Bleacher Report's SEC Preseason All-Conference Teams
The greatest athletes hail from the SEC.
The 63 draft picks (more than twice any other conference) in the 2013 NFL draft certainly attest to that.
So truth be told, selecting the All-SEC first and second team is quite fun, especially when you have athletes like Johnny Manziel, Todd Gurley, Jadeveon Clowney and C.J. Mosley to choose from.
These four names are staples in the SEC and are without a doubt going to be on the first team, but who will join them? Judging by statistics, athleticism and being placed in a position to achieve, here are the preseason selections for All-SEC. Oh, the possibilities...
QB: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
He's half man/half amazing. He's Johnny Football.
Johnny Manziel, the reigning Heisman winner, took the SEC by storm last season with over 5,000 total yards and 47 total touchdowns.
Coming into 2013, many believe the SEC will "figure out" Manziel. Newsflash, folks—SEC coaches may be able to better contain his explosiveness, but don't bet on SEC teams shutting Manziel down.
Manziel most likely won't have the same type of year in the SEC that he had last year. However, it's a safe bet that Manziel will once again make unbelievable plays with his arm and legs in 2013.
Second Team: AJ McCarron, Alabama
HB: Todd Gurley, Georgia
Todd Gurley is the best running back in the country, period.
Quite frankly, no other running back in the nation stacks up to this man.
Gurley has a combination of skills that most great running backs have—speed and power. He can run through a tackle and he can speed past opposing linebackers. Remind you of an old Georgia running back named Herschel?
Gurley bulldozed defenders in 2012 with 1,385 yards and 17 touchdowns as a true freshman. Keep in mind that he posted those numbers while sharing the backfield with Keith Marshall.
Second Team: Keith Marshall, Georgia (in place of Jeremy Hill following indefinite suspension)
HB: T.J. Yeldon, Alabama
T.J. Yeldon is the next great Alabama running back.
Like Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy, he earns tough yards by churning his feet.
Yeldon played second fiddle to Lacy last season, but that didn't stop him from gaining 1,108 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. Imagine what he'll do as the starter.
Is a Heisman in his future? Maybe. A First-Team All-SEC selection is more likely though.
Second Team: LaDarius Perkins, Mississippi State
WR: Amari Cooper, Alabama
Just where does Alabama find all of these wonderful players? Last year's breakout freshman for the Crimson Tide came in the form of a stellar wide receiver.
Quickly he became one of the best receivers in the conference, as he came one yard shy of the 1,000 mark.
He was McCarron's top deep threat, and he destroyed opposing secondaries with an average of 17.2 yards per reception.
One second, Cooper is split wide, and the next he's making an over-the-shoulder touchdown catch. Heck, he should have been casted in Now You See Me.
Second Team: Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss
WR: Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
You want to stop Vanderbilt on offense? Stop Jordan Matthews.
He is the Commodores' top receiver and happens to be one of the SEC's best. When Jordan Rodgers and Vanderbilt needed a big play on offense last season, chances were they dialed up No. 87.
Matthews was second in the SEC in receiving yards with 1,323 to go along with his eight touchdown receptions.
Though he'll have a new arm throwing to him this fall, Matthews' athletic ability on the outside should be enough to generate another outstanding season.
Second Team: Odell Beckham, LSU
WR: Mike Evans, Texas A&M
You might as well get used to the name Mike Evans. You should be seeing it often in the football world.
Simply put, this man will play on Sundays. At 6'5" and 225 pounds, Evans towers over most defensive backs in the conference.
Combine that with stellar hands and impressive speed and you've got yourself an All-American in the making.
With Johnny Manziel taking the snap again, Evans should have another 1,000-yard season on the horizon, easily.
Second Team: Bruce Ellington, South Carolina
Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
Had he chosen to enter the 2013 NFL draft, Jake Matthews would have been a top pick.
After he decided to stay, he's being projected as the No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft by Sporting News. Enough said.
Second Team: Ja'Wuan James, Tennessee
Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State
Gabe Jackson is the definition of staple on the offensive line.
He earned First-Team All-SEC honors in 2012, and entering his senior season, he might very well be the lifeline of Mississippi State's offensive attack.
Second Team: Anthony Steen, Alabama
Travis Swanson, Arkansas
Experience makes Travis Swanson one of the best offensive linemen in the SEC next season.
After starting all 38 games of his college career at Arkansas, he was voted to the 2012 All-SEC Second Team by the media.
Second Team: Ryan Kelly, Alabama
Antonio Richardson, Tennessee
When it comes to pass-blocking, there may be none better than Antonio Richardson in the SEC. Heck, he's one of the best in the nation.
Tennessee's offensive line last season quickly became the strength of the team, as it gave Tyler Bray ample time in the backfield. Bray should thank Richardson for doing most of the heavy lifting.
Second Team: Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt
Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama
How was AJ McCarron's blindside in 2012, you may ask? It was covered quite well thanks to the young and talented Cyrus Kouandjio.
Kouandjio is a mean, nasty blocker. That's just the way they like 'em in Alabama.
Second Team: Chris Burnette, Georgia
Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Hello world, name's Jadeveon Clowney and I'll be hogging the spotlight this fall. Clowney is everybody's All-American.
Clowney is revered as the best defensive player in college football because of the way he rushes the passer and wreaks havoc in the backfield. Everybody in the SEC knew this, but the nation took notice when he blew up Michigan's Vincent Smith in the 2013 Outback Bowl.
Second Team: Trey Flowers, Arkansas
Anthony Johnson, LSU
The anchor on LSU's defense in 2013 will be Anthony Johnson.
