The numbers are in. The PFF All-Decade team was finally announced in its entirety and you guessed it, Cal led the way.
The California Golden Bears didn’t only lead the way, they paced the entire field by a landslide. No school was represented more than Cal on PFF’s top list of 101 best players of the past decade, and no school came even close.
Cal placed six former athletes on the list while no school had five and four schools tied with four alumni represented.
Among those from Cal were, of course, Aaron Rodgers, Marshawn Lynch, Alex Mack, Cameron Jordan, Keenan Allen and Mitchell Schwartz.
Thanks to our friends over at CalSportsReport — it’s also interesting to note that all these players were recruited by, and played for former head coach Jeff Tedford.
Interesting of note, for sure, but also key to the dates utilized here as PFF took into account everything at their disposal over the past 10 years.
Like all other PFF Top 101s, this list isn’t an evaluation of talent, but rather of production, efficiency and performance over a specific time period — in this case, the entire decade.
So, what’d they have to say about your former Golden Bears, and how high were they ranked?
We’ll start at the top:
Aaron Rodgers, No. 6 overall, No. 3 QB (Tom Brady, Drew Brees)
Aaron Rodgers may be on something of a hot seat now, but there was a time when he was the Patrick Mahomes of the NFL and spoken of as the greatest talent the game and position has ever seen. From the tail end of the 2010 season through the following year, there may not have been another quarterback who could hit such heights, and the best of Rodgers was a phenomenal peak of quarterback play. What holds him back from the very top of this list is that he just couldn’t sustain that level, and over the past few seasons has sunk deeper and deeper into a rut of some bad habits. Rodgers remains a very good NFL quarterback, but he was peerless at his best, and that’s what his position on this list is drawing from.
Marshawn Lynch, No. 29 overall, No. 1 RB
No running back was harder to take down over the last decade than Marshawn Lynch was. Lynch didn’t just lead the decade in broken tackles (403 on 1,803 regular-season carries), but he also stepped up his game in the playoffs, breaking 75 tackles on just 211 postseason attempts. Adding in receptions gives him an absurd total of 538 broken tackles over 10 years of play, the last two of which saw him play in relatively limited roles. Lynch’s legacy is tied to that of the great Seattle Seahawks teams early in the decade. He was a vital part of their success and a key reason they won games.
Alex Mack, No. 44, No. 3 center (Travis Frederick, Chris Myers)
Few players have had a career so consistently good as Alex Mack. A first-round draft pick out of Cal back in 2009, Mack then posted 11 straight seasons of good PFF grades. At his peak, however, he was arguably the best center in the NFL. While some players have had better or even longer peaks, Mack’s consistency and reliability earn significant points here. Including postseason play, he has played 10,153 snaps over the decade, been flagged just 44 times and surrendered only 26 sacks while never earning even an “average” grade in any facet of the game PFF measures.
Cameron Jordan, No. 65 overall, No. 6 edge defender
One of the most underrated players in the league, Jordan has had an incredible career as an edge defender despite playing in a “tweener” body that many would have liked to see on the interior. Even at 287 pounds, Jordan challenges offensive tackles on the edge as a pass-rusher, grading at 82.0 or better in each of the last four seasons while annually ranking as one of the league’s best run defenders. The other impressive part of Jordan’s game is his durability, as he’s played at least 950 snaps every year since 2011 while playing over 1,000 five times when you include the playoffs.
Keenan Allen, No. 83 overall, No. 13 wide receiver
One of the slickest route-runners in the game, Keenan Allen doesn’t have the mind-blowing athletic profile of some other receivers, but he can match anyone from a production standpoint. Allen has reeled in more than 90% of the catchable passes thrown his way since he entered the league and generated more than two yards for every pass pattern he has run. There is no real weakness to his game, and he has consistently shown that he will get open at will with some of the best releases off the line of any receiver in football.
Mitchell Schwartz, No. 100 overall, No. 12 tackle
Mitchell Schwartz has been one of the best offensive linemen of the past decade. His run to the Super Bowl last season was one of the greatest postseason performances in NFL history by any player at any position, but it went largely unnoticed because he’s a tackle. Schwartz was a good player in Cleveland to begin his career, but his final season there hinted at how good he could become. In Kansas City, he has kicked on to another level and is able to shut down some of the game’s best pass-rushers in the AFC West. Schwartz has racked up almost 9,000 total snaps over the decade, and it took until last season for him to miss any.
Well there you have it. The analytics have Cal as the best school to produce top-tier talent over the past decade.
Gone should be the discussion of DBU or LBU.
It’s time to start calling Cal NFLU.