SEC: Cordarrelle Patterson

Looking at ESPN NFL Insider KC Joyner's recent piece on whether West Virginia's offense can stay elite got me to thinking: Can the SEC's top offenses from 2012 replicate last year's success?

The SEC is bringing back some real offensive firepower in 2013. Sure, this is still a defensive league, but as we've seen over the past couple of years, the offenses are really evolving and getting better.

So can the top five SEC offenses from last year duplicate what they did in 2012? Let's take a look:

1. Texas A&M
2012 total offense: 558.5 yards per game
2012 scoring offense: 44.5 points per game

The Aggies bring back Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, but a lot of Johnny Football's supporting cast is gone. Gone are offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, left tackle Luke Joeckel and senior receivers Ryan Swope and Uzoma Nwachukwu. Joeckel was the best tackle in the SEC last year, Kingsbury and Manziel had a special on-field relationship, and those receivers are taking 1,398 yards and 15 touchdowns.

The Aggies have a stacked backfield that should be headlined by senior Ben Malena and Oklahoma transfer Brandon Williams, and Mike Evans leads a younger but very talented receiving corps. But teams will have better game plans for Manziel and those youngsters at receiver will have to grow up quickly. Manziel is special, but that target on his back is enormous. The Aggies were great on offense last year, and they'll be good again, but I expect the Aggies' numbers to dip in 2013.

2. Tennessee
2012 total offense: 475.9
2012 scoring offense: 36.2

The Vols lost their starting quarterback and top four receiving targets. Tyler Bray accounted for 3,612 passing yards and 34 touchdowns. His top four targets, including Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson, caught 187 passes for 2,914 yards and 26 touchdowns. Tennessee returns one of the top lines around and has a solid trio at running back, but so much is different on offense.

Can the Vols adapt to Butch Jones' new hurry-up offense before the season starts? Can either Justin Worley or Nathan Peterman play beyond their inexperience this fall? There isn't a lot of experience at quarterback or receiver, and that's a major problem when Tennessee's offense revolved around its passing game last year.

3. Georgia
2012 total offense: 467.6
2012 scoring offense: 37.8

Record-setting quarterback Aaron Murray is back along with his entire offensive line, arguably the top running back duo in the SEC (Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall) and a host of talented receivers. Tavarres King and Marlon Brown, ranked first and third on the team in receiving last year, are gone, but Malcolm Mitchell is back and Michael Bennett should be healthy for the start of the season. Bennett might have been the Dawgs' top receiver before he went down with an ACL injury early last season.

There are some young players to keep an eye on as well in Chris Conley and Justin Scott-Wesley. Junior college transfer Jonathan Rumph and seasoned tight end Arthur Lynch should both be valuable options as well. This could be one of the most balanced offenses in the country this fall.

4. Alabama
2012 total offense: 445.5
2012 scoring offense: 38.7

Running back Eddie Lacy and three starters along Alabama's offensive line are gone. Two of those linemen were first-round picks and Lacy was a second-rounder. But quarterback AJ McCarron is back and he has a lot to work with. Amari Cooper is one of the top receivers in the league and Chris Black should be 100 percent this fall, giving McCarron another deep threat to complement Cooper and Kenny Bell. Kevin Norwood is also a reliable target for McCarron.

We know the offense goes through the running game first, and Alabama's backfield is once again stacked. T.J. Yeldon will battle to be one of the top rushers in the league and he'll have big boy Jalston Fowler and speedster Dee Hart to share time with. Youngsters Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry, who is returning from a spring injury, should both contribute as well. Henry can be used in both the rushing and passing game. Alabama's line seems fine, so there isn't much worry in Tuscaloosa.

5. Ole Miss
2012 total offense: 423.8
2012 scoring offense: 31.5

The Rebels return a lot of pieces on offense and you'd think they'd be even better in Year 2 of Hugh Freeze's spread offense. Ole Miss managed to get through last season without any major injuries. Even Freeze doesn't know if that's likely to happen again. If it does, the Rebels should be fine, considering starters Bo Wallace (quarterback), Jeff Scott (running back) and Donte Moncrief (wide receiver) are all back. There are some talented younger players the Rebels can use as well, but the continuing theme in Oxford is that there are still depth issues along the offensive line and at receiver.

