Pro Football Focus recently released their 2019 Top 50 PFF list.
- As you can see, the SEC and Big Ten led the way just as they did in the CBS Sports Top 130 rankings.
- Of the top ten players, four came from the Big ten, three hailed from the ACC, and two from the SEC. By position, there were two quarterbacks, three receivers, two EDGEs, one running back, and one cornerback.
- Oregon led the way for the Pac-12 with four selections.
How did Oregon rank?
12. QB Justin Herbert
- “Herbert may have regressed a bit in 2018 but that’s just because his 2017 season reached a level so high, he was bound to revert back to the mean. His two-year grade at quarterback is among the nation’s best and he can make all the throws despite a lackluster receiving corps ahead of him in Eugene. He’ll be tested this season but if Herbert can rise to anything near those 2017 levels, he’ll further cement his place as one of the top two or three quarterbacks in the game.”
26. OL Calvin Throckmorton
- “Perhaps the best offensive line name in college football, Throckmorton has the nation’s highest pass-blocking grade since 2017 and has allowed just three combined sacks or hits on 862 total reps in pass protection since then. He can move defenders off the spot with relative ease and blow defenders back in the run game and has done so for three years now. His fourth and final season in Eugene could be his best as the Ducks field arguably the best offensive line in the nation.”
32. OG Shane Lemieux
- “The nation’s highest-graded active guard, Lemieux was as impressive in pass protection as he is paving the way for the Ducks run game. In pass protection, he allowed just 11 total pressures on nearly 500 pass-blocking snaps and has the nation’s highest run-blocking grade. Over the past two seasons, he’s allowed pressure on just 2.7% of his reps in pass protection and is more than just a viable candidate for All-American this year.”
36. OT Penei Sewell
- “Before injury, Sewell was well on his way to perhaps one of the best true freshman campaigns for an offensive tackle that we’ve ever seen at PFF. Still, his 84.0 overall grade for the season is the third-highest among active tackles and he allowed just eight total pressures on 215 snaps in pass protection. He didn’t look quite the same in his return from the ankle injury in Oregon’s bowl game against Michigan State but with a full offseason of rehab, he’s cemented his place as one of the nation’s top tackles on perhaps the nation’s best offensive line as we enter 2019.”
- PFF gave him an overall grade of 76.6 and a QB rating of 112.1 on deep passes that go for 20+ yards. The 76.6 grade is light years behind the other quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence. I think it’s well justified because of Herbert’s weaknesses as a passer. Herbert looks good when the pocket is clean but what QB doesn’t? He went from gunslinger over the middle in 2017 to timid working the perimeter in 2018. There’s no really in between with him, it vacillates greatly between two ends of the spectrum. He needs to learn how to trust the other reads when his primary read either drops it or is covered.
- I do think that having another year under OC Marcus Arroyo will result in some progress given the lack of consistency in coaching staffs during his Ducks tenure. I just fear that the number of changes in staffs has damaged Herbert’s mental processing beyond repair. Physically he looks the part of a top five draft pick but mentally, it’s about at an UDFA level.
- Throckmorton was PFF’s highest graded offensive tackle on their list and with good reason. He earned an 84 overall grade and an 87.4 in their pass blocking metric. He’s the most versatile lineman on the team with his ability to play tackle, guard, and center.
- Early practice reports indicate that he is practicing at right guard instead of right tackle, which is interesting given Brady Aiello’s “inconsistencies” at right tackle.
- I expect Throckmorton to get a lot of draft buzz this season and parlay it into a early draft pick.
- Lemieux was the highest graded guard on the list. He’s the rock on the talented Ducks offensive line. PFF gave him an overall grade of 83.9 and a pass block grade of 79.0.
- He’s a plug and play type of guard that can fit in any system and dominate the line of scrimmage. More of a run blocker than pass blocker but both are very good.
- It might a tight race to see him or Throckmorton drafted higher than the other. He’s OG1 on my draft board.
- PFF had high praise for the rising sophomore left tackle by giving him an overall grade of 84, which was third best in the nation. However there is some dispute on the eight total pressures he allowed. He only played in seven games so he was on pace for likely double digit pressures.
- Sewell has the makings of being a franchise left tackle at the next level.
The Ducks have one of the best offensive lines in all of college football and the PFF grading shows that. Herbert is billed as a top five overall pick but I don’t see it unless he can improve on his deficiencies. Can Marcus Arroyo get the most out of the unit and post some crooked numbers? I like the chances with an improved receiving corps even with the injury to Brendan Schooler.
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