• Bryce Young is the best quarterback outside of the pocket: Young’s 91.1 grade outside of the pocket led all college quarterbacks in 2022.
• Bijan Robinson is the toughest running back to tackle: Robinson’s 104 forced missed tackles this past season broke the PFF College record.
• Clark Phillips III is the best at defending hitch routes: The Utah cornerback picked off four passes on nine targets on hitch routes this past season.
Estimated Reading Time: 11 mins
The PFF database has few limits, allowing us to dig into specific traits and facets of the game using years of data.
Here, we dive into some of those traits and tell you who the best 2023 NFL Draft prospects are in a variety of categories, from the most efficient tackler in the league to the best quarterback throwing a go route.
It's our list of the NFL draft's best performers in every category you can think of using PFF stats and data from the 2022 season.
Best overall grade: Bijan Robinson, Texas
Robinson’s 95.3 grade this past season wasn’t only second among all FBS offensive players in 2022; it was second among all running backs in the PFF College era (since 2014).
Best quarterback in the pocket: Clayton Tune, Houston
Tune’s 92.2 grade from inside the pocket ranked second among college quarterbacks in 2022, while his 36 passing touchdowns ranked first.
Best quarterback outside of the pocket: Bryce Young, Alabama
Young, the top overall prospect on PFF’s big board, was also the best signal-caller outside of the pocket. His 91.1 grade and 90.8 passing grade in those situations paced all quarterbacks in college football this past season.
Best tight-window passer: Stetson Bennett, Georgia
Bennett’s 66.5 grade on tight-window throws placed him third among FBS quarterbacks in 2022, while his 500 passing yards on those throws tied for sixth in the Power Five.
Best red-zone quarterback: Sean Clifford, Penn State
Clifford’s 90.4 passing grade in the red zone was more than seven points higher than any other quarterback in the country in 2022. He also paced all FBS quarterbacks in the red zone in adjusted completion percentage (91.4%) and passer rating (132.9).
Best quarterback against the blitz: Clayton Tune, Houston
Tune’s 91.3 grade against the blitz led all quarterbacks in college football, while his 24 passing touchdowns ranked second.
Best quarterback at avoiding mistakes: Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
Hooker’s 1.1% turnover-worthy play rate ranked third among college quarterbacks in 2022, as he committed only five such plays all season.
Best downfield thrower: Bryce Young, Alabama
Young’s 95.6 grade on deep throws placed him sixth among FBS quarterbacks, while his 37.7% big-time throw rate ranked fifth.
Best QBs by Route
Screen: Anthony Richardson, Florida
Richardson's 73.5 grade on screen passes ranked fifth among college quarterbacks in 2022.
Out: Clayton Tune, Houston
Tune led FBS quarterbacks on out routes with a 93.1 passing grade and five touchdowns this past season.
Slant: Tanner Morgan, Minnesota
Morgan’s 91.6 passing grade on slant routes tied for second among FBS quarterbacks.
Crossers/overs: Tanner McKee, Stanford
McKee’s 92.9 passing grade on crossing routes led all quarterbacks in the country, as he completed 32 of his 37 attempts for 439 yards.
In: Bryce Young, Alabama
Young’s 95.4 passing grade on in-breaking routes led all FBS quarterbacks by at least two points. He also paced all quarterbacks in the country with 431 yards and a 90% adjusted completion rate on such routes.
Hitch: Clayton Tune, Houston
Tune completed 56 of his 66 passes on hitch routes for 587 yards this past season.
Comeback: Jake Haener, Fresno State
On comeback routes, Haener completed six of seven passes for 74 yards.
Post: Anthony Richardson, Florida
Richardson made three big-time throws on just six attempts to receivers running a post route.
Corner: Tanner McKee, Stanford
On four throws to corner routes, McKee had a big-time throw and no turnover-worthy plays.
Go: Jaren Hall, BYU
Hall earned a 94.0 passing grade on go routes in 2022, third among all quarterbacks in college football. He tossed 12 big-time throws and only one turnover-worthy play on those plays.
Best red-zone receiver: Josh Downs, North Carolina
Downs’ 86.4 receiving grade in the red zone led all Power Five receivers last season, while his 198 receiving yards led the FBS.
Best slot receiver: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
While this article is mainly focused on how players performed in 2022, it’d be almost disingenuous not to mention JSN here. He played only 60 snaps this past season but led all Power Five receivers in 2021 from the slot with a 91.4 receiving grade and 1,367 receiving yards.
Best deep receiver: Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee
Hyatt led FBS receivers with 677 yards on 20-plus yard throws this past season.
