The SEC has been a talented division in college football and an NFL factory for decades. This year is no different as they are cranking more prospects with potential to become elite players in the NFL. The SEC class in 2014 is a bit weaker in areas such as running back and quarterback, but the offensive linemen, receivers and defensive line are all loaded with talent for May’s draft.
1st String - Johnny Manziel (TAMU) : Right off the bat we have a semi-controversial pick. However, in today’s NFL the need for a dynamic passer and game changer is needed in order to win these days. Manziel has great mobility and is a few mechanical fixes from having good arm strength. While he is a bit mentally and physically young/raw he is a few steps away from being an NFL game changer.
2nd String – AJ McCarron (Alabama): McCarron has enjoyed two years starting at Alabama, both as a passer and as a winner. McCarron is not someone who will take over a game as a strong armed gunslinger or as a runner, but he is intelligent and poised with accuracy and very nice touch. There is some fear he is purely a product of Alabama’s talented supporting cast, but he has the gifts to be a backup at the least in the NFL.
1st String – Alfred Blue (LSU): Blue is a bull, no doubt about that. What he lacks in top end speed, he makes up for in phenomenal acceleration and pure size (6-1/220). He is a chore to bring down and he will always churn his legs for an extra yard, that is the kind of running back needed on a team
1st String – LaDarius Perkins (Mississippi State): Because of all the talented runners in the SEC, Perkins often gets overlooked because he is rather new to the scene as last year was his first year as the lead back. Perkins is not someone who will wow anyone with size (5-10/195) or his speed, but he is a smart runningback with good overall vision who also plays a lot bigger than he is. He also has the ability to contribute in the passing game.
2nd String – Tre Mason (Auburn): Tre was one of the few bright spots on a terrible Auburn team last year, but he was sure to take advantage of every opportunity he got by averaging almost 6 yards per carry. He is quick twitch athlete who has decent agility but will win a majority of the time with his top end speed. His size may (5-9/190) limit him in the NFL, but if he is able to add 15 pounds… Watch out.
1st String – Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt)- Like a lot of the great receivers in the SEC, Matthews wins with a big framed body (6-3/205). While he needs to add some weight, he has the body to be able to hold up as a number 1 at the next level. He is a solid route runner who is willing to go across the middle and make the difficult catches. While he is not a speed freak, he uses his body well to create after the catch and in space.
1st String - Donte Moncrief (Ole Miss)- If Moncrief had a slightly better QB, he may have led the conference in receiving. Moncrief is another big body (6-2/224) that will dominate corners with that build. Moncrief has great body control and will fight for every 50-50 ball and most times he will come down with it. He has underrated YAC ability, but this is someone who will change a game on a week to week basis, especially in the red zone.
Slot Receiver – Jarvis Landry (LSU): Landry may be one of the most underrated receivers in the entire country. Mostly because his production was hindered by LSU’s offensive philosophy and his quarterbacks maturation took a while over the course of the season. Landry, however, is one of the best slot prospects in the country. He has great hands, body control, and route running ability that allows him to get open consistently. He does have ball security issues he has to fix. His size (6-0/190) is not the type you put on the outside, but he will thrive in the slot at the next level.
2nd String – Mike Evans (TAMU): Evans does have the athletic potential to shoot up this depth chart, to be honest. The 6-5, 225 pound former basketball player exploded his freshman year for over 1,100 yards and was a big factor in Johnny Manziel’s passing sucsess. He is a huge target with great vertical ability and enough speed to makes YAC. Has elite potential but needs a lot to jump over the more polished prospects.
1st String – Arthur Lynch (Georgia): Arthur Lynch is an incredibly well balanced tight end. He brings it all to the table in the form or run blocking, pass blocking, and very good receiving ability. He has above average speed that helps him get down field and create YAC. More impressive is what he brings as a blocker, he uses strength and leverage very well to push guys around and open up holes for the talented running backs in Georgia, that kind of balance in someone’s game is incredibly valuable.
2nd Strong – Jay Rome (Georgia): If only Aaron Murray was able to utilize all of the nice weapons he is afforded with… Rome an incredibly athletic prospect who moves and catches like he should be split out wide. It is yet to be seen how be performs in a starting role, but his potential is out of this world.
Right Tackle – Jake Matthews (TAMU): Though he has the incredible athletic ability to play left tackle, this is currently where he has the most experience and therefore will be given the top job because of his talents over other tackle prospects. Matthews is a dominant run blocker who uses his speed and his strength to bully any defender in his path. He is a near elite prospect who I think is a top 5 selection next year.
