Pac-12: Dion Joradn

A review of the Pac-12's top 25

March, 12, 2012
3/12/12
6:30
PM ET
Our postseason list of the Pac-12's top-25 players is complete.

You can review it here.

Here are some quick breakdowns for you to chew on (remember, because we had an, er, tie at No. 12, there are 26 players on the Pac-12's top-25).

By unit
Offense
: 19
Defense: 7

The Pac-12 is an offensive league. The SEC doesn't have to worry about leaving off a quarterback who might be a first-day NFL draft pick (Arizona State's Brock Osweiler).

Also, offensive players are easier to evaluate. A defensive tackle who clogs the middle but doesn't get many numbers is harder to measure than a quarterback, running back or wide receiver.

By team
USC ... 7
Stanford ... 6
Oregon ... 5
California, Utah, Washington ... 2
Arizona, Washington State ... 1
Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon State & UCLA ... 0

USC, Stanford and Oregon dominated. Makes sense: All three were top-10 teams, and no other Pac-12 squads were ranked.

As for the teams with no players: Arizona State's top candidates were Osweiler, running back Cameron Marshall and receiver Gerell Robinson. If the Sun Devils hadn't finished with a six-game losing streak, it's hard to imagine at least one of them wouldn't have made the list.

Colorado had only All-Pac-12 player: second-team offensive tackle David Bakhtiari. Oregon State cornerback Jordan Poyer, who earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors, was given consideration. He's almost certain to be on the preseason top-25.

UCLA didn't have any All-Conference players.

By position
QB ... 5
WR ... 5
RB ... 4
OL ... 3
TE... 2
LB ... 2
DE ... 2
DT... 1
CB ... 1
S ... 1

Every position group -- other than special teams -- got at least one player. That happens in large part because while making the list you think, "Who's the best guy in the conference at this position?"

Who's coming back?

2. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
5. Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford
7. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
8. Robert Woods, WR, USC
11. Keith Price, QB, Washington
12 De'Anthony Thomas, WR-RB, Oregon
13. Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State
15. Keenan Allen, WR, California
16. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
19. T.J. McDonald, S, USC
20. Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
21. John White, RB, Utah
23. Nickell Robey, CB, USC
24. Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford

With 14 guys from the list coming back in 2012, that means 11 spots open up for the preseason top-25.

Want a reason folks think so highly of USC: Five of the 14 guys coming back in 2012 are from USC. And it's a heck of a list.

And how tough is it going to be to earn first-team All-Pac-12 honors at receiver in 2012?

Pac-12 Top 25 for 2011: No. 1

March, 12, 2012
3/12/12
11:00
AM ET
Our countdown of the Pac-12's top 25 players ends at No. 1.

You can see Ted Miller's preseason top 25 here.

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

2011 numbers: Luck passed for 3,517 yards and 37 touchdowns with 10 interceptions in 2011, completing 71.3 percent of his passes. He also rushed for 150 yards and two TDs. He ranked fifth in the nation in passing efficiency.

Preseason ranking: No. 1.

Making the case for Luck: Luck not only is going to be the top overall pick in the NFL draft this spring, he would have been the top overall pick in 2011. Simply, he's the best QB prospect in a generation. Of course, you've heard this all before. He was No. 1 in this ranking in 2010 as well. First, there's the physical side: A 6-foot-4, 235-pound frame that ran a 4.69 40 at the NFL combine and jumped better than any QB. Luck is the pure pro-style pocket passer who secretly moonlights as an outstanding all-around athlete. Then there's the head. Luck is not just a smart guy, he's a Stanford smart guy. The architectural design major had a 3.48 GPA. And he's not just Stanford smart: He's football smart. No college football player in the nation -- perhaps in years -- had as much play-calling responsibility at the line of scrimmage this year as Luck. The Cardinal offense, playing with second-tier talent at receiver, averaged 43.2 points per game, which ranked seventh in the nation. Finally, there's character and moxie. While Luck is highly competitive, he's also as humble as they come -- authentically so. An NFL team is never going to have to worry about Luck getting into trouble. Luck has been burdened with high expectations since 2009 when NFL scouts started whispering about him. He's not only lived up to those expectations, he's eclipsed them. The only wart on his résumé? All together Oregon fans: He failed to beat Oregon the past two seasons, which cost him shots at the national championship.

