The Southeastern Conference is annually one of the more represented conferences in the NFL Draft. This year appears to be no different, as there is a multitude of talent, including a trio of Alabama pass catchers in the top 25 NFL Draft prospects. I will make an argument that this is one of the better offensive groups the SEC has produced in recent years. Alabama and Georgia met in the National Championship in 2017, and both have the talent at the top to return to the big game.
One of the most critical exercises during the NFL Draft season is to identify the top players overall in the conference. There were nine players from the SEC drafted in the first round in 2019. This amount was more than any other conference. Below, I will take a look at the elite players from the conference for this upcoming season. I have identified 25 of the best players for the SEC as we enter the NFL Draft season.
NFL Draft Prospects 1-5
- Jerry Jeudy WR Alabama
- Tua Tagovailoa QB Alabama
- Grant Delpit S LSU
- Derrick Brown DT Auburn
- Andrew Thomas OT Georgia
The top two spots on this list non-surprisingly belong to the Alabama duo that lit up SEC secondaries last season, to the tune of 1,315 yards and 14 touchdowns. Many believe Tua will be the top selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, but Jeudy will undoubtedly make his case this season. Delpit is the leader of another talented LSU defensive backfield. He is a big, rangy safety prospect that has drawn comparisons to former LSU great Jamal Adams. Delpit can make plays all over the field and should be a lock for the top ten next April.
Brown might have challenged Quinnen Williams as the top defensive tackle in 2019, if he had left school early. He is the best of a loaded Auburn defensive line. Brown moves extremely well for his size and is a force against both the run and the pass. To read more about Brown and other talented defensive linemen for 2019, check out this piece. Thomas burst onto the scene as a freshman 15-game starter at right tackle before transitioning to the blindside last season. His play only improved on the left side. That consistency is why Thomas is considered the top offensive lineman in the nation and top 5 draft prospect.
NFL Draft Prospects 6-10
- Terrell Lewis LB Alabama
- C.J. Henderson CB Florida
- Kristian Fulton CB LSU
- Dylan Moses LB Alabama
- Raekwon Davis DL Alabama
There are more talented Alabama draft hopefuls listed among six through ten. One player that no one is talking about is Alabama linebacker Terrell Lewis. Lewis recorded a sack in the 2017 National Championship against Georgia and appeared primed for a breakout 2018 season before tearing his ACL while training. He has the size and speed to be of the top pass rushers in SEC, and maybe the entire country.
Henderson and Fulton are talented young playmakers who will battle for the top cornerback spot in the draft. Moses joins Lewis to give the tide a formidable linebacker corps and one of the top units overall. Davis, meanwhile, would have been a first-round pick in the 2018 Draft, but decided to return to Alabama for his senior season and a chance at another national title.
NFL Draft Prospects 11-15
- Jake Fromm QB Georgia
- Henry Ruggs III WR Alabama
- D’Andre Swift RB Georgia
- Albert Okwuegbunam TE Missouri
- Alex Leatherwood OL Alabama
Fromm has been a star for the Bulldogs since his true freshman season. His career started by beating out former five-star quarterback Jacob Eason. Since then, he has accumulated a 24-5 record as the starter and thrown 54 touchdowns. He will be competing with Tagovailoa and Oregon’s Justin Herbert to be the first quarterback off the board. Joining Fromm in the Georgia backfield is the explosive Swift. The talented back had a breakout sophomore campaign with over a thousand rushing yards and ten scores.
Ruggs and Okwuegbunam are two incredibly gifted pass catchers. While Jeudy receives most of the press in the SEC, Ruggs is almost as talented and could be the fastest player in college football. Leatherwood is a former five-star recruit and takes over at left tackle for the departed Jonah Williams. He will be tasked with helping to keep star quarterback Tagovailoa upright this season.
NFL Draft Prospects 16-20
- Javon Kinlaw DL South Carolina
- Nick Coe DL Auburn
- Ke’Shawn Vaughn RB Vanderbilt
- Trevon Diggs CB Alabama
- Najee Harris RB Alabama
A pair of big SEC defensive linemen head this next portion of the rankings. Kinlaw is a giant senior tackle who has excellent length and appears poised to improve on his four and a half sacks and nine tackles for a loss last season. Coe shares a similar frame as Kinlaw, but seems to be a scheme-diverse playmaker on the defensive line. The junior edge rusher racked up an impressive 13.5 tackles for a loss and seven sacks in his sophomore year. He joins Brown on this ultra-talented Auburn defensive line that could be the best in the conference. Coe has set sky-high expectations for his redshirt junior season.
Vaughn is a former Tennessee transfer who combined for over 1,400 scrimmage yards and 14 scores in his first season at Vanderbilt. Diggs is a big defender with reliable hands, who spent time on the offensive side of the ball before last season and looks like Bama’s next star cornerback. Lastly, Najee Harris is a severely underrated playmaker who has played behind former draft picks Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs. This year, Harris will step out of the shadows and show opposing fans why he was once the top high school player in the whole country.
NFL Draft Prospects 21-25
- Bryan Edwards WR South Carolina
- Trey Smith OT Tennessee
- Michael Divinity LB LSU
- Cameron Dantzler CB Mississippi State
- Jaylen Waddle WR Alabama
Edwards has been a prolific receiver and for the Gamecocks. He tied for 5th in the conference with seven touchdowns last year while playing second fiddle to Deebo Samuel in the passing game. With Samuel off to the NFL, Edwards will have a chance to use his big frame to abuse SEC defenders and show he is a true number one-type receiver. Smith, meanwhile, is a massive presence of the Volunteers’ offensive line, but he is a risk because of some lingering health concerns.
LSU has become an NFL hotbed for talent on defense, and Divinity is another great linebacker prospect for the Tigers. He flirted with the NFL before deciding to return to Baton Rouge for his senior season. Dantzler is a lengthy and gifted prospect that did not allow a single touchdown in 2018. He has appeared in all 26 possible games in his career for the Bulldogs and is an ascending lockdown cornerback prospect who could challenge for the top spot. And finally, Waddle is an explosive playmaker who averaged almost 19 yards per catch for Bama last season and may even add kick return duties in 2019.
While Alabama seems to lap the draft prospect competition consistently, there is no shortage of ability outside Tuscaloosa in the SEC. Teams like Georgia, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, and LSU will also showcase plenty of draftable players, including some gems that will emerge during the season. I will look to keep this list updated throughout the season, with additions made as the talent pool grows and expands. It will be an exciting year once again in the SEC, as teams battle for the college football playoffs and work towards their dreams in the NFL.
Scott Gorman is a writer for PFN covering the SEC and NFL Draft. You can follow him @sgormanPFN on Twitter. Our PFN All-Access Pass includes exclusive access to our featured sections such as fantasy football, gambling, film room, data lab, and more. Click here to sign up today for only $30/year.