College football's top 50 players: A new No. 1 flies past Lamar Jackson

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For the first two months of the season, Louisville's Lamar Jackson dominated every debate about the nation's best player.

And rightfully so: It's hard to argue with Jackson's 51 touchdowns, 3,390 passing yards and 1,538 rushing yards.

But please welcome a new No. 1 player, Oklahoma's breakout star receiver Dede Westbrook, to the top of ESPN's CFB Rank through the end of November.

We asked 10 writers to grade players from across the country on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best performance possible. Here are our experts' top 50 players after eight weeks.


Dede Westbrook
Oklahoma Sooners
Senior | Wide receiver
Score: 9.9

Previous rank: 9

His emergence helped transform the OU offense after a slow start. The 6-foot senior leads the Power 5 in receiving yards per game, and his 11 touchdowns of 40 yards or longer rate as the most by a single player since 1998. Only eight teams nationally have more receptions of 60-plus yards than Westbrook's five. -- Mitch Sherman


Lamar Jackson
Louisville Cardinals
Sophomore | Quarterback
Score: 9.8

Previous rank: 1

Louisville ended the regular season with two losses, but Jackson had an incredible year by any standard. The sophomore racked up 4,928 total yards and an ACC-record 51 touchdowns. He also ranked in the top 11 nationally in rushing, passing, total offense and points scored. He still remains the Heisman Trophy favorite. -- Andrea Adelson

Jonathan Allen
Alabama Crimson Tide
Senior | Defensive lineman?
Score: 9.75
Previous rank: 3

The senior's nearly 300-pound frame comes in handy when stopping the run, but don't let that fool you into thinking he isn't athletic. He's first on the team in quarterback hurries (13), third on sacks (seven) and even has a pair of touchdowns. -- Alex Scarborough


D'Onta Foreman
Texas Longhorns
Junior | Running back
Score: 9.7
Previous rank: unranked

Foreman is the national leader in rushing yards and rushing attempts; the 250-pound junior served as a battering ram for the Longhorns. Despite upheaval around him, Foreman did not dip below 124 yards in 11 games, finishing with 2,028 -- the second-highest season total at Texas. -- Mitch Sherman


Jabrill Peppers
Michigan Wolverines
Junior | Linebacker
Score: 9.65

Previous rank: 2

The different ways he contributes make it hard to quantify Peppers' impact on a game. His 6.2 yards per carry, 14.5 yards per punt return and team-leading 16 tackles for loss, though, speak to the always-present threat for him to make a big play. -- Dan Murphy


Adoree' Jackson
USC Trojans
Junior | Defensive back
Score: 9.6
Previous rank: 41

Jackson is garnering late Heisman Trophy buzz, especially after his three-touchdown effort against Notre Dame. He scored on a kick return, a punt return and a reception, celebrating with a Heisman pose in the end zone that he later said was an homage to former USC running back Reggie Bush. Jackson is a superhuman athlete who leads USC with four interceptions and is fourth on the team with 51 tackles, so he's excelling in all phases. Maybe he'll throw a touchdown pass in USC's bowl game. -- David Lombardi


Jourdan Lewis
Michigan Wolverines
Senior | Cornerback
Score: 9.55
Previous rank: 17

The Thorpe Award finalist has been thwarting receivers consistently for two years. With 11 pass breakups and two interceptions this season, Lewis has put his hands on a pass thrown in his direction more often than the intended target. -- Dan Murphy


Dalvin Cook
Florida State Seminoles
Junior | Running back
Score: 9.5
Previous rank: 15

Remember way back in September when everyone was asking what's wrong with Cook? Since the Louisville loss, Cook has rushed for 100 yards in eight of nine games, and with his introduction to the passing game, he is second among Power 5 players in scrimmage yards with 2,046. -- Jared Shanker

Baker Mayfield
Oklahoma Sooners
Junior | Quarterback
Score: 9.45
Previous rank: 30

The 6-foot-1 junior leads the nation in QBR, passer-efficiency rating and yards per attempt, while ranking second in completion percentage and fifth in touchdown passes. Mayfield has led the Sooners to eight consecutive wins while throwing 28 touchdowns and four interceptions. -- Mitch Sherman


