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Notre Dame Football

ND Will Face 7 from the PFF College 50

August 9, 2019

Seven of Notre Dame’s opponents made the PFF College 50, Pro Football Focus’ top-50 players in college football for 2019.

Zero Notre Dame players cracked the list.

Before I get into that part of it, here’s the list of players the Irish will face who they selected:

Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm (46)

Georgia left tackle Andrew Thomas (39)

Georgia safety JR Reed (35)

Stanford quarterback KJ Costello (31)

Michigan defensive end Mike Danna (22)

Stanford cornerback Paulson Adebo (20)

Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall (4)

It’s hard to argue against the inclusion of any of these players aside from maybe Danna. He’s the transfer from Central Michigan who has graded out very high for them against lesser competition on the MAC.

Maybe his success will translate to the Big Ten and maybe it won’t, but his production last season gives me some pause that they are overrating him.

He put up 15 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks in 2018. It’s very misleading, though. Nine of his TFLs came from two games. Those opponents were FCS Maine and Akron. The offensive linemen for Maine are exactly the same level he’ll see in a Power 5 conference and Akron had one of the worst offensive lines in the FBS last season. They finished 128th in Line Yards (yards attributed to the O-line) and were 122nd in Passing Down Sack Rate.

Against Kansas and Kentucky, the two Power 5 programs on Central Michigan’s schedule, he was shut out. Kansas isn’t exactly Ohio State either.

Everyone else feels properly rated. The scary part for Georgia is that they might end up with more than three once they rank these players at the end of the season.

It was surprising to not see either Julian Okwara or Alohi Gilman make this list. With Okwara, he is one of the top returning edge rushers in the country according to PFF’s grades. Only two more players produced more pressures than he did.

It’s shocking to me that Gilman isn’t on this list. And not just because I have seen the impact he has had on Notre Dame’s defense. Gilman was ranked 48th in PFF’s rankings for the top players in college football at the end of last season. Unless they think he’s in line for his play to regress, it doesn’t make much sense that he’s didn’t make the cut.

(PFF’s Cam Mellor tried to explain to me why Gilman didn’t make their list after I asked him. Check the thread and you can decide if it sounds like a reasonable explanation.)

One thing that is important to note with this list is that the Irish had zero players make last year’s pre-season 50. At the conclusion of the season they had four players make it with Jerry Tillery (15), Te’von Coney (28), and Julian Love (30) joining Gilman.

I’m sure this is not something any Notre Dame player is keeping track of to use as motivation, but it does feel like a little bit of disrespect for some individuals. It will be interesting to see how many Irish players are included in PFF’s final 50 when the season is over.

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