The SEC's 25 best players: No. 13

January, 27, 2014
Jan 27
5:00
PM ET
Had Senior Bowl week been factored into the countdown, this next player could have made a case for the top five. Even still, he was one of the most dominant pass rushers in the SEC this season.

[+] EnlargeDee Ford
AP Photo/Dave MartinAuburn senior Dee Ford had a knack for coming through in big games.
No. 13: Dee Ford, DE, Auburn, senior

2013 summary: After missing the first two games with a knee injury, Ford returned with a chip on his shoulder. He recorded seven sacks in his first seven games back and finished the season with 10.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. He was a first-team All-SEC selection and a major reason why Auburn reached the VIZIO BCS National Championship game.

Most recent ranking: Not ranked in the 2013 preseason countdown

Making the case for Ford: As was the case for most of the Auburn players this season, Ford played his best games on the biggest stage. When the Tigers traveled to Kyle Field to take on No. 7 Texas A&M, Ford sacked quarterback Johnny Manziel twice in the final minute to preserve a victory. Against Georgia, he was in the backfield all night and forced a incompletion on the game’s final play with one of his six quarterback hurries. In the BCS title game, he led an inspired effort from the defensive line and finished with a pair of sacks. Talent-wise, Auburn’s defense was lacking. It would’ve been ranked toward the bottom of the SEC, but it was a unit that made just enough plays in big moments to keep the magical season alive. Ford was a prime example. He was never the most talked-about player. He wasn’t a high-profile recruit coming out of high school. Yet he always seemed to outperform his expectations. It should come as no surprise that he went to the Senior Bowl last week and put on a clinic against the top seniors. Now, the skinny, unranked defensive end from Odenville, Ala., is a potential first-round draft pick.

The rundown:
No. 14: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia, So.
No. 15: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina, Jr.
No. 16: Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU, Jr.
No. 17: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri, Jr.
No. 18: T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama, So.
No. 19: Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU, Jr.
No. 20: Cody Prewitt, S, Ole Miss, Jr.
No. 21: Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn, Jr.
No. 22: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama, Jr.
No. 23: Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State, Sr.
No. 24: Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt, Sr.
No. 25: E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri, Jr.

Greg Ostendorf | email

Auburn/SEC reporter

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.