Best WR by Route
Screen: Bryce Ford-Wheaton, West Virginia
Ford-Wheaton led all receivers in this year’s draft with 175 receiving yards on screen passes.
Out: Nathaniel Dell, Houston
“Tank” led all receivers in the nation with 34 catches for 362 yards and four touchdowns on out routes.
Slant: Grant DuBose, Charlotte
DuBose caught 18 of his 25 targets on slant routes for 230 yards and three scores.
Crossers/overs: Zay Flowers, Boston College
Flowers led all receivers in college football with 294 yards and 15 receiving first downs on crossing routes in 2022.
In: Nathaniel Dell, Houston
Dell caught six of his nine targets for 150 yards on in-breaking routes this past season.
Hitch: A.T. Perry, Wake Forest
Perry was second among all receivers in the nation with 324 yards on hitch routes in 2022.
Comeback: A.T. Perry, Wake Forest
Perry caught all three of his targets on comeback routes for 39 yards and three first downs.
Post: Zay Flowers, Boston College
Flowers led all receivers in college football with 278 yards and four scores on post routes in 2022.
Corner: Jadon Haselwood, Arkansas
The No. 3 overall recruit in the 2019 class caught two of his three targets on corner routes for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Go: Marvin Mims, Oklahoma
Mims led all Power Five receivers in 2022 with 408 receiving yards and five touchdowns on go routes.
Toughest running back to tackle: Bijan Robinson, Texas
Robinson’s 39% career forced missed tackle rate is tied with Javonte Williams for the best in the PFF College era. This past season, his 104 forced missed tackles set the single-season record.
Best pass-catching running back: Kenny McIntosh, Georgia
McIntosh led all backs in the country with an 86.9 receiving grade and 515 yards after the catch.
Best red-zone running back: Roschon Johnson, Texas
Johnson’s 80.2 grade in the red zone ranked fourth among all running backs in 2022.
Biggest home-run threat: Keaton Mitchell, East Carolina
Mitchell’s 22 runs of 20-plus yards were the second most in the country. He also handled only 201 carries, meaning about one of every nine went for at least 20 yards.
Best run-blocking tight end: Darnell Washington, Georgia
Washington was essentially a third offensive tackle for Georgia at 6-foot-7 and 264 pounds. His 81.3 run-blocking grade in 2022 ranked fourth among Power Five tight ends.
Best red-zone tight end: Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
Mayer’s 92.5 grade in the red zone was more than three points higher than the next-closest tight end. He also led the position in the red zone with 15 catches for 153 yards.
Best slot tight end: Dalton Kincaid, Utah
Kincaid led all tight ends from the slot with 35 catches for 530 yards.
Best deep tight end: Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
On throws of at least 20 yards, Mayer led FBS tight ends with eight catches for 210 yards and four touchdowns.
Best TE by Route
Screen: Sam LaPorta, Iowa
LaPorta led all college tight ends with 112 receiving yards on screen passes in 2022.
Out: Sam LaPorta, Iowa
LaPorta also led all FBS tight ends with 201 receiving yards on out routes.
Slant: Brayden Willis, Oklahoma
Willis had the most receiving yards on slant routes among all tight ends in the nation with 120.
Crossers/overs: Luke Schoonmaker, Michigan
Schoonmaker paced all FBS tight ends with 238 receiving yards and 10 receiving first downs on crossing routes.
In: Cameron Latu, Alabama
Latu ranked third among all tight ends in college football with 72 receiving yards from in routes.
Hitch: Dalton Kincaid, Utah
Kincaid’s 261 receiving yards on hitch routes in 2022 were 121 more than the next-closest FBS tight end.
No tight end in the 2023 NFL Draft made a catch on a comeback route this past season.
Post: Payne Durham, Purdue
Payne’s two catches on post routes tied for second among all tight ends in the nation this past season.
Corner: Zack Kuntz, Old Dominion
Kuntz led all FBS tight ends with four catches for 89 yards on corner routes in 2022.
Go: Dalton Kincaid, Utah
Kincaid finished third among tight ends with 62 receiving yards on go routes.
Best pass-blocking offensive lineman: Peter Skoronski, Northwestern
Skoronski’s 93.0 pass-blocking grade led all offensive linemen this past season, while his 1.3% pressure rate allowed ranked second among college tackles.
Best run-blocking offensive lineman: John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota
Schmitz’s 92.4 run-blocking grade led all FBS offensive linemen, while his 12 big-time blocks tied for the most among centers.
Least penalized offensive lineman: Steve Avila, TCU
On 1,020 snaps, the TCU guard wasn't called for any penalties after the snap.