Donnel Pumphrey
San Diego State Aztecs
Senior | Running back
Score: 9.4
Previous rank: 5

Pumphrey needs to average 109 yards per game in his final two contests -- the Mountain West Championship and a bowl game -- to pass Ron Dayne atop the NCAA all-time rushing list. As it stands, Pumphrey broke his own SDSU single-season rushing record (1,908 yards) and has 15 rushing touchdowns this season, giving him 65 total TDs for his career, which is tied for ninth all-time in FBS. -- David Lombardi


Deshaun Watson
Clemson Tigers
Junior | Quarterback
Score: 9.35
Previous rank: 8

The Clemson QB has been under the microscope all season thanks to sky-high expectations, but while his interception totals are up and his rushing numbers are down, he still has the Tigers poised for a playoff bid. Moreover, no QB in the country was better over the final month of the season, when Watson completed 75 percent of his passes with 15 total touchdowns and 1,411 total yards. -- David M. Hale


Reuben Foster
Alabama Crimson Tide
Senior | Linebacker
Score: 9.3

Previous rank: 11

If Foster's No. 1 job is to quarterback the defense, he's doing quite well at it. Alabama hasn't given up a touchdown all month. What's more, he's a playmaker with 83 tackles, which is 20 more than the nearest teammate. -- Alex Scarborough


Minkah Fitzpatrick
Alabama Crimson Tide
Sophomore | Defensive back
Score: 9.25

Previous rank: 14

Good luck finding a more versatile defensive back in the SEC. He started the season at corner, shifted to safety to fill in for Eddie Jackson and has a team-high four interceptions. -- Alex Scarborough


Raekwon McMillan
Ohio State Buckeyes
Junior | Linebacker
Score: 9.2
Previous rank: 12

The junior's individual numbers are slightly down from his sophomore season, but there has never been any question from Ohio State's coaching staff that the captain and defensive quarterback is playing at the highest level of his career with so much youth around him. -- Austin Ward


Amba Etta-Tawo
Syracuse Orange
Senior | Wide receiver
Score: 9.15
Previous rank: 33

The Maryland graduate transfer made the most of his fifth and final college year, catching 94 passes for 1,482 yards and 14 touchdowns, including a program single-game record of five touchdowns in the finale at Pitt. That game also marked his seventh 100-yard receiving game, which is a school single-season record. -- Matt Fortuna


Malik Hooker
Ohio State Buckeyes
Sophomore | Defensive back
Score: 9.1
Previous rank: 20

With no prior starting experience for the Buckeyes, the redshirt sophomore blossomed into arguably the nation's most opportunistic defender with six interceptions, including three returned for TDs. If he returns for another season, look out. -- Austin Ward


Jake Browning
Washington Huskies
Sophomore | Quarterback
Score: 9.05
Previous rank: 4

He has thrown a touchdown pass on 12.2 percent of his attempts this season, which is on pace to break a 47-year-old FBS record. Browning seems to be the perfect QB at the controls of Chris Petersen's hyper-efficient attack. The quarterback has manipulated defenses masterfully, and his 40 touchdown passes is best in the Pac-12. Mistakes have been few and far between, and the sophomore's progress this season is the biggest reason why Washington is playing for a Pac-12 championship and a playoff berth. -- David Lombardi


Derek Barnett
Tennessee Volunteers
Junior | Defensive end
Score: 9.0
Previous rank: 6

With 12 sacks on the season, Barnett now has 32 for his career, tying Tennessee sack leader Reggie White (1980-83). Barnett has recorded at least 10 sacks in each of his three seasons at Tennessee, and he also has an SEC-high 18 tackles for loss this season. -- Edward Aschoff


Christian McCaffrey
Stanford Cardinal
Junior | Running back
Score: 8.95
Previous rank: unranked

