Feldman’s All-America teams: Deep D-line talent makes for some tough cuts

Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah had a great season, but he was up against tough competition this year.

Rob Ferguson/Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

My colleague Stewart Mandel had trouble narrowing down the list of running backs, but for me this year, by far the toughest position to sort out was on the D-line. At one point, I had Oklahoma State’s Emmanuel Ogbah on the first team. Then, as I went through my process, he got bumped down to second team, and then I had to make room for someone else I felt like I just couldn’t leave off, and so the talented Cowboys player was left off.

Something similar happened with UCLA’s standout DT, Kenny Clark. I just couldn’t leave off Clemson’s Shaq Lawson after all the plays he made this fall for a terrific D that lost so many outstanding players from its front seven.

Pitt’s Ejuan Price emerged as a star (19.5 TFLs) for new coach Pat Narduzzi, but I just couldn’t find a spot for him. Same thing for Mizzou’s super soph Charles Harris (18.5 TFLs), whom SEC coaches keep raving about to me. And same for Jon Bullard of Florida.

FIRST TEAM

POSITION PLAYER TEAM RUNDOWN
QB  Deshaun Watson Clemson Superb soph had a 30-11 TD-INT ratio, also ran for 11 more touchdowns for the nation’s No. 1 team
RB Christian McCaffrey Stanford The nation’s most versatile weapon, McCaffrey broke Barry Sanders’ NCAA record for most all-purpose yards.

RB

Derrick Henry

Alabama Averaged 209 rushing yards in ‘Bama’s last six games against SEC opponents
WR Corey Coleman Baylor Emerged as the nation’s top big-play threat for Baylor; Coleman had 74 catches for 1,363 yards and 20 touchdowns despite the Bears’ QB situation becoming a mess in the last third of the season

WR

Josh Doctson TCU Trevone Boykin’s go-to guy had 79 catches for 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns despite being hobbled late in the season.

TE

Hunter Henry Arkansas Terrific as a blocker and a receiver

OL

Ronnie Stanley Notre Dame The latest in a long line of quality Irish O-linemen, Stanley figures to go as a Top 10 pick.

OL

Spencer Drango Baylor The leader of one of the nation’s top lines
OL Ryan Kelly Alabama

One D-line coach told me the heady senior is the best center he’s faced in years.

OL

Joshua Garnett Stanford In 13 games Garnett had 104 pancakes.
OL Landon Turner North Carolina The cornerstone of the Tar Heels’ surprising season

DL

Andrew Billings Baylor The strongest man in football is also the guy rival Big 12 coaches say is the best player in their league.
DL Carl Nassib Penn State A former walk-on, he had 19.5 TFLs and 15.5 sacks.
DL A’Shawn Robinson Alabama The anchor of the nation’s No. 1 defense
DL Shaq Lawson Clemson The nation’s leader in TFLs (22.5), Lawson has sparked a Tiger D that has played fantastic despite having lost so many key guys to the NFL.
LB Jaylon Smith Notre Dame The most athletic linebacker the Irish may have ever produced
LB Kentrell Brothers Mizzou Led the nation in tackles at 13 stops per game.
LB Reggie Ragland Alabama Made plays all over the field; a guy NFL scouts say was one of the most improved LBs in the nation
DB Vernon Hargreaves Florida Does everything well — and has from the moment he set foot on campus — €”for a very tough defense
DB Desmond King Iowa A junior, King ranked second in the nation with eight interceptions.
DB Jeremy Cash Duke Do-everything guy for the Blue Devils had 18 TFLs, more than 100 tackles and three forced fumbles

DB

Vonn Bell Ohio State Was great down the stretch for the Buckeyes last season and carried it all over to 2015
K Ka’imi Fairbairn UCLA Not only converted 20-of-23 field goals and all 44 of his point-after-kicks this season for the Bruins, but also displayed a huge leg, connecting on a 60-yarder against Cal.
P Tom Hackett Utah In games against ranked opponents, he averaged more than 53 yards per punt.
Ret. Morgan Burns K-State Returned four kickoffs for touchdowns and also scored on a blocked punt

SECOND TEAM

POSITION PLAYER TEAM RUNDOWN
QB Baker Mayfield Oklahoma  The Texas Tech transfer has thrown for 3,389 yards and 35 touchdowns, while rushing for seven more TDs.
RB Leonard Fournette LSU A bruising sophomore with terrific speed, Fournette has rushed for a school-record 1,741 yards and has scored 18 touchdowns.
RB Dalvin Cook Florida State Averaged 7.9 yards per carry despite running behind a rebuilt O-line
WR Will Fuller Notre Dame No top receiver averaged as much per catch as Fuller’s 20.5 ypc.
WR Gabe Marks Washington State No one made any more clutch catches than than the 6-foot, 190-pound junior. In all, he produced 99 catches and 14 TDs for a prolific offense that triggered a stunning 8-4 year in Pullman.
OL Jack Allen Michigan State Faced a lot of terrific D-lineman and always more than held his own
OL Sebastian Tretola Arkansas Tied with Ryan Kelly as the top O-lineman in the SEC
OL Jack Conklin Michigan State Massive junior OT had 65 knockdown blocks this season
OL Jordan Walsh Iowa Steady guard is the best of a terrific Hawkeye front wall
OL Vadal Alexander  LSU Helped pave the way for the SEC’s top rushing offense
TE Jake Butt Michigan No TE makes more big catches in traffic than Butt.
DL Joey Bosa Ohio State  Had 16 tackles for loss for the Buckeyes despite sitting out their opener and dealing with double- and sometimes triple-teams
DL DeForest Buckner Oregon Piled up 16 TFLs as the Pac-12’s best defender
DL Malik McDowell Michigan State When he flips the switch, he’s unblockable. Had 12 TFLs and 2 forced fumbles.
DL Myles Garrett Texas A&M Was a dominator and a game-changer from Week One all the way through. Had 18.5 TFLs despite being double- and triple-teamed and often was held. Also, his attitude helped raise the level of play of A&M DE Daeshon Hall.
LB Blake Martinez Stanford  Great run stopper who piled up 132 tackles — €”about 70 more than anyone else at Stanford
LB Tyler Matakevich Temple A tackling machine for the Owls, making 126 for a very stout D
LB/DB Su’a Cravens USC Fast, versatile and very smart, Cravens made 78 tackles, 14.5 for loss.
DB Jourdan Lewis Michigan Junior DB was all over the field for Michigan, making 21 pass breakups
DB Shawun Lurry NIU Led the nation in picks with nine and came up with 273 return yards
CB William Jackson III Houston Long, physical CB, battled through injuries and still set AAC record for PBUs with 21
DB Jayron Kearse Clemson Freaky 6-5 safety is the nephew of former Florida star Jevon Kearse and cousin of Miami great Phillip Buchanon; did everything for Tigers’ D this fall.
KR Evan Berry Tennessee Led the nation in kick returns and scored three TDs
K Conrad Ukropina Stanford The most improved kicker in the country, was 17-of-19 including the game-winner on the last second vs. Notre Dame
P Drew Kaser Texas A&M Averaged 48 yards per punt for the Aggies this fall