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Ranking the Top SEC Prospects in the NFL Draft

With the 2019 NFL Draft quickly approaching on April 25th, dozens of players from the SEC will have their dreams fulfilled. Here the top 10 prospects from the conference, all of which you can expect to see drafted in the first round.

1. Quinnen Williams, DT Alabama

Williams is the best prospect in this draft. Period. I’m dead set on this. We will most likely not be the first pick, however, considering that Arizona seems to be zoned in on Oklahoma Quarterback Kyler Murray. He might not even be the second overall pick as San Francisco is reported to be all in on Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa. I actually think Bosa is a top-three prospect in this draft, but there are durability concerns with him. There are none with Williams. Any team that is smart enough to pick him after Murray and Bosa are selected will be getting the steal of the draft.

The reason why I am so high on Williams is because you know exactly what you are getting with him. He has all the makings of a pro bowl defensive tackle due to his combined effort and athleticism he showed in two seasons at Tuscaloosa. He is a top-5 prospect with no question marks. He never takes a play off, is a menace in stopping both the run and the pass, and he should be in the running for the Pro Bowl within the first couple seasons of his career. This shouldn’t be a hard decision, but NFL teams often whiff on the obvious.

Projection: Should be a lock for a Top-3 Pick, will not get past Tampa Bay at No. 5

2. Josh Allen, Edge Rusher Kentucky

After Williams, it’s incredibly obvious that the next best prospect from the SEC is Kentucky’s own Josh Allen. In case you needed a refresher, Allen was the best pass rusher in college football in 2018. He was second in the country in total sacks with 17, and that should have been more considering how often SEC offensive linemen had to hold Allen just to watch after their own quarterback. With that kind of production at 6’5, 262 pounds, its blatantly obvious that he is the best pure edge rusher in this draft.

What’s important to watch out for with Allen is his ability to play in a 4-3 defense. At UK he mainly played in a two-point stance so he would fit perfectly in a 3-4 scheme. Most scouts think he will be versatile enough to shift over into a 4-3, but it is a question mark for teams who run that defense. After Murray and Bosa are selected, all signs are pointing to Allen being a member of the New York Jets with the third pick. The Jets badly need a pass rusher, and the Kentucky star would be a perfect fit in their 3-4 scheme.

If they unwisely go in another direction, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jon Gruden and the Raiders select Allen with the No. 4 pick despite their 4-3 defense. Gruden is just crazy enough to make a comfortable fit for a great edge rusher which they so badly need.

Projection: No. 3 Overall pick to the New York Jets

3. Montez Sweat, Edge Rusher Mississippi State

While I think Sweat is deserving of the third best prospect on this list, he can best be described as a discount version of Josh Allen. That’s not necessarily a slight against Sweat. At 6’6, 260 pounds, he is actually a relatively similar version of Allen. The major difference is that Sweat depends more on his speed and much less on his overall physicality. In fact, those are his big positives and negatives. He is incredibly fast, and he needs more bulk on his body to get through physical offensive tackles at the next level. But wow is this dude fast.

Sweat is talented enough to where he could develop into a player that’s potentially better than Allen, but I don’t see it. He still needs to work on his overall move set. Right now, he only has like one or two effective moves on defenders. That comes with the right coaching staff, and hopefully he finds his way onto the right team. He is one of the rawest prospects in this draft. Its boom or bust for this guy. I see him being a dependable pass rusher who will make a few pro bowls.

Projection: Top 10 Pick

4. Devin White, Linebacker LSU

White is one of my personal favorite players in this draft. There are several really talented linebackers coming out of college this year, but I think White is the best of the bunch. During his time in Baton Rouge he compiled almost 300 total tackles. He is incredibly quick as he uses his 4.4 40-yard dash to be a true sideline-to-sideline linebacker. He can cover the entire field while being incredibly hard-nosed. They may not be a tougher player in this draft than White.

White may honestly be the defensive rookie of the year because he is going to be highly productive right away. The only reason why I have him at #4 is because I think he can get a little too aggressive sometimes. This leads to some bad tackling angles and big misreads on play-action passes. However, being too aggressive as a linebacker is not always such a bad problem to have. As far as where he might land, I honestly have no good guess here. Some mock drafts have him going in the top 10, several others have him falling to Pittsburgh at #20. White will be another candidate for the steal of the draft when he falls. Just watch.

