Re-ranking the SEC's best 25 players, Part I

October, 17, 2012
10/17/12
9:39
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Now that we’ve reached the midseason point, everything looks a little different, including our ranking of the SEC’s best 25 players.

A few players have come out of nowhere to establish themselves as elite players, while others have either been injured or simply haven’t played up to expectations during the first half of the season.

Edward and I will both re-rank the SEC’s top 25 players based on their performances to this point and the impact they’ve had on their teams. I’ll go first, and he’ll unveil his list a little later:

1. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: Nope, those stats at the midway point are not a misprint. Manziel has accounted for 24 touchdowns and has 2,356 yards of total offense. Even more importantly, he’s led the Aggies to a 5-1 start.

2. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: Good luck in trying to block him one-on-one. He’s still only a sophomore, but the premier game-changer defensively in the league.

3. Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia: He’s been uncharacteristically quiet in his last two games, but is still one of the most feared pass-rushers in the league.

4. C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama: On an Alabama defense ranked No. 1 nationally in total defense, scoring defense and rushing defense, Mosley is the guy who makes it all go.

5. Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida: Easily one of the most valuable players in the SEC, Gillislee is a big reason the unbeaten Gators have been able to transform themselves into a physical, downhill running team.

6. Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M: Moore hasn’t had any difficulty transitioning to a 4-3 defense. He leads the SEC with 15 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks and has been an absolute force.

7. Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama: The prototypical road-grader, Warmack is the best interior offensive lineman in the SEC and a key cog in what is the finest offensive line in college football.

8. Barrett Jones, C, Alabama: He’s now at his third different position in three years and still playing as well as he ever has. Jones’ impact stretches far beyond his ability to move people off of the ball.

9. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina: The only running back in the league with more than 500 rushing yards and 20 catches, Lattimore also has 10 touchdowns and is money when it comes to getting the tough yards.

10. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama: Milliner is the epitome of a complete cornerback. He leads the SEC in passes defended (14) and is also big enough and physical enough to be a force in defending the run.

11. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia: He’s been the SEC’s top true freshman to this point and one of the top running backs -- period. Gurley has 10 touchdowns and 575 rushing yards. He’s averaging 7.1 yards per carry.

12. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee: The league’s most electrifying player in the first half of the season, Patterson has three touchdown catches, two touchdown runs of longer than 40 yards and a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

13. Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State: Banks is more than just an elite cover guy. He has three interceptions, but it’s plays like the one against Tennessee where he forced the key fumble that makes him so valuable.

14. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama: He’s working on a streak of 227 straight pass attempts without an interception and leads the SEC in passing efficiency. McCarron has thrown 12 touchdown passes this season.

15. Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri: It’s been a disappointing start to life in the SEC for Missouri, but don’t blame Richardson. He’s playing lights out and leads all interior defensive linemen in the league with 52 total tackles and seven tackles for loss.

16. Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU: In a league full of great defensive ends, Montgomery is still right there near the top. He’s tied for the LSU lead with 8.5 tackles for loss and has four sacks.

17. Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M: One of two excellent bookend tackles for the Aggies, Joeckel gets the nod as the best left tackle in the league.

18. Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas: Even with the Hogs’ terrible start and Wilson’s concussion, he’s managed to come back and lead the SEC with 1,957 passing yards. He’s also thrown 14 touchdowns.

19. Eric Reid, S, LSU: The “veteran” in LSU’s secondary, Reid makes everybody back there better. He remains one of college football’s top safeties and just has that knack for making the big play.

20. LaDarius Perkins, RB, Miss. State: The Bulldogs just keep churning out productive backs under Dan Mullen. Perkins leads the SEC with 855 all-purpose yards and is averaging 5.7 yards per carry.

21. Cobi Hamilton, WR, Arkansas: The SEC’s leader in catches (46) and receiving yards (754), Hamilton is averaging 16.4 yards per catch and has been the big-play threat everyone thought he would be when the season began.

22. Matt Elam, S, Florida: His forced fumble against LSU turned that game around, a play that was vintage Elam. He’s second on Florida’s team in tackles and playing the best football of his career.

23. Kevin Minter, LB, LSU: LSU’s offense might be hard to watch, but the defense has been rock-solid. Minter leads the way with 63 total tackles, the third highest in the SEC, and has 29 tackles in his last two games.

24. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia: Take away the 35-7 loss to South Carolina, and Murray has played some of his best football. He’s passed for 1,487 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions.

25. Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt: One of the fastest rising players in the league, Matthews just keeps getting better. He has 43 catches for 617 yards and three touchdowns.

Chris Low | email

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