Top 10 players in college football
The Heisman race is something of a mess right now, following the losses of TCU and LSU last week, which undoubtedly has an impact on the candidacies of Trevone Boykin and Leonard Fournette.
But setting aside Heisman moments and momentum for a minute, who are the best players in college football right now?
With the help of our PFF grades, here are our top 10 players in the country:
1. Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
No change at the top here, as Bosa continues to rank as our top-graded defensive player. He is second in pass-rush grade among edge defenders and first in run-defense grade. Good luck finding someone who has been more dominant at his position than Bosa.
2. DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
He just keeps getting better and better, putting up another outstanding performance against Cal last week. He is far and away the top-graded interior defensive lineman in our PFF grades. He’s great against the run but absolutely off the charts as a pass-rusher.
3. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
His Heisman candidacy will take a hit following his 19-carry, 31-yard performance in LSU’s loss to Alabama, and to be clear, we’re dropping him a spot in these rankings. But it’s hard to blame Fournette for not having a big game against the Tide defense. 30 of those 31 yards came after contact – just one sign of how dominant Bama was up front. Take a look at Fournette’s full season of work, and it’s hard to pick against him as one of the best players in the entire country. He is No. 1 in PFF rushing grade and top 10 in elusive rating, broken tackles, breakaway percentage and yards after contact per attempt.
4. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU
He is another guy being written off in the Heisman race based on one loss. But Boykin remains the No. 1 quarterback in our PFF grades, as one of the nation’s leaders in accuracy percentage and a QB who can make things happen as a runner as well as a passer. He’ll have the opportunity in the coming weeks to reestablish his candidacy as one of college football’s top players – or he could find himself tumbling down these rankings.
5. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
He ranks No. 6 in our running back grades, which would already be enough to make him one of the top running backs in the country. But his game doesn’t stop there. There isn’t a running back in the country with a higher receiving grade or yards per route run average out of the backfield, and he’s a really good kick and punt returner, too. He might be the top offensive weapon we’ve seen at Stanford since Jim Harbaugh and then David Shaw took over.
6. Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan
The Michigan defense has been outstanding this season, and no one player deserves more credit than Lewis. He is the top-ranked cornerback in our PFF grades, and his 38.4 pass rating allowed is one of the lowest marks in the country. He had one of his best games of the season last week in the Wolverines’ win over Rutgers.
7. Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
The Bears are having to adjust to a freshman quarterback in Jarrett Stidham following Seth Russell’s season-ending injury, but Coleman is making the transition easier. Two Power-5 receivers have earned higher grades (TCU’s Josh Doctson and Michigan State’s Aaron Burbridge), but it’s fair to argue that Coleman is the most explosive pass-catcher in college football. His 5.2 yards per route run average is absolutely outrageous, blowing last year’s high out of the water and measuring over a yard higher than the next-best receiver. On the 22 deep balls on which Coleman has been targeted, he has made 11 catches including eight touchdowns.
8. Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
Ogbah slips a little this week after an average performance in Oklahoma State’s win over TCU, but he still has a legitimate claim to the title of the best edge rusher in the nation. His 56 total pressures ties Michigan State’s Shilique Calhoun for the most in college football. He can improve as a run defender, but as a pass-rusher he is close to unmatched.
9. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
It was really tough to leave Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott off this list this week, as he’s actually the No. 1 in our PFF grades on the strength of an outstanding all-around game. He ranks eighth in rushing grade, seventh in receiving grade and is far and away the best pass-protecting back in the country. But you could make the argument that Cook is the best pure runner in college football outside of Fournette. He currently ranks fourth in rushing grade and first in both elusive rating and yards after contact per attempt. No back has earned more yards on breakaway runs this year.
10. Jeremy Cash, S, Duke
There are many worthy candidates for this 10th spot, including SEC edge rushers Charles Harris of Missouri and Myles Garrett of Texas A&M, along with two guys who made the list last week in Ohio State’s Elliott and Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield. But we wanted to highlight someone new here in Cash, one of the nation’s best defensive players. PFF colleague Steve Palazzolo called him pound for pound the best run-stuffer in college football this week, and it’s hard to argue with that statement. He is by far the highest-graded safety against the run and as a pass-rusher, and he holds up well in coverage, too. He is a hybrid safety, slot corner, linebacker who does it all for the Blue Devils.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Josh Doctson, WR, TCU