Ranking the SEC’s defensive tackles for 2013

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Previous Rankings:

It’s time to turn our attention to another one of the positions the SEC is known for: big-time defensive tackles. Remember, we’re ranking these prospects on the impact they’ll make in 2013, not just digesting last year’s results.

Outside of four or five tackles, there are some unknowns and some opportunities for those unknowns to make a real name for themselves in 2013.

Let’s roll:

Two kings

1. Dominique Easley, Florida
2. Anthony Johnson, LSU

Dominique Easley may not know who Bear Bryant is, but he’s loaded for bear entering his senior season. Easley returned to get a diploma and a degree, and along with that, he’ll have a chance to jump into the first round of next year’s draft, because he has all the talent. He’s mean; he dances, and he has a chucky doll. What’s not to like about Dominique Easley?…Anthony Johnson has more overall talent than Easley, but we haven’t seen his best yet. Johnson is nicknamed The Freak for good measure. He has all the athleticism anyone would ever want at tackle, and he looks to be a force in 2013. Les Miles thinks Johnson could be the one Tiger to set the tone and swag for the rebuilding defense.

Veteran leaders

3. Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina
4. Daniel McCullers, Tennessee
5. Bryan Jones, Arkansas
6. Donte Rumph, Kentucky

Don’t sleep on South Carolina’s Kelcy Quarles. Freak Clowney gets all the ink, but Quarles will have his impact in 2013. Quarles has made 17 starts and registered 10 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in 2012. The 6-4, 300-pound tackle is ready for an encore and ready to make Carolina’s run defense one of the SEC’s best…Daniel ‘Mt.’ McCullers is a massive human being at 6-8, 351 pounds. He has to be a defensive line coach’s dream for having an answer to stop the run. McCullers didn’t fit too well in Sal Sunseri’s 3-4 scheme, despite being a logical nose guard, but he’s back and ready for his senior season. He could turn into the SEC’s best tackle by season’s end…Bryan Jones is the weathered veteran of the Arkansas D-line. He’s started 29 games, appeared in 35, making 122 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Now, Bret Bielema and Chris Ash are leaning on Jones and his leadership to make Arkansas’ run defense better than last year…Donte Rumph leads the Cats at tackle. In fact, the Kentucky D-line may be underrated with Alvin Dupree, Za’Darius Smith and Mister Cobble joining Rumph. Rumph has started 18 games and played in 34, and he registered six tackles for loss and four sacks last season.

Up-and-comers

7. Jeoffrey Pagan, Alabama
8. Isaac Gross, Ole Miss

You haven’t heard of Jeoffrey Pagan? No worries, because you will this year. Pagan can play both outside and inside for Nick Saban’s 3-4 defensive line, and he’s a hell of an athlete. Pagan came off the bench in all 13 games, making 22 tackles, 4 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. He should be a beast in 2013…Isaac Gross is too small to play tackle in the SEC, right? The rising sophomore is only 6-1, 250 pounds, but he’s lightning quick and nastier than you think. The freshman All-American finished with 10 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and 40 total tackles. He’s one to watch this season.

Two to watch

9. Kirby Ennis, Texas A&M
10. Kaleb Eulls, Mississippi State

Kirby Ennis is the veteran defensive tackle on the Aggies. Though there will be new faces around him, Ennis will have to take his game to the next level. Ennis was suspended this spring due to a gun charge, but he should be back in time for the start of the season. He made 23 tackles and 2 tackles for loss in 2012…Kaleb Eulls moves from end to tackle, where I think he excels. Eulls has all the athleticism and is a standup person and a hero. He’s started all 26 games of his career, making 58 tackles and one sack. I think he has a big season in 2013.

Photo Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

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