The SEC's best 25 players: No. 19

One of the league's best pass-rushers from the past two years becomes the first lineman on our top 25:

No. 19: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU, RJr.

2012 summary: Montgomery registered 37 total tackles, including 18 solo. Named an All-SEC first-teamer by the league's coaches, he also collected a team-high eight sacks, which ranked fifth in the SEC, and totaled 13 tackles for loss. He forced two fumbles, recovered a fumble and registered a safety.

Most recent ranking: Ranked No. 6 in the 2012 preseason countdown.

Making the case for Montgomery: It was hard to find another player in the league with more energy and charisma. He was also a heck of a player and was very active in opposing backfields in 2012. Montgomery got off to a slow start, but was back to his menacing ways as the season went on. He didn't always make the tackle, but he altered the outcome of plenty of plays by applying tons of pressure to quarterbacks. He had the ability to chase down most quarterbacks and force them into very uncomfortable situations, which usually resulted in positives for LSU's defense. He collected multiple tackles for loss in three games during the fall, and had his best game of the year in a crucial 23-21 win against South Carolina, in which he notched two sacks. Montgomery had some issues with intensity at times, which cost him three starts, but when his motor got going, he was one of the toughest ends to stop in the SEC last fall. With his athleticism, strength, smarts and speed, Montgomery appears to be poised to go in the first round of this year's NFL draft.

The Rundown