College Football 2023: Highest-graded players at every position through Week 8

2MAK5JM Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) signals during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Hawaii, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Ann Arbor, Mich. (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)

• J.J. McCarthy: The Michigan quarterback leads all signal-callers in the nation with a 92.6 grade this season.

• Malik Nabers: The LSU wide receiver leads the nation with a 92.0 grade.

• Edgerrin Cooper: The Texas A&M junior paces all Power Five linebackers with an 86.7 grade this season.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes


We’re already past the midway point of the 2023 college football season and the top teams and players are separating themselves from the pack.

Here are the highest-graded Power Five and Group of Five players at every position so far.


Quarterback

Power Five: J.J. McCarthy, Michigan Wolverines – 92.6

McCarthy’s 9.4% big-time throw rate trails only Jalen Milroe among Power Five quarterbacks. He’s also been incredibly accurate while also pushing the ball downfield. McCarthy is the only quarterback in the country to rank in the top five in adjusted completion rate (83.2%) while producing an average depth of target of over 10 yards.

Group of Five: Kaidon Salter, Liberty Flames – 88.4

Salter is arguably the biggest reason for Liberty’s 8-0 start. His 20 big-time throws lead all FBS quarterbacks while his 636 rushing yards are the fourth-most.


Running Back

Power Five: Jonah Coleman, Arizona Wildcats – 90.7

Coleman is the only running back in the country with 90-plus grades as both a rusher and receiver this season. No other back in the FBS even has 85-plus grades in both aspects.

Group of Five: Ashton Jeanty, Boise State Broncos – 90.1

Jeanty and Coleman are the only two running backs in the nation with top-10 rushing and receiving grades. Jeanty’s 405 receiving yards are 79 more than the next-closest running back in the country.


Wide Receiver

Power Five: Malik Nabers, LSU Tigers – 92.0

Nabers’ 981 receiving yards lead the nation. The junior has also proven to be one of the best deep threats in the country, as his 96.9 receiving grade on 20-plus yard throws leads the country.

Group of Five: Jared Roznos, Air Force Falcons – 89.8

Air Force runs the ball on 91% of its plays, which is 19% higher than the next-closest FBS school. So how does one of the Falcons’ receivers lead the way here? On only 29 receiving snaps, the junior has 313 receiving yards. That’s good for an absurd 10.79 yards per route run and a perfect 158.3 passer rating when targeted.


Tight End

Power Five: AJ Barner, Michigan Wolverines – 92.8

Barner is almost like a third offensive tackle for the Wolverines when he’s on the field. The Indiana transfer’s 81.9 run-blocking grade leads all tight ends in the country this season.

Group of Five: Colin Weber, Charlotte 49ers – 82.3

Weber has made the most of his receiving snaps this season. The redshirt sophomore’s 2.17 yards per route run is the second-most among Group of Five tight ends.


Offensive Tackle

Power Five: Taliese Fuaga, Oregon State Beavers – 88.9

Fuaga is a bully in the run game. His 91.2 run-blocking grade this season is 4.5 points higher than the next-closest FBS tackle. His nine big-time blocks (PFF’s highest-graded blocks) are also the most in the nation.

Group of Five: Adam Karas, Air Force Falcons – 86.9

As mentioned before, Air Force runs the ball at easily the highest rate in the country. Karas is excellent in that facet, pacing all Group of Five tackles with an 82.8 run-blocking grade.


Offensive Guard

Power Five: Cooper Beebe, Kansas State Wildcats – 83.6

Beebe is demonstrating why he began the year as our top interior offensive lineman in the country. He’s the only Power Five guard who’s top-five in both pass-blocking (fourth) and run-blocking grades (second). The senior also hasn’t allowed a sack since the 2020 season. 

Group of Five: Clay Webb, Jacksonville State Gamecocks & Christian Haynes, UConn Huskies – 86.1

Haynes was one of our top-five interior offensive linemen entering the season and is proving why thus far. He’s the only FBS guard with 85-plus grades as both a pass-blocker and run-blocker. 

Webb is the only other guard in the country with top-five grades as a pass-blocker and run-blocker this season. Amazingly, he still hasn’t given up a pressure this season.


Center

Power Five: Jackson Powers-Johnson, Oregon Ducks – 83.5

Powers-Johnson is second among all centers in the country in both pass-blocking and run-blocking grades this season. On 256 pass-blocking snaps, he’s only surrendered one pressure.

Group of Five: Sincere Haynesworth, Tulane Green Wave – 81.0

Haynesworth’s 83.5 run-blocking grade paces all centers in college football this season.


Interior Defensive Lineman

Power Five: T’Vondre Sweat, Texas Longhorns – 90.6

Sweat is one of two defensive tackles in the country who possesses a top-10 grade as a pass-rusher and run defender. In particular, the senior’s 87.3 pass-rushing grade leads the nation at his position.

Group of Five: Evan Anderson, FAU Owls – 83.8

Anderson eats up blocks in the run game. The 356-pounder’s 91.1 run-defense grade leads all FBS interior defensive linemen.


Edge Defender

Power Five: Laiatu Latu, UCLA Bruins – 93.9

Latu has the best comeback story in college football. While at Washington, he missed the 2020 and 2021 seasons after being forced to medically retire due to a neck injury. He then transferred to UCLA and posted a 91.0 pass-rushing grade that was fourth among Power Five edge defenders.

His 24.2% pressure rate this season is third among FBS edge defenders while his three forced fumbles are tied for the third-most among all defensive players in the nation. To top it all off, Latu has an interception as well.

Group of Five: Elijah Alston, Marshall Thundering Herd – 91.0

While most edge defenders excel as pass-rushers or run defenders, Alston leads all FBS edges with a 96.1 coverage grade this season. He’s one of only 12 edge defenders in the nation with an interception this year.


Linebacker

Power Five: Edgerrin Cooper, Texas A&M Aggies – 86.7

Cooper has been an all-around stud for the Aggies this season, posting 75-plus grades as a run defender, pass-rusher and in coverage. His seven sacks this year are tied for the most among FBS linebackers.

Group of Five: Jailin Walker, James Madison Dukes – 90.9

Speaking of versatile stars, that’s exactly what Walker has been for the Dukes this season. He’s the only linebacker in college football with 80-plus grades in run defense, as a pass-rusher and in coverage.


Cornerback

Power Five: Myles Jones, Duke Blue Devils – 90.3

Jones has only allowed seven catches this season while he has five combined interceptions and forced incompletions.

Group of Five: Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo Rockets – 85.2

Mitchell was the highest-graded corner in the country last season, earning a 92.5 mark. He’s continuing that success this year with 10 forced incompletions, tied for the second-most in the country.


Safety

Power Five: Malaki Starks, Georgia Bulldogs – 89.8

As a true freshman, Starks earned a respectable 67.1 grade while leading the defense with 847 snaps. He’s taken the leap to becoming the best safety in the country as a sophomore. He’s tied for fourth in coverage grade and has the 11th-best run-defense grade. Only one other safety is in the top 15 for both.

Group of Five: Brylan Green, Liberty Flames – 88.1

Green’s 10 combined interceptions and forced incompletions are tied for the most among FBS safeties this season.

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