Athlon Sports recently took a poll of 40+ writers covering SEC football (including one from this site), asking them to identify the 15 best players in the conference. While there's certainly plenty of room for divergence in a league full of superstar players, there was little doubt about the player at the top of the list.
Georgia tailback Nick Chubb garnered a full 20 of the 43 first place votes, outdistancing second place finisher Vernon Hargreaves, III (11 first place votes) and third place finisher Dak Prescott (3 first place votes).
While the balloting was not made public, in the traditional Dawg Sports spirit of accountability I thought I'd go ahead and publish my top 15:
While the criteria are set out generally in the Athlon piece, I don't mind telling you that I gave less weight to pro potential and more weight to how successful players are likely to be during the 2015 season and how important they are to helping their teams win at the college level. In retrospect I do wish I'd ranked Tennessee's Derek Barnett. He was an excellent pass rusher in 2014. I cannot countenance Leonard Fournette as the best player in the SEC. Sorry. There's no argument you can make for Leonard Fournette as the top player in the league that I can't make, plus some, for Nick Chubb. And while Auburn's Jeremy Johnson has a lot of potential, I haven't seen nearly enough in regular duty for me to rank him among the top 15 players in the SEC.
I'm clearly much higher on LSU's Vadal Alexander than some of my compatriots, but I'm okay with that. He's the rare offensive lineman who I could see not only playing but excelling at every spot on the line. Also some could quibble with my selection of Ole Miss's Evan Engram as the league's top tight end over Arkansas's Hunter Henry. But I just couldn't ignore a tight end averaging 17.6 yards per catch as Engram did in 2014. That's impressive. Laremy Tunsil is not on my ballot for the simple reason that after watching him in 2014 I just wasn't that impressed. I thought he was perhaps the best returning offensive tackle in the league, but don't see a lot of truly great tackle talent. I think Alabama's Cam Robinson, who started every game of his true freshman season at left tackle for the league champions, is likely to pass Tunsil this season as the clear best left tackle in the SEC. The guy's that good, and he'll only get better. Feel free to nitpick the above ranking of SEC players in the comments, or to post your own top 15. Until later . . .