Any sort of injuries to those positions could rock the Rebels. Plus, Wallace is coming off of shoulder surgery and threw 17 interceptions last year. Wallace can't be as careless with the ball this fall. Vince Sanders and Ja-Mes Logan, along with true freshman Laquon Treadwell, should take some pressure off Moncrief, and the Rebels are also deep at running back, but the Rebels won't sneak up on people this fall.
Most of us are proud of our roots.

I grew up in Rock Hill, S.C., the best little football town/city in America, a distinction that was punctuated once again with this year’s NFL draft and will be again next year when the 2014 draft arrives.

In the past 12 drafts, going back to 2002, 10 players who played their high school football in Rock Hill have been drafted, including first-rounders each of the last two years.

Last Thursday, receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, who played one season at Tennessee, went No. 29 overall to the Minnesota Vikings. A year ago, cornerback Stephon Gilmore went No. 10 overall to the Buffalo Bills. Gilmore played at South Carolina.

That first-round streak will extend to three years in a row in 2014 when South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is expected to go No. 1 overall. In fact, Clowney would have gone No. 1 overall this year had he been eligible for the draft.

So you’re talking about 11 NFL draft choices -- and five first-round selections -- in 13 years.

That’s an impressive run for any town or city, but Rock Hill’s population isn't even 70,000, and there are only three high schools in the city, which is located about 25 miles south of Charlotte, N.C., just across the border. One of those high schools, South Pointe, didn’t open until 2005. Before that, it was a two-high school town going back to the 1970s -- Rock Hill and Northwestern.

It's more than just something being in the water.

We breed ballers in Rock Hill, and it’s a credit to the youth leagues, the coaches in those leagues who’ve volunteered so much of their time over the years and the overall quality of the high school programs in town and their commitment to taking superb talent and molding that talent into something special.
The SEC had 12 players selected in the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday night, tying the record set by the ACC in 2006.

No other conference had more than six first-rounders this year. The ACC had six, and the Pac-12 was next with five.

Six of the top 13 selections were from the SEC, including three in a row from Alabama. Cornerback Dee Milliner went No. 9 to the New York Jets, offensive guard Chance Warmack No. 10 to the Tennessee Titans and offensive tackle D.J. Fluker No. 11 to the San Diego Chargers.

Alabama running back Eddie Lacy did not go in the first round as projected. The Crimson Tide have produced 13 first-round picks over the past four years.

For Alabama coach Nick Saban, that gives him 22 players that he has recruited and signed in his 11 seasons as an SEC head coach who've gone on to become first-round NFL draft choices. Saban was responsible for signing all nine of LSU’s first-round selections from 2004-09, and he signed 13 of Alabama’s 14 first-rounders over the past five years.

LSU had two players go in the first round -- defensive end Barkevious Mingo No. 6 to the Cleveland Browns and safety Eric Reid No. 18 to the San Francisco 49ers. The Tigers have produced five first-round selections over the past three years.

Florida and Georgia also had two players each taken in the first round. All four were defensive players.

In fact, eight of the 12 SEC players taken in the first round this year were defensive players. The only offensive skill player selected in the first round from the SEC was Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson at No. 29 to the Minnesota Vikings. Patterson became the first offensive player from Tennessee to go in the first round since receiver Robert Meachem went No. 27 overall to the New Orleans Saints in 2007.

Here's a quick review from Thursday's first round:

No. 2: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M to the Jacksonville Jaguars

Todd McShay video analysis here.

No. 6: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU to the Cleveland Browns

Todd McShay video analysis here.

No. 9: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama to the New York Jets

Bill Polian video analysis here.

No. 10: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama to the Tennessee Titans

Todd McShay video analysis here.

No. 11: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama to the San Diego Chargers

Bill Polian video analysis here.

No. 13: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri to the New York Jets

Bill Polian video analysis here.

No. 17: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia to the Pittsburgh Steelers

Todd McShay video analysis here.

No. 18: Eric Reid, S, LSU to the San Francisco 49ers

Bill Polian video analysis here.

No. 23: Sharrrif Floyd, DT, Florida to the Minnesota Vikings

Bill Polian video analysis here.

No. 29: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee to the Minnesota Vikings

Bill Polian video analysis here.

No. 30: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia to the St. Louis Rams

Todd McShay video analysis here.