McCaffrey has been even better this season than during his record-breaking 2015 run, but his supporting cast has been worse. Consider this: McCaffrey is averaging 146 rushing yards per game on 6.3 yards per attempt this season, compared to 144 rushing yards per game on 6.0 yards per attempt last season. That comes despite playing through injury, alongside new quarterbacks, and behind a worse offensive line. Will McCaffrey declare for the NFL draft after this season? -- David Lombardi


Demarcus Walker
Florida State Seminoles
Senior | Defensive end
Score: 8.90
Previous rank: 27

When Walker returned to Florida State for his senior season, he did so with the goal of reaching 15 sacks and forcing himself into any discussion regarding the school's best pass-rushers. He reached 15 sacks, tied for most in the country, and he is third on the Seminoles' career sacks list. He'll be remembered most for coming up with big plays, like the "Block at Hard Rock," which sealed a seventh straight win over Miami. -- Jared Shanker


Myles Garrett
Texas A&M Aggies
Junior | Defensive line
Score: 8.85
Previous rank: 7

Despite playing 10 games and being bothered by a leg injury for half the season, Garrett still finished fourth in the SEC in tackles for loss (15) and sixth in sacks (8.5). When healthy, he was one of the country's best defensive players. -- Sam Khan


Ed Oliver
Houston Cougars
Freshman | Defensive tackle
Score: 8.80
Previous rank: unranked

Oliver was simply dominant, particularly in Houston's biggest games. He is ninth nationally in tackles for loss (19.5) and first among defensive linemen in pass breakups (nine). He was one of the biggest reasons Houston upset both Oklahoma and Louisville, with two sacks apiece. -- Sam Khan


Saquon Barkley
Penn State Nittany Lions
Sophomore | Running back
Score: 8.75
Previous rank: 46

A truly gifted backfield weapon, Barkley put the program on his back to lead the Nittany Lions' resurgence. Nobody in the Big Ten found the end zone more often than Barkley, who finished the regular season with 17 touchdowns. -- Austin Ward


Christian Wilkins
Clemson Tigers
Sophomore | Defensive line
Score: 8.70
Previous rank: 16

It's true that Wilkins isn't the ACC's best edge rusher. His 3.5 sacks ranked 36th in the league. But looking at Wilkins as a standard defensive end misses the point. He has worked both inside and out on the line, racked up 12 tackles for loss, broken up seven passes, played on offense and special teams, scoring a TD and blocking a crucial field goal in a Tigers overtime win against NC State. He does a little bit of everything, and he does it all really well. -- David M. Hale


Budda Baker
Washington Huskies
Junior | Defensive back
Score: 8.65
Previous rank: 28

The Huskies have the top-ranked run defense and the second-ranked pass defense in the Pac-12, and Baker is a big part of both efforts. He's the field general of Washington's imposing secondary. Baker has been especially impressive in run support this season, covering big ground and beating blocks whenever opponents try to take it to the perimeter. He's second on the Huskies with 61 tackles and leads the team with nine tackles for loss and has two interceptions. -- David Lombardi


Teez Tabor
Florida Gators
Junior | Defensive back
Score: 8.60
Previous rank: 13

Tabor hasn't had the eye-popping stats this season, but he's still considered a first-round draft pick with his excellent shutdown corner skills. He has four interceptions and has defended nine passes on the season. -- Edward Aschoff


John Ross III
Washington Huskies
Junior | Wide receiver
Score: 8.55
Previous rank: unranked

Ross is likely the fastest player in the Pac-12 -- he ran a 4.25 hand-timed 40-yard dash this past offseason -- and his speed has opened up big windows for the rest of Washington's receiving corps. No secondary has been able to completely shut down Ross, and he leads all Power 5 receivers with 16 touchdown catches. He's also a threat on special teams, averaging 26.8 yards on kickoff returns. -- David Lombardi


T.J. Watt
Wisconsin Badgers
Junior | Linebacker
Score: 8.50
Previous rank: 36

Only two linebackers in college football have more sacks than Watt's 9.5 this season. More importantly, he's the leader and catalyst of a Wisconsin defense that is ranked third in the nation in points allowed and rushing yards allowed. -- Dan Murphy


