PFF Dream Team: College football’s best seniors at every position

Steve Palazzolo creates his ideal college football starting lineup, using only seniors.

| 3 weeks ago
(AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

(AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

PFF Dream Team: College football’s best seniors at every position


With the season winding down, the seniors around the country are heading toward the last games of their respective college careers. Today, we honor those seniors with a special senior-centric version of the Dream Team.

Here is the ultimate college football team, utilizing the best available senior at each position:

Quarterback

Greg Ward Jr., Houston

One of the best run-pass threats in the nation, Ward is having another strong season with the No. 7 passing grade at 80.6 and the No. 10 rushing grade at 89.4. He also ranks 10th in adjusted completion percentage at 75.6 percent, as his work in the passing game has continued to improve. Despite the disappointment that Houston has not made a run at the College Football Playoff this season, Ward has done his part and he is capping his career with a strong effort.

Running backs

Kareem Hunt, Toledo

If you’re paying attention to #MACtion on random weeknights, you’ll see Hunt running all over your television as he’s the top-graded running back in the country at 88.6 overall. He keeps Toledo’s offense on schedule, always running productively while forcing 44 misses tackles (fourth in the nation) along the way.

Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State

With the No. 2 rushing grade in the country at 84.6, Pumphrey has been a highlight reel all season with 52 forced missed tackles and four 200-yard games. He’s the focal point of San Diego State’s run-heavy attack, and he’s used his shiftiness to lead the Aztecs to a dominant run through the Mountain West.

Wide receivers

Corey Davis, Western Michigan

There’s no hiding our love for Davis’ game, as he has the route running, body control and run-after-the-catch skills to be the top receiver off the board come draft time. He’s been ranked as a top-10 receiver each of the last two seasons, and he’s continued to dominate this year with 14 touchdowns to tie for second in the nation.

Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 8: Wide receiver Dede Westbrook #11of the Oklahoma Sooners runs after catching a pass against the Texas Longhorns on Saturday October 8, 2016 at Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Jackson Laizure/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Dede Westbrook

This has been a breakout season for Westbrook. He’s become the go-to guy for Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, forming the Maybrook™ connection. He now has the nation’s No. 2 overall receiving grade at 89.4. He’s been unstoppable since Week 4, making plays at all levels of the field while finding the end zone 12 times in the last six games.

Austin Carr, Northwestern

Another breakout sensation this season, Carr now has the top receiving grade in the country at 90.8, and he has 1,010 yards on 70 receptions on only 103 targets (68.0 percent catch rate). He’s also caught 10 touchdowns while averaging 3.27 yards per route from the slot, best among Power-5 receivers.

Tight end

Evan Engram, Ole Miss

A familiar face on the Dream Team, Engram has the No. 4 receiving grade in the country at 85.8. He can move around the formation to create mismatches in the passing game, and his three-year blocking grade is reasonable enough to trust him to make blocks on the move.

Offensive tackles

Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin

One of our favorite players to watch this season, Ramczyk has stepped right in as a productive left tackle for Wisconsin. He brings in-line power and second-level agility to the run game while playing sound in pass protection. He’s been moving up our draft board as well.

Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky

With three strong years of grading, Lamp is showing no signs of slowing down, as he ranks atop the offensive tackle rankings at 87.4 overall. He’s allowed only one pressure all season and he may have had the best showing of any tackle this season against the fierce Alabama defensive front.

Guards

Dan Feeney, Indiana

One of the best pass-protecting guards in the country, Feeney has allowed only one pressure all season, and his three-year total now sits at 15 pressures on 1,062 pass-blocking attempts. He’s taken great strides in the run game to grade at 83.6 this season, all adding up to an 85.5 overall grade that ranks third in the nation.

Josh Boutte, LSU

With an 87.1 grade as a run-blocker, Boutte is one of the key parts of the nation’s top offensive line. He’s also been solid in pass protection at 82.6 while surrending only three pressures on the year. Boutte brings power to our Dream Team offensive line.

