News & Analysis

2018 PFF All-American Team

By Cam Mellor
Dec 3, 2018

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Dec 1, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Quinnen Williams (92) celebrates after a sack agains the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

After grading and analyzing every player on every play of every game during the 2018 college football season, it’s time to unveil the 2018 PFF All-American first team, second team and honorable mention for every position on offense and defense as well as for the first time ever, specialists.

The 2018 All-American Team is brought to you by Eckrich, the Official Smoked Sausage of the College Football Playoff.

OFFENSE

Quarterback – Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

Murray was the highest-graded offensive player in all of college football this season, thanks to both the top passing and top rushing grade among all quarterbacks. His myriad of throws from both in the pocket and out are second to none this season as he was college football’s most dominant offensive player.

Second Team: Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
Honorable Mention: Will Grier, West Virginia

Running Back – Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

Taylor averaged an outstanding 4.2 yards after contact this season and forced 58 missed tackles, leading the nation by almost 300 yards in total rushing yards. His 1,175 yards after contact were more than all but 14 other running backs had total rushing yards this season.

Second Team: Trey Sermon, Oklahoma
Honorable Mention: Greg McCrae, UCF

Running Back – David Montgomery, Iowa State

Montgomery was the toughest running back to tackle in all of college football this season and his 90 total missed tackles forced were by far the most in the conference. He’s on pace to once again lead the nation in missed tackles forced on carries for a second straight year.

Second Team: Kennedy Brooks, Oklahoma
Honorable Mention: Darrell Henderson, Memphis

Wide Receiver – Andy Isabella, UMass

There was no better receiver on the end of deep passes this season as Isabella dominated at UMass. Case in point, even against Georgia’s talented secondary, Isabella hauled in 15-of-16 targets for 219 yards and two touchdowns.

Second Team: Rondale Moore, Purdue
Honorable Mention: Justyn Ross, Clemson

Wide Receiver – Marquise Brown, Oklahoma

The speedster Brown was fourth in the nation with an impressive 3.90 yards per route run average this year, hauling in multiple deep-pass, highlight-reel touchdowns.

Second Team: Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado
Honorable Mention: James Proche, SMU

Wide Receiver – Jaylen Waddle, Alabama

The true freshman dominated in Alabama’s new-found offensive prowess, hauling in 41 receptions for 803 yards, catching 73.2% of passes thrown his way this season. His 139.9 passer rating when targeted was good enough for seventh among all FBS receivers with at least 50 targets.

Second Team: Tee Higgins, Clemson
Honorable Mention: Anthony Johnson, Buffalo

Tight End – Keenen Brown, Texas State

No tight end had the success Brown did after the catch this year as he more than doubled the next closest tight end with 24 missed tackles (Trevon Wesco had 11 to finish second). He also finished with the seventh-highest run-blocking grade among FBS tight ends.

Second Team: Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic
Honorable Mention: Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M

Offensive Tackle – Jonah Williams, Alabama

Williams’ overall grade topped all offensive tackles this season as he allowed just nine pressures on 410 pass-blocking snaps. His run-blocking grade of 85.4 also paced all FBS tackles as he was dominant in all facets.

Second Team: Calvin Throckmorton, Oregon
Honorable Mention: Andre Dillard, Washington State

Offensive Guard – Terronne Prescod, NC State

Prescod finished the 2018 regular season with the highest overall grade (85.7) among all offensive linemen as he allowed just six hurries on 342 pass-blocking snaps. His 86.2 run-blocking grade was 4.1 points higher than the next closest offensive lineman.

Second Team: Dustin Woodard, Memphis
Honorable Mention: Michael Deiter, Wisconsin

Center – Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin

While his pass-blocking grades rank in the top half of all centers this season, Biadasz did his best work in the run game. His 83.7 run-blocking grade was the best among all centers.

Second Team: Garrett Bradbury, NC State
Honorable Mention: James O’Hagan, Buffalo

Offensive Guard – Beau Benzschawel, Wisconsin

Benzschawel anchored the Badgers line with Biadasz as he allowed just seven QB pressures on 328 snaps in pass protection. His 83.8 run-blocking grade was 2.0 points higher than the next closest and second only to Prescod among guards.

Second Team: Ross Reynolds, Iowa
Honorable Mention: Shane Lemieux, Oregon

Offensive Tackle – Dalton Risner, Kansas State

The legend of Risner at Kansas State continued this year as he didn’t allow a sack for the second straight season and he has now allowed just one in 1,489 career pass-blocking snaps.

Second Team: Joe Lowery, Ohio
Honorable Mention: Ezra Cleveland, Boise State

DEFENSE

Edge Defender – Josh Allen, Kentucky

The highest-graded edge defender in the country, Allen was unstoppable on the pass-rush this season. Highlighted by his national-best 93.5 pass-rush grade, Allen brought in 51 total pressures that included 14 sacks, nine QB hits and an additional 28 hurries. Rounding out his game, he dropped into coverage on 141 snaps and allowed just 130 yards on 19 targets without allowing a touchdown.