No. 32: Matt Elam, S, Florida to the Baltimore Ravens

Todd McShay video analysis here.

SEC lunch links

April, 25, 2013
4/25/13
12:48
PM ET
Happy draft day! But first, a few links:
ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has put together his latest "Grade A" draft, in which he presents the best pick for every team in the upcoming NFL draft.

He has 12 SEC players going in the first round, which would tie the record for a conference. The ACC produced 12 first-round selections in 2006.

In Kiper's "Grade A" draft, the first three players to come off the board are from the SEC -- Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner, Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel and Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd.

Below are the 12 SEC players Kiper has being taken in his "Grade A" draft:
Next week's NFL draft could be a special one for the SEC.

If you check recent mock drafts from ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay , the SEC could be in for a record first day in New York City. Kiper's recent mock draft has a record 13 SEC players being drafted in the first round and 21 going within the first two rounds. McShay has 11 SEC players going in the first round.

Here's a look at the 10 SEC players who were invited to next week's draft, which will be televised on ESPN on April 25 at 8 p.m. ET.
Surprisingly, Georgia linebackers Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree, who are both projected to be first-round draft picks, didn't make the list.

Todd McShay's Mock Draft 5.0

April, 11, 2013
4/11/13
4:10
PM ET
We have more mock drafts for you as we get closer and closer to this month's NFL draft.

This time, draft expert Todd McShay has his Mock Draft 5.0 Insider for your reading pleasure. In Mel Kiper Jr.'s Mock Draft 4.0 Insider, he projected a record 13 SEC players would be taken in the first round. McShay has 11 going in the first round, including four in the top 10.

Like Kiper Jr., McShay has Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel going first overall to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Here's a look at where McShay has all 11 SEC players going in the first round:

No. 1: Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M (Kansas City Chiefs)
No. 8: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama (Buffalo Bills)
No. 9: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama (New York Jets)
No. 10: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida (Tennessee Titans)
No. 14: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri (Carolina Panthers)
No. 15: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU (New Orleans Saints)
No. 16: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee (St. Louis Rams)
No. 17: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia (Pittsburgh Steelers)
No. 19: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama (New York Giants) No. 22: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama (St. Louis Rams)
No. 23: Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia (Minnesota Vikings)

Lunchtime links

April, 11, 2013
4/11/13
12:00
PM ET
All I want on this Thursday are some SEC links!

Mel Kiper Jr. Mock Draft 4.0

April, 8, 2013
4/08/13
4:00
PM ET
We are getting even closer to this month's NFL draft, so get ready for yet another mock draft.

This time, ESPN NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. is at it again, but has added a second-round mock as well in his Mock Draft 4.0 . Kiper projects that 21 former SEC players will be taken within the first two rounds, including what would be a record 13 in the first round.

Eleven players were drafted out of the SEC in the 2007 draft, and the record for the most taken from one conference in the first round belongs to the ACC, which had 12 taken in 2006.

Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel is still projected to be taken No. 1 overall by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Here's a look at where Kiper has SEC players in the first two rounds:

FIRST ROUND

No. 1: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M (Kansas City Chiefs)
No. 3: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida (Oakland Raiders)
No. 5: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama (Detroit Lions)
No. 9: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU (New York Jets)
No. 10: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama (Tennessee Titans)
No. 12: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama (Miami Dolphins)
No. 14: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri (Carolina Panthers)
No. 15: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia (New Orleans Saints)
No. 21: Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia (Cincinnati Bengals)
No. 23: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee (Minnesota Vikings)
No. 25: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU (Minnesota Vikings)
No. 26: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama (Green Bay Packers)
No. 29: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee (New England Patriots)

