Some may have argued last season the Southeastern Conference lost its grip as the nation’s top football conference. But, there’s little doubt that the SEC is still the best producer of NFL talent.
NFL Media analyst Elliot Harrison of NFL.com released his All-Under-25 team last week. In order to qualify for the list, each player had to remain under 25 years old until at least the first day of the 2017 NFL season.
For his offense, Harrison picked one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, two tackles, two guards and one center. On defense, he selected two defensive ends, two defensive tackles, three linebackers, an edge rusher, two cornerbacks and two safeties. To round out the team, Harrison also picked a kicker, punter and return man.
Of the 26 players on the NFL.com All-Under-25 team, 12 of them played in the SEC. It was an even split too with six on offense and six on defense. That’s quite incredible considering the SEC possesses the reputation of being much stronger on offense.
With four players, LSU led the way not just among SEC but all schools represented on the list. Alabama was tied with Ohio State for second with three players. But incredibly, five other SEC schools also owned at least one player that made the cut. That just speaks volumes to the depth of the conference over the last few years.
Both wide receiver spots went to former SEC players in the Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. (LSU) and the Buccaneers’ Mike Evans (Texas A&M). Behind a career-high 101 catches, Beckham made the Pro Bowl for the third time in three years. He has at least 90 catches, 1,300 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in each of his first three NFL seasons, and he tied the NFL record by becoming just the second receiver to 4,000 career receiving yards in 42 games.
On defense, both safety spots went to former SEC/Alabama players in the Giants’ Landon Collins and the Packers’ Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix.
Also on the list was the Texans’ Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina), the Chargers’ Hunter Henry (Arkansas), the Panthers’ Trai Turner (LSU), the Colts’ Ryan Kelly (Alabama), the Vikings’ Danielle Hunter (LSU), the Broncos’ Shane Ray (Missouri), the Falcons’ Deion Jones (LSU), and the Texans’ Benardrick McKinney (Mississippi State).
The most notable snub from the SEC was former Mississippi State and Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. Harrison selected the former Florida State and Tampa Bay Buccaneers signal caller Jameis Winston.