College News & Analysis

The 2021 PFF College Football All-America Team

The 2021 college football regular season has officially come to a close, and now it’s time to recognize all of the top players across the country. After unveiling all of PFF's All-Conference Teams last week, it’s now time to reveal the overall top FBS performers at every position with the PFF All-America Team.

So with the help of PFF grades and advanced statistics — which are now available to PFF’s CFB Premium Stats+ Subscribers — we present the PFF 2021 All-America Team.

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FIRST-TEAM OFFENSE

QB Bryce Young, Alabama

Young's first year as the Crimson Tide's starter has been nothing short of exceptional. The true sophomore, who got reps only in garbage time last season, earned a 92.9 PFF grade in his 13 outings this year. Not only is that the highest of the 2021 season, but it’s also the best grade PFF College has on record from a non-draft-eligible quarterback.

Young has had to deal with lackluster pas protection for most of the season, yet he has been notably poised on such plays. He averaged 8.2 yards per attempt and tossed 15 touchdowns to only two interceptions when under pressure in the regular season. From a clean pocket, Young put up a 95.2 passing grade.

The Crimson Tide signal-caller finished with a 2% turnover-worthy play rate overall, a top-10 rate among Power Five quarterbacks and an astounding mark for such a young passer. There isn’t a better processor at the position in college football than Young. He’s been the most impressive college football quarterback of 2021 — and he's the primary reason Alabama is sitting atop the College Football Playoff rankings.

RB Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State

Walker handled a whopping 262 carries in 2021 and generated a large portion of his production after contact. He ranked top-five in the Power Five in both broken tackles per attempt (0.34) and yards after contact per attempt (4.5). Walker produced 25 runs with 10 or more yards after contact, which ranked first in the Power Five (only three backs had over 15). He even led the Power Five in yards after contact in general (1,168). For reference, that’d rank 11th among running backs in rushing yards overall. All of this helped Walker to a 90.7 rushing grade for the 2021 season.

RB Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State

Vaughn quietly earned a top-three PFF grade at running back this season (91.1). Between his work as a rusher and a receiver, the 5-foot-6 back was responsible for 55 total plays that resulted in a gain of 10 or more yards, the second-most among Power Five running backs. Vaughn's 93.0 rushing grade ranks first at the position, while his 79.7 receiving grade made the top 10. Overall, he was the most valuable running back in the country, according to PFF Wins Above Average (WAA).

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WR Jameson Williams, Alabama

Williams is best known as one of the most dangerous receivers in the game. The 6-foot-2, 189-pound weapon is one of the fastest at his position, which makes him an explosive play waiting to happen. He’s turned 30% of his targets into a gain of 15-plus yards (third in the Power Five) while averaging a Power Five-leading 21.4 yards per catch overall. Williams has caught 12 passes over 20 yards downfield for 631 yards and eight touchdowns. The Ohio State transfer's separation rate sits at the 92nd percentile among FBS receivers, and his speed has helped him gather 9.9 yards after the catch per reception.

WR Drake London, USC

London was on pace for a historically great year before going down with a season-ending injury in Week 9. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound receiver — who was even on the USC basketball team at one point — earned a 91.8 receiving grade this season. He racked up 37 receptions against single coverage, 14 more than any other Power Five receiver at the time of his injury. He also forced 22 missed tackles and totaled 19 contested catches, four more than any other FBS wide receiver in the regular season despite him missing the final third of the year.

WR Jordan Addison, Pittsburgh

Addison handled a heavy workload, averaging 10 targets per game in 2021. The true sophomore seized the opportunity by earning an 87.6 receiving grade and generating the most receptions of 15-plus yards in the Power Five (38). He primarily does his work from the slot, where he leads the country in touchdowns (12), but he’s also been a productive threat on the outside. Addison’s 3.47 yards per route run leads all Power Five wide receivers.

TE Trey McBride, Colorado State

McBride was the engine of the Rams’ offense this season. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound tight end was targeted on 30% of his routes, the second-highest rate at the position, and he finished the season averaging an incredible 2.77 yards per route run. McBride earned a stellar 95.0 PFF overall grade for his efforts, second to only Kyle Pitts (2020) in the PFF College era. He also picked up 18 more combined first downs and touchdowns than any other FBS tight end.

And if that wasn't enough, he also put up the seventh-most positively graded run blocks among FBS tight ends. Between the receiving ability and blocking prowess, McBride has made his name known as an all-around weapon at the tight end position.

