Death, taxes and the SEC dominating the NFL Draft on a yearly basis. Those are the only 3 certainties in life.

When the 2021 NFL Draft rolls around next April, the SEC once again is sure to be well-represented in Round 1 and beyond. There are dozens of draftable players in the conference, but we’re focusing on the best of the best.

Which 25 SEC players are the best draft prospects (Note: Not best players, per se, but guys the NFL will be looking at this fall)? There are sure to be some surprises. Heck, if we had put Joe Burrow on a Top-25 most-draftable players list heading into the 2019 season, y’all would have called us crazy. But we all know how that fairy-tale season played out, with Burrow rising all the way to the No. 1 overall pick.

Who are the best bets to hear their names called early in the 2021 NFL Draft? Here are our top 25 prospects:

25. KJ Costello, QB, Mississippi State

Costello has a huge opportunity heading into the 2020 season. He’ll have 1 year to prove he belongs in the NFL by working with Air Raid guru Mike Leach. Leach’s offense has gained more credibility over the years at the pro level as teams spread the field and air it out more. Jacksonville Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew II’s success in 2019 also didn’t hurt. If Costello has a big year, he should be a mid-to-late-round draft pick.

24. Kyle Trask, QB, Florida

Yes, another quarterback right off the bat. Trask is perhaps the top returning quarterback in the SEC this year, but he still has some work to do to rise up NFL Draft boards. If he looks better than he did in 2019, he could be one of the draft’s biggest risers over the course of the season.

23. Kary Vincent Jr., CB, LSU

Vincent is one of the best slot corners in the nation. He and Derek Stingley Jr. (who isn’t eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft) are a great tandem and feed off each other. Vincent even snagged 4 interceptions in 2019. With the rise in spread schemes in the pro, slot corners are becoming more valuable. Vincent will hear his name called at some point next April.

22. Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

Horn has yet to record an interception at South Carolina, but he does have 17 pass breakups and 2 forced fumbles in his 2 years in garnet and black. Quarterbacks simply don’t look his way often. He has the potential to truly develop into a lockdown corner this fall, and NFL teams will be watching closely.

21. Marco Wilson, CB, Florida

Wilson isn’t afraid to come up and make plays behind the line of scrimmage. His play recognition is excellent:

He made 2.5 tackles for a loss last year and also snagged 3 interceptions. We’ll see how he fares with a bigger role this fall, but he has the talent to be a late-Day 2 pick.

20. Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina

Mukuamu is a couple of spots higher than his South Carolina teammate (Horn) on this list because of his size. NFL scouts will love his 6-4, 200-pound frame. In 2019, Mukuamu had 59 tackles, 4 interceptions (1 returned for a touchdown) and 9 pass breakups. If he can do that again in 2020, he’ll shoot up draft boards. He won’t have Jake Fromm to pick on this year, though.

19. Drake Jackson, OL, Kentucky

Jackson is an absolute beast on the Wildcats’ interior offensive line. He was a huge part of the success Kentucky had running the ball with WR-turned-QB Lynn Bowden Jr. in 2019. If he leads another great line performance this year, a rise into the Round 2-Round 3 conversation isn’t out of the question.

18. Jamie Newman, QB, Georgia

It’s strange to have Newman ranked this high when he might not even be the Bulldogs’ starter in 2020 now that JT Daniels has immediate eligibility. However, I think Newman will win the job and, as long as he stays healthy, put up strong numbers as a passer and a runner. If he starts all year, he’s a potential Round 1 quarterback, behind the draft darlings like Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields.

17. Richard LeCounte III, S, Georgia

LeCounte really came into his own last year, recording 61 tackles (4.5 for a loss), 4 interceptions, 3 pass breakups, 3 fumble recoveries and 2 forced fumbles. He has a nose for the ball, and that’s exactly what NFL teams want from safeties. He’ll be a leader in the Georgia secondary this year once again and will look to prove he’s the best safety in the conference.

16. Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia

Another defensive back? You’d better believe it. With the NFL becoming a pass-happy league, receivers and defensive backs are more valuable than ever. Like Horn at South Carolina, Stokes has yet to record a college interception, but he has broken up 18 passes in 2 years. He doesn’t allow receivers to separate and can make plays down the field:

Or on crossing routes:

Or even behind the line of scrimmage:

He’ll become a much bigger name this year if he continues to play like that.

15. Seth Williams, WR, Auburn

Williams made a huge leap between his freshman and sophomore seasons, just like he made a huge leap to haul in this pass:

He went from 26 catches for 534 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2018 to 59 grabs for 830 yards and 6 scores in 2019. With QB Bo Nix coming back this fall, he should continue to develop the chemistry that led to this game-winning touchdown in Week 1 last year:

14. Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU

Marshall was a bit overlooked in last year’s high-powered LSU offense. Fellow receivers Justin Jefferson (a 1st-round 2020 draft pick) and Ja’Marr Chase (more on him later) overshadowed him with their record-setting campaigns. In fact, Marshall finished 5th on the team in receptions with 46 (behind Jefferson, Chase, Thaddeus Moss and Clyde Edwards-Helaire).

But Marshall will get his chance to make a name for himself alongside Chase this fall. We’ll see if he can continue to be a touchdown machine. Thirteen of his 46 catches went for touchdowns, including this one in the title game:

He has late-first-round potential if he can continue to shine in a larger role this fall.

13. Trey Smith, OL, Tennessee

Smith would be much higher on this list under normal circumstances, but his past issues with blood clots will have NFL teams concerned. There’s no concern about him on gameday, though, as he can often be found mauling defensive linemen and linebackers. He’s a first-round talent, but we’ll see where he goes in April’s draft.

12. Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama

Barmore is a monster who could easily work his way into the Round 1 discussion in the 2021 draft. Look at him simply overpower this Michigan lineman and shove him into the quarterback to disrupt the play:

That Michigan lineman is Ben Bredeson, whom the Baltimore Ravens took in Round 4 of the 2020 NFL Draft. Yeah, Barmore is probably just about ready for the NFL.

11. Tyler Shelvin, DL, LSU

I gave Shelvin a slight edge over Barmore because of his experience. However, he’ll need to take on a bigger role for the Tigers’ defense after so much talent left for the NFL. If he can drop the extra weight coach Ed Orgeron wants him to drop, he could be in for a big year in 2020.

10. Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia

Campbell is another Georgia cornerback I really like. I give him the edge over Stokes for now, but he’ll need to stay healthy this fall to keep this position. He’s a lockdown corner when he’s at full-strength, and teams are going to find it very difficult to pass against him, Stokes and LeCounte this year.

9. Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

Harris is another guy who could be higher, but the NFL doesn’t value running backs as much as it used to. Harris and Clemson’s Travis Etienne (among others) absolutely have first-round talent, but only 1 running back (LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire) went in Round 1 in 2020, and he didn’t hear his name called until the last pick in the round. The Alabama star has plenty of talent. We’ll see if he can put together another huge year and make it impossible for a team not to take him on Day 1.

8. Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Pitts is probably the top tight end in the 2021 class. It’s either Pitts or Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth. They’re both deep threats, but Pitts has the slight edge:

Pitts is probably the better overall receiver, though. He looks so smooth when he goes out wide and runs routes:

His hands are second to none in the tight end ranks, also:

He has chemistry with Florida QB Kyle Trask now, too, so I expect a huge year from him as the Gators try to overtake Georgia in the SEC East.

7. Nick Bolton, LB, Mizzou

Bolton is no longer a secret in Columbia. After Cale Garrett went down with an injury last year, Bolton stepped up in a huge way. Now, he’s being talked about as a potential first-round pick, and that’s very fitting. He’s an absolute monster against the run:

His pre-snap recognition is strong and then he’s athletic enough to shed blockers and find the ball:

He’s also strong in coverage. He had 2 interceptions last year, returning 1 for a touchdown. Additionally, he broke up an impressive 7 pass attempts. He’s a do-it-all linebacker and is finally getting the credit he deserves.

6. Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama

Moses missed the entire 2019 season with a knee injury, but if he had gone out for the 2020 draft, there’s a decent chance he still would have been a first-round pick. That’s how talented the speedy 6-3, 230-pound linebacker. He had 86 tackles (10 for loss) and 3.5 sacks in 2018. If he can show he hasn’t lost a step this season, I expect he’ll be one of the first linebackers off the board in April.

5. DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Jerry Jeudy (a first-round 2020 pick) led the Alabama offense in catches with 77 last year. But it was Smith, not Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III (another 2020 first-rounder) or Jaylen Waddle, who led the team in yards and touchdowns. Smith had a fantastic 2019 campaign, recording 68 catches for 1,256 yards and 14 touchdowns. Following a year like that, it’s a bit surprising that he came back for his senior year, but the Tide will be glad to have him.

The recipient of the famous 2nd-and-26 pass in the 2017 title game has only gotten better as time has gone on. He also has the honor of being one of the only receivers to get the best of LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr.:

Waddle and Smith will battle it out to be the first Tide receiver drafted in 2021. Speaking of Waddle …

4. Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

I’m giving Waddle the slight edge over Smith because of his 2019 Iron Bowl performance. That was a game Mac Jones started, and with Jones as the likely successor to Tua Tagovailoa this fall, I’m excited for what Waddle can do. His speed is elite and he can take any ball that finds its way into his hands to the end zone:

He also brings some added versatility as a return man, even if he almost gets his head ripped off in the process:

NFL teams will love all the ways Waddle can impact a game. You can’t go wrong with either him or Smith, though.

3. Alex Leatherwood, OL, Alabama

I’m really high on Leatherwood. I think he could be a Week 1 starter in the NFL this year. Instead, he opted to come back to Alabama for his senior season, which should only help him improve his draft stock.

After serving as Alabama’s left tackle last year, he’ll likely stay in that position this year. This year, it’ll take on new importance, though. He wasn’t blocking Tua Tagovailoa’s blind side last year, as Tua is a left-handed thrower. Both Mac Jones and Bryce Young are right-handed quarterbacks, though. At least Leatherwood won’t have to change his footwork to cover the blind side this fall.

I think he could be the second offensive lineman off the board in 2021 if all goes well (behind Oregon’s Penei Sewell).

2. Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

Heading into the 2020 season, there are 3 cornerbacks who could be the first guy at that position off the board in the 2021 draft — Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley, Ohio State’s Shaun Wade and Surtain. Farley has already opted out of the 2020 season, but all 3 of those guys should still be first-round picks in April.

Surtain has a knack for making the big play. Last year, he recorded 42 tackles, snagged 2 interceptions, defended 8 passes and even forced 3 fumbles. At 6-2 and 205 pounds, he also has the athleticism and body type NFL teams will want to see in a potential top-10 pick at cornerback.

With Farley sitting out (a completely understandable and acceptable decision given the global pandemic), Wade and Surtain have a chance to jump him on many draft boards. If Alabama’s defense stays healthier than it did in 2019, Surtain could stand out even more.

1. Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

Chase is the No. 1 draft prospect from the SEC and it isn’t particularly close. No, he won’t have Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow throwing him the ball this fall, but the reigning Biletnikoff Award winner should still put up huge numbers.

Chase is by far the best deep threat of any receiver returning to the college ranks in 2020:

He’s also dominant in multiple positions. He can line up on the outside and make plays, but as good as he is out there, he might be even better in the slot:

He’s so good at going up and making plays over defensive backs:

Everything about Chase’s game is elite. I’d be shocked if he didn’t go in the top 10 picks in April’s draft. He should be the first receiver off the board.