Top SEC players expected to enter NFL Draft
It’s no secret: the SEC dominates the field when it comes to producing NFL draft picks.
For the fourth consecutive year, the NFL produced the most draft picks in 2014 with 49. During the past five drafts, the SEC is outpacing the competition at number of draft picks with 241.
This year is proving to shape up the same, and while some would claim the SEC lacked star power this football season, there are still plenty of players expected to enter the 2015 NFL Draft.
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama: The junior had the best 2014 campaign of any wide receiver in the country, catching an astounding 103 passes for 1,573 yards and 14 touchdowns. Cooper served as Blake Sims’ go-to target this season, far and away recording the most receptions of any Crimson Tide receiver. Scouts are high on Cooper, who had his best season under first-year offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. The Miami, Fla., native has lined up in the slot and outside showcasing his versatility.
Shane Ray, DE, Missouri: Perhaps the top NFL prospect in the conference, Ray has terrorized opposing quarterbacks off the edge this season. The junior native of Kansas City, Mo., recorded 59 total tackles, good for fifth on the team. However, he notched 20.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks, in addition to five quarterback hurries and one blocked kick. Ray is a little undersized to play defensive end at the next level, though it’s unknown whether he would move to linebacker.
Bud Dupree, DE, Kentucky: Dupree had a nice year for the Wildcats, increasing his draft stock along the way. Dupree earned All-SEC honors in each of the past two seasons, and likely will earn the honor again in 2014. The senior recorded 75 tackles for Kentucky, in addition 13.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. Dupree also intercepted two passes and forced two fumbles.
Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State: Prescott had a career year for the 10-2 Bulldogs. The junior completed 61 percent of his passes and threw for 2,996 yards and 24 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions. He also rushed for 939 yards and another 13 touchdowns. Prescott has expressed publicly his desire to play quarterback at the next level, however against better competition late in the season, his production trailed off.
Cedric Ogbuehi, OL, Texas A&M: The 6-foot-5, 305-pound offensive lineman is projected to be a high-round draft pick. The preseason Outland Trophy nominee anchored a Texas A&M offensive line that struggled at times this year. Ogbuehi moved to left tackle prior to the season and had been projected as a potential No. 1 pick in April’s draft.
Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State: Mississippi State’s leading tackler is projected as a first-round pick. The Tunica, Miss., native started all 12 games and recorded 61 total tackles, eight tackles for loss and three sacks. McKinney also recovered three fumbles and forced another. McKinney is athletic and explosive from his linebacker position, and will translate well to the next level.
Landon Collins, S, Alabama: The junior is arguably the SEC’s top safety and had another standout year quarterbacking Kirby Smart’s defense. Collins ranks second on the Crimson Tide in tackles with 83. The native of New Orleans recorded three interceptions and six pass breakups. Collins possesses great vision and ball skills, and can play the field better than anyone in the country.
Dante Fowler, DE, Florida: Fowler had an exceptional season coming off the edge for the Gators. Recording just 31 tackles on the season, Fowler was a force that drew double-teams from opposing offenses. The junior recorded 12 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 15 quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles. The 6-foot-3, 261-pound native of St. Petersburg, Fla., projects well to the next level, and should be in position to make an immediate impact for an NFL organization on the defensive line.
Kwon Alexander, LB, LSU: Alexander led John Chavis’ defense with 79 total tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. The junior forced two fumbles and five quarterback hurries. Alexander is strong enough to stop the run, yet athletic enough to drop into coverage. At 6-foot-2, 227 pounds, the Oxford, Ala., native has the measurables needed to translate to the next level.