2. Matt Barkley, QB, USC

3. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon

4. Matt Kalil, OT, USC

5. Chase Thomas, OLB, Stanford

6. Mychal Kendricks, LB, Cal

7. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

8. Robert Woods, WR, USC

9. Chris Polk, RB, Washington

10. Jonathan Martin, LT, Stanford

11. Keith Price, QB, Washington

12 (tie). Darron Thomas, QB & De'Anthony Thomas, WR-RB, Oregon

13. Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State

14. David DeCastro, OL, Stanford

15. Keenan Allen, WR, California

16. Marqise Lee, WR, USC

17. Nick Perry, DE, USC

18. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona

19. T.J. McDonald, S, USC

20. Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

21. John White IV, RB, Utah

22. Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford

23. Nickell Robey, CB, USC

24. Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford

25. David Paulson, TE, Oregon

Pac-12 Top 25 for 2011: No. 2

March, 9, 2012
3/09/12
12:30
PM ET
Our countdown of the Pac-12's top 25 players continues.

You can see Ted Miller's preseason top 25 here.

2. Matt Barkley, QB, USC

2011 numbers: Barkley completed 69 percent of his passes for 3,528 yards, with 39 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also scored two rushing TDs.

Preseason ranking: No. 6

Making the case for Barkley: Barkley earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors behind What's-His-Name and third-team All-American honors from the Associated Press, leading USC to a final top-five ranking and 10-2 finish. He ranked eighth in the nation in passing efficiency, and his 39 TD passes ranked first in the conference. Further, over the season's final four games, he completed 72.7 percent of his passes with 17 TDs and just two picks, ending Oregon's 21-game home winning streak at Autzen Stadium along the way. In that 38-35 victory, he passed for 323 yards and four TDs. And get this: Barring injury, he is almost certain to write his name atop the Pac-12 record book's two most important categories for quarterbacks: career passing yards and career TD passes. He needs 2,765 yard passing to eclipse former USC standout Carson Palmer's 11,818 yards, and 20 TD passes to beat former Trojan Matt Leinart's 99 career scoring tosses. Barkley enters the 2012 season as the decided front-runner for the Heisman Trophy.

3. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon

4. Matt Kalil, OT, USC

5. Chase Thomas, OLB, Stanford

6. Mychal Kendricks, LB, Cal

7. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

8. Robert Woods, WR, USC

9. Chris Polk, RB, Washington

10. Jonathan Martin, LT, Stanford

11. Keith Price, QB, Washington

12 (tie). Darron Thomas, QB & De'Anthony Thomas, WR-RB, Oregon

13. Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State

14. David DeCastro, OL, Stanford

15. Keenan Allen, WR, California

16. Marqise Lee, WR, USC

17. Nick Perry, DE, USC

18. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona

19. T.J. McDonald, S, USC

20. Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

21. John White IV, RB, Utah

22. Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford

23. Nickell Robey, CB, USC

24. Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford

25. David Paulson, TE, Oregon

Pac-12 Top 25 for 2011: No. 3

March, 8, 2012
3/08/12
4:00
PM ET
Our countdown of the Pac-12's top 25 players continues.

You can see Ted Miller's preseason top 25 here.

3. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon

2011 numbers: James led the nation with 150.4 yards rushing per game. He rushed for 1,805 total yards -- he missed two games -- with 18 touchdowns and a 7.3 yards per carry average. He also caught 17 passes for 210 yards and a TD, and averaged 10.7 yards per punt return with a TD.

Preseason ranking: No. 2.