Projection: Top 20 Pick

5. Jawaan Taylor, Offensive Tackle Florida

I’ll admit, I may be a little high on Taylor and a little low Alabama tackle Jonah Williams who you will hear more about later. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Taylor is the best tackle in this draft. The reason being is that he has some of the best feet I’ve seen on an offensive lineman of his size. Human beings should not be this light and quick on their feet at 6’5, 313 pounds:

He isn’t a perfect tackle prospect as he is still a bit raw, but he is very close to being a complete offensive tackle heading into the league. He is good against the pass and the run. His draft position is a moving target much like White’s. I’ve seen him as high as 6 or 7 and as low as 18. If I had to call it, I would say Taylor will have his name called relatively early.

Projection: Top 15 Pick

6. Jeffrey Simmons, Defensive Tackle Mississippi State

Simmons is this draft’s “problematic player.” He absolutely has the talent of a top-ten pick. However, he recently tore his ACL, and he was arrested on an assault charge in 2016 after a video showcased him hitting a woman multiple times. With all the problems the NFL has had with its players committing violence against women, this is a terrible look to say the least for Simmons. He is an incredibly talented player, but things aren’t looking great for him right now. It will be up to a team to gamble on his injury and his history.

Projection: Middle of the First Round

7. DeAndre Baker, Cornerback Georgia

This is a baaaaaaaad man. I’m incredibly high on Baker even if most scouts have him as the second or third best corner in this draft. I think he is the best one overall. Baker is a great tackler who has the capability to put opposing players in the ground Ed Reed-style. He hasn’t allowed an offensive touchdown on his watch since 2016 for crying out loud. I don’t understand what the NFL is missing with Baker. Guys like Byron Murphy and Greedy Williams are rated higher on many draft boards. I think that’s lunacy. Despite being a little short at 5’11, it doesn’t get much better than Baker at corner.

Projection: Top 25 Pick

8. Greedy Williams, Cornerback LSU

Williams will be one of the players selected in the first round due to his “high ceiling.” He is an amazing coverage corner. Standing at 6’2, he has prototypical size for the position in the league. Couple that in with his 4.37 40 and you have on paper the best corner prospect in the draft. However, Williams has huge holes in his game. He gives very little effort in stopping the run game due to the fact that he can’t tackle. Any team that picks him is selecting an elite coverage corner. However, they better have players elsewhere on the field that can shutdown the run game because Williams is not that type of player.

Projection: Top 15 Pick

9. Jonah Williams, Offensive Tackle Alabama

Williams is the second-best offensive lineman in this class and the second best from the SEC. He is a dependable pass protector and he is even better in the run game. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see more of a run-dominant team select Williams and move him around the line. This is because he doesn’t have prototypical size or length at a position that demands it. While he is a good pass blocker, I think a team would be wise to draft him and play him at guard. I see a team picking Williams within the top 10 due to his versatility.

Projection: Top 10 Pick

10. Josh Jacobs, Running Back Alabama

Jacobs is a very curious prospect at running back. At Alabama he split a lot of reps with Damian and Najee Harris until late in the season when Head Coach Nick Saban realized just how good Jacobs was. He possesses elite strength at the position and he runs furiously. He is an immediate three-down back in the league who has a great nose for the end zone. In a class that’s relatively weak at this position, I think Jacobs is the best overall prospect. He is a much, much better player than Damien Harris and I think that’s saying something. His leadership mentality and toughness guarantee him a first-round selection to a team that is willing to select a running back that high. Watch out for the Raiders at pick No. 24 or 27 to take a swing at Jacobs.

Projection: Late First Round

Honorable Mention: Drew Lock, DK Metcalf, AJ Brown, Jonathan Abram

Article written by John Reecer

2 Comments for Ranking the Top SEC Prospects in the NFL Draft

  1. michaelb
    5:48 pm April 14, 2019 Permalink

    Incredible write up . I’m super interested in seeing what kinda production this draft class will bring in the upcoming nfl season.

    • mashburnfan1
      9:00 pm April 14, 2019 Permalink

      White from LSU won’t get lower than 11. My Bengals will take him if he is still there. They could go OL though as that is also weak, but LB with his speed is hard to pass up.