SECOND ROUND

No. 34: Matt Elam, S, Florida (San Francisco 49ers)
No. 44: D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina (Carolina Panthers)
No. 48: Cornelius Washington, OLB, Georgia (Pittsburgh Steelers)
No. 50: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama (Chicago Bears)
No. 53: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State (Cincinnati Bengals)
No. 57: John Jenkins, DT, Georgia (Houston Texans)
No. 58: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M (Denver Broncos)
No. 59: Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU (New England Patriots)
  • Alabama leads the way with five players projected to go within the first two rounds.
  • Moore has really seen his draft stock fall since his dismal showing at the NFL combine in February. He went from a top-five pick to out of the first round. Now, he's projected to go 58th to the Broncos. LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery, who was viewed as a first-round pick before last season, has also seen his stock plummet.
  • Swearinger is rising up the draft charts. His impressive workouts this spring and keen field instinct make him a very attractive prospect to teams looking for a ball hawk in the second round. While Swearinger is moving upward, LSU safety Eric Reid is falling. Another projected first-rounder before last season, Kiper doesn't even have him in the first two rounds, despite a solid workout at the combine.
  • Mathieu looked to have played himself out of the first couple of rounds because of his off-field issues, but after impressing scouts this spring, he's back in the good graces of the draft. He might not be an every-down cover corner, but there's no denying Mathieu's athleticism and game-changing ability.

SEC bonanza in the NFL draft

March, 29, 2013
3/29/13
5:00
PM ET
ESPN analyst Todd McShay projects that 11 SEC players will be taken Insider in the first round of next month's NFL draft, which would tie the SEC record for most first-rounders in one draft.

The SEC produced 11 first-rounders in the 2007 draft. The record for any conference is 12 first-rounders, which was set by the ACC in 2006.

Of the 11 SEC players McShay projects to go in the first round this year, six are from Alabama and Georgia. His No. 1 overall pick is Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel.

Here's a look at where McShay has the SEC players going in the first round:

No. 1: Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M (Kansas City Chiefs)
No. 6: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama (Cleveland Browns)
No. 8: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama (Buffalo Bills)
No. 9: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU (New York Jets)
No. 10: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida (Tennessee Titans)
No. 14: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri (Carolina Panthers)
No. 15: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia (New Orleans Saints)
No. 16: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee (St. Louis Rams)
No. 17: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia (Pittsburgh Steelers)
No. 19: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama (New York Giants)
No. 31: Johnathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia (San Francisco 49ers)

McShay also has nine SEC players going in the second round of his latest mock draft.

Of note, he doesn't have any running backs going in the first round. In fact, the first running back he has coming off the board is Alabama's Ed Lacy at No. 46 overall to the St. Louis Rams. McShay's second running back to be drafted might surprise a few people -- Texas A&M's Christine Michael going No. 53 to the Cincinnati Bengals.

McShay only has five quarterbacks going in the first two rounds, and none from the SEC.

Some of the SEC players who have dropped from earlier projections during the season are Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore and LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery, both projected as second-rounders by McShay.

One of the fastest risers in the SEC is South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger, who is pegged to go No. 55 overall to the Green Bay Packers. Two of the most heralded SEC defensive backs last season -- Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks and LSU's Eric Reid -- are not projected by McShay to go in the first two rounds.
With the NFL draft getting closer and closer, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. is making sure he feeds everyone with as much info as possible.

More than a month after showcasing his second mock draft, Kiper has updated things in his Mock Draft 3.0 Insider. It should come as no surprise that his latest mock draft is loaded with SEC talent, as he has 13 players going in the first 32 picks.

His top 10 has five SEC players in it. Kiper has Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel going first overall to Kansas City, while Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd is set to go third to the Oakland Raiders. Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner is slotted to go fourth to the Philadelphia Eagles, Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones is picked to go eighth to the Buffalo Bills and LSU defensive end/ outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo is heading to the New York Jets at No. 9.

Here's where Kiper sees SEC players going in next month's NFL draft:

1. Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M -- Kansas City Chiefs

3. Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida -- Oakland Raiders

4. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama -- Philadelphia Eagles

8. Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia -- Buffalo Bills

9. Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU -- New York Jets

12. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee -- Miami Dolphins

15. Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri -- New Orleans Saints

18. Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama -- Dallas Cowboys

20. D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama -- Chicago Bears

21. Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia -- Cincinnati Bengals

22. Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee -- St. Louis Rams

26. Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama -- Green Bay Packers

32. Matt Elam, S, Florida -- Baltimore Ravens
Now that you've seen Mel Kiper Jr.'s updated Big Board, take a look at where his position rankings stand Insider after the NFL combine. In his last batch of rankings, 28 SEC players made the cut, and the league was represented by at least one player at every position, except fullback.

