CFN SEC Top 25 Football Players of 2016: Who are the best and the brightest players in the SEC coming into the season?
Who are the 25 best players in the SEC coming into the 2016 football season? It’s like a who’s who of future NFL draft picks, even with several worthy players being kept off the exclusive list.
Is your guy not on it? He probably should be – but that’s how much talent there is in the SEC.
Is Georgia freshman quarterback Jacob Eason one of the 25 most talented players? Probably. Should Bulldog RB Nick Chubb be on this list? Absolutely, but his knee situation is way too iffy. If it’s 100%, put him way up high on this thing. And those are just two key stars not listed.
The star power is tremendous considering the quarterbacks aren’t all that phenomenal across the board, and this list of top 25 SEC players proves it.
1. RB Leonard Fournette, Jr. LSU
The guy’s the best player in college football coming into the season. Forget the quarterbacks – he might have been the top player in this year’s NFL draft if he was eligible, and he certainly would’ve gone to Dallas instead of Ezekiel Elliott. He’ll be a marked man, but he could be this year’s Derrick Henry and carry the Tigers to a national title.
2. DE Myles Garrett, Jr. Texas A&M
Will he be in the hunt for the Heisman if the sack numbers are astronomical? No, but he’ll have to settle for being a top five overall draft pick next year – maybe No. 1. Will he suffer the Jadeveon Clowney effect with the expectations too high? Not if he stays healthy.
3. CB Jalen Tabor, Jr. Florida
Was he really the best defensive back on the Gators last year? Tabor has all the tools and skills to become another first round draft pick from the Florida secondary – everyone will avoid throwing his way.
4. DE Derek Barnett, Jr. Tennessee
While he’s not the playmaking end Myles Garrett is, he sets his own standard with hybrid skills and the ability to camp out behind the line. He’s as consistently dominant as any pass rusher in college football.
5. DE Charles Harris, Jr. Missouri
The former basketball player has turned into the next great Mizzou pass rusher with an elite first step and an unstoppable burst to the ball. He’ll be the star of another terrific Tiger defense.
6. LB Reuben Foster, Sr. Alabama
The next big superstar Crimson Tide linebacker, Foster’s a thumper who’ll be the new leader of the defense with Reggie Ragland gone.
7. DE Jonathan Allen, Sr. Alabama
It was a huge break for the Crimson Tide D line when Allen chose to come back for another year. A First Team All-SEC performer has the size and pass rushing skills to be an All-America force.
8. S Jamal Adams, Jr. LSU
The Tigers are loaded in the secondary, but it’s Adams who’ll be the NFL star in the near future with the speed of a corner and the pop to crank it up against the run.
9. WR Calvin Ridley, Soph. Alabama
Is he the best wide receiver in college football? He might not be all that far off coming off a brilliant freshman season and should be even more explosive.
10. OT Cam Robinson, Jr. Alabama
There was that fun off-the-field issue that got him in hot water, but on the field at his left tackle spot there’s no questioning his talent as a sure-thing, one-day NFL starter.
11. QB Chad Kelly, Sr. Ole Miss
While he doesn’t quite have the right look or size of an NFL starter, he’s a baller with great mobility and a nice deep arm to move the ball all over the field. He needs to be the type of leader to get the team through a storm of tough early games.
12. WR Christian Kirk, Soph. Texas A&M
A devastating force whenever he gets the ball in his hands, he came in as a true freshman and lit it up. He’s as good a punt returner as any in the country, and was a steady pass catcher no matter who was at quarterback.
13. LB Tim Williams, Sr. Alabama
If he’s not the best pure pass rusher in the SEC, he’s not going to be all that far off. A different sort of linebacker for Alabama, he’s going to be unblockable from the outside.
14. S Marcus Maye, Sr. Florida
It’s amazing that he was probably the fourth-best defensive back in the Florida secondary, and he still might end up being a late first rounder. He’s a linebacker-like hitter.
15. DE Deatrich Wise Jr., Sr. Arkansas
An interesting all-around NFL prospect, he’s got 6-5, 280-pound size and pure pass rushing ability. He rose up at the end of last year rising into a dangerous force coming up with eight sacks.
16. DE Carl Lawson, Jr. Auburn
Can he finally stay healthy? If he stays in one piece, he’ll be one of the nation’s elite speed rushers coming off a dominant run of spring practices. Like a big linebacker, he’s unstoppable on the end.
17. S/CB Tre’Davious White, Sr. LSU
Flip a coin on whether or not it’s Adams or White as the best player in the terrific LSU secondary. They’ll both be very, very rich with NFL cash next year at this time.
18. C/G Ethan Pocic, Sr. LSU
A potential first round draft pick anywhere he ends up playing, he’ll work as a center at the next level, but he could be a right tackle if needed. He’s a dream of a pro interior lineman.
19. LB Michael Scherer, Sr. Missouri
A machine against the run with 207 tackles over the last two seasons, he’s one of the SEC steadiest defenders. While he might not be all that flashy, there are others on the Tiger defense for that.
20. LB Zach Cunningham, Jr. Vanderbilt
The Commodore defense was terrific, and he was one of the main reasons why leading the team with 103 stops. He’s a pass rusher, a run stopper, and leader no matter where he is – he can do it all.
21. QB Joshua Dobbs, Sr. Tennessee
Can he be the type of quarterback to take an already great team and make it a College Football Playoff contender? One of the smartest players in the SEC – and one of the smoothest – he’s due to start winning the really big games.
22. LB Brooks Ellis, Sr. Arkansas
A pure tackler with 174 tackles over the last two years, he’s going to be a rock in the middle of the D. While he might not be all that flashy, he’s ultra-consistent with the smarts to be the leader up front.
23. DE Marquis Haynes, Jr. Ole Miss
One of the SEC’s most underappreciated and unsung stars – he was on a team full of bigger-name players – the undersized end came up with ten sacks. He’ll be a double-digit sack pass rusher again.
24. LB Jarrad Davis, Sr. Florida
Big enough to play inside, fast enough to work outside, he can play anywhere in the Florida linebacking corps and produce big. He’s not necessarily a pass rusher, but he can be if needed.
25. RB Jalen Hurd, Jr. Tennessee
Is there a tougher power runner? He can catch a little bit, too, but he’s at his best with a full head of steam blasting away and wearing down defenses. He’s the one who’ll control the tempo of the game.