It’s early, but not that early.

I salute those who have to put together a way-too-early mock draft. Being on the record for predictions a year away is a massive challenge.

Then again, I suppose that’s exactly what I’m doing today by outlining the 10 SEC players that I expect to see come off the board in Round 1 of the 2025 NFL Draft. Some of that is the way they’re showing up in those way-too-early mocks and some of that is my belief in the player that they are and/or will become.

So let’s get on the record about some way-too-early predictions for SEC players who’ll hear their name called in the first round of the 2025 NFL Draft:

Will Campbell, LSU OT

Campbell is already a 2-year starter at left tackle, and he became an All-SEC player protecting the blindside of Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels. He and Emery Jones Jr. are both first-round candidates as solid, multi-year tackle starters at LSU. Campbell gets the edge as the left tackle with 14 consecutive games having not allowed a sack. He could be the first offensive lineman off the board and give LSU a Round 1 offensive lineman for the first time since Alan Faneca in 1998.

Kelvin Banks, Jr., Texas OT

Just copy and paste what I said about Campbell here because Banks is a 2-year starter at left tackle at Texas, where he helped protect the emerging Quinn Ewers. Like Campbell at LSU, Banks is the best of the 4 returning offensive line starters at Texas. At 6-5, 320 pounds, he allowed just 1 sack and 1 QB hit in 2023. Not too shabby for a second-year player at the toughest offensive line position.

Tyler Booker, Alabama OL

I don’t know that Booker has the perceived upside of JC Latham, who started at right tackle at Alabama but is still considered a potential project. Booker will be an interior offensive lineman at the next level, so that’ll hurt his value a bit. But there’s still a market for a franchise IOL, especially if he takes a step forward and becomes an All-American at 6-5, 352 pounds. I wouldn’t rule that out with an incoming coaching staff who just coached the Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line at Washington.

Deone Walker, Kentucky DT

There’s a world in which Walker is in that 5-10 range come next year. The motor won’t be questioned for the 350-pound interior defensive lineman, who played at least 50 snaps all but once in 2023 (it was when he played a mere 47 snaps in Week 3). As we saw this year with some more developmental guys like Maason Smith coming off the board early, getting interior defensive linemen who can rush the passer is highly coveted. PFF had Walker for 51 pressures as a sophomore last year, which doesn’t include the time he dropped into coverage and forced an interception against Florida. Special talent, he is.

Nic Scourton, Texas A&M DL

If you’re not familiar with Scourton, now is your chance to educate yourself. At 19 years old, he not only led Purdue in sacks; he led the Big Ten in sacks. Now at A&M, the 280-pound Bryan, Texas native is back home and ready to tear up the SEC. He tore up A&M’s offensive line in the spring game against the pass and the run. It feels like a matter of time before he’s a household name in SEC circles. All signs point to Scourton becoming A&M’s first defensive player to come off the board in Round 1 since Myles Garrett in 2017.

James Pearce Jr., Tennessee Edge

PFF has Pearce coming off the board at No. 1 overall. I’m not quite there with that assessment, but spend any time watching Pearce and you’ll see why he’s already in that conversation. Even though he wasn’t an every-down player — Pearce averaged 35.5 snaps as a sophomore — he had 14.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. PFF charted Pearce with a 21.3% pressure rate, which was No. 3 among all FBS edge defenders. In other words, he’s a menace. Menaces who do the things that Pearce does have a top-end NFL market.

Mykel Williams, Georgia Edge

Williams is making the switch to a more traditional edge role in a 2-point stance. The thinking is that’ll unlock the best version of Williams, who has been a good, but not great player at Georgia so far. Injuries impacted that. Like the aforementioned Scourton, he’s just turning 20 this summer but the size (6-5, 265 pounds) and instincts are already next-level. Williams should be put in more favorable spots to get to the quarterback, which he looked more than capable of doing when he dominated the elite UGA offensive line in the spring game. There’s a ton of upside with No. 13 in red and black.

Harold Perkins, LSU LB

Look, I get that there’s a lot that’s been said and written about Perkins’ ideal fit. Should he be an inside linebacker? Should he be an edge? Should he line up as a slot guy who gets to wreak havoc from the second level? I’m more interested in what we see from Perkins post-snap. New DC Blake Baker knows that’s more important for Perkins’ future and LSU’s defensive future after a disappointing season. But even if Perkins is only 220-225 pounds and searching for the right next-level fit, we’ve already seen that he’s immensely talented. It would help his first-round status if he looked a lot more like the true freshman who took the league by storm in 2022 as opposed to the on-his-heels defender who played out of position in 2023.

Carson Beck, Georgia QB

Much was said about the 2025 quarterback market as 6 of the 12 picks in the 2024 NFL Draft were signal-callers. The thinking was that Michael Penix Jr., Bo Nix and JJ McCarthy were targeted so early out of fear that the 2025 quarterback class wouldn’t be particularly deep. Beck is the one who stands to benefit the most from that. In Year 2 as a starter, he has even more weapons than last year and he figures to have one of the nation’s top offensive lines protecting him. If he can improve the deep ball, there’s no reason why he can’t be the first quarterback off the board.

Luther Burden III, Mizzou WR

I nearly went with Georgia safety Malaki Starks for this last spot, but I didn’t because of the diminished value that teams have on safeties. Burden’s positional value is also interesting because he moved to the slot receiver role this past year and took off. Of his 661 offensive snaps, 541 (81.8%) came from the slot. This is what that 2023 slot snaps distribution looked like for the receivers who were picked in the first 2 rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft:

  • Marvin Harrison Jr., 18%
  • Malik Nabers, 49.1%
  • Rome Odunze, 16.1%
  • Brian Thomas Jr., 11.3%
  • Xavier Worthy, 33.9%
  • Ricky Pearsall, 54.1%
  • Xavier Legette, 31.3%
  • Keon Coleman, 30.4%
  • Ladd McConkey, 26.4%
  • Ja’Lynn Polk, 36.8%
  • AD Mitchell, 16.9%

I’d expect Burden to be a bit more interchangeable in terms of where he lines up, but I don’t expect it to be a true 50-50 split. Then again, if he’s as dynamic as he was in 2023, the first-team All-SEC receiver should have plenty of Round 1 suitors in 2025.