In Kiper's post-combine rankings, 26 SEC players were listed. Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore, South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, Tennessee offensive guard Dallas Thomas, South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger, and Missouri linebacker Zaviar Gooden were left off this time. The head-scratcher to me is the absence of Gooden, who was ranked fourth at outside linebacker in Kiper's pre-combine rankings. He blew up the combine and proved to have the best speed of any of the linebackers working out and showcased tremendous strength and athleticism.

Making it on Kiper Jr.'s list this time were Texas A&M running back Christine Michael, Arkansas tight end Chris Gragg and Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter.

Here's where Kiper put SEC players in his post-combine position rankings:

Quarterbacks

4. Tyler Wilson, Arkansas

Running backs

1. Eddie Lacy, Alabama

3. Christine Michael, Texas A&M

Fullbacks

None

Wide receivers

2. Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee

4. Justin Hunter, Tennessee

Tight ends

3. Jordan Reed, Florida

5. Chris Gragg, Arkansas

Offensive tackles

2. Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M

4. D.J. Fluker, Alabama

Offensive guards

1. Chance Warmack, Alabama

3. Larry Warford, Kentucky

Centers

3. Barrett Jones, Alabama

Defensive ends

2. Barkevious Mingo, LSU

Defensive tackles

1. Sharrif Floyd, Florida

4. Sheldon Richardson, Missouri

Inside linebackers

2. Alec Ogletree, Georgia

3. Kevin Minter, LSU

5. Jon Bostic, Florida

Outside linebackers

1. Jarvis Jones, Georgia

5. Cornelius Washington, Georgia

Cornerbacks

1. Dee Milliner, Alabama

4. Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State

Safeties

2. Matt Elam, Florida

4. Eric Reid, LSU

Kickers

2. Caleb Sturgis, Florida

Punters

2. Brad Wing, LSU
Now that the NFL combine is over, we know a little bit more about the draft stocks of many players looking to make the jump to the NFL.

All that running, jumping, catching and throwing in Indianapolis can make a big difference for the majority of guys, and a lot of players saw their stock rise and fall after a few hours of moving around inside Lucas Oil Stadium.

NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. kept a close eye on everyone out there and has updated his Big Board Insider to reflect the performances from the few days in Indy. After the NFL combine, Kiper has 11 SEC players among his top 25 players, including six in his top 10. Before the combine, he had 12 SEC players in his rankings.

Who fell? Well, Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore took quite the stumble after a very rough outing at the combine. Moore went from No. 3 on Kiper's Big Board to unranked. He had a slow 40-yard-dash time of 4.95 seconds, and was weak on the bench press, doing just 12 reps at 225 pounds. That was the lowest of the 37 defensive linemen working out. Moore needs a strong pro day to get back in the good graces of everyone keeping a close eye on the draft.

While Moore tumbled down and out of Kiper's rankings, Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd made a major jump, moving from No. 8 to No. 2. His 4.92 in the 40 was huge for him, and with Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei not being able to work out because of a heart condition, Floyd is now considered the top defensive tackle in the draft.

Even though Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones didn't work out in Indy, he's still at the top of Kiper's board.

Here is where the 11 SEC players rank on Kiper's updated Big Board:

1. Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia (Last week: 1)

2. Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida (LW: 8th)

5. Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M (LW: 2)

6. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama (LW: 6)

7. Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU (LW: 12)

9. Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama (LW: 9)

17. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee (LW: 21)

19. Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri (LW: 15)

20. D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama (LW: 16)

22. Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia (LW: 18)

25. Matt Elam, S, Florida (LW: 25)

Wrapping up the SEC player rankings

February, 26, 2013
2/26/13
10:00
AM ET
And just like that, we're done with the 2012 SEC player rankings.

Johnny Manziel appropriately capped things off in our countdown to No. 1, so it's time to take a closer look at how things played out in our rankings. Remember, we could only put 25 players on our list. I wasn't a math major, but I'm pretty sure you can't squeeze 30 players into a list made up of 25. Trust me, we wanted to, but we just couldn't figure out a way to do it.

When ranking players, we looked at stats, progress through the season, impact, and importance to their team on and off the field.