Desmond King
Iowa Hawkeyes
Senior | Defensive back
Score: 8.45
Previous rank: 24


Quarterbacks have largely steered clear of King, making it a sometimes frustrating season for the defending Thorpe Award winner. He did take one of his two interceptions this season back to the house and has been able to regularly contribute in the return game. -- Dan Murphy


Mike Williams
Clemson Tigers
Junior | Wide receiver
Score: 8.40
Previous rank: unranked

It's almost hard to figure how Clemson survived last season without Williams, who missed nearly the entire year with a neck injury. Now that he's back, he has proven to be one of the country's most dynamic receiving threats, racking up 79 catches, 1,114 yards and 10 touchdowns. His 27 targets in the red zone this season are tops in the nation, and he has caught nine of them for TDs. -- David M. Hale


Jalen Hurts
Alabama Crimson Tide
Freshman | Quarterback
Score: 8.35
Previous rank: 26

The true freshman has executed the zone-read to near perfection in Tuscaloosa and now has seven games in which he has thrown and run for a touchdown. This season, Hurts, who could sneak into the Heisman talk, has 2,454 passing yards, 840 rushing yards and 32 total touchdowns. -- Edward Aschoff


JuJu Smith-Schuster
USC Trojans
Junior | Wide receiver
Score: 8.30
Previous rank: unranked


Smith-Schuster entered the season as the Pac-12's top NFL draft prospect at receiver, and although his numbers have dropped following a very productive 2015, he's still having a good season: 63 catches, 781 yards and nine receiving touchdowns. Quarterback Sam Darnold has done an excellent job spreading the ball around, so it's not a one-man show at USC. -- David Lombardi


Ejuan Price
Pittsburgh Panthers
Senior | Defensive line
Score: 8.25
Previous rank: 23

Price proved once again he is among the best pass-rushers in the country, racking up 12 sacks (tied for fifth nationally), 21 tackles for loss (second nationally) and 13 quarterback hurries. Exactly half of his 42 total tackles this season were behind the line of scrimmage. -- Andrea Adelson


Tim Williams
Alabama Crimson Tide
Senior | Linebacker
Score: 8.20
Previous rank: 10

One word comes up among opposing coaches when discussing Williams: elite. Using speed and power, the outside linebacker is a menace off the edge, leading Alabama with eight sacks. -- Alex Scarborough


Jake Butt
Michigan Wolverines
Senior | Tight end
Score: 8.15
Previous rank: unranked

The steady, sure-handed tight end made 43 catches for 518 yards in an offense that likes to spread the ball to all of its many options. He took strides as a blocker this season that should help his NFL draft stock. -- Dan Murphy


James Conner
Pittsburgh Panthers
Junior | Running back
Score: 8.10
Previous rank: unranked


What more can be said about this cancer conqueror? Conner notched his second career 1,000-yard season, this after missing nearly all of 2015 with an MCL tear (before beating Hodgkin lymphoma in the offseason). He also has 56 career total touchdowns, which is an ACC record (along with an ACC-record 52 career rushing touchdowns). -- Matt Fortuna


Ethan Pocic
LSU Tigers
Senior | Center
Score: 8.05
Previous rank: 37

The LSU senior showed his versatility by chipping in at left tackle this season, but he returned to his natural position, center, where he helped the Tigers boast one of the nation's top rushing attacks at 238.1 yards per game. -- David Ching


Carl Lawson
Auburn Tigers
Junior | Defensive line
Score: 8.00
Previous rank: 29

Lawson excelled in the SEC this season, recording 28 tackles with 13 for loss. The defensive end's 9.5 sacks tied for third in the conference. -- David Ching

Tarvarus McFadden
Florida State Seminoles
Sophomore | Defensive back
Score: 7.95
Previous rank: unranked


It was a tough first five games for McFadden, who gave up a handful of big plays and was called for a crucial pass interference in the loss to North Carolina. He has emerged as one of the country's best cornerbacks over the season's second half, however, and his eight interceptions are tied for the national lead. Moving forward, quarterbacks will be reluctant to throw the ball at him. -- Jared Shanker


