Byron Murphy finishes as PFF's No. 1-ranked cornerback in 2018.
Your eyes told you Washington’s defense was good, yet again.
The statistics said so, too.
And now the analytics site Pro Football Focus supports all that as well.
The Huskies finished with the Pac-12’s top-ranked scoring defense for the fourth consecutive season, and they did so with four players who ranked among the top 101 players by PFF College for the 2018 season.
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Here’s a breakdown from PFF of the four Huskies, all of whom are now preparing for the NFL draft:
No. 7: Byron Murphy
The third-year sophomore from Scottsdale, Ariz. — who earlier this week declared for the NFL draft — was PFF’s No. 1-ranked cornerback in college football and the only player west of Texas among the top 10 overall. According to PFF’s analysis, Murphy was targeted 62 times in 2018, and on those 62 pass attempts he allowed just 78 yards after a catch.
No. 12: Ben Burr-Kirven
Washington’s official stats credited BBK with 176 tackles, the most by a Husky since 1989 and No. 7 on UW’s all-time list for a single season. PFF graded the senior from Menlo Park, Calif., as the nation’s No. 1 inside linebacker and No. 2 player in the Pac-12, behind Murphy. PFF added: “Tasked with blitzing the passer just 51 times, BBK was also able to bring in a more-than-respectable 19 QB pressures that included three sacks.”
No. 41: Taylor Rapp
Rapp, a junior from Bellingham, ranked as the nations’ No. 2 safety and No. 5 overall player in the Pac-12, behind Murphy, Burr-Kirven, WSU’s Gardner Minshew (No. 38) and Stanford’s JJ Arcega-Whiteside. PFF wrote: “He blitzed on 41 occasions and came away with 11 pressures that included five sacks, just rounding out an all-around dominant year for one of the nation’s best defenses.” Rapp declared for the NFL draft last week.
No. 52: Greg Gaines
Gaines, a senior from La Habra, Calif., ranked No. 7 in the Pac-12 and joined rare company among interior defensive linemen. PFF wrote: “Far more than just a run stopper in 2018, Gaines stepped up his pass-rushing ability to the tune of 45 total QB pressures, bullying his way to a 77.9 pass-rushing grade. This is in no fashion to say he didn’t continue his run-stopping prowess as he tallied 36 total defensive stops as he joined just Quinnen Williams and Christian Wilkins in recording at least 40 pressures and at least 35 stops.”
No. 1 on the list? That would be Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams, with a grade of 96.0.
Oklahoma QB Kyler Murry, the Heisman winner, was No. 2 at 94.8.
No other Pac-12 program had more than one player in the top 101.
You can find the full list here.