Some very good players were left off the list ... but we'll get to that later. For now, let's see a breakdown of our countdown:

TEAMS

Alabama: 7
Georgia: 4
Texas A&M: 4
Florida: 3
LSU: 2
Mississippi State: 1
Missouri: 1
South Carolina: 1
Tennessee: 1
Vanderbilt: 1

A lot of readers displayed their disapproval of all those Alabama players who made it. I believe some even referred to it as a "love fest" with the Crimson Tide. Well, look at the seasons those players had and that team had. Look at where some of the Alabama players on our list are ranked in mock drafts. Six Alabama players were All-Americans. It's hard to leave any of those players off.

Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky and Ole Miss were the only schools without any representatives. Now, there certainly were deserving players on each of those teams, but, again, space was limited.

The biggest complaint from readers dealt with us not having Arkansas wide receiver Cobi Hamilton on our list. He was in our first couple of drafts, but when the final list came out, we decided to go with Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews. Yes, Hamilton had 12 more receiving yards than Matthews to lead the SEC, but Matthews finished with three more touchdowns, had 130 more receiving yards in conference play, led the SEC with seven 100-yard receiving performances and grabbed five touchdowns in SEC play compared to Hamilton's one.

We also felt Matthews meant more to his team last fall. Someone had to be left off, and this was by far the toughest decision we had when it came to cutting players. As for the other receivers, Amari Cooper was arguably the SEC's best wide receiver during the final stretch of the season, and Cordarrelle Patterson was the most versatile receiver out there and led the league in all-purpose yards.

POSITION

LB: 4
OL: 4
DE: 3
QB: 3
RB: 3
WR: 3
CB: 2
DT: 2
S: 1

Offense: 13
Defense: 12

No surprise that our list featured a heavy number of big fellas. Some of the top offensive linemen in this year's NFL draft hail from the SEC, and two of NFL draft guru Mel Kiper's top linebackers are SEC players. We also had five defensive linemen. In the quintessential line-of-scrimmage league, we had nine big uglies on our list, showing yet again how important it is to control things up front in the SEC.

Also, it was nice to see the quarterbacks return to real relevancy in the SEC this season. Manziel led the countdown and was the nation's best player, and Alabama's AJ McCarron and Georgia's Aaron Murray were the nation's most efficient quarterbacks, combining for 66 touchdown passes last fall.

We'll take one last look at our top 25 later today when we check out the players who just missed the cut, so stay tuned.
The NFL Combine is in full swing, and after some chatting, running and lifting, prospects are starting to see their draft stocks rise and fall.

The SEC had 79 players invited to Indianapolis, and a few really turned some heads over the weekend.

Arkansas tight end Chris Gragg might have really helped his chances in this year's draft after posting the fastest 40-yard dash time among tight ends with a time of 4.50. He blew away the competition, as the second-fastest time for a tight end was Maryland's Matt Furstenburg and his 4.62. He also led all tight ends with a vertical jump of 37.5 inches and a broad jump of 125 inches. Florida's Jordan Reed was sixth among tight ends with a time of 4.72, while Tennessee's Mychal Rivera was 10th with his 4.81 time.

Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel, who could be the top pick in April's NFL draft, bench pressed 225 pounds 27 times, ran a 5.3 in the 40, had a vertical jump of 28.5 inches, had a broad jump of 106 inches and was clocked at 7.4 seconds in the three-cone drill.

SEC skill position players showed off some pretty good speed on Sunday. Auburn running back Onterio McCalebb was clocked at an unofficial time of 4.21 in the 40, which beat Chris Johnson's record-setting time of 4.24 in 2008. His official time was 4.34, which led all running backs and is still a little faster than what I could churn out. Arkansas' Knile Davis was second to McCalebb with a time of 4.37. He was also second in the bench press among running backs (31 reps), while Vanderbilt's Zac Stacy and Texas A&M's Christine Michael tied for four with 27 reps.

Texas A&M receiver Ryan Swope was the fastest of the SEC receivers and was third among wideouts with a time of 4.34. Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson ran a 4.42. Fellow Vols wide receiver Justin Hunter was clocked at 4.44 in the 40.

South Carolina wide receiver Ace Sanders, who shocked many with his decision to leave school early, didn't exactly help himself with his 40 time or his bench press. He ran a 4.58 40 and had just seven reps on the bench.

Missouri receiver T.J. Moe ran only a 4.74 in the 40, but led all receivers with 26 reps in the bench press.

You can check out how all the former SEC players did over the weekend at NFL.com.

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