5 best SEC defensive players in 2014
Anyone who says defensive was absent in the SEC during 2014 obviously didn’t watch SEC football.
Look across the Associated Press and Coaches All-SEC teams and you’ll see impactful defensive players, so many that great players were left off the team.
With the regular season concluded and bowl season looming, Saturday Down South attempts to identify the five best defensive players in the SEC in 2014.
Shane Ray, DE, Missouri: Ray is perhaps the SEC’s best NFL prospect, and the redshirt junior had a monster season for the SEC East champs. Ray finished fifth on the team in total tackles, with 61, but his work came in backfield. Ray topped the Tigers with 21 tackles for loss and 14 sacks. Missouri lost the two best defensive ends in the SEC a year ago, and found arguably two better in 2014 with Ray and his battery mate, Markus Golden.
Senquez Golson, CB, Ole Miss: He’s not the best cover corner, and is undersized, but senior Senquez Golson is as good a playmaker on the ball as there is in the SEC. Golson led the SEC in interceptions in 2014 with nine, complimented by eight pass break-ups. Golson made what was, perhaps, the play of the year in the SEC, fighting off Alabama tight end O.J. Howard — who has six inches on Golson — to pick off Blake Sims and seal the Rebels’ win over then-No. 3 Ole Miss.
Landon Collins, S, Alabama: Collins quarterbacked the vaunted Alabama defense and had a stellar season doing so. The junior topped the Crimson Tide in tackles with 90, while adding 3.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, six pass break-ups, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble. Collins is capable of covering a large portion of grass from his safety positions, but is also athletic enough to come downhill and stop the run.
Dante Fowler, DE, Florida: Fowler terrorized opposing quarterbacks this season, recording 12 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Fowler led a Florida front seven that served as one of the few bright spots for the Gators this season. The junior added 15 quarterback hurries to his resume this season, and two forced fumbles. Fowler is expected to be a top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Trey Flowers, DE, Arkansas: Flowers anchored an Arkansas defense which experienced the biggest turnaround in the league under first-year coordinator Robb Smith. The senior boasts a motor unrivaled by his counterparts. Flowers recorded a team-best 13.5 tackles for loss and five sacks for the Razorbacks. Flowers’ explosive first step and refusal to quit made him tough to block, resulting in an impactful season for the Hogs.