The SEC continues to be the premier producer of NFL talent. In the 2016 NFL Draft, 51 conference players were selected, including eight in the first round.
With more players coming physically prepared to play as freshmen, the amount of early-entry talents declaring for the draft continues to rise. Last season, 96 players submitted their names for early entry.
Foregoing eligibility to enter the draft is a risk for most players. But for the cream of the crop, early entry is just a formality. Here are five SEC players who will have a chance to enter the 2017 NFL Draft early.
OT Cam Robinson, Alabama
While he might have hurt his chances with off-the-field concerns, Cam Robinson is one of the purest offensive line talents in college football. A consensus five-star prospect out of high school, Robinson became a full-time starter in his first season on campus for the Crimson Tide. He was the first true freshman to start at left tackle since Andre Smith in 2006. Smith ended up being the No. 6 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Robinson has a chance to be picked even higher, if he can resolve his legal concerns stemming from an arrest this offseason. Even if the issues linger, Robinson might still be too good a talent to pass up.
RB Nick Chubb, Georgia
Before suffering a season-ending knee injury last season against Tennessee, Nick Chubb was having a Heisman-caliber season. The true sophomore tied Herschel Walker’s Georgia record with 13 consecutive 100-yard rushing games, including 146 yards on 7.3 yards per attempts against a stout Alabama defense. Running backs have been devalued in the NFL in the modern era, but there has been a resurgence in the past two drafts. Chubb’s former teammate, Todd Gurley, was picked No. 10 overall despite a leg injury as well. Chubb will have to differentiate himself from a loaded running back class, but he easily has the talent to be a first round pick.
DB Jamal Adams, LSU
LSU safety Jamal Adams has been a star on campus almost since he committed to “the university of LSU.” The former five-star cut his teeth with 66 tackles as a freshman reserve and added 67 tackles and four interceptions as a full-time starter last season. With the Tigers losing a pair of defensive backs to the NFL, Adams is expected to take over as the vocal leader of the LSU defense. If he can improve on the standout start to his career, Adams should explode up draft boards quickly.
RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
Leonard Fournette is one of the most touted running backs in recruiting history. Unlike many before him, Fournette has fully lived up to the hype. In just his second season, Fournette rushed for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns to lead the Tigers to a 9-win season. The New Orleans native rushed for 100 yards in 10 of his 12 starts and 200 yards in four games. Despite playing just two seasons in the SEC, Fournette has 15 100-yard rushing games against some of the top defenses in the country. It is a deep running back class next season, but Fournette should be the leader.
DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
There might not be a player more physically ready for the NFL than Texas A&M superstar Myles Garrett. In his first season on campus, Garrett reached the Aggies freshman sack record (5.5) in only six games, and doubled it by season’s end. Three games later, Garrett topped Jadaveon Clowney’s freshman sack record of 8.5. Garrett is listed at 6-foot-5 and 262 pounds. Some of the physicals attributed to him are freakish, including a 4.46 40-yard dash and 40-inch vertical. Garrett is sure to be one of the first five players off the board in next year’s draft. Of course, if he continues to do things like this, maybe the NBA might come calling first.
Myles Garrett wants you at Reed! pic.twitter.com/3FNA4htTT6
— Reed Rowdies (@ReedRowdies) January 29, 2016