We ranked the SEC’s secondaries from top to bottom this morning based upon their pass defense statistics. Now we rank the league’s top 10 defensive backs from the 2015 season, starting with a pair of Florida Gators:
1. Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida: Maybe teammate Vernon Hargreaves received more attention, but Tabor might have been the superior performer this season. They tied for the team lead with four interceptions, but Tabor broke up 14 passes compared to Hargreaves’ four and Tabor also recorded more tackles (40) and tackles for loss (four) and returned two interceptions for touchdowns. The first-team All-SEC honoree was arguably the league’s top cover cornerback and will surely contend for that honor again in 2016.
2. Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida: The junior earned first-team All-America honors and likely will become a first-round NFL pick in April. Although he gave up a few more long completions than his reputation might have indicated, he still ranked among the most dangerous SEC corners to throw at, as evidenced by his four picks and 152 interception return yards.
3. Dominick Sanders, S, Georgia: The ringleader of the SEC’s top statistical pass defense, Sanders tied for the conference lead with six interceptions and averaged 34.2 yards per interception return (including an 88-yard pick-six that put away a win against Vanderbilt). He also led the team with six pass breakups.
4. Eddie Jackson, S, Alabama: It was huge news that Jackson decided to return for his senior season as he can now provide a veteran presence in a secondary that will be loaded with youth. It obviously doesn’t hurt that he’s also a first-team All-SEC pick who tied Sanders for the conference lead with six interceptions.
5. Trae Elston, S, Ole Miss: The senior rover was the leader of an opportunistic secondary, returning half of his four interceptions for touchdowns (and a total of 156 yards). He and fellow All-SEC pick Mike Hilton tied for second on the team with 70 tackles, while Elston led the team with 14 pass breakups and 18 passes defended.
6. Donovan Wilson, CB, Texas A&M: Sophomore nickelback Wilson emerged as one of the top playmakers in a developing Aggies secondary. He picked off five passes, forced three fumbles, recovered two fumbles and led the secondary with 8.5 tackles for loss. With the Aggies losing two senior cornerbacks, Wilson figures to play a key coverage role in 2016.
7. Jamal Adams, S, LSU: The second-team All-SEC pick led LSU’s secondary with 67 tackles and 10 passes defended and tied for second with six pass breakups. The sophomore also led the team with four interceptions and both forced and recovered a fumble.
8. Cyrus Jones, CB, Alabama: A converted receiver, Jones became the Crimson Tide’s top cover corner thanks to his impressive speed and aggressive attitude. Jones tied for third on the team with two interceptions. He was also one of the SEC’s top return men, as evidenced by his four punt return touchdowns in 2015.
9. Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU: White’s statistics aren’t particularly impressive, but he was a second-team All-SEC pick for a reason. Opponents typically don’t throw in his direction often, even if he regularly matches up against their top wideout. He did not intercept a pass this season, but led the Tigers with seven pass breakups and notched 44 tackles.
10. Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn: One of the league’s budding stars in the secondary, Davis flashed serious potential as a freshman. Davis formed one of the league’s better cornerback tandems along with Jonathan Jones and led the team with three interceptions. He also notched 56 tackles and broke up eight passes.