When you think SEC football, you think defensive linemen and first round draft picks. This year should be no different because guys always come out of the woodwork and make plays each and every year.
Here is how the defensive linemen stack up heading into 2011:
10. Shariff Floyd, Florida, DT
9. Josh Chapman, Alabama, DT
8. Kentrell Lockett, Ole Miss, DE
Shariff Floyd was an all-world recruit coming out of high school from Philadelphia, and he looks like a man-beast for the future. He has all the physical attributes to make him the next great defensive tackle in the SEC, and he picks up on things mentally very quickly. Florida will be playing both a 4-3 and a 3-4 defense this year, so Floyd will have his opportunities to shine for the Gators…Josh Chapman looks to be the ever-evolving piece Nick Saban needs to run the nose in the 3-4 defense. With a full year of playing time in Saban’s defensive scheme, he is ready to be a factor for Alabama – a team that did surprisingly struggle to put pressure on the quarterbacks a year ago. He is Alabama’s most experienced lineman…Ole Miss received outstanding news when Kentrell Lockett received another year of eligibility granted by the NCAA. Last year as a senior, Lockett went down early in the year with a season-ending knee injury, and the NCAA did the right thing by granting him another year. The Rebels will lean on Lockett for both his leadership and playing abilities. If he can stay healthy, look for him to be a big factor for Ole Miss on defense.
7. Sam Montgomery, LSU, DE
6. John Jenkins, Georgia, DT
5. Jaye Howard, Florida, DT
Sam Montgomery is also coming off a season-ending knee injury for the LSU Tigers this past season. There is a ton of high expectations for Montgomery at LSU because he has all the makings of a good-looking defensive end in the SEC. As only a sophomore, Montgomery figures to be a major factor for the Tigers along their defensive front for the next couple of years…Georgia fans are hoping big John Jenkins can be the Mt. Cody for Todd Grantham’s 3-4 defense. Jenkins is 6-4, 340 lbs and just a mountain of a man. Hopefully he can clog the middle for the Bulldogs’ defense to give the linebackers more ability to get in the backfield…Jaye Howard has quietly had a decent career at Florida for the first three years. However, the injury bug has kept him from having a tremendous impact so far. If Howard can stay healthy, he could end up being the best interior defensive lineman in the SEC for 2011. Playing alongside Shariff Floyd, Howard should be able to have a big impact for the Gators’ new-look defense.
4. Jake Bequette, Arkansas, DE
3. Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State, DT
2. Malik Jackson, Tennessee, DT
Jake Bequette bleeds Arkansas football. He’s the fourth member of his family to play for the Razorbacks, and he has started all three years he’s been on campus. Entering his senior season, the expectations are high, and Bequette returns as this team’s defensive leader. He led the defense with seven sacks last year, and most think he is ready to have a much bigger impact on this Arkansas defense this season…Fletcher Cox is quietly one of the best defensive linemen entering the 2011 season for State. Cox started as a freshman and last year as a junior, and he had 29 total tackles, with 6.5 coming from behind the line of scrimmage. Cox really has a chance to have a breakout season for the Bulldogs, and he will have to be one of their leaders on defense this coming season…Malik Jackson has been around the block. He started at Southern Cal and transferred to Tennessee when Lane Kiffin took over at USC. He was the smallest defensive end on the Trojans’ roster, but he has made himself one of the best interior defensive linemen in the SEC. Jackson looks to have a big year for the Vols, as he is their best defensive lineman. I love this kid’s motor.
1. Devin Taylor, South Carolina, DE
South Carolina’s Devin Taylor looks to be the next great defensive end in a long tradition of impact-ends in the SEC. Taylor is tall at 6-7, but he is probably the most athletic defensive lineman in the SEC. His pass rush skills are incredibly good, and he added 7.5 sacks last season for the Gamecocks. There is no questioning Taylor’s pass-rush skills, but I look for teams to line up and run straight at him to take his strength away. Taylor is a freak of a defensive end that teams will have to account for on every play.