Ranking the SEC’s top 10 linebackers for 2013

Player Rankings:

The SEC is known for its fast and physical linebackers, most of which are in the NFL playing on Sundays. The SEC had another strong crop of linebackers in 2013, and here are the 10 best…

One for the show

1. CJ Mosley, Alabama (SR)

CJ Mosley was not only the best linebacker in the SEC, but I thought he was the best linebacker in college football. The weathered veteran senior leader had another fabulous season for the Crimson Tide, leading the team with 108 tackles, including nine tackles for loss. He also added 10 QB hurries and a Butkus Award for the trophy case. Nick Saban will miss his leadership in 2014.

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Two surprises

2. Ramik Wilson, Georgia (JR)
3. Serderius Bryant, Ole Miss (JR)

Ramik Wilson busted onto the scene as a junior to lead the SEC in tackles with 133, including 11 tackles for loss, four sacks and seven QB hurries. Georgia’s secondary was soft, but the linebacking corps was nasty, headlined by Wilson. He decided that he would return to Athens for his senior season. That’s big news for a defense that returns 10 of 11 starters…Serderius Bryant filled a need for Ole Miss really by necessity. When Denzel Nkemdiche went down week one with a minor knee injury, Bryant took advantage of it. He, like so many other Rebels, is a little undersized, but he led the team with 78 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. Bryant also forced three fumbles, and he’s prime for a huge season in 2014.

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SEC veterans

4. Trey DePriest, Alabama (JR)
5. AJ Johnson, Tennessee (JR)
6. Lamin Barrow, LSU (SR)

Trey DePriest will replace CJ Mosley as Alabama’s defensive leader next season, and he turned in another strong performance in 2013. DePriest racked up 65 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles. He’ll play on Sundays…AJ Johnson may not have had the best season of his career in 2013, but he continues to eat up tackles. Johnson surpassed the 100-tackle mark for the second consecutive season, racking up 106, including 8.5 tackles for loss. His pass coverage stands to improve, but he has a nose for the football…LSU’s Lamin Barrow finished his career for the Tigers in a big way. Barrow led LSU with 91 tackles and made 5.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Barrow will be missed next season, and he’ll have a strong opportunity to play on Sundays.

Young guns

7. Cassanova McKinzy, Auburn (SO)
8. Leonard Floyd, Georgia (FR)
9. Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State (SO)

Cassanova McKinzy was Auburn’s best linebacker, and he was very instrumental in helping the Tigers win an SEC Championship. McKinzy made 75 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two sacks and six QB hurries en route to a strong sophomore campaign…Leonard Floyd is the only freshman on the ranking, and he’s going to be a star in Georgia’s 3-4 defense. He’s long, lean and mean, and he made 55 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, 22 QB hurries and two forced fumbles. He has one of the highest ceilings for any rush linebacker in college football…Benardrick McKinney is one of the best players you’ve still never heard of. He led the Bulldogs with 71 tackles, seven tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks en route to a strong sophomore campaign. I love McKinney’s upside, and he recently said he would return to MSU for his redshirt junior campaign in 2014. In fact, all three of these impact linebackers return for another SEC season.

Defensive leader

10. Andrew Wilson, Missouri (SR)

Andrew Wilson may not wow you with his crazy athleticism, but he always seemed to be in the right place at the right time and led Mizzou’s veteran-laid defense. Wilson racked up 113 tackles, including 6.5 for loss. Gary Pinkel and Dave Steckel will miss his leadership next season.

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