SDS talent evaluators Jon Cooper and Brad Crawford spent several months breaking down last year’s highlights, incoming talent and projected 2014 impact following spring practice to compile a list of the SEC’s Top 100 players heading into fall. Athletes were selected by position then ranked overall counting down to No. 1.
Stick with SDS throughout summer and get in on the action using the hashtag #SDSTop100 as we unveil a new player daily leading up to opening night on Aug. 28.
70. Ray Drew, Sr., DE, Georgia
Another above-average rusher in a front seven that shouldn’t have any depth concerns for first-year defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, Drew’s anxious to show what he’s made of as a senior while he likely shares snaps with James DeLoach and Sterling Bailey at defensive end.
One of the Bulldogs’ most productive defenders when he saw the field last fall, Drew finished with 43 tackles and six of his team’s 33 sacks — second-most as a unit in the SEC behind Missouri. The Thomasville, Ga. native made tremendous strides compared to his first two years and looked more like the every-down contributor he was projected to be in Georgia’s 2011 signing class as a five-star recruit. Hurries and pestering the pocket will be nearly important as sacks for Drew in 2014 since opposing quarterbacks are expected to send a slew of guided missiles into a depleted, oft-tested secondary.
A sub-par spring and a depth chart downgrade isn’t what Drew needed with multiple teammates breathing down his neck for playing time, but his junior season numbers back up his importance to the Bulldogs’ defense and provides a sense of reliability to coaches. Drew sent his name to the NFL Draft advisory committee at season’s end but didn’t like his grade. That can change next time around based on a banner last hurrah likely catapulting Drew into the Top 10 for draft-eligible ends.
2013 statistics: 43 tackles, 8 TFL, 6 sacks
2014 projection: 47 tackles, 10 TFL, 7.5 sacks
Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports