Taking a look at the SEC's NFL draft future

July, 14, 2011
7/14/11
9:00
AM ET
It's never too early to talk about next year's NFL draft, right? Of course not.

Well, ESPN colleague Mel Kiper recently made a list of his top-five juniors and seniors at each position and 12 SEC seniors made Kiper's list -- it would have been 13 if not for the dismissal of former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who is rated as the No. 3 corner on Kiper's list.

Here is the list of SEC seniors on Kiper's list:

Running backs:
Offensive guards:
  • No. 3: Cordy Glenn, Georgia
  • No. 4: Rokevious Watkins, South Carolina
Centers:
  • No. 2: William Vlachos, Alabama
  • No. 3: Ben Jones, Georgia
Inside linebackers:
  • No. 5: Chris Marve, Vanderbilt
Outside linebackers:
  • No. 1: Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
Cornerbacks
  • No. 4: Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt
Safeties
  • No. 1: Mark Barron, Alabama
  • No. 3: Tramain Thomas, Arkansas
Kickers
  • No. 1: Blair Walsh, Georgia
Punters
  • No. 2: Drew Butler, Georgia
My thoughts:
  • It's interesting to see Demps on this list. Yes, he has incredible speed and there isn't a player in the country that can catch him after he hits a hole and finds some space, but he has size (5-8, 190 pounds) and durability issues. He injured his foot last season against Tennessee when he carried the ball more than 20 times and was never the same in 2010. Demps needs to stay healthy and excel in Charlie Weis' pro-style offense this fall in order to stay on this list. Also, I expect Ole Miss' Brandon Bolden to creep onto this list. He's one of the most underrated players in the SEC.
  • Tennessee's Malik Jackson and South Carolina's Travian Robertson have the ability to nudge their way into the list of top defensive tackles with solid seasons this fall. Also, Arkansas' Jerry Franklin and Kentucky's Danny Trevathan will push get in on the action at linebacker. I think Franklin has, like, 1,000 career tackles at this point.
  • I like the love Hayward got. He hasn't gotten a ton of national attention, but he would start on just about any team in the SEC.

Now for the juniors:

Quarterbacks
Running backs
Wide receivers
Tight ends
Offensive tackles
  • No. 5: Xavier Nixon, Florida
Offensive guards
  • No. 2: Barrett Jones, Alabama
  • No. 5: Larry Warford, Kentucky
Centers
  • No. 5: T.J. Johnson, South Carolina
Defensive ends
  • No. 4: Devin Taylor, South Carolina
Inside linebackers
  • No. 4: Dont'a Hightower, Alabama
Cornerbacks
  • No. 1: Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
  • No. 4: Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina
  • No. 5: Morris Claiborne, LSU
Safeties
  • No. 2: Robert Lester, Alabama
  • No. 3: Janzen Jackson, Tennessee
Kickers
  • No. 5: Bryson Rose, Ole Miss
My thoughts:
  • Well, this junior class sure is stacked. There are 19 SEC juniors on Kiper's list and all of them are impact players in this league. I won't argue many of the players on this list, but I'm going to hold off on putting Wilson on here. He played in just one game last season, and while he did pretty well, I need to see more of him before I place him on a draft list. Cue his 4,000-yard performance this fall ...
  • I saw where my Big 12 blog compadre David Ubben disagreed with Kiper for his decision to put Jeffery ahead of Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon. Sure, Blackmon has the killer speed that Jeffery doesn't, but Jeffery is a physical beast on the field and was the best in one-on-one situations last season. He'll catch anything, no matter who's around him. I'll take Jeffery as well and he should be just fine at the next level.
  • Five of Kiper's 10 defensive backs reside in the SEC. Memo to all the quarterbacks in this league: throw with extreme caution. One player to keep an eye on this season is Claiborne. He has all the tools to be the top corner in the league this fall and could end up being the top corner in the country.

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