Bednarik list includes 18 from SEC

The SEC is well represented on the 2011 watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which goes annually to the nation's top defensive player.

Of the 65 players on the list for the Bednarik Award, 18 were from the SEC. Former LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson won the 2010 Bednarik Award.

Here's a rundown of the SEC players on the 2011 watch list:

  • LB Ryan Baker, LSU

  • S Mark Barron, Alabama

  • DE Jake Bequette, Arkansas

  • CB Brandon Boykin, Georgia

  • CB Morris Claiborne, LSU

  • LB Jerry Franklin, Arkansas

  • CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina

  • CB Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt

  • LB Dont'a Hightower, Alabama

  • DT Jaye Howard, Florida

  • CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama

  • S Robert Lester, Alabama

  • LB Chris Marve, Vanderbilt

  • LB Tyrann Mathieu, LSU

  • DE Devin Taylor, South Carolina

  • LB Danny Trevathan, Kentucky

  • LB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama

  • S Prentiss Waggner, Tennessee

Not surprisingly, Alabama has five players on the list (the most in the country) and LSU three players. The Crimson Tide and Tigers figure to be the top two defenses in the league this season. The only three SEC teams that didn't have players to make the list were Auburn, Mississippi State and Ole Miss.

I'm a little surprised that Ole Miss defensive end Kentrell Lockett, Tennessee defensive tackle Malik Jackson, Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and Arkansas safety Tramain Thomas weren't on the list.

Tennessee safety Janzen Jackson is a bit of a wild card because he dropped out of school and didn't go through spring practice as he was dealing with personal problems. However, the Vols' coaches expect him back in the fall. The other one to watch is Alabama cornerback DeQuan Menzie, who might be poised for a breakout season now that he's fully healthy.