“Who’s gonna fill their shoes?” One of the best tunes by George Jones, ever.
Dreams came true last night for many young men, but specifically in the SEC, who’s going to replace the 11 first-round picks? I’m glad you asked.
Let’s dive in…
No. 1 Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina (Houston Texans)
Replacement: Darius English (SO)
The Skinny: South Carolina’s coaching staff yearns to see rising sophomore Darius English as the Gamecocks’ next big pass rusher. English made 19 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and .5 sacks in 2013. English has put on some weight, and the staff feels great about his upside and potential. Now, it comes down to development.
No. 2 Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn (St. Louis Rams)
Replacement(s): Shon Coleman (SO), Patrick Miller (JR)
The Skinny: Although Shon Coleman started A-Day at left tackle, the battle isn’t over with Patrick Miller, as confirmed by JB Grimes. Coleman may have the slight lead, but Miller is certainly good enough to get the job done. Collectively, Auburn’s offensive line should be nasty.
No. 6 Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M (Atlanta Falcons)
Replacement: Cedric Ogbuehi (SR)
The Skinny: Jake Matthews moved from right tackle to left for 2013, and Cedric Ogbuehi will do the same thing. JUCO transfers Jermaine Eluemunor and Avery Gennesy will provide depth, but it’s all about Ogbuehi, who could have been a potential first-round pick had he left early. He should enter 2014 as a preseason All-SEC tackle.
No. 7 Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M, (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Replacement(s): Ricky Seals-Jones (FR), JaQuay Williams (SO), Speedy Noil (FR)
The Skinny: Three candidates stand out when replacing All-SEC 6-5 receiver Mike Evans. Redshirt freshman Ricky Seals-Jones could be a game-changer, and he suffered a knee injury in 2013. JaQuay Williams could also be that type of player, but he caught just four passes for 71 yards with one TD in 2013. Watch out for freshman Speedy Noil, who showed this spring he’ll have an imprint on Kevin Sumlin’s explosive offense.
No. 12 Odell Beckham, WR, LSU (New York Giants)
Replacement(s): Travin Dural (SO), Malachi Dupree (FR), Trey Quinn (FR)
The Skinny: Not only does LSU have to replace Odell Beckham, but the Tigers have to replace Jarvis Landry, too. Incoming freshmen Malachi Dupree and Trey Quinn will play a role. Travin Dural is ready to assume a much larger role, and he’s a burner with a sub 4.4 40. Beckham is a dynamic player, and Quinn may be the most like him.
No. 17 CJ Mosley, LB, Alabama (Baltimore Ravens)
Replacement: Trey DePriest (SR)
The Skinny: CJ Mosley was the Alabama’s defensive quarterback and leader. Senior Trey DePriest is ready to replace Mosley, and he’ll likely make all the calls as the Tide’s every-down inside linebacker. DePriest racked up 65 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and two sacks, along with two forced fumbles in 2013.
No. 19 Ja’Wuan James, OT, Tennessee (Miami Dolphins)
Replacement: Coleman Thomas (FR)
The Skinny: Tennessee is counting on early enrollee Coleman Thomas to fill its right tackle vacancy. The Vols’ line will look much different this year than last, and Thomas just has to get some experience and get stronger. He’s listed at 6-6, 311 pounds, and run blocking probably won’t be a big problem; it’s pass blocking the coaching staff worries about.
No. 21 Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama (Green Bay Packers)
Replacement: Geno Smith (JR)
The Skinny: Free safety may be Alabama’s biggest question mark, and replacing Ha Ha Clinton-Dix could be tough, as he and Landon Collins were college football’s best tackling duo. But it’s junior Geno Smith’s time, and he had a nice spring and is ready to take on a much bigger role in 2014.
No. 22 Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M (Cleveland Browns)
Replacement(s): Kenny Hill (SO), Kyle Allen (FR)
The Skinny: No one player can replace Johnny Football’s production, but Texas A&M is still looking for his successor. It’ll be one of two players: Kenny Hill or Kyle Allen. Hill is the most like Manziel, but Allen may be the better pure talent of the two. The Aggies feel comfortable with either quarterback, but Hill looks like he’s trailing Allen entering fall camp.
No. 23 Dee Ford, DE, Auburn (Kansas City Chiefs)
Replacement: Carl Lawson
The Skinny: Dee Ford was Auburn’s pass rushing catalyst, but Carl Lawson is ready to become a premier defensive end in college football. Ford’s 12.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks are in jeopardy of being surpassed this year by Lawson, who recorded 7.5 tackles for loss and four sacks as a freshman.
No. 29 Dominique Easley, DL, Florida (New England Patriots)
The Replacement(s): Jonathan Bullard (JR), Leon Orr (rJR), Darious Cummings (SR), Caleb Brantley (rFR), Jay-nard Bostwick (rFR)
The Skinny: Dominique Easley’s replacements Leon Orr and Darious Cummings took over when he got hurt last year; however, the Gators will welcome two redshirt freshmen in the fold in Caleb Brantley and Jay-nard Bostwick, who could be difference makers. Jonathan Bullard will also play some tackle, and they will replace Easley by committee early in the season.
Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports