Creating the perfect SEC defensive back for 2018
The SEC consistently produces some of the best secondary talent in the country. Between LSU and Florida’s ongoing “DBU” debate to Alabama churning out solid defensive backs and other schools stockpiling elite talent at the position, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of great athletes to choose from.
However, only the best of the best attributes can be included in this piece, and five SEC defensive backs have skills that stand out above the rest.
From potential 2019 first-round picks to guys who just have one elite skill, combining these assets would create the perfect SEC defensive back for the 2018 season.
Here’s a look at the five returning SEC players who make up the perfect SEC DB for the upcoming campaign:
Ballhawking: Greedy Williams, LSU
After redshirting in 2016, Williams burst onto the scene in 2017, sharing the SEC lead with 6 interceptions in 13 games. Rangy at 6-2, 185, he showed great instincts for jumping routes and making plays on balls in the air.
He’ll be eligible for the 2019 NFL Draft following this season if he has another big year, and he’s already generating some first-round buzz. There’s still a lot of work to do to reach that point, but expect SEC quarterbacks to try their luck elsewhere when throwing on LSU’s defense this fall.
Instincts: Deandre Baker, Georgia
Baker (pictured above) is perhaps the best all-around defensive back in the SEC. Last year, he recorded 44 tackles, intercepted 3 passes and had 9 pass breakups.
For a secondary that struggled at times, he was a steadying presence, and he’ll be counted on even more this fall, as the Bulldogs won’t be very experienced along the back end of their defense.
If he plays well once again, he could be another SEC defensive back who generates serious first-round buzz as the 2019 NFL Draft approaches.
Physicality: Mike Edwards, Kentucky
Edwards isn’t scared to mix it up around the line of scrimmage. In 2016, he had 100 tackles and in 2017, he followed that up with 96 tackles. He loves firing into the backfield to bring down running backs, too, recording 9.5 tackles for a loss the past two years.
At only 6 feet tall, and weighing only 200 pounds, Edwards isn’t the prototypical size for a safety/linebacker hybrid, but his versatility makes him a key part of the Wildcats’ secondary.
Big-play ability: Chauncey Gardner Jr., Florida
Much like Baker above, Gardner can do everything asked of him. From making tackles (he had 58 in 2017) to excelling in coverage (2 interceptions and 7 pass breakups last year), Gardner is one of the SEC’s best all-around defenders.
However, what sets him apart is that he makes more game-changing plays. He has 5 interceptions in two seasons at Florida, averaging 35.2 yards per return, bringing one all the way to the end zone. He also had 6 tackles for a loss in 2017 and 1 sack, so he can make plays all over the field when the Gators need him to.
Speed: DeMarkus Acy, Mizzou
Acy may not be the best defensive back on this list, but his speed is undeniably elite. Combine that with the traits listed above and you have yourself one heck of a defender.
Entering his junior season this fall, Acy needs to rely less on his speed and work on his true cornerback skills. However, having the wheels he has is never a bad thing, and if he cleans up his technique, his speed will help cover for any mistakes he does end up making.