Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Filling early entries' spots in SEC West
By David Ching
The SEC has 28 of the 98 players who are early entrants to the NFL draft. We’ve looked at those players who must be replaced in the SEC East. Here are the stars from the SEC West who will leave big shoes to fill.
The replacement:Shon Coleman. There are a number of players to keep in mind as candidates to take over for Robinson, who shot toward the top of draft boards with a dominant junior season. Coleman seems like the favorite at left tackle, but right tackle Avery Young could slide across the line into Robinson's old position. Keep an eye on Patrick Miller, who has starting experience at right tackle, and Robert Leff, as well.
Matt Joeckel has some game experience but he is no sure thing to replace Johnny Manziel.
The replacement: Pick 'em. This might be the most interesting race on the list. Nobody can replicate the improvisational talents that made Manziel a Heisman Trophy winner, but the Aggies have a collection of players who will compete to become Johnny Football's successor. Matt Joeckel (22-37, 293 yards, 2 TDs) started in Manziel's place last season, but he won't win the job simply because he's a senior. Sophomore Kenny Hill (16-22, 183 yards, 1 TD) and early enrollee Kyle Allen will also challenge for the starting nod.
The replacement:Ricky Seals-Jones. Texas A&M has no shortage of receiving talent on campus, although matching Evans' 1,394 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns will be difficult. An intriguing candidate here is Seals-Jones, who caught a 71-yard touchdown pass against Rice before hurting his knee and missing most of the season. The 6-foot-5 freshman was a huge get for Kevin Sumlin's staff last season and could easily become the Aggies' next big-time receiving weapon.
The replacement:Leon Brown. Incoming freshman Cam Robinson could make some noise in the competition to replace Kouandjio, but let's go with the safe choice in the 6-foot-6 Brown, who has the frame to slide into the tackle spot. Brown filled in for injured Anthony Steen at right guard against Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.
The replacement:Nick Perry. Replacing Kiper's top safety prospect won't be easy -- especially with safety Vinnie Sunseri also jumping for the NFL -- but Perry looks like a safe choice here. The fifth-year senior is coming off season-ending surgery after appearing in only two games in 2013. He might get some competition from early enrollee Laurence Jones, so keep an eye on that competition during preseason practice.
The replacement:Cameron Artis-Payne. Although freshman Racean Thomas and redshirt freshman Peyton Barber are players to watch, next in line seems to be Artis-Payne, who played well behind Mason in 2013, rushing for 610 yards and averaging 6.7 yards per carry.
The replacement:Travin Dural. One of the most dynamic athletes in the country, Beckham's value as a return man and wideout cannot be understated. Speedster Dural played a limited role as a freshman (7-145, 2 TDs), but flashed some impressive playmaking skills when he combined with Anthony Jennings for a 49-yard, game-winning touchdown catch in the closing minutes against Arkansas.
The replacement:Quantavius Leslie. The third-down security blanket for LSU's quarterbacks, Landry (77-1,193, 10 TDs) was one of the most clutch wideouts in the league. Juco transfer Leslie barely played in 2013, so he's hardly a lock here. If the Tigers secure a commitment from Malachi Dupre -- ESPN's No. 1 receiver and No. 17 overall prospect for 2014 -- he could also make an immediate impact.
The replacement: Leonard Fournette. When available, Hill was one of the most productive backs in the nation. He had his share of off-field issues, which superprospect Fournette would do well to avoid. Recruiting analysts say Fournette is the closest thing to Adrian Peterson they’ve seen since the former Oklahoma star entered college, so he will almost certainly play early and play often. The Tigers also have veterans Terrance Magee (626 yards, 8 TDs) and Kenny Hilliard (310 yards, 7 TDs) to alleviate some of the pressure on the freshman.
The replacement:Christian LaCouture. The Nebraskan was a key reserve on LSU's 2013 defensive line as a true freshman. LaCouture (11 tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss) needs to make huge strides between now and August, however, in order to solidify the middle of a line that lost both starters (Johnson and Ego Ferguson) to early entry into the draft.
Leaving: LSU DT Ego Ferguson
Leonard Fournette, the top running back prospect in the country, should see an immediate role in LSU's backfield.
The replacement:Quentin Thomas. Thomas (9 tackles, 0.5 tackles for a loss) started against Iowa in the Outback Bowl when Ferguson didn't make the trip, so he might be the favorite here for now. Filling the holes left by Johnson and Ferguson in the center of the line will be one of the big keys when LSU opens spring practice.
The replacement:Laquon Treadwell. It's not as if Treadwell didn't play a huge role already (team-high 72 catches for 608 yards and 5 TDs), but he will take over for Moncrief (59-938, 6 TDs) as the Rebels' top receiving option next season. He hasn't flashed the same downfield explosiveness yet, but Treadwell has already proved himself as a high-caliber SEC player.
The replacement:Dillon Lee. Rising junior Lee -- who has stayed out of trouble since getting sent home from Alabama's trip to Miami for the 2013 BCS National Championship Game -- possesses the athleticism to take over for Hubbard at strongside linebacker without Alabama's defense missing a beat.
The replacement:A'Shawn Robinson. Losing Pagan hurts, but Alabama enjoys enviable depth at defensive end with Robinson (team-high 5.5 sacks plus 8 tackles for a loss) and Jonathan Allen already establishing themselves and D.J. Pettway returning at the position.
Leaving: Alabama S Vinnie Sunseri
The replacement:Landon Collins. Alabama's playcaller in the secondary was one of the team's top leaders, but Collins is a superior athlete and should quickly emerge as one of the league's better safeties.
The replacement:Fehoko Fanaika. Redshirt sophomore Turner made one of the stranger early entry decisions in the league, opening the door for former junior college transfer Fanaika to possibly fill the lone opening on the offensive line at right guard.
The replacement: See Jeremy Hill. The NCAA granted Blue a fifth year of eligibility following a season-ending knee injury in 2012, but he opted not to use it after rarely playing a leading role in LSU's backfield.