Making the case for James: James is the greatest player in Oregon history, and one of the greatest running backs in Pac-12 history. A two-time consensus All-American, he finished his career with 5,082 yards rushing and 53 rushing TDs, totals which both rank second in conference history. He ranked second in the FBS in all-purpose yards per game (181.30), and 11th in scoring average (10.0). He produced 26 games of 100-plus, and seven of 200-plus rushing yards. What most folks don't seem to realize is that James in 2011 was probably better than James in 2010, when he was a Heisman finalist and won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's best running back. He averaged more yards per carry -- 7.3 vs. 5.9 -- than he did in 2010, and did so with a rebuilt offensive line. So why is he No. 3? The distinction ultimately came down to this: Outstanding years by quarterbacks eclipse outstanding years by running backs.

4. Matt Kalil, OT, USC

5. Chase Thomas, OLB, Stanford

6. Mychal Kendricks, LB, Cal

7. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

8. Robert Woods, WR, USC

9. Chris Polk, RB, Washington

10. Jonathan Martin, LT, Stanford

11. Keith Price, QB, Washington

12 (tie). Darron Thomas, QB & De'Anthony Thomas, WR-RB, Oregon

13. Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State

14. David DeCastro, OL, Stanford

15. Keenan Allen, WR, California

16. Marqise Lee, WR, USC

17. Nick Perry, DE, USC

18. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona

19. T.J. McDonald, S, USC

20. Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

21. John White IV, RB, Utah

22. Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford

23. Nickell Robey, CB, USC

24. Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford

25. David Paulson, TE, Oregon

Pac-12 Top 25 for 2011: No. 8

March, 1, 2012
3/01/12
9:00
AM ET
Our countdown of the Pac-12's top 25 players continues.

You can see Ted Miller's preseason top 25 here.

8. Robert Woods, WR, USC

2011 numbers: Woods caught 111 passes for 1,292 yards with 15 TDs.

Preseason ranking: No. 21

Making the case for Woods: Woods, first-team All-Pac-12, earned first-team All-American honors from the AP, The Sporting News and was second-team with Walter Camp. While he fell off a bit at season's end, almost entirely due to injury, there was no question the 6-foot-1, 180 pounder was the best receiver in the conference. His 9.2 receptions per game was No. 1 in the Pac-12 and No. 4 in the nation. His 107.7 yards receiving per game were No. 2 in the conference and No. 8 in the nation. His 15 TDs ranked first in the conference. He didn't do as well as he did in 2010 in the return game, but he still made opposing coaches very nervous whenever he touched the ball. His most memorable game came against Arizona, when he caught 14 passes for 255 yards. One of his two TDs went for 82 yards. He also set a school record with 17 catches in the opener against Minnesota.

9. Chris Polk, RB, Washington

10. Jonathan Martin, LT, Stanford

11. Keith Price, QB, Washington

12 (tie). Darron Thomas, QB & De'Anthony Thomas, WR-RB, Oregon

13. Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State

14. David DeCastro, OL, Stanford

15. Keenan Allen, WR, California

16. Marqise Lee, WR, USC

17. Nick Perry, DE, USC

18. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona

19. T.J. McDonald, S, USC

20. Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

21. John White IV, RB, Utah

22. Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford

23. Nickell Robey, CB, USC

24. Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford

25. David Paulson, TE, Oregon

Pac-12 Top 25 for 2011: No. 10

February, 28, 2012
2/28/12
5:30
PM ET
Our countdown of the Pac-12's top 25 players continues as we now move into the top 10.

You can see Ted Miller's preseason top 25 here.

No. 10. Jonathan Martin, LT, Stanford

2011 numbers: Martin protected QB Andrew Luck's blindside and the Cardinal gave up just 11 sacks in 2011, which tied for seventh fewest in the nation. The Cardinal also ranked 18th in the nation with 210.6 yards rushing per game.

Preseason ranking: No. 10

Making the case for Martin: The case will best be made for Martin when he's a first-round NFL draft choice this spring. The 6-foot-6, 304-pound junior opted to enter the draft a year early after earning first-team All-Pac-12 honors for a second consecutive year after being honorable mention as a redshirt freshman. Martin was a preseason first-team Playboy preseason All-America selection and made a number of postseason All-American teams, including Walter Camp (first team) and AP (second team). For two years in a row, Stanford has had the best offensive line in the conference -- in 2010, the Cardinal allowed just six sacks and rushed for 213.8 yards per game. Martin was the cornerstone both years.

