SEC football ruled the NFL Draft again this year, and next year should be no different.
Predicting which players will become first-round picks is close to worthless at this point, knowing injuries will happen and down years occur, but we can begin to look at the SEC’s next wave of stars with respect to the draft.
Again, there are many unknowns between now and next year’s NFL Draft, but let’s look again to 10 prospects we should be talking about in 2015:
Landon Collins, S, Alabama (JR): Landon Collins has first-round talent and could be college football’s best tackling safety. With a nose for the football and raw ability, Collins could be the top strong safety in the country this season for multiple reasons, and with defensive backs trending earlier in the NFL Draft, Collins could be a hot commodity.
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama (JR): Only Julio Jones is Nick Saban’s first-round wide receiver, but Amari Cooper could accompany Jones. Cooper could be college football’s most explosive receiver this year, and knowing receivers put up big numbers in Lane Kiffin’s offense, things are looking even better for Cooper to become a first-round pick. The NFL is centered around the passing game, and Cooper is one of the best pass catchers the country has to offer.
Mike Davis, RB, South Carolina (JR): The value of running backs has drastically fallen since the NFL has turned into a passing league. This year set a record for the latest a running back has ever been taken with the 54th overall pick. Tre Mason wasn’t selected until the third round, and he was one of the best the country had to offer. So, where does that leave Mike Davis? After a big-time 1,183-yard, 11-touchdown performance and another strong year in 2014, things could get interesting for Davis, who has high hopes at the next level.
Reese Dismukes, C, Auburn (SR): Helping anchor one of college football’s top offensive lines, Reese Dismukes could be an interesting prospect for the 2015 NFL Draft. Dismukes could become college football’s top center, and with an emphasis having been on quality offensive linemen, Dismukes could see his stock continue to rise.
Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia (JR): For two straight years, no running back has been selected as a first-round pick, but I think most of us agree that Todd Gurley is the most talented back in the country. Will he break the trend? Much of it depends on how healthy he stays in 2014. Gurley is a complete back who’s rushed for 2,374 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Dante Fowler, Buck, Florida (JR): One of the better SEC pass rushers is Dante Fowler, and he’s ready to have a big-time junior season. Florida’s Buck defensive end/linebacker hybrid is Florida’s catalyst. While Vernon Hargreaves is a better overall talent (he’s not draft eligible in 2015), Fowler will set the tone for the Gators’ defense. Packed with tremendous upside and potential, we’ll be talking about Fowler heading into next year’s draft.
Markus Golden, DE, Missouri (SR): Although Markus Golden may not have the upside of Kony Ealy, he may be a better overall prospect than SEC Defensive Player of the Year Michael Sam. Golden recorded 13 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks last season as a part-time player, and he’s now the leader of the Tigers’ defense. With another season of huge production, the senior Golden will be an interesting prospect to watch.
Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn (SR): Is he a quarterback? Should he play another position? Nick Marshall could become one of the most debated prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft. With the NFL trending toward Marshall’s run-pass style, could teams make a big run at Marshall? Much of it – maybe all of it – depends on his 2014 season. His completion percentage has to increase, along with his accuracy on shorter to intermediate routes.
Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M (SR): Should we just ago ahead and write it down: Texas A&M will have a top 10 pick at offensive tackle? Following Luke Joeckel in 2013 and Jake Matthews in 2014, Cedric Ogbuehi could be that guy. He’s following in Jake Matthews’ steps and switching from right tackle to left in order to fill the vacancy and solidify the offensive line. Ogbuehi could have been an upper-round pick in this year’s draft.
TJ Yeldon, RB, Alabama (JR): One of the premier talents in college football, TJ Yeldon has totaled 2,343 yards and 27 touchdowns in two career seasons. Yeldon has had trouble holding onto the football, but there’s no denying his tremendous ability and upside. Yeldon has shared carries throughout his career, and that will again happen in 2014.
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