As football is on the horizon, so is the inevitability of the draft season. In the weeks leading up to college football beginning, we will take a look at the major conferences across the country and the NFL draft talent bound to impress this year.
We’re going to kick off with the SEC and to the surprise of nobody, perennial title contender Alabama has a roster loaded with future NFL players. Similarly unmoving is how talented Georgia is after a few years back as a top five team. Despite the Dawgs and Tide being prominent on this Pre-Season Team, the conference has a lot more talent to offer outside of those two programs.
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama: This should shock no one. No one will forget how Tagovailoa entered the hearts and minds of college football fans when he came into the second half of the National Title game in 2018 and brought Alabama back from the dead to beat Georgia in a thriller. Since then, Tagovailoa has shown the world he might be the most talented quarterback to ever suit up for the Crimson Tide. Teams might wring their hands over his less thaNFL D prototypical size, but Tagovailoa is one of the most accurate quarterbacks in this era of college football.
Second Team: Jake Fromm, UGA
D’Andre Swift, UGA: Running Back University has another exciting player poised to take over the NFL. The Philly native can only be described as having Video Game speed. After his first 1,000 yard campaign last year, the 5’9” playmaker is a Heisman contender this year and will vie for top running back status in a talented class.
Najee Harris, Alabama: Alabama put yet another first round running back into the league this year and will likely not miss a beat with Najee Harris stepping into a bigger role. At 6’2”, 230 pounds and rocking a #22 jersey, it’s hard not to think of former Alabama star Derrick Henry the way Harris runs the ball. He’s a powerful, athletic back who will ascend to coveted draft status this year.
Second Team: Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt and Scottie Philips, Mississippi
Jerry Jeudy, Alabama: 2018 was the year of the Alabama passing game. 2019 might also be. Plenty will debate if Jeudy benefits Tua Tagovailoa more or vise-versa, but that argument is a bit silly considering how obviously symbiotic the relationship is between Tagovailoa and his talented pass catchers. Jeudy, who is arguably the best wide receiver at Bama since Julio Jones, has solid size and blistering speed. He is a dynamic playmaker who averaged almost 20 yards per catch last year. Is it possible he can get even better?
Henry Ruggs III, Alabama: Ruggs would be the top wide receiver on any team in the country that didn’t also have Jerry Jeudy. Ruggs, standing at a solid 6’1”, has excellent hands and is extremely dependable at the catch point. Tua Tagovailoa consistently trusted him in contested situations last year and his role should grow in 2019.
Second Team: Kendrick Rogers, TAMU and Bryan Edwards, South Carolina
Albert Okwuengbunam, Missouri: Albert Okwuengbunam is the clear-cut best tight end prospect in the country heading into this season. The 6’5”, 255 pound pass catcher is an athletic match-up nightmare who has scored 17 touchdowns in the last two seasons. He should be the focal point of the Tiger offense this season and put up huge numbers.
Second Team: Jared Pinkney, Vanderbilt
Andrew Thomas, UGA: Many people are projecting Andrew Thomas as the top offensive linemen in the country this year. Thomas has been a mainstay on Georgia’s high powered offenses the last few years and teams will love his balanced, pro-ready game.
Prince Tega-Wanogho, Auburn: After garnering All-SEC status last year, Prince Tega-Wanogho is expected to advance further as a top tackle prospect. The 6’7” blocker has NFL size and athleticism. As he improves his technique, teams will be in love with his potential.
Second Team: Jedrick Willis, Alabama and Isaiah Wilson, UGA
Solomon Kindley, UGA: D’Andre Swift has Solomon Kindley to thank for a lot of his wide open holes he gets to run through. The 6’4”, 335 pound blocker just busts down defenses for the Georgia run game. He is a powerhouse blocker and teams will love his gritty, old school strength.
Alex Leatherwood, Alabama: After moving to guard prior to the 2018 season, Leatherwood had a breakout season that garnered All-SEC recognition. Leatherwood is a good athlete at the guard position with great size. He has technical aspects of his game he needs to improve, but his pass blocking was hugely beneficial to Alabama last year.
Second Team: Tre’Vour Wallace Simms, Missouri and Darryl Williams, Mississippi State
Donnell Stanley, South Carolina: People will likely get on Donnell Stanley for being an older prospect, but the sixth year senior has been excellent for the Gamecocks. The 322 pound blocker is high motor, physical and has a polished games. He is a pro-ready player that teams are going to love.
