Pro Football Focus named its midseason All-American team on Thursday. There are plenty of big national names on there — Louisville’s Lamar Jackson at quarterback, Florida State’s Dalvin Cook at running back, Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett and Tennessee’s Derek Barnett at defensive end, etc. The SEC is represented at cornerback, too, but the representative isn’t LSU’s Tre White or Florida’s Quincy Taylor: It’s Missouri’s Aarion Penton.
Cornerback: Aarion Penton, Missouri 90.2 and Desmond King, Iowa 89.5
The nation is loaded with top cornerbacks, but Penton has allowed only 41.5 percent of passes to be completed into his coverage and opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of 38.9 when targeting him. Penton has five passes defensed and three interceptions in the year. King’s three-year consistency since we’ve started grading has been outstanding and he is once again among the top corners in coverage (88.5) while ranking fourth against the run at 86.1. The best tackling cornerback in the nation has missed only seven tackles on 178 attempts over the last three years.
Top graded SEC CBs:— Vinnie Ronca (@PFF_Vinnie) October 27, 2016
Aarion Penton, MIZ
Tre'Davious White, LSU
Minkah Fitzpatrick, BAMA
Taurean Ferguson, VAN
Marlon Humphrey, BAMA
This was, uh, bad. (Also, Aarion Penton is good.) pic.twitter.com/IVpe2x19AE— Trevor Sikkema (@TrevorSikkema) October 17, 2016
Missouri’s defensive front has been a massive disappointment in 2016, but despite a nonexistent pass rush, the pass defense has been strong, and Penton has been the primary reason why. (PFF has also said good things about Penton’s counterpart, John Gibson, as well.)