Dallas Colleges: 2011 postseason position rankings
Here are the other position rankings we've done so far:
Depth is somewhat of a factor here, but I weighted it heavily toward the top two starters at the position.
2. Kansas State — K-State overachieved in a lot of ways this year, and perhaps nowhere more than at cornerback. Juco transfer Nigel Malone led the league with seven interceptions. Known entity David Garrett was even more solid, making 88 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss. I ranked this unit 10th in the Big 12 before the season. They finished second. I was wrong.
3. Oklahoma — The Sooners' corners were good, but not great, and underachieved slightly. Jamell Fleming and Demontre Hurst are supremely talented, but were susceptible to big plays this year. Granted, everybody in the Big 12 was, but the Sooners ranked fourth in pass defense. Fleming broke up 10 passes and intercepted two more. Hurst broke up 11 and had an interception.
4. Oklahoma State — At times, Oklahoma State's Brodrick Brown was a legitimate shutdown corner. Justin Gilbert turned in a solid effort in his first year as a starter, which was much more important after a season-ending injury to Devin Hedgepeth in September. Gilbert picked off five passes, second-most in the Big 12.
5. Iowa State — Leonard Johnson was quietly an NFL prospect that put together a huge year. He was a big reason for ISU's upset of No. 2 Oklahoma State, and helped shut down Justin Blackmon. He finished with 71 tackles, eight pass breakups and a pick. Jeremy Reeves added two picks and seven pass breakups.
6. Missouri — E.J. Gaines led the Big 12 with 16 pass breakups, and the Tigers ranked fifth in the Big 12 in pass defense. Fellow first-year starter Kip Edwards added a pick and three pass breakups.
7. Texas A&M — The team's top corner, Coryell Judie, was hampered by a hamstring injury all season, but production is production. It wasn't there for Judie, one of the league's top corners in 2010. Terrence Frederick had a good year with 13 pass breakups and a pick, but the Aggies were susceptible through the air all year. Lionel Smith and Dustin Harris filled in well in Judie's absence, but not well enough. A&M finished eighth in pass defense and helped five QBs set career highs for passing yardage in 2011.
8. Baylor — K.J. Morton played well down the stretch for Baylor, but the Bears defense left a lot to be desired almost everywhere. They finished last in the Big 12 in pass defense, giving up over 290 yards a game. Morton picked off four passes and broke up six more. All four of his picks came in the final three games of 2011. Chance Casey broke up six passes and made 48 stops.
9. Texas Tech — How's this for irony? The Red Raiders actually finished second in the Big 12 in pass defense. It doesn't matter much. Tre' Porter had the only interception for a cornerback all season, and broke up two passes. Injuries were a problem all season. Cornelius Douglas, Derrick Mays, Jarvis Phillips and Sawyer Vest filled the unit, but Tech faced 61 fewer pass attempts than Kansas and 111 fewer than the next team in the Big 12. That's what happens when you can't stop the run. Doesn't mean the corners played well.
10. Kansas — Greg Brown picked off two passes and broke up three more. Isiah Barfield made 35 tackles and broke up five passes. The Jayhawks ranked ninth in the Big 12 in pass defense. They didn't get much of a pass rush to help the corners, but the corners were very poor in 2011.
At this position, depth is a major factor in these rankings. Additionally, I included nickelbacks in this grouping. Hybrid defensive end/linebackers will be grouped with defensive lines.
2. Texas: The Longhorns will sorely miss an outstanding duo of their own with tons of experience. Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho are both NFL-bound after combining for 215 tackles.
3. Oklahoma: The Sooners weren't quite as good as expected in 2011, but part of that was because of a Travis Lewis preseason toe injury that slowed him for much of the season. Lewis, Tony Jefferson and Tom Wort all topped 70 tackles in 2011, and are a solid group.
4. Kansas State: Arthur Brown reinvigorated this group, finishing eighth in the Big 12 with 101 tackles, but the Wildcats linebackers were more than just Brown. Tre Walker and converted safety Emmanuel Lamur combined for 135 stops and helped lead one of the league's most underrated units and a much-improved run defense.
5. Texas A&M: The Aggies' backers were big pass-rushers, though they struggled in coverage this season. Sean Porter was the Big 12's sack champion with 9.5, and Caleb Russell and Jonathan Stewart combined for six more. Damontre Moore is the rawest talent of the bunch, but built on that in 2011, making 72 tackles.
6. Oklahoma State: OSU's group was good, but not great. Alex Elkins' crazy story came to an end with 90 stops in 2011. He showed up everywhere for the Cowboys, but reigning Big 12 Freshman of the Year Shaun Lewis didn't quite have the sophomore season some had hoped. Caleb Lavey added some solid play for the turnover-hungry unit, producing 74 tackles and five tackles for loss.
7. Missouri: Zaviar Gooden wasn't quite the impact player Mizzou had hoped, but he was solid alongside a group that's been injury prone over the past two years. Sophomore Andrew Wilson emerged as the team's top tackler with 98 stops, and Luke Lambert added 82 more. A high ankle sprain in the season opener kept Will Ebner off the field, but he'll be back in 2012 after the NCAA granted him a fifth year of eligibility.