Best in zone scheme: John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota
JMS finished second among all centers in college football with a 94.3 grade on zone-blocking runs.
Best in man/gap scheme: John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota
Amazingly, Schmitz’s 87.1 grade on gap runs also led all centers in 2022.
Best pass-blocker on late downs: Blake Freeland, BYU
Freeland’s 89.4 pass-blocking grade on third and fourth down ranked third among all tackles in college football.
Best in true pass sets: Peter Skoronski, Northwestern
Skoronski’s 92.3 pass-blocking grade on true pass sets led all FBS offensive linemen in 2022.
Best red-zone run blocker: Jarrett Horst, Michigan State
Horst’s 96.3 run-blocking grade in the red zone was nearly five points higher than any other offensive linemen in the country this past season.
Best red-zone pass blocker: Brett Neilon, USC
Neilon’s 85.4 pass-blocking grade in the red zone placed him third among centers in 2022.
Best overall grade: Ivan Pace Jr., Cincinnati
Pace’s 93.2 grade in 2022 led all FBS linebackers and ranked second among all defensive players in the country, trailing only his teammate Dontay Corleone.
Surest tackler: Daiyan Henley, Washington State
The top linebacker on PFF’s big board missed only five of his 108 tackle attempts this past season.
Best edge pass rusher: Will Anderson Jr., Alabama
Anderson’s 206 career pressures are the most in the PFF College era (since 2014).
Best interior pass rusher: Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh
Kancey led all FBS interior defensive linemen in 2022 with a 92.4 pass-rushing grade and an 18.4% pressure rate, while his 22.2% pass-rush win rate paced the Power Five.
Best interior run defender: Kobie Turner, Wake Forest
Turner’s 93.1 run-defense grade this past season led all Power Five interior defensive linemen.
Best off-ball run defender: Isaiah Moore, North Carolina State
Moore’s 94.4 run-defense grade in 2022 led all FBS defenders this past season, and his 21 tackles for loss or no gain tied for the most among all linebackers in college football.
Best coverage linebacker: Jack Campbell, Iowa
Campbell led all linebackers in the nation this past season with a 92.9 coverage grade.
Best ball-hawking cornerback: Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, TCU
Hodges-Tomlinson’s 24 combined interceptions and forced incompletions led all cornerbacks this past season.
Best slot cornerback: Brian Branch, Alabama
Branch’s 82.6 grade in the slot led all Power Five defensive backs in 2022.
Best box safety: Kaevon Merriweather, Iowa
Merriweather led all safeties in college football with an 88.4 coverage grade from the box in 2022.
Best deep safety: Jason Taylor II, Oklahoma State
Taylor earned an 88.4 coverage grade from a free safety alignment in 2022, which ranked fourth among Power Five safeties.
Best DB by Route
Screen: Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi State
Forbes notched one interception and five coverage stops on nine screen targets this past season.
Out: Clark Phillips III, Utah
Phillips recorded an interception and a coverage stop on nine targets against out routes in 2022.
Slant: Kahlef Hailassie, Western Kentucky
Hailassie forced five incompletions on his 11 targets on slant routes in 2022.
Crossers/overs: Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
Gonzalez caught more balls on crossing routes than the receivers he covered, picking off one pass and not allowing any receptions.
In: JL Skinner, Boise State
Skinner picked off one of his three targets against in routes in 2022.
Hitch: Clark Phillips III, Utah
On nine targets on hitch routes, Phillips picked off four passes.
Comeback: Kris Abrams-Draine, Missouri
Abrams-Draine didn’t allow a catch and forced an incompletion on two targets on comeback routes this past season.
Post: Mekhi Blackmon, USC
On two targets on post routes, Blackmon recorded an interception and a forced incompletion.
Corner: Cory Trice, Purdue
Trice didn’t allow any catches and tallied an interception and a forced incompletion on corner routes this past season.
Go: Mekhi Blackmon, USC
On 17 targets on go routes, Blackmon allowed a grand total of two catches and had nine forced incompletions.
Best coffin-corner punter: Adam Korsak, Rutgers
Korsak’s 35 punts inside the 20 were the second most among all punters in the country this past season.
Best kickoff placement kicker: B.T. Potter, Clemson
Potter’s 90.5 kickoff grade ranked fourth among kickers this past season.
Best long field goal kicker: Harrison Mevis, Wyoming
Mevis had four field goals of 50-plus yards this past season, tied for the most in the country.
Clutch kicker: Noah Ruggles, Ohio State
Ruggles made both of his field goals in one-possession games in the fourth quarter or overtime, with both coming further than 40 yards.