clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

SEC Position Group Rankings: Linebackers.

Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

As part of our continuing effort to make these last few weeks before the beginning of football season pass just a little faster, SB Nation bloggers are ranking the SEC squads' various position groups from top to bottom. This week's focus is the linebackers, a position at which SEC squads have traditionally been very deep. This year is no different, as almost every school has multiple players with potential NFL futures, and a few (including the Georgia Bulldogs) bring back a lot of experience from 2013. You can find the full rankings over at Mississippi State site For Whom the Cowbell Tolls, and you can marvel at how closely they actually resemble my own ranking, set out below:

1) Alabama. If there's any program in the league that could lose the likes of C.J. Moseley and not lose a beat, it's Bama.

2) Georgia. The 'Dawgs return all four starters from 2013, including the top two returning tacklers in the league, Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson. Herrera's continued absence from preseason SEC and national accolades continues to confuse me. The guy has to be the most underrated defender in the SEC. But the player to keep an eye on is sophomore Leonard Floyd. The former Dodge County Indian racked up 6.5 sacks as a true freshman, and will likely better that mark in 2014.

3) LSU. The Bayou Bengals lose leading tackler Lamin Barrow, but as usual return an embarrassing number of freakishly athletic hybrid swamp beasts to replace him.

4) Mississippi State. The Bizarro Bulldogs return a ton of talent across the defense, including at linebacker. Benardrick McKinney would probably be a lot more well-known if he were playing in Tuscaloosa or Gainesville.

5) South Carolina. South Carolina doesn't have a lot of star power in its linebacker corps, but it is one of the position groups that has benefitted from Steve Spurrier's solid recruiting over the past 3 cycles.

6) Florida. No Gator is among the 20 leading returning tacklers in the SEC. That's partially due to injuries in 2013, but it's also due to something far more worrisome for Florida fans: as with every other position on the field, the Gator linebackers simply need to live up to the talent everyone knows they have. I will be really crioous to see if Jarrad Davis advances following his breakout freshman campaign.

7) Tennessee. A.J. Johnson is an NFL talent, as is Curt Maggitt. But the Vols just don't have a lot returning after that. Maybe once Butch Jones gets a couple of more of these 50 man recruiting classes in . . .

8) Auburn. I can't wait to see what former uber-recruit Reuben Foster can do for the Tigers. {Whispering off camera . . .} Oh, well then, never mind. In all seriousness, you bet on Ellis Johnson not putting fast, versatile linebackers on the field at your own peril. Cassanova McKinzey and Kris Frost are just as good at what they're asked to do as anyone else in the league. But it's a really deep league and Auburn isn't as deep as some.

9) Ole Miss. Denzel Nkemdiche is a tackling machine who by all rights should be plying his trade in Athens. Not that I'm bitter or anything. Heck, he even gets arrested like a Bulldog.

10) Vanderbilt. Vandy returns their two leading tacklers from 2013 and have excellent defensive end Kyle Woestmann moving to linebacker in a move Bulldog fans will remember from our shift to the 3-4. But that's just the thing. Having watched the Bulldog linebackers in Todd Grantham's first year in Athens I know there's a learning curve coming in Nashville.

11) Missouri. The Tigers lose 3 time leading tackler Andrew Wilson and will have to rely on returning starter Kentrell Brothers, assuming he's able to return from April shoulder surgery. New guys and players coming off injury are not the way to earn my confidence.

12) Arkansas. As with several Razorback units, the linebackers weren't great last season, but at least they're back. That's all I've got.

13) Kentucky. After losing Avery Williamson Coach Stoops would be well-advised to figure out how to clone Bud Dupree.

14) Texas A&M. The Aggie defense wasn't really scaring anyone before they lost breakout 2013 performer Darian Claiborne. It's cool, Kevin Sumlin doesn't mind winning 63-56.

So there you have it. Where am I wrong? What (if anything) did I get right? Let me know in the comments, and . . .

Go 'Dawgs!!!