8. Kansas: Steven Johnson led the Big 12 with 119 tackles, but the rest of the unit left a lot to be desired. Darius Willis has some potential, but the rest of the team's linebackers have their work cut out for them in 2012. Tunde Bakare also returns from a unit that ranked ninth in the Big 12 in rushing defense.
9. Baylor: The Bears needed help just about everywhere. Elliot Coffey was solid, and finished tied for fourth with 114 stops, but Baylor was eighth in the Big 12 in rush defense. Baylor has solid athlete in the secondary and on the defensive line, but at linebacker, Rodney Chadwick and Brody Trahan leave a bit to be desired. Ahmad Dixon was better in 2011, but still has a lot of potential that needs to be filled.
10. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are looking for a new defensive coordinator and the 4-2-5 made a short stop in Lubbock. The Red Raiders were awful everywhere on defense, but especially up front. Nobody in college football was worse at stopping the run, and D.J. Johnson, Daniel Cobb and Cqulin Hubert turned in forgettable performances. Time to get better for 2012.
Quarterbacks' rushing talents are factored into these rankings. As such, it's tough to figure out how to weigh that vs. passing acumen. Ultimately, teams ranked 4-7 were really, really close.
In these position rankings, we take into account backups, though that impact is minimal at the quarterback spot.
If your quarterback wins the Heisman, you're not finishing below No. 1 on this list. Robert Griffin IIIlit up defenses and broke the NCAA record for passing efficiency, even though Wisconsin's Russell Wilson did the same this year, and finished higher than RG3. Even when RG3 suffered concussion-like symptoms against Texas Tech, backup Nick Florencecame in and burned Texas Tech's defense in a 66-42 win. Griffin finished with as many touchdowns as Brandon Weeden (37), but threw as few interceptions as Collin Klein (6), despite throwing the ball 121 more times than Klein.
2. Oklahoma State
Brandon Weeden is a solid second place in this ranking, and backup Colton Chelflooked good in lots of mop-up duty, too. Weeden was the star, putting together an All-Big 12 caliber season, though Griffin's otherworldly performance in 2011 knocked him off his first-team perch from 2010. He led the league with 4,727 yards and 37 touchdowns. He also had the second-most pass attempts in the league, with 564.
Landry Jones got some help late in the season when Blake Bell's BellDozer racked up a team-high 13 touchdowns. Jones wasn't outstanding late in the season after Ryan Broyles' knee injury, but his receivers didn't help him much, either. The dropsies seemed to infect everybody after Broyles' college career ended. Jones finished with 4,463 yards passing, second most in the Big 12. He also added 29 touchdowns but must improve on his 15 interceptions, a regression back to freshman-year Jones.
4. Kansas State
Don't like Collin Klein's release? Get over it. He deserves this spot via his ability as a runner. He ranked fourth in the league with his 1,141 rushing yards and tied the Big 12 record with 27 touchdowns. That also tied Ricky Dobbs' FBS record for quarterbacks. He also threw for 1,918 yards and 13 touchdowns.
James Franklin's probably the best balance of runner and passer in the league, and quickly developed both throughout the season. He finished with 2,872 passing yards and 981 rushing yards. He also accounted for 36 touchdowns. Could we see a 3,000-yard passer and 1,000-yard rusher in the SEC next year?
6. Texas Tech
Seth Doege was one of the nation's best early in the season, but slipped up later in the season. He'll have the NCAA record for single-game completion percentage after connecting on 40-of-44 passes in a win over New Mexico, and he threw for 4,004 yards with 28 scores and 10 interceptions on a Big 12-high 581 pass attempts. After the win over Oklahoma at midseason, Doege threw just three touchdowns passes over the next four games while Tech dropped to 5-7 on the season.
7. Texas A&M
Ryan Tannehill's a physically impressive quarterback with a future in the NFL, but he didn't get it done in 2011. He started the season at fourth on this list, but Tannehill's turnovers played a huge role in the Aggies' second-half struggles this year, when A&M lost five games after leading by double digits, including 17- and 18-point leads against top-five teams Oklahoma State and Arkansas, respectively. He finished fifth in the league with 3,744 yards, but was seventh in the league in completion percentage and only Landry Jones had as many picks as Tannehill's 15. Jones, though, threw for over 700 more yards on just 32 more attempts.
8. Iowa State
The Cyclones rotated Steele Jantz and Jared Barnett this season, with Jantz handling the first half of the season and Barnett the second, thought Jantz replaced a benched Barnett in the Pinstripe Bowl loss to Rutgers. Barnett had the best day of any ISU quarterback this year, topping 375 passing yards and 80 rushing yards in an upset of Oklahoma State. Both QBs strung together three-game winning streaks, and Jantz did it with three fourth-quarter comebacks to start the season.
Texas never quite settled on a guy during the season, but it looks like David Ash will be the man who has time invested in him during the offseason with first-team reps in spring, summer and fall. This year, Ash struggled with decision-making. That's no surprise for a freshman. Case McCoy, meanwhile, limited what Texas was able to do in the passing game with his lack of both arm strength (chiefly) and experience, like Ash. Garrett Gilbert was benched in the season's second game and eventually transferred to SMU.
The Jayhawks ranked ninth in the league in pass defense and last in total offense by over 20 yards per game. KU fans would simply like to forget the last two years of quarterback play and focus on what could be a promising future under Charlie Weis with Dayne Crist set to take over and Jake Heaps waiting to grab the reins in 2013 and 2014.
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