When the 2017 NFL Draft rolls around next spring, expect another a heavy dose of SEC selections.
No kidding, right?
The SEC’s junior class will make the biggest splash, putting a stamp on one of the best classes in recent memory.
Early mock drafts have as many as 10 players from the junior class going in the first round of next year’s NFL draft, so it’s easy to see why the class is regarded so highly. But who’s the best of the talented class? Let’s rank the top 10 juniors in the SEC in 2016.
10. RB Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt
As one of the most underrated players in the SEC, Ralph Webb has done nothing short of scare opposing defensive coordinators throughout his career. Webb has rushed for more than 2,000 yards in his career, including 1,152 yards and five touchdowns in 2015. He often gets overlooked for the stars at running back, but if that production keeps up, there’s no reason Webb won’t be among the best 10 players in the SEC’s junior class.
9. DE Charles Harris, Missouri
There weren’t many bright spots for Missouri last season, but the play of defensive end Charles Harris was a joy to watch. He racked up 56 total tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 10 quarterback hurries and 2 forced fumbles in 2016. He often gets overshadowed by the other elite pass rushers in the SEC, but he’s among the best players in the league.
8. DE Marquis Haynes, Ole Miss
Another defensive end that often gets overshadowed is Ole Miss’ Marquis Haynes. The 6-foot-3, 220 pound lineman totaled 43 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, 8 quarterback hurries and 3 forced fumbles a season ago. Haynes should get more attention from opposing offensive lines with Robert Nkemdiche out of the mix, but his quickness shouldn’t slow down his production from his first two seasons.
7. S Jamal Adams, LSU
LSU’s Jamal Adams is one of the conference’s most NFL-ready players. The 6-foot-1, 211-pound safety had 67 total tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 4 interceptions, 6 pass breakups and 1 forced fumble last season. His knowledge of the game sets him apart from the rest of the pack. This season, he’ll be the quarterback of a secondary that will be regarded as one of the nation’s best.
6. RB Nick Chubb, Georgia
If Nick Chubb returns to his old form, he’ll end the season higher on this list. But with his health still somewhat in question, Chubb is among the best juniors in the SEC. The 5-foot-10, 220-pound back averaged 124.5 rushing yards per game last season before going down with a season-ending injury. In 2014, he was named the SEC Freshman of the Year after rushing for more than 1,500 yards. Chubb’s health is the only thing holding him back.
5. CB Jalen Tabor, Florida
A year after losing Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida may again boast the best cornerback in the SEC with Jalen Tabor, who arguably outperformed VHIII last season. Tabor totaled 40 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 4 interceptions and 14 pass breakups in 2015, and there’s no reason to think his production will decrease — unless quarterbacks finally avoid him.
4. DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee
Another defensive end who has become a star in the SEC is Tennessee’s Derek Barnett. At 6-foot-3, 257 pounds, Barnett amassed 69 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, 7 quarterback hurries and a forced fumble last season. With the Vols returning a ton of talent defensively, Barnett should be in for another big season to cement his place as one of the SEC’s premier pass rushers.
3. OT Cam Robinson, Alabama
Last year, Ole Miss’ Laremy Tunsil that was regarded as one of the SEC’s best at offensive tackle. Now it’s Alabama’s Cam Robinson. The 6-foot-6, 326-pound left tackle heads into his third season as the Crimson Tide’s starter at left tackle, and by the looks of things, only injuries and off-field issues can prevent Robinson from another dominating season along the Alabama offensive line.
2. RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
LSU’s Leonard Fournette is no stranger to hype, and there’s no indication that the expectations for the star running back are getting any weaker heading into his junior campaign. The 6-foot-1, 230 pound back nearly ran for 2,000 yards last season (1,953 rushing yards, 22 touchdowns). With questions still looming around quarterback Brandon Harris and the passing game, Fournette will be the workhorse for the LSU offense in 2016.
1. DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
While many would argue Fournette is the best junior in the SEC, it’s hard to put into words the impact Myles Garrett makes. The 6-foot-5, 262-pound defensive end totaled 59 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, 10 quarterback hurries and 5 forced fumbles a year ago. He made 11.5 sacks as a freshman in 2014. If there’s anything that’s a given heading into the fall, it’s that Garrett will continue to dominate SEC offensive lines.