Top 10 players in college football
Updating the top performers through eight weeks of play, according to PFF's data.
Top 10 players in college football
Here is our updated ranking of the top 10 players in college football right now, with the help of our PFF grades and stats:
1 Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
It’s a tough call between Bosa, the nation’s best defender, and Leonard Fournette, the nation’s best offensive player, but we’ll keep Bosa in the top spot for now. Colleague Sam Monson put together a really nice breakdown of Bosa this week in his Analysis Notebook piece. To summarize: He’s explosive off the edge as a pass-rusher but also powerful enough to win with inside moves, including when reducing inside to defensive tackle on passing downs, and as a run defender he’s borderline unblockable.
2. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
There is no better runner in college football this season, according to our PFF grades, and it isn’t even really close. His 58 broken tackles leads the nation. If you’re looking for any negatives to his game, you won’t come up with much. As PFF boss Cris Collinsworth pointed out during this week’s video shoot, Fournette has fumbled just once, dropped only one pass, and in pass protection allowed just one sack, one hit and one hurry.
3. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU
Boykin is the new top quarterback in our PFF grades. His improvement as a passer from last year to this one has been remarkable. In 2014 he ranked No. 32. In 2015 he has the No. 1 passing grade in the entire country. In 2014 he ranked No. 29 in deep passing (throws of 20-plus yards), with an accuracy rate of 36. In 2015 he ranks No. 5, with an accuracy rate of 53. And he is still an effective runner, as well.
4. DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
He is the top-graded interior defender in the nation, ranking No. 1 among 3-4 defensive ends in run-stop percentage and No. 3 in pass-rush productivity. He has already more than doubled the grade of Arik Armstead, his former teammate turned No. 17 overall pick of the Niners, from 2014.
5. Jared Goff, QB, California
He’s no longer the No. 1 graded quarterback in the country, as Boykin overtook him this week, but don’t let the Bears’ two-game losing streak and his one negative grade of the year against Utah detract too much from what has been a fantastic season so far for Goff. He is a guy who has earned a reputation for his arm strength and ability to make throws all over the field, and he’s backing it up by ranking No. 4 in deep-passing accuracy.
6. Charles Harris, DE, Missouri
Harris had another excellent game last week against Vanderbilt, and currently he ranks behind only Bosa in our edge defender grades. He has actually performed slightly better as a pass-rusher than Bosa, but isn’t quite on the same level against the run. There are a lot of great defensive players in the SEC, but right now it’s hard to rank any ahead of Harris.
7. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
The Buckeyes’ offense got back on track this week with J.T. Barrett returning to the starting quarterback spot against Rutgers, but Elliott deserves credit both for performing well in the win and playing great all year. He broke five tackles and rushed for 7.4 yards per carry and two touchdowns against the Scarlet Knights. On the season, he’s PFF’s No. 6 runner and No. 9 receiver, and he still isn’t allowed a single pressure in pass protection.
8. Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
He’s a new addition to this list, as the owner of the No. 1 pass-rush grade among edge defenders, beating out the likes of Bosa, Harris, Carl Nassib, Shilique Calhoun and Myles Garrett. That’s impressive company. His 47 total QB pressures are the most in the nation. The one knock against him is he hasn’t played the best competition yet, but with TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma all still on the schedule, that will soon change.
9. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
He might be the top all-purpose weapon in all of college football. He ranks No. 8 in PFF grades as a runner, No. 4 as a kick returner and No. 1 as a receiver. In fact, he’s been so dynamic as a pass-catcher that only 22 wide receivers have topped his 3.07 yards per route run average. That’s pretty remarkable. There are better pure runners than McCaffrey that we’ve left off this list, Utah’s Devontae Booker and FSU’s Dalvin Cook among them, but he is contributing in all facets of the game.
10. Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
This is admittedly a slight stretch, as Carl Nassib, Myles Garrett and Jourdan Lewis all were worthy candidates for this spot, but we wanted to highlight the season Lynch is having. He currently ranks No. 4 in our quarterback grades, and his accuracy rate of 81.1 is second in the nation. He’s thrived when facing pressure, with an accuracy rate of 74.5 and throwing for two touchdowns and no interceptions. While the strength of competition argument is certainly valid, consider this: He earned his second-highest passing grade of the year in Memphis’ upset win over Ole Miss – and the Rebels are one of our highest-graded defenses in the country.
Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State
Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Eddie Jackson, S, Alabama
Others to watch:
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
Joshua Garnett, G, Stanford
Aaron Burbridge, WR, Michigan State
Spencer Drango, OT, Baylor
Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan
Jeremy Cash, S, Duke
Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
Steven Daniels, LB, Boston College
Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
Jeff Dooley | Editor-in-Chief
Jeff is the Editor-in-Chief of PFF, and a regular contributor to The Washington Post's NFL coverage. He previously worked as the editor for ESPN Insider's NFL, Fantasy, and College Football coverage.