Johnson is the only returning starter on the Tigers' defensive line, and he brings back familiarity in a couple of ways.
Obviously, he has experience in John Chavis' defense, but he also reminds LSU fans of another great defensive tackle—Glen Dorsey. His explosiveness off the ball is very similar to the former Tiger great. Tiger fans are hoping he can be just as productive.
Second Team: Dominique Easley, Florida
Chris Smith, Arkansas
Chris Smith was Bret Bielema's greatest recruit so far at Arkansas.
As Smith returns for his senior season, the Hogs are getting a bona fide playmaker at the defensive end position. He totaled 9.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss last season. After losing its top three offensive playmakers, Arkansas should be thrilled to return its top defender.
Second Team: Issac Gross, Ole Miss
C.J. Johnson, Ole Miss
Ole Miss fans are desperately hoping that C.J. Johnson can return to form next season after breaking his fibula this past spring.
If he does, this Ole Miss front seven will be fierce. Johnson is an important piece on the defensive line for the Rebels, as he provided Ole Miss with 6.5 sacks last season.
Second Team: Dante Fowler, Florida
LB: C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Nick Saban's defensive quarterback has returned. If you hear a big sigh coming from fellow SEC fans, that's totally normal.
Some men were simply born to lead, and that's C.J. Mosley.
Mosley led the Crimson Tide defense that allowed the nation's lowest yards per game (250). He did it by totaling 107 tackles, catching two interceptions, forcing a fumble and making four sacks last season.
In a debate discussing the top returning linebacker in the SEC, Mosley should be a no-brainer.
Second Team: Adrian Hubbard, Alabama
LB: A.J. Johnson, Tennessee
A.J. Johnson isn't far behind Mosley, though.
The Tennessee Volunteers, a unit that allowed 471 yards per game last season, provided the SEC with its leading tackler.
That man was Johnson with 138 total tackles. Pretty impressive, eh?
As a sophomore, Johnson led the conference in tackles while garnering 8.5 tackles for loss.
Second Team: Alvin Dupree, Kentucky
LB: Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
Denzel Nkemdiche might have been my favorite player to watch in the SEC last season.
At 5'11" and 230 pounds, Nkemdiche was an undersized linebacker for the Ole Miss Rebels. That didn't matter.
Nkemdiche flew to the football, and his aggressive nature made up for his lack of size. You can't help but love watching his tenacious style of play.
It was that very style that allowed Nkemdiche to record 82 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, three interceptions and four forced fumbles as a redshirt freshman.
Second Team: Benardrick McKinney, Miss State
DB: Jalen Mills, LSU
Jalen Mills did not succumb to the pressure last season.
Mills was forced into being a starter after Tyrann Mathieu was kicked off the team in 2012. How'd he do?
Well, let's just say Mills held down his assignments in the secondary. Mills transformed into a shutdown corner for the Tigers as a true freshman, boasting 57 tackles, two interceptions and breaking up five passes.
He rose to the occasion when his team needed him in 2012. Chances are he'll do it again in 2013.
Second Team: Marcus Roberson, Florida
DB: Andre Hal, Vanderbilt
Andre Hal's stat line turned heads in 2012.
Standing out as Vanderbilt's top corner, Hal totaled 84 tackles, three interceptions and 19 pass deflections.
Hal not only emerged as a playmaker in the secondary, but he also contributed to the team with 275 yards on kickoff returns.
Is it just me or is Vanderbilt starting to look more like Tennessee in the early 2000s with all of this talent covering the field?
Second Team: E.J. Gaines, Missouri
DB: Craig Loston, LSU
The most seasoned defensive back in the SEC is Craig Loston.
Loston joined the Tigers in 2009, and though he's had a long journey, he's been groomed into a fine safety for the Tigers.
He's always been a hard-hitting safety, but in 2012, he improved his coverage skills. Loston became a playmaker for the Tigers with his three interceptions, including a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown.
That's not what Tiger fans expect of him, though. Come this fall, LSU fans foresee a lot of hard licks given by their veteran safety.
Second Team: Vinnie Sunseri, Alabama
DB: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix isn't anything to joke about.
This guy's athleticism is off the charts. Clinton-Dix finished the last four games of the 2012 season with an interception in each of them.
Ball-hawking safety? Hard to dispute otherwise.
He had his finest performance of the season in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game, when he made seven tackles and an interception. Tide fans are hoping he builds off that this fall.
Second Team: Charles Sawyer, Ole Miss
K: Carey Spear, Vanderbilt
Accuracy is what you're looking for in a kicker. Well, the top returning kicker in the SEC when it comes to accuracy is Carey Spear.
Spear made 83.3 percent of his field goals for the Commodores last season.
Second Team: Cody Parkey, Auburn
P: Kyle Christy, Florida
Kyle Christy has a boot.
Christy led the SEC last season in average yards per punt with 45.8. Can't mess with that hang-time.
Second Team: Cody Mandell, Alabama
KR: Marcus Murphy, Missouri
Missouri might've failed to make an impact in the SEC in its inaugural season, but Marcus Murphy electrified fans with thrilling returns.
Both as a punt returner and kick returner, Murphy totaled 832 yards and four touchdowns.
Second Team: Jaylen Walton, Ole Miss
PR: Odell Beckham, LSU
Anytime you remind LSU fans of the "Billy Cannon Halloween Run," you know you have a special returner on your hands.
Odell Beckham did just that with his 89-yard punt return against Ole Miss. Beckham was a solid punt returner for the Tigers all year, as he acquired 320 yards and two scores.
Second Team: Marcus Murphy, Missouri