LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- ProFootballFocus delivered its list of the guys they project will be the top-50 players in college football during the 2021 season, and Kentucky as well as Indiana put one player on the list.
That’s never been a lock.
Top-50 guys are playmakers, difference-makers and guys who are absolutely on the NFL radar. Anthony Treash of PFFocus said the selections were made after evaluating video as well as stats and play-grades.
The top-ranked local player is Indiana cornerback Tiawan Mullen, a junior who projects as an NFL draft pick next season. PFFocus ranked Mullen the 28th-best player in the nation.
There are several reasons. Although he is only 5 feet 10 inches tall and 175 pounds, Mullen has the highest run-defense grade among cornerbacks since 2019.
Here is what truly separates Mullen: He has allowed 40 receiving yards in his coverage area in one game over the last two seasons.
For the record, Phil Steele’s College Football Yearbook ranked Mullen as only the 15th-best cornerback in the nation. Might be the size issue.
Mullen is a first cousin of former Louisville quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson. He’s also the younger brother of Trayvon Mullen, who starred at Clemson before joining the Las Vegas Raiders.
And Mullen’s younger brother, Trevell, is a four-star cornerback from Coconut Creek High School in Pompano Beach, Florida, who has orally committed to play for the Hoosiers next season.
Kentucky’s top-50 player is the latest in an impressive string of UK offensive lineman: tackle Darian Kinnard. He earned the No. 31 ranking after grading as one of the top-10 run blockers in college football in consecutive seasons.
PFF rated Kinnard’s pass-blocking as good, but his zone run blocking is considered the best in college football.
Steele evaluated Kinnard as a guard, not a center, as an NFL prospect, ranking him second at that position behind Kenyon Green of Texas A&M. Kinnard is listed at 6 feet 5 inches tall and 345 pounds.
Several takeaways from the top-50 list:
*Ohio State and Alabama were the only programs to put four players on the list. The Buckeyes were led by receiver Chris Olave, No. 11, while Alabama’s top performer was No. 15, cornerback Josh Jobe.
Louisiana State, Georgia and Oklahoma were represented by three players, while Auburn, Penn State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Washington and Cincinnati had a pair.
*As expected, the Southeastern Conference topped the list with 16 players from eight programs. The programs without a top-50 player were Tennessee, South Carolina, Missouri, Vanderbilt. Ole Miss and Mississippi State. UK plays five of those teams.
The Big Ten ranked second with 11 players, while the Big 12 was next with nine.
Only five Atlantic Coast Conference players made the PFF list: North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell (No. 12); Clemson receiver Justyn Ross (No. 20); Miami quarterback D’Eriq King (No. 23); North Carolina State center Grant Gibson (No. 33) and UNC cornerback Storm Duck (No. 47).
*PFF ranked Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler as the nation’s top player, ahead of LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. and Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum.
Rattler, Howell and King were the only three quarterbacks on the list, which featured 31 defensive players and 19 guys on offense.
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