Browning, McCaffrey lead PFF's 2016 All-Pac-12 team
Our team of college analysts graded every FBS player on every play in every game, and now it’s time to name the top talent.
The All-American list came out earlier in the week, and now we’re rolling through each conference. Here are our first- and second-team selections for 2016’s All-Pac-12 team.
Quarterback: Jake Browning, Washington
In a close competition Jake Browning nudged out his in-state rival Luke Falk. Browning’s 102.98 PFF QB rating ranks No. 2 among Power-5 quarterbacks. Browning’s accuracy percentage of 71.7 ranks No. 12 among Power-5 quarterbacks. The big plays in the Huskies’ offense came when Browning threw deep to John Ross and Dante Pettis. Browning’s deep passing (throws targeted 20 or more yards downfield) accuracy percentage of 50.0 ranks No. 4 among Power-5 quarterbacks.
Second team: Luke Falk, Washington State
Halfback: Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
McCaffrey had yet another monstrous offensive season even though he was banged up for a portion of the season and wasn’t operating at 100 percent effectiveness. McCaffrey forced 44 missed tackles as a runner and another 21 as a pass catcher. McCaffrey is equally at home running routes as he is running with the ball and his 1.65 yards per route run ranks No. 10 among Power-5 running backs.
Second team: Ryan Nall, Oregon State
Wide receiver: John Ross, Washington; Chad Hansen, Cal; Gabe Marks, Washington State
John Ross is just a big play waiting for the ball and leads all Power-5 wide receivers with 17 receiving touchdowns. Ross’s 3.33 yards per route run ranks No. 3 in the Power-5. Gabe Marks has 13 receiving touchdowns and his WR rating of 122.1 ranks No. 23 in the Power-5. Chad Hansen’s 3.10 yards per route ranks No. 5 in the Power-5 and he added 11 touchdowns. Ross, Hansen and Marks have all been key deep threats for their team hauling in seven, six and five deep TD passes respectively.
Second team: Dante Pettis, Washington; Tim Patrick, Utah; N’Keal Harry, ASU
Tight End: Pharaoh Brown, Oregon
Brown’s 1.87 yards per route run rank No. 9 among Power-5 tight ends but Brown is a receiving weapon that can be used in different ways. Brown can be targeted deep and has shown he can be moved off the line and put in the slot. Brown’s 1.88 yards per route run in the slot ranks No. 5 among Power-5 tight ends.
Second team: Darrell Daniels, Washington
Tackle: Cole Madison, Washington State; Garrett Bolles, Utah
The Washington State Cougars’ offensive line ranked No. 2 in the Power-5 in pass blocking efficiency and tackle Cole Madison is a large reason why. Madison’s 98.4 pass blocking efficiency percentage rank No.4 among Power-5 offensive tackles. Bolles is a people-mover and had the highest run blocking grade of any tackle in the Power-5.
Second team: Andre Dillard, Washington State; Zach Banner, USC
Guard: Cody O’Connell, Washington State; Jake Eldrenkamp, Washington
Cody O’Connell capped off a dominant campaign with a PFF All-American first-team selection. O’Connell only surrendered one sack, one hit and three hurries on 591 pass blocking snaps, his 99.3 pass blocking efficiency ranks No. 1 among Power-5 guards. Eldrenkamp has surrendered one sack, zero hits, and eight hurries on 347 pass blocking snaps, his 98.2 pass blocking efficiency ranks No. 35 in the Power-5.
Second team: Eduardo Middleton, Washington State; Isaac Asiata, Utah
Center: Coleman Shelton, Washington
Shelton has graded positively on the year as a run blocker and a pass blocker. Shelton only allowed one sack, two hits and nine hurries on 404 pass-blocking snaps. Shelton’s 97.7 pass blocking efficiency ranks No. 28 among Power-5 centers.
Second team: Jake Hanson, Oregon
Edge rusher: Hunter Dimick, Utah; Takkarist McKinley, UCLA
Hunter Dimick was an edge-rush terror off the left side all season long for the Utes. He racked up 15 sacks, eight hits, and 51 hurries and his 13.1 pass rushing productivity rating ranks No. 10 among Power-5 4-3 defensive ends. Dimick was also strong against the run and his run stop percentage of 7.6 ranks No. 19. Takkarist McKinley’s run stop percentage of 8.2 ranks No. 11 among 3-4 outside linebackers but he was truly a difference maker as a pass-rusher. Takkarist McKinley can rush from either side effectively as he had four sacks, five hits, 15 hurries rushing from the left and five sacks, six hits, 22 hurries rushing from the right. On the year McKinley has a pass rushing productivity rating of 14.7 which ranks No. 9 among Power-5 3-4 outside linebackers and he showed the ability to destroy opponents and change the course of the game with a single play like his strip sack and recovery against Utah.