2nd String – Ju’Wan James (Tennessee)- James is a big man (6-6/324) who uses his size to dominate those at the LOS. While he needs to continue to work on how he uses his hands and his kick back, the fact that he is a dominant blocker using purely size and strength bodes well for when he puts it all together,
Left Tackle – Antonio Richardson (Tennessee): As good as Matthews is as a run blocker, “Tiny” Richardson is right there as a pass protector. His footwork mixed with his strength allow him to anchor a line in pass pro and keep his QB upright. Just watch his work on Jadaveon Clowney, he was one of the few who were able to really keep him in check over the course of a game.
2nd String – Cyrus Kouandjio (Alabama): To be honest, I do not see this being his fit at the next level. Often Eddy Lacy or Chance Warmack helped him when he was blocking and rarely did he consistently hold up on his own. I would much prefer him play guard, but there is no doubt that his intelligence on the football field is valuable at the next level. He just needs to use his body a lot better in order to win match ups.
1st String – Gabe Jackson (Mississippi): “Big Gabe” Jackson is favorite among many in the scoutingcommunity in this upcoming draft. He is a 6’4”, 320 Lbs. bulldozer. He is a quick mover for a man his size and has the strength to push with the best of him. He has flashed brilliance in both the run and pass game but breakdowns in his technique will sometimes fault his play. But when he is on, he can be seen stonewalling the best and strongest defenders.
1st String – Anthony Steen (Alabama): Anthony Steen, though athletically gifted, is going to impress more with his on field instincts, intelligence and technique. In both the run game and pass protection, Steen uses leverage, angles and anticipation in order to set up a defender. Rarely does he lose fundamentals and try to strong arm a defender. It is that kind of mental consistency that is needed along an offensive line.
2nd string – Chris Burnett (Georgia): Burnett is a relatively low flying prospect. He is not someone who will dominate the filed, but he is a solid run blocker who needs to work on his footwork in pass protection in order to be effective at the next level.
2nd String – Zach Fulton (Tennessee): If you were wondering, Tennessee has a very good offensive line… Fulton is a great pass protector and could play either guard protection seeing that he is competent in the run game as well. I would prefer him being a left guard, seeing that he is such a good pass protector.
1st String – Travis Swanson (Arkansas)- At 6’4” 314, Swanson is the big man in the middle of the Arkansas line. He is quick for a man his size and will eat up defenders in the run game. He needs to improve his technique in pass protection, but he is a leader and road paver who could lead an O-line for years.
2nd String – James Stone (Tennessee): Another day, another very talented pass blocker from Tennessee. Stone spearheads the talented line in Knoxville. Stone is an intelligent player who quarterbacks the line and uses his strength and instinct to hold up in pass pro, but his ability to grind in the run game needs to improve for him to be more complete.
4-3 Base Defense
1st String – Jadeveon Clowney (South Caroline): What is there that has not been said about Clowney? He is the Andrew Luck of defense, a once in a generation talent. He is an athletic freak who can speed rush, bull rush, chase down from the back end, do it all. He has a tendancy to come out his stance poorly and get bad leverage, but he uses sheer athleticism to win matchups with blockers in those cases when he can consistently use his body correctly, there is no doubt he is the best prospect at his position, ever…
1st String – Chris Smith (Arkansas): Smith is a smaller DE (6-2/266) who may be suited better as a rush linebacker at the next level. He is a fast moving athlete who has one of the scarier first steps in the SEC. He anticipates the snap well and charges up field, almost to a fault, but he is an intriguing prospect for the next level.
2nd String – Trey Flowers (Arkansas): Flowers is another guy who has similar measurables to his teammate, Chris Smith. Though Flowers has been more productive, He is a little bit lighter (20 lbs lighter than Smith) so his versatility could a knock on him at the next level unless he is able to put on weight.
2nd String- Adrian Hubbard (Alabama): For all of the shtick I have given Hubbard, he is still a very good player. He is a great athlete who will be able to use his length and speed at the next level to rush the passer. His awareness in the run game is a concern, but he can be effective if he is brought in on passing downs early in his career.
1st String – Dominique Easley (Florida): Easley could play a 3-tech in a 4-3 or a 5-tech in a 3-4. He incredibly athletic and has elite ability to get behind the LOS and reat havoc. He has some issues with his stance but when his fundamentals are on, so is he and he is a wrecking crew.
