SEC Football: Top 10 NFL Draft Prospects
The SEC has dominated draft classes for the past five years, leading in overall draftees each year since 2007. The No. 1 overall pick has also come from the Southeastern Conference in three of the last six drafts.
When Draft Day comes in May, this year should be no different. Any number of SEC players could go No. 1 this year, and the conference may have anywhere up to 14 players taken in the first round alone.
In Mel Kiper Jr.'s first mock draft of the year, he has four of the top five picks (1, 2, 4, 5) going to the SEC (ESPN).
With the number of championships and victorious bowl games in recent history, it is unsurprising that the SEC has turned out such incredible talent to the NFL.
Now, let's take a look at the top 10 players coming out of the SEC this year:
10. Cordarrelle Patterson
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Patterson may be the most interesting addition to this list. Similar to Tyler Bray, it was very intriguing seeing Patterson commit to the NFL draft. Unlike Bray, however, Cordarrelle Patterson only played a single season with the Tennessee Volunteers.
Patterson made an impact quickly at Tennessee, and I believe he can at the next level as well. As possibly the first WR that may be taken, Patterson offers dual-threat capabilities similar to Percy Harvin. Patterson is the type of receiver that can catch a pass on a long post one play, and then break an end-around run for 60 yards on the next.
There were questions as to whether Cordarrelle Patterson should have stayed in school another year, but I think even if he starts off slow at training camp this summer, he will eventually be quite an asset to have on an NFL roster.
9. Sheldon Richardson
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Sheldon Richardson is a defensive powerhouse up the middle. He has pass-rush capabilities and does best what a DT needs to do—clog running lanes.
Richardson has all of the fundamental skills to excel at the next level, as well as a swagger about him that many NFL coaches look for in an up-and-coming player.
As Missouri's dominating front-man this year, he notched 10.5 tackles for loss and 75 total tackles (cfbstats.com).
Richardson has the proven skills to win himself a starting DT spot in the NFL this coming year.
8. John Jenkins
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"Big" John Jenkins has been the starting nose tackle for the Georgia Bulldogs for the last two seasons (splitting time with fellow big-man Kwame Geathers).
His stats from the 2012 season are just under those of Sheldon Richardson, however, I've got him at No. 8 because of the potential he shows for NFL play.
Jenkins is the kind of defensive lineman that could start on day one for any NFL squad. He's a big body who plays low to the ground with a wide stance. He can bull-rush the middle, and he blocks running lanes with ease.
More often than not, Jenkins will draw a double-team up the middle, allowing the linebackers behind him better vision to get to the quarterback in the pocket or running backs looking for a hole in the defense.
He may not rack up the tackles himself, but he makes the players around him better, and therefore, is sure to be a defensive leader at the next level very soon.
7. Dee Milliner
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Dee Milliner has been one of the leaders of the Alabama defense this past season. Coming into 2012, the Tide were "rebuilding" their entire defensive squad since they were only returning six of their starters.
The Tide defense stepped it up again though, as we all thought they might, ranking No. 1 nationally in points against (10.9) by the end of the season (ESPN).
Dee Milliner was a huge contributor to the Alabama Crimson Tide defense and has proven to be one of the nation's best shutdown corners. He can bring pressure off the edge, as well as go toe-to-toe with some of the finest receivers in the SEC.
Milliner is going to play on Sundays very soon, and the team that grabs him will be better for it.
6. Barkevious Mingo
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LSU's premier defensive end pass-rusher, Barkevious Mingo, decided to forgo his final season to enter the NFL draft, and it was without a doubt the right decision.
Mingo's numbers don't show what is truly special about him: his physicality and ability to jump off of the field at you. He may, arguably, be the most athletic player in this draft class.
Drafting Mingo may be a bit of a wild card play, but his length and strength in turning the corner result in a ton of upside for this guy.
5. Alec Ogletree
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A lot of people believe that Manti Te'o will be the first middle linebacker to get out of the first round, and I respectfully disagree.
Alec Ogletree is as good as it gets at commanding a defense and playing sideline-to-sideline. He makes tackles in the gaps and can cover across the middle.
On top of all of this, he is also an exceptional special teams player, showcased by his 55 yard field goal block returned for a touchdown in the SEC Championship game.
NFL teams need a captain in the middle of the field that can command the troops around him. Alec Ogletree has all the athletic attributes you look for, in addition to the intangibles as well. Ogletree will give whichever team takes him more than his worth.
4. Chance Warmack
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Chance Warmack helped protect his quarterback, A.J. McCarron, all the way to the BCS Championship Game where they toppled No. 1 Notre Dame 42-14.
Warmack was one of the cornerstones of Alabama's stellar offensive line. Mel Kiper Jr. goes out of his way to say, "He simply takes defenders where he wants them to go, utilizing great power and quicks" (ESPN).
As a dominating run-blocker, he can push his way to the second level and has a knack for holding up linebackers as well.
The chances are good that Warmack goes in the top five of this draft, and he will not disappoint.
3. Damontre Moore
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Damontre Moore has given tackles and tight-ends fits all throughout the SEC this year, and there will be little-to-no difference in his impact at the next level.
Moore finished the season with 12.5 sacks and a dominating 21 tackles for loss (cfbstats.com). He has had an outstanding season and is now riding the momentum of said season into the NFL draft.
Damontre Moore has been an elite pass-rusher in the conference this year and will continue to do so at the next level.
2. Luke Joeckel
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Luke Joeckel has been perhaps the most pivotal piece behind Johnny Manziel's Heisman campaign. He gave the agile quarterback plenty of time to work in the pocket and down-field run support when the speedster decided to take off.
Without a doubt the best OT in this year's draft class, Joeckel shows an incredibly quick first step and incredible use of his hands and arm extension to keep defenders far from their intended targets.
The team that can grab Joeckel is guaranteed a star left tackle with the possibility of much more during his career.
This young man is poised to have an incredible run in the NFL.
1. Jarvis Jones
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Jarvis Jones has been the SEC's premier sack leader for the past two years. He has size, strength, agility and speed that is unmatched coming off the edge, and he has a nose for the football.
Although some may be considering Jones a dangerous selection so early in the draft (due to his spinal injury a few years ago that ended his career at USC), he has bounced back and shown that the previous pains that ailed him are no more.
One of the toughest athletes in the country, Jones can blitz off the edge, fight his way through the middle, stop the run and drop into coverage. He shows discipline and great vision over the field.
Jones may not be the first player taken in the draft, but he absolutely is the best available, and one I would certainly trade up to grab.
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