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Ranking the SEC’s defensive ends for 2013

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After a week off position rankings, it’s time to turn our attention to one of the positions the SEC is known for: defensive ends. Remember, we’re ranking these prospects on the impact they’ll make in 2013, not just digesting last year’s results.

2013 presents an interesting year for defensive ends. Outside of the known commodity Jadeveon Clowney, there are slew of guys looking to become No. 2.

Let’s roll:

The franchise

1. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina

No denying Jadeveon Clowney is the most talented and physically gifted player in the country for 2013. In fact, he may be the biggest God-given athletic specimen of my lifetime in college football. After 13.5 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss as a sophomore, I just hope I don’t fine myself on his ‘scared’ list. Clowney is set to dominate in 2013.

Underrated senior

2. Chris Smith, Arkansas

Few are talking about Arkansas’ Chris Smith. Smith became the Hogs’ most improved player throughout 2013, and he was the one player who cared about the product that was put on the field last year. Smith finished with 9.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss, and he’s looking for a monster senior year.

You will know their names

3. Alvin ‘Bud’ Dupree, Kentucky
4. Dante Fowler, Florida
5. CJ Johnson, Ole Miss

Bud Dupree can play linebacker or defensive end, but Mark Stoops moved Dupree back to end. At 6-4, 250 pounds, Dupree is a big-time athletic specimen few know about. He totaled 91 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 quarterback sacks as a sophomore, and he should turn in a better year under Stoops…Dante Fowler is a budding superstar for the Gators. The rising sophomore notched 30 tackles, eight tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks as a true freshman, and Will Muschamp has this Buck linebacker/end to help lead his defensive line in 2013. Fowler has All-SEC capability and could carry the torch into the future for the league at end…CJ Johnson is built more like a linebacker than a D-end at 6-3, 230 pounds. But what he lacks in size, he makes up for with tenacity and motor. He finished with a team-high 6.5 sacks and eight tackles for loss. Although Johnson is coming off a fractured leg during spring, he’s due for a big season in 2013.

Battle tested seniors

6. Ed Stinson, Alabama
7. Chaz Sutton, South Carolina
8. Walker May, Vanderbilt

Ed Stinson won’t put up the nasty numbers like Clowney, Smith or Dupree, but he’s the Tide’s returning leader along the defensive line. At 6-4, 292 pounds, Stinson is built more like at tackle, but he excels at end in Nick Saban’s 3-4. He notched 29 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in 2012. What will he do as a senior?…Chaz Sutton has yet to be a full-time starter in the SEC, but he’s a fifth-year senior leader set to replace Devin Taylor. Sutton recorded seven tackles for loss and five sacks as a non-starter. As an everyday player, those numbers should increase, especially playing opposite Clowney…Walker May returns as Vandy’s lone returning starter on the D-line. He made 41 tackles and 10.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in 2012, and he has to have a huge year for the Dores’ defense. May is underrated.

Looking for big years

9. Ronald Powell, Florida
10. Dee Ford, Auburn

Ronald Powell returns to Florida after missing last year with a knee injury. He’ll play both linebacker and end, but he showed in the past he’s better playing with his hand on the ground. Powell was on the verge of becoming a monster for Florida before his injury in the 2012 spring game, but the word out of Gainesville is that he is foaming at the mouth, ready to go…Dee Ford will be Auburn’s leader along the D-line, and he had a solid season with 8.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in 2012. Ford’s explosive off the line and should have a big senior season.

Photo Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports





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Comments 10

  1. I don’t have a problem with Missouri’s ends being left off this list, HOWEVER, by the end of the year Missouri will be near the top of the performance list when looking at performance by pure line responsibilities (meaning without help from secondary or line backers). This group seems to move well as a unit. They have improved from an excellent unit in blocking passes, they had fair run stopping ability last year in spite of Coach Steckels weird stunting and amoeba looks. I do not expect them to be great pass rushers by themselves but I do expect the linebacker unit and line together to be in the top half of the SEC in pressure stats. Bottom line is team performance can’t be described by a list like this.

    • Honestly wolfman, Cooper and the SEC fans hate Mizzou so bad they won’t hardly give them the respect they deserve let alone respect for things yet unearned. Most of the o-lines were busy trying to keep Sheldon from blowing up plays that allowed Michael Sam to have a good year. but where was Kony Ealy? Our upperclassmen are decent but too few Unless oursophomores and freshmen come in and do it better than good job with their responsibilities it won’t be a great year for us to defensively

      • I don’t hate Mizzou. Never have and never will. I give respect where it’s due all the time. I love Kony Ealy’s game, but he’s not a top 10 caliber end yet.

  2. Kony Ealy has to be good enough to be double teamed. and michael scherer, harold brantley, david johnson and ian simon have to show up and show out or it will be a miserable year for our defense. guys like Wilson, Gaines and Sam cannot do it alone.

  3. Jon, Sam had good numbers last year.

  4. Zoucat, it does seem that way, but opinions are already changing. Only one team in the league played Arizona State, UCF, and Syracuse. Georgia and Florida, Tennessee, and Kentucky, two-sevenths of the league, fans know that Missouri is better than the rest of the league thinks. We gave South Carolina and Alabama and aTm reasons to disregard us. Vanderbilt was our worst played and coached game of the year by far. SEC conference pride needed either aTm or Missouri to struggle last year, otherwise it was hard for SEC fans to paint everybody in league as another Alabama. aTm shot that plan in the foot, so there was only one new kid to persecute. Missouri gladly volunteered to be the punching bag by reason of the weird injury stats. Even old experienced coaches can get caught off guard by this many injuries. Pinkel has to get subs on the field so they can play smart and tough when they have to. He failed to do this with Berk.. or and the o-line in 2011. Jon Cooper is doing a good job but he had 4 years to study the other 12 rosters in the league. He’s had one year to study Missouri’s. It’s human nature to respect what you know in the most detail. I want Missouri to have a solid team performance 100 times more than to have another Sheldon Richardson anyway. Missouri finished near the top one-third mark in the Big 12(10) 2011, that means that Henry Josie had 9 other starting backs to out rush per carry, plus the team was promoting him as team 4th in a 12 team race. Adding 4 more team challengers makes a difference just by numbers alone (20%) Add an average of 8 starters not playing per game to Missouri’s traditionally thinner roster and what we know just couldn’t have been demonstrated to those unfamiliar. Every single candidate Missouri has for a list like this is making their case from Missouri’s team finish of probably 9th out of 14. Yes Tennessee, Kentucky, Auburn, and Arkansas beat this team presentation as individuals but they beat it because of familiarity not because of performance, in my opinion. What I like about the writers at SDS so far is for example, they are willing to write how they formed their opinions, like Jon did somewhat. To me that proves that they want to tell the story like it is and most SEC writers are way behind them.

  5. Usually fans will “hate” a team that beats their team regularly. Who has Mizzou beat that would cause them to be hated so? My opinion is until Mizzou starts becoming relevant, people will just take ‘em or leave ‘em ……….

  6. I think you should add Caleb Azubike to the “You will Know Their Names.” Coaches at SEC media days were raving about him and he’s a freak of nature.