LT Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan

Raimann went from Austrian foreign exchange student in high school to Central Michigan tight end before becoming a star offensive tackle and PFF's MAC Offensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot-7, 305-pound lineman earned a 94.3 PFF grade in the regular season, with a 93.3 run-blocking grade and an 88.7 pass-blocking grade to boot. He has been virtually flawless in pass protection over his past six games, too, with zero pressures allowed in that span.

LG Caleb Chandler, Louisville

Chandler played near-flawless football in the second half of the season to catapult him to this first-team All-America spot. From Week 6 on, he earned pass-blocking and run-blocking grades north of 90.0, which is something no other Power Five guard accomplished. Overall, he earned an 85.2 PFF grade.

C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa

Linderbaum was the highest-graded center in the FBS a season ago and is on pace to do the same in 2021, as he owns a 95.2 mark entering bowl season. Not only is that the best of the 2021 season, but it’s also the best single-season mark from a Power Five center in PFF’s eight years of grading college football.

RG O'Cyrus Torrence, Louisiana

Torrence was thrown into the fire as a three-star true freshman back in 2019 after an injury to the previous starter during Louisiana's season-opener. He has since established himself as one of the top interior offensive linemen in college football. The 6-foot-5, 332-pound guard has earned an 87.2 PFF grade in 2021 and allowed a mere five pressures in 11 starts.      

RT Max Mitchell, Louisiana

Over the years, Louisiana’s offensive line has consistently found itself atop the national ranks, and Mitchell has produced better than any lineman the Ragin’ Cajuns have fielded in the PFF College era. He leads FBS tackles with a 94.9 PFF grade, as the 6-foot-6, 297-pound tackle allowed only 12 pressures across 13 games while racking up the third-most big-time run blocks.

FIRST-TEAM DEFENSE

DI Devonte Wyatt, Georgia

Wyatt has been the most impactful player along a talented Georgia defensive line. He’s tied for first among Power Five interior defensive linemen in PFF grade for the 2021 season (89.7). Wyatt also ranks third in positively graded play rate against the run and eighth in pass-rush win rate. He’s paired that with a couple of forced fumbles and batted passes.

DI Neil Farrell Jr., LSU

The player tied with Wyatt for highest-graded Power Five interior defender is none other than Neil Farrell Jr. The fifth-year LSU Tiger's 24 run stops rank fourth, and 10 were for a tackle for loss or no gain. He has played a high rate of nose tackle and remained productive in doing so. When playing zero- or one-technique, Farrell is the sole leader in PFF grade at the Power Five level.

Edge Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

Hutchinson is in the midst of the most valuable season by an FBS edge defender in the PFF College era, surpassing the likes of Chase Young, Nick Bosa and Joey Bosa. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound edge defender is the most advanced pass-rusher in the country and had to deal with double teams, constant chips and missed holding calls on the regular in 2021. Despite that, Hutchinson has produced an FBS-leading 94.7 PFF grade across 13 games.

Edge Will Anderson Jr., Alabama

Only three edge defenders in the Power Five managed to generate grades above 80.0 against the run and as a pass-rusher this season. Among them is Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. He’s been a high-level playmaker, as he is tied for first in tackles for loss or no gain against the run (15) and ranks second in pressures generated (73).

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LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia

Dean is an athletic freak who has been a nightmare for offenses all season. He has made plays both as a blitzer and a matchup weapon in coverage, earning him a 90.0-plus PFF grade in both facets of play — something no other Power Five off-ball linebacker has done in a full year in the PFF College era. All of this has led him to the highest PFF grade of any player at the position.

Dean has totaled 23 pressures — including seven sacks — on 97 rushes, along with two interceptions, two pass breakups and 10 passing stops in coverage. He did that while allowing only 61 yards on 26 targets and 252 coverage snaps.

LB Devin Lloyd, Utah

Lloyd — a fifth-year senior — carries three years of starting experience with him and has steadily grown into one of college football's best players at the position. The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder's size, length and athleticism all stand out. His improvement in the way of instincts has been the driver of his elite breakout, though. The Utah off-ball linebacker has graded above 78.0 against the run, as a tackler, as a pass-rusher and when in coverage en route to a 90.8 overall defensive mark. 

CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati

Despite playing mostly on an island in press coverage, Gardner has allowed fewer than 20 yards in each of his 13 starts while giving up only 117 yards in total across 428 coverage snaps (0.27 yards per coverage snap). Of those 428 snaps, 355 came in press coverage.