Center

Tyler Orlosky, West Virginia

Orlosky has three years of strong grading in the PFF system, this year sitting at 86.0 overall to rank third in the nation. He doesn’t lose many blocks in the run game, leading to the No. 6 ranking as a run-blocker at 78.8, and he’s only allowed four pressures on 315 attempts in pass protection, good for the second-best pass-block grade at 88.8.

Edge rushers

Jordan Willis, Kansas State

After a strong season last year, Willis ranks among the nation’s best with a 91.6 overall grade that now leads all Power-5 edge rushers. His strong hands allow him to shed blocks quickly, leading to the top grade against the run at 89.5 and an identical 89.5 pass-rushing grade that ranks fifth behind nine sacks, five QB hits, and 33 hurries on 322 rushes.

Takkarist McKinley, UCLA

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McKinley first caught our eye in 2014, as he picked up 16 pressures on only 102 rushes, and he’s improved his game every year since. This season, his 88.2 overall grade ranks seventh among edge defenders with a well-rounded 85.9 grade against the run and an 86.5 mark as a pass-rusher. McKinley has nine sacks, seven QB hits, and 26 hurries on only 227 rushes this season.

Defensive interior

Jake Replogle, Purdue

One of the most underrated players in the country for the second straight year, Replogle’s 91.8 overall grade sits atop the interior defensive line rankings, while his 90.6 pass-rush grade ranks third. He’s disruptive in all phases, and he has a sack, eight QB hits and 20 hurries on only 158 rushes this season.

Jonathan Allen, Alabama

With an outside shot to be a Heisman finalist, Allen has taken his strong game to the next level this season, now sitting at No. 2 on the PFF Draft Board. With eight sacks, nine QB hits, and 27 hurries on 270 rushes, Allen has the top pass-rushing grade at 95.0 and he’s been strong against the run at 83.5.

Linebacker

Reuben Foster, Alabama

Foster remains atop the linebacker rankings at 91.6 overall, including the top grade against the run at 88.5. He can take on blocks in the run game or shed them quickly to make plays, all while finishing well with only four missed tackles on the year. Foster has also been strong in coverage at 86.9, building on last year’s strong effort that saw him tie for the national lead among linebackers with seven pass breakups.

Calvin Munson, San Diego State

It’s been three straight years of outstanding grades for Munson who currently ranks third with an 89.3 overall grade. He wins in all phases, showing well against the run (84.9), in coverage (84.0), and as a pass-rusher (78.1), where he’s picked up three sacks, six hits, and nine hurries on the year.

Jarrad Davis, Florida

Davis is aggressive in the run game, as he’s willing to take on and destroy blocks, and he’s been strong in coverage this season while playing through injury in recent weeks. That same aggressiveness allows Davis to disrupt as a blitzer, as he has two sacks, six QB hits, and 11 hurries on the season.

Cornerbacks

Desmond King, Iowa

Perhaps the best zone corner in the country, King can read route concepts and quarterbacks while finishing plays with strong ball skills. He’s also annually among the top corners as a run defender (83.3 this season) while rarely missing tackles (only seven in three years).

Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson

With his length and movement skills, Tankersley can play press-man coverage while also locking onto receivers downfield. His 89.5 grade ranks third in the nation this season, as he’s allowed only 4.3 yards per attempt this season.

Jourdan Lewis, Michigan

Lewis brings a feisty man-coverage component to the Dream Team, as he locks onto receivers and finishes plays with outstanding ball skills. He’s allowed only four catches on 23 targets this season while getting his hands on seven (two interceptions, five passes defensed). Bigger receivers can give Lewis trouble, but he may be the best pure man coverage corner in the country.

Safeties

Marcus Maye, Florida

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Maye excels at working downhill in the running game, while also showing well in zone coverage or while locking onto tight ends. He’s tied up some tackling issues this season, missing only one all year after missing four a year ago, all leading to efficient play that has him ranked 12th in the nation with a 83.8 grade. He’s graded well all three years in the PFF system.

Nate Gerry, Nebraska

The top-graded coverage safety in the country in 2014, Gerry is right back in that spot with a 92.4 mark this year. He’s gotten his hands on nine passes (four interceptions, five passes defensed) while also taking a major step forward as a tackler, where he’s missed only four this year after missing 25 over the last two seasons.

| 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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