PFF’S dream team: Best players at every position

Steve Palazzolo selects the top performers at every position heading into Week 5 of the season.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

PFF’S dream team: Best players at every position


The PFF dream team is our way of putting together the very best at every position, with this season’s grades and last year’s efforts all taken into consideration. Recent trends and level of competition are also factored in, as we look to highlight the players that are shaping the landscape of college football this season. There are a number of holdovers from last week’s dream team, but as always, a few new names also make their debut on the list.

Here’s a look at the PFF college dream team heading into Week 5.


 

Quarterback

Jared Goff, Cal, +21.4

Goff remains the quarterback for the third week in a row after yet another strong performance against Washington. He continues to put up gaudy deep passing numbers, as he’s now 16-for-22 for 502 yards, and two of those six incompletions were dropped.


Running backs

Leonard Fournette, LSU, +13.7

Another day at the office for Fournette, who finished with 244 yards on 26 carries while forcing 10 missed tackles against Syracuse. He’s vaulted himself to the top of the Heisman Trophy watch list, while getting the nation to start the discussion as to where he fits in among the all-time great running backs in college football history.

Paul Perkins, UCLA, +11.3

It wasn’t the finest statistical outing for Perkins against Arizona last week (85 yards on 24 carries), but a lot of that had to do with his blocking—and he still managed a +2.2 run grade. The pressure is on for Perkins, as true freshman quarterback Josh Rosen now has two good and two bad games under his belt; the Bruins’ playoff chances depend heavily on the running game.


Wide receivers

JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC +8.6 receiving

USC’s offense looked like they were playing at a different speed than Arizona State’s defense, and Smith-Schuster was a big part of it. He picked up another 103 yards on only five catches, as he’s now averaging 19.9 yards per reception with six touchdowns on the season.

Josh Doctson, TCU, +9.1 receiving

Doctson was targeted early and often last week against Texas Tech, catching 18 of his 22 opportunities for 267 yards and three touchdowns. He’s now picked up 438 yards in his last two games, enough to vault him onto the dream team.

Corey Coleman, Baylor, +5.6 receiving

Fresh off a bye, Coleman picked up where he left off with three more touchdowns to bring his season total to eight. Despite missing a week, he’s fourth in the nation with 235 yards on deep passes (20+ yards in air), including four of his touchdowns.

Will Fuller, Notre Dame, +4.3 receiving

Fuller’s game relies on his ability to create big plays, and last week was the first game he failed to notch a 40-plus yard reception. We still believe in his ability to challenge the back end of the defense, as he’s averaging 20.6 yards per reception to go with six touchdowns.


Tight end

O.J. Howard, Alabama, +10.3

The best dual-threat tight end in the nation early in 2015, Howard has a +9.1 run block grade to go with his 13 catches for 183 yards that include 101 yards after the catch (7.8 YAC/reception).


Offensive tackles

Tyrell Crosby, Oregon, +14.9

Even in a bad defeat to Utah, Crosby had another solid outing, and he remains the top run blocking offensive tackle in the country at +14.5.

Jack Conklin, Michigan State, +12.1

An injury limited Conklin to only 24 snaps last week against Central Michigan, and his status is in doubt for this week—and beyond. It’d be a huge loss for Michigan State, as he has a +6.1 run grade, and he’s yet to surrender a pressure on 105 attempts.


Guards

Sebastian Tretola, Arkansas, +17.4

Despite surrendering his first sack and falling to No. 2 in the nation at +13.4 as a run blocker, Tretola maintains his spot on the team. He’s only give up two pressures on 135 pass block attempts.

Joe Thuney, NC State, +17.8

Making his debut on the dream team, Thuney was a good player for the Wolfpack last season, and he’s been on a roll this year. He’s only allowed one pressure on 115 attempts, while recently surpassing Tretola for the top run blocking grade at +14.8.


Center

Matt Skura, Duke, +15.0

Skura maintains his spot as the pivot man with a +5.0 outing against Georgia Tech that included a strong grade in the run game at +3.4. His +9.8 run grade leads the nation, while he’s only surrendered one hurry in four games.


 

Edge rushers

Carl Nassib, Penn State, +23.8

Overshadowed by others early in the season, Nassib’s consistency is too much to ignore as he’s posted a grade of +5.0 or better in all four games this season. He has seven sacks, five hits, and 13 hurries on only 103 rushes, while supplementing that with the nation’s second-best grade against the run (+12.0).

Joey Bosa, Ohio State, +19.8

It didn’t take long for Bosa to get back on track after his suspension that cost him the first game of the season. Though he hasn’t faced FBS competition just yet, his work from last year, combined with two games grading over +8.0, are enough to get recognized for the dream team. Bosa has a sack, seven hits, and six hurries on 90 rushes this season.


Defensive interior

DeForest Buckner, Oregon, +28.1

Buckner continues his case to be considered the nation’s top defensive player, as his +16.9 pass rush grade leads all interior defensive linemen, while showing well against the run at +11.7.

Kenny Clark, UCLA, +21.1

Coming into the season, we knew that Clark was one of the nation’s best run defenders, but he’s added some pass rush to his game this season at +5.2. His +14.8 run grade leads all interior defensive linemen.


Linebacker

Kentrell Brothers, Missouri, +17.0

Despite only picking up one stop last week against Kentucky, Brothers still leads all linebackers with 29 on the season. His +12.5 grade against the run is also tops in the country, and he has a solid +4.6 coverage grade.

Steven Daniels, Boston College, +19.5

Daniels has been one of the best all-around linebackers in the country, with a +10.3 run grade to go with a +5.6 mark in coverage and +3.3 pass rush grade that includes two hits and five hurries.

Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame, +15.3

One of the most entertaining players in the country, Smith impacts the game in all facets. His +5.8 coverage grade ranks third, while adding a +7.7 run grade and +2.4 mark as a pass rusher.


Cornerbacks

Corn Elder, Miami, +10.3

Elder maintains his spot after a bye week. He’s coming off an impressive game against Nebraska that saw him post a +6.6 coverage grade while knocking away two passes and intercepting another. He’s allowed only three catches for 19 yards on nine attempts this season.

Leroy Clark, Purdue, +9.3

Clark makes his debut after another strong game against Bowling Green. For the season, his +7.9 coverage grade ranks third in the nation, as he’s surrendered eight catches on 15 targets for only 52 yards to go with his three defensed passes and one interception.


Safeties

Jeremy Cash, Duke, +22.3                                                          

Get to know Cash’s name, as he continues to dominate college football. He was all over the field against Georgia Tech, grading at +3.5 against the run while adding a sack, four hits, and three hurries as a pass rusher. The safety/linebacker hybrid has been one of the best defensive players in the country this season.

Marcus Maye, Florida, +9.3

Another new addition to the dream team, Maye has been excellent since missing Florida’s opener. He has 10 tackles and five stops in each of the last two games on his way to a +5.2 coverage grade and +3.5 mark against the run.

| 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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