CB Roger McCreary, Auburn

McCreary has put together one of the top cornerback careers of the PFF College era, and his 2021 campaign is his best yet. He possesses an FBS-high 89.9 mark heading into bowl season.

S Jordan Battle, Alabama

Battle is in the midst of the fourth-best season from an SEC safety in the PFF College era. The Alabama star owns a 90.2 PFF grade heading into the College Football Playoff. He’s played over 250 snaps each in the box, slot and at deep safety. He sports a 79.0-plus grade at all three positions.

S Jaquan Brisker, Penn State

Brisker has shown off his coverage prowess in 2021. He has earned an 89.5 coverage grade this year while recording two interceptions, six forced incompletions and five passing stops. Brisker allowed only three first downs or touchdowns in the process.

Flex Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M

Covering the slot is difficult. Defensive backs have to be smart and quick while also profiling as a physical tackler who is ready to defend extra space when covering the inside. And no one has been better at doing so this year than Antonio Johnson. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound defensive back ranks top three in the Power Five in both slot passing stops (14) and yards per slot coverage snap (0.58). Overall, Johnson has earned an 87.4 PFF grade for the season. Not too shabby for a true sophomore.                       

K Harrison Mevis, Missouri

P Matt Araiza, San Diego State

KR Marcus Jones, Houston

PR Marcus Jones, Houston


SECOND-TEAM

QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
RB Treveyon Henderson, Ohio State  
RB Blake Corum, Michigan     
WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas   
WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State   
WR Wan'Dale Robinson, Kentucky     
TE Brock Bowers, Georgia       
LT Ikem Ekwonu, NC State      
LG Andrew Vorhees, USC       
C Michael Maietti, Missouri   
RG Christian Mahogany, Boston College        
RT Darian Kinnard, Kentucky                          
DI Calijah Kancey, Pitt
DI Travis Jones, UConn           
Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon     
Edge Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma  
LB Leo Chenal, Wisconsin       
LB Chad Muma, Wyoming      
CB Trent McDuffie, Washington         
CB Darrell Luter Jr., South Alabama   
S Brad Hawkins, Michigan      
S Kerby Joseph, Illinois           
Flex JoJo Domann, Nebraska                          
K Cade York, LSU         
P Ryan Stonehouse, Colorado State   
KR Brian Battie, USF    
PR Tayvion Robinson, Virginia Tech

THIRD-TEAM

QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State      
RB Tyler Badie, Missouri         
RB Zach Charbonnet, UCLA    
WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State          
WR Jahan Dotson, Penn State            
WR Jerreth Sterns, Western Kentucky           
TE Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina        
LT Charles Cross, Mississippi State     
LG Clark Barrington, BYU        
C John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota   
RG William Dunkle, San Diego State  
RT Dawand Jones, Ohio State
DI Jaxon Player, Tulsa
DI Dom Peterson, Nevada      
Edge George Karlaftis, Purdue           
Edge Kingsley Enagbare, South Carolina        
LB Jack Sanborn, Wisconsin    
LB Ivan Pace Jr., Miami (OH)  
CB Mario Goodrich, Clemson
CB Riley Moss, Iowa    
S Elijah Hicks, Cal        
S Bryan Cook, Cincinnati         
Flex Jalen Pitre, Baylor                                    
K Caleb Shudak, Iowa
P Jordan Stout, Penn State     
KR Alan Lamar, Ark State        
PR Jayden Reed, Michigan State

HONORABLE MENTION

QB Brennan Armstrong, Virginia        
RB Bijan Robinson, Texas        
RB Rachaad White, Arizona State       
WR David Bell, Purdue            
WR Skyy Moore, Western Michigan  
WR Jacob Cowing, UTEP         
TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame         
LT Kellen Diesch, Arizona State          
LG Zion Johnson, Boston College       
C Brett Neilon, USC     
RG Kyle Hergel, Texas State    
RT Luke Goedeke, Central Michigan                         
DI Jacob Slade, Michigan State           
DI Jalen Carter, Georgia          
Edge Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State       
Edge Cameron Thomas, San Diego State       
LB D'Marco Jackson, App State          
LB Malcolm Rodriguez, Oklahoma State        
CB Derion Kendrick, Georgia  
CB Cam Smith, South Carolina            
S Lewis Cine, Georgia  
S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
Flex Cordale Flott, LSU                                    
K Andrew Mevis, Iowa State   
P Nik Constantinou, Texas A&M         
KR Zonovan Knight, NC State  
PR Ainias Smith, Texas A&M

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