Pat Elflein
Ohio State Buckeyes
Senior | Offensive line
Score: 7.90
Previous rank: 32

The decision to return for another season clearly paid off for the senior, who moved over to center, enhanced his draft stock and set up the Buckeyes for another run at a national title. Ohio State will miss him dearly when he's gone. -- Austin Ward


Sam Darnold
USC Trojans
Freshman | Quarterback
Score: 7.85
Previous rank: unranked


He makes a strong case to be considered the Pac-12's best quarterback, and it's hard to find another player who so singularly transformed a team's fortunes. Darnold's QBR is second nationally to only Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield. His athleticism and excellent pocket awareness is on display every week. USC's win over Notre Dame featured more impressive escapes and accurate throws downfield. Expect Darnold to continue his rapid climb up this list. -- David Lombardi


J.T. Barrett
Ohio State Buckeyes
Junior | Quarterback
Score: 7.80
Previous rank: 25

Barrett slipped a bit in the national pecking order by his own sky-high standards, thanks to some rough patches as a passer. But where would the Buckeyes be without him? Certainly not 11-1 and in position for a spot in the College Football Playoff. -- Austin Ward


Zay Jones
East Carolina Pirates
Senior | Wide receiver
Score: 7.75
Previous rank: unranked

How good was Jones this season? He hauled in 158 catches, which not only led the nation but was 45 more than anyone else in the country. The difference between Jones and the No. 2 pass catcher was the same as the difference between No. 2 and No. 33. In the process, he set the NCAA mark for receptions and totaled 1,746 yards -- 44 percent of ECU's team total. -- David M. Hale


James Washington
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Junior | Wide receiver
Score: 7.70
Previous rank: 43

His 296 receiving yards against Pitt remain the most by any player against a Power 5 opponent this season. The 6-foot junior leads all active players with 25 career TD catches, and he's one of three players this season with 60 or more catches to average 19 yards per reception. -- Mitch Sherman


Dorian Johnson
Pittsburgh Panthers
Senior | Offensive line
Score: 7.65
Previous rank: unranked

Johnson was the stalwart on the best offensive line in the ACC, and he helped pave the way for the Panthers to average 229.8 yards per game on the ground. He also helped keep quarterback Nathan Peterman upright; Johnson did not surrender a sack this season. -- Andrea Adelson


Ben Boulware
Clemson Tigers
Senior | Linebacker
Score: 7.60
Previous rank: 35


Boulware is the heart and soul of a Clemson defense that has continued its winning ways under coordinator Brent Venables. The senior leads the team with 103 tackles, including nine for loss and four sacks. Everyone noticed, as Boulware led defensive players in All-ACC voting. -- Matt Fortuna


Cam Robinson
Alabama Crimson Tide
Junior | Offensive line
Score: 7.55
Previous rank: 42


His junior season started off a bit rocky, but Robinson has found some balance of late, keeping premier pass-rushers such as Texas A&M's Myles Garrett and Auburn's Carl Lawson off quarterback Jalen Hurts. -- Alex Scarborough


Evan Engram
Ole Miss Rebels
Senior | Tight end
Score: 7.50
Previous rank: 34

Despite not playing the final game due to injury, Engram still led all SEC tight ends in receptions, yards and touchdowns. His 926 receiving yards was second among all players in the conference and first among all tight ends nationally. -- Greg Ostendorf


Arden Key
LSU Tigers
Sophomore | Defensive end
Score: 7.45
Previous rank: 19

Key established himself as one of the nation's top pass-rushers, ranking second in the SEC with 10 sacks. As one of 15 FBS players with double-digit sacks, Key is the only member of the group who appeared in just 10 games. -- David Ching


Carlos Watkins
Clemson Tigers
Sophomore | Defensive end
Score: 7.40
Previous rank: 44


Watkins has been a steady force for the interior of Clemson's defensive line since last season, but he is in the middle of a career year in 2016. The 305-pound tackle leads the Tigers with a career-high 7.5 sacks to go with 60 tackles and 12 quarterback hurries. --Andrea Adelson