Ranking the SEC’s defensive ends for 2013

Previous Rankings:

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