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PFF Rankings: The top 25 players in the LSU-Alabama matchup

The stage is set for arguably the biggest regular-season game in recent memory and the LSU Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide have no shortage of top-notch players. Hitting the PFF database and looking at a player's impact toward his team's success, we rank the top 25 players in the LSU-Alabama matchup and where they stand as college football players, right now.

[Editor's Note: This post is a shared partnership between ESPN+ and PFF. Head to ESPN+ for more exclusive content.]

1. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

This one is relatively easy: Find the highest-graded player regardless of position from either team, see he happens to play the most important position in all of team sports, write down Joe Burrow's name at the top. Broadway Jeaux has been unstoppable all season long for the Bayou Bengals and has his team poised to contend for the SEC West throne. He's the nation's highest-graded quarterback on passes targeted at least 10 yards downfield through 10 weeks and has completed at least 71.1% of his passes in every contest this year.

2. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

The impact of Tagovailoa, who has had two weeks off to rest his ankle, cannot be overstated and he'll go toe-to-toe with the best quarterback he's had to face all year, and possibly in his college career. Tagovailoa is the country's leader in passer rating from a clean pocket for the second consecutive season, fielding the nation's top mark in touchdowns (23) and interceptions (0) in that regard. He can dice up secondaries at will when kept clean but is no slouch when pressured.

3. Derek Stingley, CB, LSU

Stingley, just a freshman, currently is the nation's second-highest-graded cornerback overall and he possesses the nation's top coverage grade in the process. He has been targeted 49 times as the primary coverage defender and has allowed just 20 receptions while making four interceptions and has 10 more pass breakups to boot. Despite seeing the likes of Collin Johnson, Elijah Moore and Seth Williams, to name a few, he's holding quarterbacks to just a 41.6 passer rating in his coverage. He is every bit a lockdown corner.

4. Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama

The Crimson Tide's big-time threat has been Diggs this season as he has scored two defensive touchdowns and been elite in coverage. He's just behind the aforementioned Stingley in overall and coverage grades this year, sitting comfortably at third in both categories. He has allowed just 12 receptions on 28 targeted passes and hasn't allowed a single touchdown while making three picks and five more pass breakups.

5. Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Even among the talented cast of receivers in this game, Jefferson has stood out this season. He's the highest graded of the seven wide receivers in this list and has put up 23 explosive plays of at least 15 yards or more this season, ranking third in the country. He's tied atop the leaderboard among all FBS receivers with a 100% contested-catch percentage, hauling in all seven opportunities this year.

6. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

The reigning Biletnikoff Award winner has been remarkable once again in 2019, currently ranking in the top 20 among all FBS receivers in a bevy of PFF advanced statistical categories. He's still dominant among all the routes on the route tree and can separate from some of the best cornerbacks in the nation. He has seen at least six targets in every game this year and has made at least three receptions in every contest. Jeudy has racked up 379 yards after the catch and converted 36 of his 52 receptions into either a first down or a touchdown.

7. Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

Living up to his lofty pedigree, Surtain II is the country's fourth-highest-graded cornerback and has been as sticky in coverage as anyone. He hasn't allowed a touchdown on 34 targeted throws and has allowed just 140 yards and a passer rating of just 36.4 into his coverage. Chipping in with nine defensive stops and two fumbles forced, the sophomore has all-around ball skills that are well beyond his age.

8. Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

As good as Harris is on the ground, he may have been even more impressive through the air in 2019, as demonstrated by his 16 catches for 171 yards, including 152 yards after the catch. He has added seven more broken tackles on receptions to go along with his 32 on the ground has he is tough to bring down with the ball in his hands. In total, he has gained 447 yards after contact (370 on the ground, 77 after the catch) and is the only running back in the country with elite grades in the run game, fumble grade and run-blocking as his overall grade pushes him to seventh overall this year.

9. Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

Fulton rounds out this game's impressive group of four of the top eight highest-graded cornerbacks in football. He has allowed just 45.2% of the passes thrown his way to be caught and has made eight total plays on the ball (1 INT, 7 PBU). Since the Texas game in Week 2, Fulton has allowed a reception longer than 18 yards just once. He has now allowed a career completion percentage of just 43.4% into his coverage.

10. Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama

The nation's fifth-highest-graded offensive lineman overall and fourth-highest-graded tackle, Wills has allowed just 10 total pressures on his 278 pass-blocking snaps, but his bread and butter is certainly in the run game. He's currently the third-highest-graded run-blocking tackle (and offensive lineman) in the country with a 92.2 grade.

11. DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Ranking third in total yards after the catch this season, Smith has been a true threat to take any ball to the house in 2019. He has gained 502 yards after the catch, averaging 12.0 per reception, and has forced 10 missed tackles on his 42 receptions. He's one of just two players to sport a perfect 158.3 passer rating on targeted passes this year.