Second Team: Nick Buchannan, Florida
Anfernee Jennings, Alabama: The SEC lost a lot of top pass rushers to the draft last year, so the field is wide open for any player to assert themselves this year. Anfernee Jennings has been in the shadow of some great defenders at Alabama but finally has a chance to step up. The 6’3” defender had 14 TFLs last year and showed off his versatility and every down ability for Alabama. Teams will love his do-it-all ability as an off-ball linebacker or hand in the ground defender.
Darrell Taylor, Tennessee: The leading pass-rusher among returning SEC players, Darrell Taylor is looking to build on a productive 2018 season where he had eight sacks and three forced fumbles. Taylor is a very impressive athlete but returned to school to get his game to be more well rounded. After reportedly adding a lot of size this offseason, Taylor is hoping to show he is an every down defender in the NFL.
Second Team: Marlon Davidson, Auburn and Dylan Moses, Alabama
Interior Defensive Linemen
Derrick Brown, Auburn: Brown might be one of the more impressive athletes in college football. The 6’5”, 318 pound defender is a disruptive force wherever he lines up on the defensive line. With 10.5 TFLs last year, Brown was the most dangerous Tiger in the pack despite teams game planning for him every week. If he builds on last year’s success, first round status is easily attainable for him .
Raekwon Davis, Alabama: Another massive defensive lineman, Raekwon Davis towers over his competition at 6’7” and over 310 pounds. With Quinnen Williams off to terrorize the NFL, Davis will likely garner a lot more attention; both from Offensive Coordinators and NFL media.
Second Team: Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina and Nick Coe, Auburn
Erroll Thompson, Mississippi State: While the primary focus was on Montez Sweat and Jeffrey Simmons last year, Erroll Thompson was quietly one of the best defenders in the country in 2018. The speedy 6’1” linebacker was outstanding in coverage while racking up 10 TFLs and four sacks. With Devin White off to the NFL, Thompson is on the verge of being a household name.
Dylan Moses, Alabama: Moses is another special Alabama athlete who excels wherever he lines up. The Tide loves to move Moses around because of his versatility, from blitzer to pure pass rusher to coverage specialist; Moses has shown he can do it all. His consistency should improve this year as he grows into a potentially special linebacker prospect.
De’Jon Harris, Arkansas: After leading the SEC in tackles in 2018, Harris is looking to blaze his way into the NFL. The stout, 245 pound tackle machine is an old school linebacker who loves coming downhill to make running backs’ days very bad. Harris is not a fixture in coverage like some of his peers, but teams will love his thumping ability.
Second Team: TJ Brunson, South Carolina and Cale Garrett, Mizzou and Willie Gay, Mississippi State
CJ Henderson, Florida: CJ Henderson is a prototypical modern cornerback. He is tall, long, athletic and physical. Teams will fall in love with his do it all game and he will compete to be the top cornerback in this year’s draft class.
Kristian Fulton, LSU: Kristian Fulton has had a tumultuous college career. The former top recruit spent his first two seasons plagued by injuries. In 2018, Fulton emerged as a highly capable defender across from Greedy Williams but had a season ending injury 10 games into the year. Fulton returned to school despite high NFL interest and is hoping for a healthy season. Fulton has first round potential if he can stay on the field.
Second Team: Shyheim Carter, Alabama and Cameron Dantzler, Mississippi State
Grant Delpit, LSU: No defensive back filled up the box score like Grant Delpit did last year. The 6’2” safety had 74 tackles, 9.5 for a loss, five sacks, five picks, nine defended passes and a forced fumble. Delpit is a do-it-all athlete who plays in the box, in the slot and single high. If he can build on his crazy 2018 season, Delpit might be the first defensive back taken in the 2020 draft.
Xavier McKinney, Alabama: With Deionte Thompson in the NFL, Xaiver McKinney will be the leader in the Tide’s secondary. McKinney is a high IQ player who thrives near the line of scrimmage and shows off range in coverage. He was a playmaker last year and he is going to be depended on to create even more splashes this season.
Second Team: JR Grant, Georgia and Richard LeCounte, Georgia