No. 11 Keith Price, QB, Washington

No. 12 (tie). Darron Thomas, QB & De'Anthony Thomas, WR-RB, Oregon

13. Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State

14. David DeCastro, OL, Stanford

15. Keenan Allen, WR, California

16. Marqise Lee, WR, USC

17. Nick Perry, DE, USC

18. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona

19. T.J. McDonald, S, USC

20. Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

21. John White IV, RB, Utah

22. Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford

23. Nickell Robey, CB, USC

24. Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford

25. David Paulson, TE, Oregon

Pac-12 Top 25 for 2011: No. 12

February, 27, 2012
2/27/12
7:30
PM ET
Our countdown of the Pac-12's top 25 players continues.

You can see Ted Miller's preseason top 25 here.

No. 12 (tie). Darron Thomas, QB & De'Anthony Thomas, WR-RB, Oregon

2011 numbers: Darron Thomas completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,761 yards with 33 TDs and seven interceptions. He also rushed for 206 yards and three scores. De'Anthony Thomas rushed for 595 yards and seven TDs, averaging 10.8 yards per carry. He caught 46 passes for 605 yards and nine TDs. He averaged 27.3 yards per kick return with two TDs.

Preseason ranking: Darron Thomas was No. 3. De'Anthony Thomas was unranked.

Making the case for the Thomases: No doubting these Thomases! (Yes, this was a screw-up. Yes, one of these guys was inadvertently -- stupidly -- left off of the master top-25 list when the countdown began. So this is the best way to make sure they both get included. The good news is this is about where both would rank). Darron Thomas had a good season but fell a bit in our overall estimation -- he threw and ran for fewer yards than in 2010 -- while De'Anthony Thomas will be the highest rated true freshman. Darron Thomas, despite surprising many with his decision to enter the NFL draft a year early, ranks first in career touchdown passes (66) for Oregon, seventh in passing yards (5,910) and sixth in total offense (6,633). He is the third player in Pac-12 history (USC’s Matt Leinart 2003-04, Stanford’s Andrew Luck 2010-11) with consecutive seasons with 30 or more touchdown passes. And he was outstanding in the Rose Bowl, completing 17 of 23 for 268 yards with three touchdown’s and one interception in the win over Wisconsin.

De'Anthony Thomas was even more outstanding in the Rose Bowl, with a team-high 314 all-purpose yards, carrying the ball twice for 155 yards and two TDs, including a stunningly explosive 91 yard bolt. He also caught four passes for 34 yards. De'Anthony Thomas was the Pac-12 co-offensive freshman of the year and earned first team All-Conference honors as a kick returner. He was the only player in the nation with at least 400 yards rushing, receiving and kick returning. He ranked 11th nationally in all-purpose yards with 147.8 ypg. He earned numerous freshman All-American honors and is already being mentioned as a leading 2012 Heisman Trophy candidate.

13. Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State

14. David DeCastro, OL, Stanford

15. Keenan Allen, WR, California

16. Marqise Lee, WR, USC

17. Nick Perry, DE, USC

18. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona

19. T.J. McDonald, S, USC

20. Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

21. John White IV, RB, Utah

22. Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford

23. Nickell Robey, CB, USC

24. Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford

25. David Paulson, TE, Oregon

Pac-12 Top 25 for 2011: No. 13

February, 24, 2012
2/24/12
2:30
PM ET
Our countdown of the Pac-12's top 25 players continues.

You can see Ted Miller's preseason top 25 here.

13. Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State

2011 numbers: Wilson caught 82 passes for 1,388 yards with 12 touchdowns.