Second team: Joe Mathis, Washington; Jimmie Gilbert, Colorado
Defensive interior: Solomon Thomas, Stanford; Hercules Mata’afa, Washington State
Solomon Thomas has been dominant all year both as a run defender and a pass-rusher. Thomas has shown the ability to line up in different places along the defensive line and still beat the man across from him. Thomas’s 31 run stops ranks No. 4 among Power-5 defensive tackles and his 11.4 run stop percentage ranks No. 8 among Power-5 defensive tackles. Thomas is also a deadly pass rusher who has nine sacks, 12 hits, 17 hurries and an 8.7 pass rushing productivity rating which ranks No. 19 among Power-5 defensive tackles. Mata’afa has played at a high level all year despite weighing only 260 pounds, which is very light for an interior defensive linemen. Mata’afa used his quickness and high motor to beat his opponent and routinely disrupt plays. Mata’afa has four sacks, 14 hits, 31 hurries and his 11.0 pass rushing productivity ranks No. 8 among Power-5 defensive tackles. He was also a productive run defender and his 9.3 run stop percentage ranks No. 20 among Power-5 defensive tackles.
Second team: Elijah Qualls, Washington; Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA
Linebacker: Kenneth Olugbode, Colorado; Jayon Brown, UCLA; Cameron Smith, USC
Olugbode was mentioned in our most improved players list earlier this season and consistently made big plays for the resurgent Buffaloes defense. Olugbode’s combined tackle efficiency of 14.0 ranks No. 15 among Power-5 inside linebackers. Jayon Brown was a tackling machine who always seemed to be around the ball. Brown’s 77 tackles leads all Power-5 inside linebackers and his 21.7 tackle efficiency ranks No. 2. Cameron Smith is turning into a stalwart for the Trojans defense. Cameron Smith’s 13.7 tackle efficiency ranks No. 17 in the Power-5. Smith turned flashes of brilliance his freshman year into a sustained campaign of top-notch performances as a sophomore so expect to see Smith here again next year.
Second team: D.J. Beavers, Washington; Kenny Young, UCLA; Keishawn Bierria, Washington
Cornerback: Sidney Jones, Washington; Ahkello Witherspoon, Colorado
Sidney Jones hasn’t given up a touchdown all season long and has three interceptions. Jones has only allowed one reception per every 17.9 coverage snaps which ranks No. 17 among Power-5 cornerbacks. The QB rating of opposing QBs throwing into Jones’s coverage is a lowly 42.2. Witherspoon is a very long corner who has used his height and long arms to break up 12 passes which ties him at No.1 among Power-5 cornerbacks. Witherspoon only allows one reception per every 16.5 coverage snaps which ranks No. 28 in the Power-5 and opposing QBs only have a 51.9 QB rating when throwing at Witherspoon.
Second team: Adoree Jackson, USC; Treston Decoud, Oregon State
Slot corner: Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado
The versatile Awuzie can play outside, inside in the slot or even safety. Awuzie’s coverage numbers in slot are the most impressive as he did not allow a touchdown and only allowed one catch per every 13.5 slot coverage snaps which ranks No. 3 in the Power-5. Awuzie also contributed key special teams plays to the Buffaloes.
Second team: Justin Thomas, Utah
Safety: Marcus Williams, Utah; Budda Baker, Washington
Williams was the key component of the Utes defense using his range and physicality on the back end to play centerfield and erase mistakes. Williams’s coverage grade of 87.8 ranks No. 2 among all Pac-12 defenders and he has four interceptions. Williams was also a highly effective run defender and his run stop percentage of 9.5 — when lined up within eight yards of the line of scrimmage — ranks No. 4 among Power-5 safeties. Budda Baker is a playmaking and versatile defender who has the quickness to play in the slot, the physicality to make run stops and the instincts to make plays on the back end. Baker is also one of the nation’s more effective blitzing safeties and has two sacks, two hits and two hurries and his pass rushing productivity rating of 22.1 ranks No. 3 among Power-5 safeties.
Second team: Tedric Thompson, Colorado; Justin Reid, Stanford
Kicker: Zane Gonzalez, ASU
Gonzalez is not only the best kicker in the Pac-12 but the best in the country and made our All-American team. Gonzalez has made 92 percent of his field goals which leads the Power-5 and he didn’t miss a field goal under 50 yards all season. Gonzalez has a big leg and has made seven of his nine field goal attempts from 50 yards or more and booted 59 touchbacks which ranks No. 2 in the Power-5.
Second team: Matt Wogan, Oregon
Punter: Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah
Wishnowsky is the highest-graded punter in the Power-5 so this was an easy selection. Wishnowsky’s 2016 resume is impressive as his 48.1 average, 44.6 net yards per punt and 36 punts placed inside the opponents 20-yard line all lead the Power-5.
Second team: Jake Bailey, Stanford
Kick returner: Adoree’ Jackson, USC
Jackson’s kick return average of 31.3 leads all Power-5 kick returners. Jackson also returned two kicks for touchdowns including hurdling one unfortunate kicker.
Second team: Charles Nelson, Oregon
Punt returner: Tim White, ASU
The shifty White had 256 punt return yards on the year and returned one punt for a touchdown. White’s 12.8 punt return average ranks No. 10 in the Power-5.
Second team: Dante Pettis, Washington
Special teamer: Isaiah Oliver, Colorado
Oliver is a player that we fully expect to make the 2017 PFF All Pac-12 team as a cornerback as he was one of the better corners in the conference this year but just missed the cut. Oliver contributed seven special teams tackles in addition to 166 punt return yards and a touchdown.
Second team: Nnamdi Oguayo, Washington State