It’s always amazing how much time flies, especially during football season! After much anticipation for a season where two programs were still thought to be head and shoulders above the rest, we are already into October, and there are more than a handful of teams that have shown themselves to be true contenders thus far. As both the temperature and calendar turn and the stakes get raised each week, let’s first take a look at the players who have dominated the first five weeks of the season.
QUARTERBACK OF THE MONTH
Joe Burrow, LSU — 93.0 grade
While many expected a great season — and great statistics — from the honorable mentions listed below, not many tabbed LSU’s Joe Burrow as the best quarterback through the season’s first five weeks. However, that’s exactly what he’s been, as he is the highest-graded quarterback and tops in many other categories. In particular, Burrow has pushed the ball down the field better than anyone; he is tops in the nation among qualifying signal-callers in passer rating (143.5), yards (1,123) and adjusted completion percentage (76.1%) on 10-plus-yard throws. He also has the best passer rating when pressured (154.7) and is second nationally in overall adjusted completion percentage (86.2%).
Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma — 92.9 grade
Jake Fromm, Georgia — 92.7 grade
Justin Fields, Ohio State — 92.0 grade
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama — 90.0 grade
All four of the above names are easily deserving of the top spot as, outside of Georgia’s Jake Fromm and what he’s been asked to do, they’ve put up ridiculous numbers in the early going. Hurts, Fields and Tua are all on pace to combine for over 50 passing and running touchdowns. What’s even more amazing about the five quarterbacks highlighted is the ability to take care of the ball, as they’ve only combined for three interceptions on 555 attempts and nine total turnover-worthy plays.
As we move forward, the above list, which does not even include others such as Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, is what will make this season special. Three of the five names have already appeared on a PFF Team of the Week, and high-level quarterback play on the nation’s best teams is always must-see viewing!
OFFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE MONTH
OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia — 93.5 grade
OT Penei Sewell, Oregon — 92.6 grade
Two future first-round tackles have been the best — and highest-graded — non-quarterback players thus far in 2019. The two have combined to allow only three total pressures (one by Thomas and two by Sewell), and the pair are first and second, respectively, in run-blocking grade as well. Combined over the past two seasons, Thomas has only allowed 12 total pressures on 406 pass-block snaps and Sewell has allowed just 10 on 364 pass-block snaps.
WR Jamarr Chase, LSU — 90.6 grade
WR Tee Higgins, Clemson — 90.4 grade
RB Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State — 86.8 grade
Chase and Higgins are the two highest-graded wide receivers, as they’ve combined for 42 catches, 902 yards and eight touchdowns as the go-to targets among a crowded group of receivers on their respective teams. Hubbard is the second-highest graded running back behind Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor and has been carrying an enormous load for the Cowboys' offense in the early going. Hubbard leads all FBS backs in run grade (87.6), attempts (129), yards (939), first downs & touchdowns (49), 10+ yard runs (22) and yards after contact (480).
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE MONTH
ED Chase Young, Ohio State — 96.1 grade
How good has Chase Young been for the Buckeyes? Good enough for our Senior Analyst Cam Mellor to put him fourth in his post week five Heisman rankings. In addition to that lofty position, our Lead Draft Analyst Mike Renner highlighted him yesterday and stated of the nation’s highest-graded defender, “We’re talking Myles Garrett-level physical tools with polish and production on another level.”
ED Jonathan Greenard, Florida — 92.3 grade
DI Marvin Wilson, Florida State — 91.2 grade
If it wasn’t for Young’s other-worldly production, Greenard would be the nation’s highest-graded defender. The Louisville transfer has made himself at home in Gainesville, producing at least two quarterback pressures in every game and at least five pressures in three of the Gators' five games. Wilson, for the second year in a row now, is playing at an elite level. The highest-graded interior defender already has 20 total pressures and 15 stops.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYERS OF THE MONTH
Kicker: Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia — 90.3 grade
Punter: Sterling Hofrichter, Syracuse — 91.2 grade
Kick Returner: Jaylond Adams, Southern Mississippi — 91.5 grade
Senior Rodrigo Blankenship has continued his high-level play, as he is 8-8 on field goals — including one 50-yarder — and 21-21 on extra points. In addition, his 4.07-second average kickoff hangtime is ninth nationally. Hofrichter is the nation’s highest-graded punter and also leads in average hang time (4.51 seconds). His 46.2 net yards per punt is fourth nationally, as only six of his 25 punts have been returned for a total of five yards.
Many of you might not know Jaylond Adams’ name, but you’ve probably seen his highlights on social media. Our highest-graded returner has used his blazing speed to return two kickoffs and one punt for a touchdown already.
FRESHMAN PLAYERS OF THE MONTH
Offense: QB Dillon Gabriel, UCF — 83.3 grade
The freshman from Hawaii has been lighting up the scoreboard for the Knights. When he’s been kept clean from pressure, Gabriel has been especially impressive. His 92.0 passing grade when clean is fifth-best in the nation and his 149.4 passer rating fourth nationally.
QB Bo Nix – Auburn – 66.2 grade
After struggling early, Nix has improved to the tune of game grades of 83.0 and 86.1 in two of the past three weeks. Nix had his best performance of the season this past week against Mississippi State, with a 90.6 passing grade and completing five of six deep passes (20-plus yards downfield) for 172 yards and two touchdowns.
Defense: CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU — 86.2 grade
Not only is the Tigers’ five-star recruit getting a bunch of snaps; he’s already proving to be one of the elite corners in the country. Stingley’s 86.2 grade is fourth-best in the nation, as he’s only allowed eight receptions on 21 targets into his coverage for a 54.9 passer rating. In addition, his nine pass breakups are second nationally.
CB Tiawan Mullen, Indiana — 80.1 grade
The brother of former Clemson Tiger Trayvon Mullen and cousin of Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson is playing up to his family lineage in the early going for the Hoosiers. Mullen has allowed only one reception on 12 targets for negative one yard for a 39.6 passer rating to go along with four pass breakups.