SEC's 10 best defensive players for 2014
SDS’ own Brad Crawford recently ranked the top players at every position for 2014. You can read all of those here.
We’ve already looked at the top defensive players at every position, and here are the top 10 returning defensive players for 2014:
10. AJ Johnson, LB, Tennessee (SR)
9. Trey Flowers, DE, Arkansas (SR)
8. Markus Golden, DE, Missouri (SR)
AJ Johnson is the weathered veteran of the Tennessee defense, and he’s racked up two straight 100-plus tackle seasons. Some areas of his game need work, but he could be the conference’s most sure tackler at linebacker…Trey Flowers leads the Hogs’ new-look defense, and he made 13.5 tackles for loss and five sacks last season. Flowers is a pure defensive end, and he’s ready for a big senior season…Markus Golden will be a household name this season. After backing up both Michael Sam and Kony Ealy, Golden still racked up 13 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and eight QB hurries. The Tigers’ defensive line will be stout again, paced by Golden.
7. Trey DePriest, LB, Alabama (SR)
6. Dante Fowler, DE/LB, Florida (JR)
5. Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State (JR)
Nick Saban hopes Trey DePriest makes a smooth transition to replace the departed CJ Mosley, and he’s made 146 tackles in three seasons for the Tide and could close in on the 100-tackle mark in 2014…Dante Fowler is Will Muschamp’s biggest defensive weapon. He may not be as talented as Vernon Hargreaves at his position, but Fowler is primed for a huge junior season. He recorded 50 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and seven QB hurries during his sophomore season…Benardrick McKinney is still the country’s best-kept secret. He’s made 173 tackles in two seasons, and he could be unblockable this year in MSU’s underrated defense. McKinney will play in the NFL for many years.
4. Ramik Wilson, LB, Georgia (SR)
3. Landon Collins, S, Alabama (JR)
2. Cody Prewitt, S, Ole Miss (SR)
Ramik Wilson had a huge 2013 campaign that saw him make 133 tackles, including 11 for loss, and he was arguably the SEC’s biggest breakout player. Wilson and company should be nasty in Jeremy Pruitt’s defense…Alabama safety Landon Collins is a future NFL star. Collins started 2013 backing up Vinnie Sunseri, but after Sunseri went down with an injury, Collins stepped in and shined. He made 70 tackles and two INTs, and he’s just scraping the surface of his potential…While Collins is a stud at safety, the best returning safety is Cody Prewitt. Prewitt leads an underrated Rebels’ defense that’s looking to reach elite status in 2014. The All-American paced the SEC with six INTs, along with making 71 tackles. He plays recklessly, and I’m a sucker for reckless gridiron mentalities.
1. Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida (SO)
Vernon Hargreaves is the SEC’s best pure talent on defense. You could make the case he was one of only a handful of positives the Gators had last season, and the freshman All-American will lead another elite Florida defense. Hargreaves made three INTs last season. In three years, Hargreaves Island will be in an NFL stadium near you.