1st String – Daniel McCullers (Tennessee): McCullers is a classic nose guard at 6’6” and almost 360 pounds. He is a strong, strong man, who will collapse a pocket and literally devour guards, centers and running backs. His ability to literally eat up space and allow for DEs and other pass rushers to flow to the ball.
2nd String - Anthony Johnson (LSU): Johnson is an athletic freak, but he is beyond raw at this point, both in the mental and technical aspects of the position. However, he has flashed freakish ability and big play potential at LSU. I am willing to take a flyer on a developmental guy like Johnson who could break out, big time.
2nd String – Ed Stinson (Alabama): Stinson is another tweener who could be a fit at DE or DT. But for a 6-4, 284 pounder who looks like he can throw some more weight on, I would take him inside. He has pass rush abilities with good length, but his awareness in the run game is something I value very much.
1st String – AJ Johnson (Tennessee): Johnson is an instinctual leader on defense. He diagnoses plays well and is able to sift through blocks and flow to the ball carrier, he is not top notch in coverage, but he flows to the ball well and could easily man a defense in the middle.
2nd String – Lamin Barrow (LSU): LSU has done a great jo of cranking out LBs and Barrow is following in that line of success. Barrow does a great job in coverage and has the nose for the run game. I would like him to add some size to hold up in the running game.
1st String – CJ Mosley (Alabama): Mosley could play at any linebacking position and he is a top 10 talent. He can cover, run stop and is an intelligent blitzer. He would be a fine piece in any defensive scheme and I think that he will succeed where he is drafted.
1st String -Trey Depriest (Alabama): Depriest benefits from having the best linebacker in the country, Mosley, and therefore has a great role model on how to play the pisition. While he doesn’t have Mosley’s versatility, though he is able to defend the run and he can play along the linebacker positions in a 4-3.
2nd String – Avery Williamson (Kentucky): Williamson was a bright spot on a dark Kentucky defense. His instincts led him to be the leading tackler on the Kentucky Defense. He flows to the ball and is able to wrap up and finish the tackle well.
2nd String – Mike Marry (Ole Miss): Marry started only 9 games for the Rebels in 2012 but was still able to lead the team in tackles. Being a linebacker in a 4-3 is less about being an athlete and more about intelligence and instincts. Marry diagnoses the plays consistently and is always around the ball. High Effort player.
1st String – Marcus Roberson (Florida): People will bang the table for Louchiez Purifoy, but he is not a polished player at this point. Roberson is the much more polished CB and is able to play the receiver and the ball very well. He has very good awareness and he is a much better football player than his teammate.
1st String – Andre Hal (Vanderbilt): Hal is an intelligent football player. He plays the receiver very well and is able to highpoint the ball in 50-50 situations. He has solid athletic ability as evident in his vertical ability and his ability to move on special teams as a kick returner.
2nd String - Loucheiz Purifoy (Florida): Purifoy may not be a brilliant football player, but his athletic ability is undeniable. He passes the eyeball test at something like the combine but on the field he is far from a finished product. He needs to be coached up a lot, but he does have high potential. Maybe a move to free safety may serve him well where he could use his range in zone.
2nd String - Deshazor Everett (TAMU): A long bodied defender at 6 foot, Everett is a physical corner who likes to get into it with the receiver. He is not a phenomenal athlete, but he uses his length and technique in order to make plays on the ball and keep a blanket in coverage.
1st String – Craig Loston (LSU): Loston is a big play machine. Probably a bit too much. He is always looking for the interception or for the big hit and players can and have taken advantage of that. However, when he makes that play, it is a tone changer. He hits harder than most of the players in the country and can dominate as an in the box safety. He needs to pull back a little bit, but he is a cruise missile on the field.
2nd String – Vinnie Sunseri (Alabama): Sunserie did not get a lot of playing time with Dix and Lester starting last year, but when he got out on the field he was much better than Lester. Sunserie has great range but the Alabama scheme has given him experience in the box as well. Alabama has churned out DBs recently and Sunserie has given me no reason to think he will not follow.
1st String – Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix (Alabama): Dix is head and shoulders above any other safety prospect in this class at this point. He has great range, ball skills and he can come down and provide run support. He has issues with tackling form but he is more than willing to come up and hit.
2nd String – Kenny Ladler (Vanderbilt): Ladler has his issues as a tackler, but he is very strong in coverage. He reads the plays very well and has great discipline in accordance to his zone. His intelligence is a valuable piece of any secondary.
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