen as he picked up 11 sacks, 13 QB hits, and 32 hurries on 502 rushes. Perhaps most impressive, Buckner graded positively in every game and showed no signs of slowing down despite playing 850 snaps, second-most among interior defensive linemen in the nation.

Like Barnett above, Bullard faced fierce competition for the second slot behind Buckner, but it was his dominant play against the run that gave him the nod. His +44.4 grade led the nation and ranked third among defensive tackles with a run stop percentage of 11.7 percent. Even when he wasn’t making plays, Bullard is so good at knowing where the block is coming from and how to defeat it, so he was constantly blowing up opposing run schemes. As a pass rusher, Bullard improved from last season, finishing at +9.3 to go with 7 sacks, six hits, and 17 hurries on 327 rushes.

Second Team: Sheldon Day, Notre Dame and Chris Jones, Mississippi State

Honorable Mention: Adolphus Washington, Ohio State; Jake Replogle, Purdue, Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech; Sheldon Rankins, Louisville; Maliek Collins, Nebraska, Andrew Billings, Baylor, Chris Wormley, Michigan


Defensive interior: Nose tackle

First Team: Jarran Reed, Alabama +43.3

Alabama’s defensive front was the nation’s best and Reed set the tone with a +37.1 grade against the run that ranked second only to Bullard. He led the nation with a run stop percentage of 13.1 percent as he destroyed blockers all season. Reed was also an efficient rusher picking up two sacks, a hit, and 17 hurries on 232 rushes, good for a +5.9 grade, but it was his run-stopping ability that earns him first-team nose tackle.

Second Team: Austin Johnson, Penn State


Linebacker

First Team: Steven Daniels, Boston College +47.6 and Nick Kwiatkoski, West Virginia +30.8

Daniels has been a hammer against the run, topping all linebackers at +32.8 grade and ranking third among inside linebackers with a run stop percentage of 14.3 percent. He brought that same ferocity to pass rushing as he picked up seven sacks, six hits, and eight hurries on 93 rushes. While coverage is not his strong point, Daniels still showed well with a +5.1 grade.

Kwiatkoski was as consistent as it gets, grading positively every week of the season. His +25.9 grade against Power-5 competition ranks second behind Daniels as does his +19.0 grade against the run in those games. Kwiatkoski made plays in the passing game as well, tying for fourth in the country with four passes defensed to go with three interceptions.

Second Team: Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame and Kentrell Brothers, Missouri

Honorable Mention: Reggie Ragland, Alabama; Matt Milano, Boston College; Tyler Gray, Boise State; Joshua Perry, Ohio State


Cornerbacks

First Team: Jourdan Lewis, Michigan +21.2 and Desmond King, Iowa +20.8

Despite facing the eighth most targets in the nation, Lewis gave up only 370 yards on 31 receptions and 85 targets (36.5 percent completions). He leads the way with a +18.3 coverage grade while also leading with 15 passes defensed. Lewis added sure tackling as he missed only three on the season on 44 attempts.

As for King, his +13.7 coverage grade ranks ninth in the nation, tying for eighth with 11 passes defensed to go with eight interceptions. He also led all cornerbacks with a +10.4 grade against the run as he missed only one tackle on 68 attempts all season.

Second Team: Nick VanHoose, Northwestern; Jamar Summers, UConn

Honorable Mention: Jalen Ramsey, Florida State; Matthew Harris, Northwestern; Jalen Tabor, Florida;


Slot

First Team: M.J. Stewart, North Carolina +18.4

Stewart ranks seventh in the nation with a +13.9 coverage grade, tying for fourth with 12 passes defensed. He gave up 0.90 yards per cover snap in the slot and opponents had an NFL passer rating of only 55.6 when targeting him in the slot, good for fourth in the nation.

Second Team: Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado


Safeties

First Team: Jeremy Cash, Duke +27.2 and Marcus Maye, Florida +22.0

The do-it-all safety for Duke, Cash is part safety, part linebacker, part slot defender, and he excels in all areas. Cash is adept on taking on blockers and it shows in his nation-high run grade of +21.6 as well as his +14.0 pass rushing grade that also leads all safeties. He’s picked up three sacks, 12 hits and 15 hurries on only 74 rushes.

Maye moved around Florida’s defense as well, playing deep safety, as well as lining up in the box and in the slot. His +11.9 coverage grade ranks fifth among safeties while his +10.2 run grade ranks eighth as he brings one of the best all-around skill sets to the position.

Second Team: Derwin James, Florida State and Su’a Cravens, USC

Honorable Mention: Okezie Alozie, Buffalo; Justin Simmons, Boston College; Jayron Kearse, Clemson; Mike Hilton, Ole Miss.


Kicker

First Team: Michael Badgley, Miami +4.6 Field Goals

Badgley made 25-of-30 field goals, including all seven from 40-49 yards and one of three from 50+.

Kickoff Specialist: Zane Gonzalez, Arizona State


Punter

First Team: Hayden Hunt, Colorado State +11.6

Hunt ranked second in the nation in net punting at 42.6 and he flashed a max hang time of 5.1 seconds.

Second Team: Tom Hackett, Utah


Returner

First Team: Christian McCaffrey, Stanford +13.5

On the team for the second time, McCaffrey graded at +9.5 on kick returns to go with a +4.0 grade on punt returns.

Second Team: Janarion Grant, Rutgers

| Senior Analyst

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

  • Anthony Murray

    Yeah,ok!

  • Anthony Murray

    DON’T hate on DERRICK HENRY THE PLAYER,HATE THE GAME,,McCaffrey should come play in the SEC,I bet he want do that,he playing like that against majority of white players on the field,the package 10 is a white conference, SEC mostly black players on the field

    • Diego the Taco Maker

      Put down the malt liquor and take a long, deep breath.

      • Anthony Murray

        You know it’s true,stop doin the meth!

        • Diego the Taco Maker

          Typical SEC bias. Your arteries are already clogged from your diet. Now it’s affecting your decision making.

          • Anthony Murray

            Maybe if you really are a taco maker,too much grease maybe?

  • joey Bosa

    SEC.

    Once again overrated..

  • joey Bosa

    Oh by the way…USC is full of black players and McCaffrey torched them twice…