Power Ranking the 10 Most NFL-Ready Players in the SEC
When it comes to the NFL draft, no other conference grooms its players better than the SEC.
Faced with the grind of playing the best teams in college football, these athletes square off against elite talents weekly. It preps them well for the pros, to say the least.
But which superstars in the SEC are most equipped for the NFL right now? With great offensive lines at Texas A&M, Tennessee and Alabama, you know the big boys are going to get some looks, but what about the skill players?
Are great SEC offensive players like Cobi Hamilton going to overshadow the elite defensive playmakers such as Damontre Moore and Eric Reid? Here are the top 10 players in the conference that are most NFL-ready.
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Because there are so many great talents in the SEC, there are noticeable players missing in the top 10.
These are the players that barely missed the cut.
Eric Reid is a big, physical safety that has solid coverage skills. He could prove to be another LaRon Landry
At first glance, AJ McCarron doesn't look to be a big-time NFL prospect, but his accuracy and decision-making is what separates him from the rest of the quarterbacks in the nation. He has yet to throw an interception this season.
Cobi Hamilton leads the SEC in receiving yards with 900 yards, and with his quickness and route-running ability, he should be productive in the pros.
Justin Hunter is slightly underachieving this year. He has 705 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions, but he's had some critical drops as well. The build is there for Hunter, and if he can put it together, he should make for an excellent target in the NFL.
John Jenkins is a handful for any man in the trenches. This big defensive tackle has 27 tackles this season, but more importantly, he's freed up teammates, such as Alec Ogletree, to make plays in the backfield.
Though he's just a junior, Jake Matthews is a 6'5", 305 mammoth that has done a solid job protecting Johnny Manziel all season long.
Sharrif Floyd is a big, physical defensive lineman that is one of the biggest reasons Florida allows just 100 yards rushing per game.
10. Johnthan Banks
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Johnthan Banks draft stock might have dropped against Alabama.
After Kenny Bell burned Banks on a 57-yard touchdown reception, the Crimson Tide took a 14-0 lead, and all of the air was sucked out of the balloon for the Bulldogs.
Alabama targeted Mississippi State's best player, challenged him and won, and that set the pace for the rest of the game. But even though Banks had his worst performance of the season when his team needed him the most, he still possesses the gifts to be a primetime shutdown corner at the next level.
With a 4.4 40-time and 6'1", 185-pound frame, Banks is able to cloud receivers and make key interceptions. So far this season, Banks is tied for first in the conference with four interceptions.
9. Barrett Jones
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Intelligence is so underestimated.
If anyone in college football knows how to play offensive line, it's Barrett Jones. Jones has been at it for years, shifting from one position to another, year in and year out. Seriously, when's this guy going to graduate?
Luckily for fans around the SEC, Jones is a senior, and Nick Saban and Alabama will surely miss him dearly. Jones is an intelligent center that is capable of manning whichever position his coach needs him to.
Jones is a valuable commodity for offensive line coaches, and his intelligence and utility is what separates him from every other offensive lineman in the country.
8. Luke Joeckel
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Luke Joeckel will be one of the top tackles in the upcoming draft.
After being challenged by the elite defensive lines in the SEC, Joeckel passed with flying colors.
It wasn't until Joeckel faced a well-respected LSU defense that he received high praise. Against his toughest test of the season, Joeckel shut down both Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery, who will both be high draft picks in April.
Joeckel kept the pocket clean for Manziel, and he's proven that he's athletic enough to handle these freaks at the defensive end position.
7. Damontre Moore
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Damontre Moore is a quarterback's worst nightmare.
Moore surprisingly leads the SEC in sacks this season with 10.5, despite having pass-rushers such as Jarvis Jones, Barkevious Mingo, Jadeveon Clowney and Sam Montgomery in the league.
Talk about stealing the spotlight. And as good as he is as getting to the quarterback, sacks are simply just one area of Moore's game. They don't come more well-rounded at the defensive end position than Moore.
Moore leads Texas A&M in sacks, tackles and tackles for loss this season. As expected, Moore's draft stock continues to climb.
6. Tyler Wilson
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Forget about anything that has happened this season—Tyler Wilson is still one of the best quarterbacks in the nation.
And though his team has taken a tremendous tumble this year, Wilson has continued to shine.
With everything around him collapsing, Wilson stood tall, kept his head high, said the right thing, and most importantly, played well.
Wilson leads the league with 322 passing yards per game to go along with his 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Wilson's courage to hang in the pocket and deliver strikes down the field is sure to impress scouts and find him a spot in the first round of the draft. Bet on it.
5. Dee Milliner
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Who's better Dee Milliner or Banks?
Right now, Milliner looks to be the better of the two, but don't be surprised if Banks regains his status as best cornerback in the league by this season's end. They're both that talented.
But what separates Milliner from Banks for the time being is his pure shutdown ability. Milliner has broken up 13 passes and intercepted two, which gives him the lead in the nation for most "passes defended," according to the MontgomeryAdvertiser.com.
Milliner is also a sound tackler. Simply put—it's hard to find any chinks in Milliner's armor.
4. Sam Montgomery
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The reason LSU is so good on defense is a direct result of the attention Montgomery and Mingo receive.
Both ends are too talented to leave outside by themselves, and it's Montgomery's mixture of speed and power that's allowed him to lead the Tigers in sacks this season.
Montgomery has four total sacks, and with a 6'5", 260-pound frame and a 4.4 40-yard dash, Montgomery is more than primed to be a defensive end in the NFL.
That mixture of power and speed will have NFL scouts drooling at the combine.
3. Chance Warmack
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Chance Warmack should be the first offensive guard taken in the 2013 NFL draft.
Scouts rave about this Alabama lineman, and NFLDraftScout.com has him rated as the No. 1 guard out of a total of 201.
Warmack is a 6'2", 322-pound guard that parts the Red Sea for Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon every single game.
Warmack is not only a great run-blocker, but he's strong in pass defense, as well.
2. Barkevious Mingo
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Much like the SEC, speed is the name of the game in the NFL.
If you want a speedster on the outside that can get to the quarterback, look no further than Mingo.
As if he was Jevon Kearse coming out of Florida, Mingo's speed is attracting scouts. His 4.4 40-yard dash not only makes him a dangerous pass-rusher, but it makes him useful in 3-4 base defenses.
Defensive coordinators can have a lot of fun moving Mingo all over the field, and with his speed and athleticism, he should be effective wherever he's placed.
1. Jarvis Jones
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Jarvis Jones is easily the most NFL ready prospect in the SEC.
After playing in just six games this season, Jones is tied for second in the conference with 8.5 sacks, leads the league in forced fumbles with five, has 49 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and has an interception.
Just imagine what Jones' stats would look like had he played in every game this season. Jones is not only an effective pass-rusher, but he can directly impact a game, as fans saw against Missouri and Florida.
Jones put the icing on the cake against Missouri with a forced fumble and interception returned for a touchdown late in the game, and this past weekend against the Gators, Jones had three sacks and two forced fumbles. There's no denying that Jones was born to play on Sundays.