The SEC has consistently been the first-stop for NFL teams looking for top-tier talent in the college ranks, and that isn’t expected to slow down this year. However, with another record year of underclassmen declaring, many of which hailed from the SEC, the senior class is more depleted than in recent years.
However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t elite talent in the SEC’s senior class. Lead by another Texas A&M offensive tackle, Cedric Ogbuehi,a host of offensive and defensive linemen lead the way, with a handful of skill positions also cracking our top-10 SEC seniors.
1. Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M -1st Round
Taking over for Jake Matthews at left tackle in 2014, Cedric Ogbuehi is trying to be the third consecutive Texas A&M offensive tackle to land a top 5 overall NFL Draft pick. Clean and smooth with his kick slide, Ogbuehi maximizes his length with efficient jabs and ideal upper body posture. He’s quick to gain an inside fit and mirrors with ease. Ogbuehi needs to improve at protecting his midsection from speed-to-power moves off the edge as he does have a bad habit of dropping his hands when kicking out wide, but he’s well on his way to a first round selection with his franchise left tackle feet, length and skill as a pass protector.
2. La’El Collins, OT, LSU -1st-2nd Round
La’el Collins, who’s better suited inside at guard or at right tackle, is one mean, blocking machine. Pancaking three Ole Miss defenders in a row on a single-snap last season, the flashes of Collins are devastatingly impressive. When able to land his hands, gain control of the chestplate and run his feet through the target, this offensive tackle looks like LSU’s version of 2013 first rounder D.J. Fluker. His pass set isn’t overly fluid and he labors at times on widened pass drops, but his length and upper body strength allow him to beat most rushers he’ll face. Collins excels at squaring up his man, bringing his feet with him to contact, overpowering with his initial punch and securing a fit. With continued pass set adjustments, he has the dominant run blocking skills to lock in a top 40 selection.
3. Bud Dupree, DE, Kentucky -2nd Round
Similar in many ways to last season’s high-upside first rounder Anthony Barr, Alvin “Bud” Dupree brings prototypical physical tools to the forefront while lacking refinement in terms of approach and hand usage. Utilizing his strong core and balanced lower half to engage blockers in his rush, Dupree runs directly into contact but uses lateral movements after contact to toss the blocker aside. It’s unconventional and not going to work consistently at the next level, but you see elite first step quicks, arc speed, range to standup and drop as a linebacker conversion, and more importantly see a moldable talent that can lineup anywhere off the edge. He flies to the football, makes wow plays in pursuit, needs to be accounted for on the backside and his elite athletic qualities could push him even higher than the second day of the draft.
4. Cody Prewitt, S, Ole Miss -2nd-3rd Round
Impressing early in his Ole Miss career as an in-the-box, closer to the line of scrimmage safety with physicality and competitiveness, Cody Prewitt transitioned beautifully to free safety in his junior season. Showcasing anticipation, diagnosis and range to make plays as both a centerfielder (Cover 1 and Cover 3) and split-field safety, Prewitt looks the part of a scheme versatile starter in the NFL. He’s got pop under his pads as a bigger free safety prospect to set the tone and contribute in run support, but most importantly proved his worth in coverage as a junior. Prewitt looks to build on a junior season that saw him lead the SEC in interceptions.
5. Trey Flowers, DE, Arkansas -3rd Round
The most technically advanced and consistent defensive end in this year’s crop of SEC pass rushers, Trey Flowers showcases skill and power through his hand usage in all areas of the game. Able to engage the blocker, lockout and read through the upfield shoulder to locate the ball carrier, Flowers has the makings of a 4-3 strong side defensive end. As a pass rusher, he lacks ideal first step quicks or the speed to run the arc, but he’s able to locate break points after being engaged and use his hands to violently toss aside or shed off the block. Due to his tapered, high-cut frame and tight hips that can be exposed in the open field, NFL teams need to know that Flowers does his best work in close quarters. Think 3rd round, solid starting defensive end in the right scheme at the NFL level.
6. Christion Jones, WR, Alabama -3rd Round
Flip on any Alabama game tape from last season and your bound to point out this playmaking senior. Named SEC Special Teams Player of the Year in 2013 after posting nearly 1,000 yards on kick and punt returns with 3 TD, Christion Jones is one of the better slot prospects in the upcoming draft class. Gifted with elusiveness, balance and speed to take it the distance, his ball carrier instincts make him a threat on any part of the football field. He looks to body catch a lot of traffic targets and hasn’t been really tested in terms of running the full route tree, so it’ll be crucial to watch his new role in Lane Kiffin’s offense.
7. DeShazor Everett, CB, Texas A&M -2nd-3rd Round
This broad-shouldered, long-armed and agile corner possesses the size-speed element to really fly up draft boards as a senior. Everett has had to overcome some adversity brought about by his own accord (off-field arrest with two counts of misdemeanor assault and one account of criminal mischief in April 2013), but will finally be penciled in at one position after wearing multiple hats in the secondary throughout his career. Shows natural plant and redirect skills, fluid hips, and a willingness to play physical that will garner heavy day-two interest if he continues developing.
8. Max Garcia, OG, Florida -3rd Round
Transferring into Gainesville, Florida after spending his first three years of college ball at Maryland, Max Garcia inserted himself immediately into the Gators’ lineup with positive results in 2013. Converting to left guard after starting at left tackle for Maryland previously, Garcia continually stood out on power and gap concepts that allowed for him to crash down on inside shaded defensive tackles. He has above average foot speed and mobility, but wins through his heavy, violent, yet efficient hands. Quick to gain an inside fit, he consistently gets his hands on opponents to create movement at the point of attack. Garcia will start at center in his senior season, but brings the position flexibility to play every position along the offensive line. Issues entering the season include waist bending when opponents are able to play with extension, as he tends to drop his head in an attempt to bulldoze through his man.
9. Reese Dismukes, OC, Auburn -3rd-4th Round
While not a dominant blocker by any stretch, Reese Dismukes breaks into this top ten list due to his pro-ready awareness of a variety of running concepts, consistent execution entering his fourth season starting for Auburn and physical tools as a next level starter. He’s a squatty, girthy center that can operate alone versus shade nose tackles and zero-techniques. Most often is asked to punch, position and seal nose tackles as a pivot blocker, where he displays the anchor strength and footwork to properly cutoff opponents from the ball carrier. When working in tandem, you see good shouldering and punch strength at the first level, followed by the timing to locate scraping backers. As a senior, he’ll need to work on maintaining a flexed position upfield as a second level blocker, because his lack of leverage and tendency to pop upright limits his ability to redirect or adjust to flow.
10. Trey DePriest, ILB, Alabama -3rd-4th Round
Entering his senior year, DePriest now takes the torch from former running mate and 2014 first round draft selection C.J. Mosley. This guy is an absolute thumper and really jumps off the film when he sees the play develop. Explosive in delivering a hand strike and rolling his hips through the contact point, Depriest stacks and sheds lead blockers with violence. Furthermore, he brings the size, strength and length to handle inside backer duties versus uncovered guards, meaning coordinators won’t have to worry about constantly protecting him. Trusting his keys and being more efficient with his read steps immediately off the snap are two areas he’ll need to make strides with as a senior, but there’s no reason why DePriest shouldn’t be in the conversation for top senior inside linebacker.