Second Team: Sutton Smith, Northern Illinois
Honorable Mention: Kenny Willekes, Michigan State

Edge Defender – Mike Danna, Central Michigan

Danna may not be as flashy as others on this list, or even in his conference, but he constantly changed games for the Chippewas this season. He recorded 54 total QB pressures and 53 total tackles while missing only four attempts this year.

Second Team: Zach Allen, Boston College
Honorable Mention: Jachai Polite, Florida

Defensive Interior – Quinnen Williams, Alabama

No defensive player graded as well as Williams did this season as he was dominant in every contest. He racked up 43 total QB pressures including a ridiculous 24 combined sacks and QB hits that tied for the national lead among interior defensive linemen. His 48 defensive stops were seven clear of the next-best defensive interior as he constantly wrecked opposing offensive schemes.

Second Team: Ed Oliver, Houston
Honorable Mention: Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame

Defensive Interior – Christian Wilkins, Clemson

Wilkins not only leads the ACC’s interior defensive linemen in total pressures (36), he also led them in sacks (six) and finished second in hits (nine) and forced fumbles (two).

Second Team: Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State
Honorable Mention: Dexter Lawrence, Clemson

Linebacker – David Woodward, Utah State

The nation’s surest tackler, Woodward flew all over the field for Utah State this season. Racking up a ridiculous 108 tackles, he missed just three attempts while also bringing down 49 defensive stops and 20 QB pressures on just 100 pass-rushes.

Second Team: Evan Weaver, Cal
Honorable Mention: John Lako, Akron

Linebacker – Te’von Coney, Notre Dame

Coney proved vital to the Fighting Irish defense this season, both prowling the middle of the field with solid tackling skills but also in coverage. On 421 coverage snaps, Coney was targeted 35 times. He allowed just 18 receptions (51.4% catch rate) for just 132 yards and didn’t allow a single reception over 23 yards.

Second Team: Blake Cashman, Minnesota
Honorable Mention: Ben Burr-Kirven, Washington

Cornerback – Byron Murphy, Washington

Murhpy’s overall grade of 91.9 and coverage grade of 91.9 both lead the nation’s cornerbacks as he recorded the Pac-12 Championship Game’s lone touchdown on a pick-six to put the exclamation point on his season.

Second Team: Kindle Vildor, Georgia Southern
Honorable Mention: Bryce Hall, Virginia

Cornerback – Brian Peavy, Iowa State

On 387 coverage snaps, most of which came against pass-happy Big 12 teams, Peavy allowed under 50% of passes thrown his way to be caught (48.9%) and limited receivers to just 52 yards after the catch while breaking up seven passes and recording an interception of his own.

Second Team: Deandre Baker, Georgia
Honorable Mention: Julian Love, Notre Dame

Safety – Taylor Rapp, Washington

Rapp is a rare player with the ability to play any back-seven position if needed. He finishes the regular season as our highest-graded safety in the nation (91.4) and displayed his versatility with five sacks, two interceptions and five pass breakups.

Second Team: Malik Gant, Marshall
Honorable Mention: Richie Grant, UCF

Safety – Deionte Thompson, Alabama

Thompson made all the splash plays you’d expect from a top graded safety, and some plays you wouldn’t think were possible. In total, he brought down 71 total tackles and allowed a 64.1 passer rating on 32 targeted passes.

Second Team: Alohi Gilman, Notre Dame
Honorable Mention: Deontai Williams, Nebraska

Flex Defense – Amani Hooker, Iowa

Hooker dominated out of the slot for the Hawkeyes this season, spending 279 coverage snaps from an inside alignment. He was targeted 47 times and brought in three interceptions, tying for the national lead in interceptions from the slot.

Second Team: Brad Koenig, Miami (OH)
Honorable Mention: J.R. Reed, Georgia

 

SPECIALISTS

Kicker – Cole Tracy, LSU

Tracy did not miss an extra point in 2018, finishing a perfect 38-of-38 while he also holds the advantage in total field goal make percentage (86.2%) over Matt Gay of Utah. He connected on 9-of-12 field goals from at least 40 yards out and didn’t miss a single attempt in the 20-29 yard ‘chip shot’ range.

Second Team: Matt Gay, Utah
Honorable Mention: Andre Szmyt, Syracuse

Punter – Braden Mann, Texas A&M

The nation’s highest-graded punter, Mann knocked 29 of his 47 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line and averaged the nation’s best 45.0 net punt average. In total, he allowed 19 punts to be returned but averaged the third-highest hangtime at 4.34 seconds, relenting only 5.8 yards per return on average.

Second Team: Jake Bailey, Stanford
Honorable Mention: Arryn Siposs, Auburn

Kick Returner – Josh Jacobs, Alabama

Jacobs finishes with the nation’s highest overall returning grade and highest kick-return grade, averaging a whopping 30.6 yards per return. He returned 13 kicks for a staggering 398 yards and had a long of 77 yards and a touchdown.

Second Team: Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Iowa
Honorable Mention: Diontae Johnson, Toledo

Punt Returner – Greg Dortch, Wake Forest

Dortch returned 25 punts for 276 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 11.0 yards per return with only one muffed punt.

Second Team: Pop Williams, Memphis
Honorable Mention: Mecole Hardman, Georgia

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