Preseason ranking: No. 25

Making the case for Wilson: Wilson ranked first in the Pac-12 and sixth in the nation with 115.7 yards receiving per game. His 12 touchdown receptions ranked second in the conference. His 16.9 yards per catch ranked third. Everyone who played Washington State knew this: Wilson is the Cougars' most dangerous weapon. And yet Wilson just kept catching passes. In the Cougs' two conference wins -- over Colorado and Arizona State -- he came up particularly big. He hauled in the a 63-yard touchdown with 1:10 left to complete a 31-27 comeback win in Boulder. And he caught eight passes for 223 yards -- yeah, that's 27.9 yards per catch -- and three TDs against the Sun Devils. While Wilson earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors behind USC's Robert Woods and California's Keenan Allen, it's not unreasonable to counter that the 6-foot-4, 183-pound sophomore had the best season of any receiver in the conference in 2011. And with 2,394 yards receiving in two years, he's on pace to write his name in the Washington State and Pac-12 record books.

14. David DeCastro, OL, Stanford

15. Keenan Allen, WR, California

16. Marqise Lee, WR, USC

17. Nick Perry, DE, USC

18. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona

19. T.J. McDonald, S, USC

20. Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

21. John White IV, RB, Utah

22. Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford

23. Nickell Robey, CB, USC

24. Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford

25. David Paulson, TE, Oregon

Pac-12 Top 25 for 2011: No. 15

February, 22, 2012
2/22/12
9:00
AM ET
Our countdown of the Pac-12's top-25 players continues.

You can see Ted Miller's preseason top 25 here.

No. 15 Keenan Allen, WR, California

2011 numbers: Allen caught 98 passes for 1,343 yards with six touchdowns. He averaged 13. 7 yards per reception.

Preseason ranking: Unranked.

Making the case for Allen: Allen earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors after ranking second in the Pac-12 in receiving yards. His 103.3 receiving yards per game ranked 10th in the nation in third in the conference. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound junior put up his huge numbers despite Cal quarterback Zach Maynard -- Allen's half-brother -- ranking 69th in the nation and 10th in the Pac-12 in passing efficiency. If Maynard improves in 2012, Allen's numbers should go up, particularly with the graduation of second-leading receiver Marvin Jones. If there was a downside to Allen's 2011 season, it was him playing better over the first half of the season -- he averaged 138 yards receiving per game in the first six games -- than the second, when he failed to eclipse 100 yards receiving over the final seven games. And you can be sure he'd like to reach the endzone a few more times.

16. Marquis Lee, WR, USC

17. Nick Perry, DE, USC

18. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona

19. T.J. McDonald, S, USC

20. Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

21. John White IV, RB, Utah

22. Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford

23. Nickell Robey, CB, USC

24. Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford

25. David Paulson, TE, Oregon

Pac-12 Top 25 for 2011: No. 16

February, 21, 2012
2/21/12
9:00
AM ET
Our countdown of the Pac-12's top-25 players continues.

You can see Ted Miller's preseason top 25 here.

No. 16 Marqise Lee, WR, USC

2011 numbers: Lee caught 73 passes for 1,143 yards with 11 touchdowns. He also averaged 28.5 yards on 10 kickoff returns, with an 88-yard TD.

Preseason ranking: Unranked.

Making the case for Lee: Lee, 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, was the Trojans' "other" super frosh receiver, but he ended up having the season many predicted for George Farmer and was every bit the equal of All-American Robert Woods by season's end. Lee led the Trojans with 15.7 yards per reception and earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors. He would have led the conference in kickoff returns if he had enough touches to qualify. Further, Lee really stepped up late in the season when Woods was banged-up. He caught seven of his 11 TD passes over the final five games and hauled in 21 passes for 411 yards in the final two -- wins over Oregon and UCLA. Lee and Woods will be widely regarded as the best WR tandem in the nation in 2012. Both will be All-American candidates. (And, don't look now, but it might be harder to earn first-team All-Pac-12 honors at WR than All-American honors.)

17. Nick Perry, DE, USC

18. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona

19. T.J. McDonald, S, USC

20. Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

21. John White IV, RB, Utah

22. Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford

23. Nickell Robey, CB, USC

24. Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford

25. David Paulson, TE, Oregon

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