12. Grant Delpit, S, LSU

Delpit is an all-around force at safety, and if it weren't for the missed-tackle woes that have plagued him the past two seasons, he'd be even higher on this list. He has missed 13 of his 54 total tackle attempts but more than made up for those with 18 defensive stops, three plays on the ball and a passer rating of just 40.3 when targeted as the primary coverage defender.

13. Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

Waddle is perhaps the most underutilized receiver in the country, through no fault of his own, but he has made the most of his opportunities in 2019. He has been targeted just 25 times and hauled in 21 catches for 297 yards. Of those yards, 224 have come after the catch and he has broken six tackles. Waddle's two-year grade is actually higher than Jeudy's and he's a game away from topping the Alabama receivers in overall grade this year. He just needs more targets.

14. Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

When needed, Chase has stepped up big time and proved to be a complete threat among the Tigers' receivers. He has broken 12 tackles and gained 292 yards after the catch while hauling in nine contested catches this season. His 20 explosive plays rank among the top in the country and his 17.1 yards per catch is the 13th highest in the country among receivers with at least 50 targets.

15. Henry Ruggs III, Alabama

Ruggs has been targeted just 32 times as part of the Crimson Tide's talented receiving corps, hauling in 26 receptions for 513 yards, including six scores and 11 additional first-down catches. He joins DeVonta Smith as the only receivers in the country to sport a perfect passer rating (158.3) when targeted this season.

16. Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama

Coming on strong this season, Leatherwood has been utterly dominant in pass protection. On his 268 pass-blocking snaps, he has allowed five total pressures and has not allowed a single QB hit or sack all year. He has limited penalties and has great run-blocking skills to boot.

17. Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama

One of the surest tacklers in the country, McKinney has missed just three of his 56 attempts all year while making 18 defensive stops in both the run and pass game. In coverage, he has been targeted 41 times as the primary coverage defender and allowed all of 26 catches and a long reception of just 26 yards with an interception and two more pass breakups to his credit.

18. Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU

In his return from injury, Marshall saw his first action since Week 4 when he caught a touchdown pass against Auburn in Week 9. In just five games this year, Marshall has seven touchdowns and 13 first-down receptions, converting 20 of 22 receptions so far. He's not as much of an after-the-catch threat as his teammates and others on the field but he's a contested catch waiting to happen and averages the furthest distance downfield per target among his peers, doing so without a drop all year.

19. Raekwon Davis, DI, Alabama

Racking up 18 total pressures this year, Davis may not have the sack totals of some of the more noteworthy interior defensive linemen in the country but he certainly has pushed the pocket enough to warrant his ranking in this game. He also has recorded 14 defensive stops in the run game and has a top-five run-stop percentage among all interior defenders. He can rush the passer and stop the run, and do both of them very well.

20. Patrick Queen, LB, LSU

Queen flies all over the field and has compiled six total pressures while missing just four of his 40 total tackle attempts this season. He has 19 total stops, 12 in run defense and seven in coverage, the latter ranking seventh among all linebackers in the conference despite just 11 total tackles in the passing game.

21. K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU

With six games to his credit this year, his production numbers aren't where you'd expect but he has more than changed games during his time on the field. He has racked up 11 pressures on 169 pass rushes, 14 stops on 326 snaps and is limiting missed tackles as well as any big gains to his side of the field. He's winning pass-rushing attempts at a high rate and will be counted on heavily to push the pocket.

22. Shyheim Carter, CB, Alabama

Locking down the slot, Carter has seen 26 targets in slot coverage, allowing just 16 catches for 163 yards. For the amount of time he plays in the slot, those numbers are terrific as he ranks second in the conference in terms of fewest yards allowed per snap in slot coverage among those SEC defensive backs with at least 115 snaps from the slot.

23. Christian Harris, LB, Alabama

Among linebackers with at least 170 snaps in run defense, Harris' tackle efficiency ranks second overall in the conference and he has just two missed tackles in the run game on his 37 total tackle attempts. He has an elite grade in run defense and will be crucial to stopping the Tigers' rushing attack.

24. Adrian Magee, OG, LSU

After he made waves for his two-pancake-block play earlier this year, Magee has been a stalwart in pass protection and in the run game for the Tigers in 2019. He has allowed just 12 pressures, been called for just one penalty and has a top-15 overall run-blocking grade among all guards.

25. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU

Chipping in with 37 first downs and eight scores this season, Edwards-Helaire has been difficult to bring down as he has already surpassed his broken tackle totals from a season ago, reaching 35 total missed tackles forced. He has gained 100-plus yards in three outings this year, two of which were against arguably the Tigers' toughest opponents (Auburn, Florida) as he has shown up big on the big stage.

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