Who are the best NFL prospects to watch in the SEC in 2015?
The 2015 NFL Draft is over and more than 400 players have begun the next chapter of their football careers.
For the ninth straight year, the SEC had the most players drafted (54) of any league in college football. With a host of stacked rosters and elite talents taking the field in 2015, that trend should continue once again in 2016. Here are the top 25 NFL Draft prospects to watch in the SEC this fall:
1. Laremy Tunsil, OL, Ole Miss (6-5, 305)
He could easily be the top pick as the best offensive tackle in the draft. He has the size, the athleticism and is significantly better than any offensive lineman in the 2015 NFL Draft.
2. A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama (6-4, 320)
He won't stuff the stat sheet but tackles rarely do. Yet, Robinson is a beast in the middle who must be accounted for on every play — more often than not by more than one blocker. He's big and extremely physical.
3. Robert Nkemdiche, DE, Ole Miss (6-4, 280)
From a size and strength standpoint, few players in the country can match Nkemdiche's ability. He played end early in his career and has shifted inside and dominated in both spots. Look for him to take the next step in 2015.
4. Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn (6-2, 255)
The knee injury may scare some scouts away, but Lawson can clear away all the doubt with a huge '15 campaign. He was essentially the best player on the Auburn defense two years ago as just a freshman and will become a household name in short order this fall.
5. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss (6-2, 230)
A broken leg isn't nearly as concerning as knees or hips so once Treadwell steps back onto a field, it won't take long for his elite talent to show that he's the top receiver in the '16 class.
6. Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida (5-11, 195)
An elite freshman All-American, teams were already staying away from VH3 last season. So he might be avoided completely this fall. That won't have much impact on his overall stock — which is the best cover corner in the nation.
7. O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama (6-6, 240)
The best all-around tight end prospect in the nation unfortunately has been extremely underused by the Crimson Tide offense. He is an elite blocker and an elite pass catcher as well.
8. Leonard Floyd, DE/LB, Georgia (6-4, 238)
The dynamic, hybrid edge player flourished in Jeremy Pruitt's system last fall and should produce another huge season for what could be the best defense in the SEC. He's rangy, athletic and productive.
9. Cam Sutton, CB, Tennessee (6-0, 190)
He may not have the flashy speed and quickness of other cornerbacks ahead of him in the draft, but few players in the nation are as instinctual and make as many plays as the Vols' star defensive back.
10. Vadal Alexander, OL, LSU (6-6, 340)
He's a massive road-grader and will produce big numbers in the running game. There is more than one solid LSU O-line prospect in this unit, but Alexander is the best of the bunch.
11. Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama (6-3, 240)
He's an absolute beast. Cut from the Larry Johnson/Steven Jackson mold, few players have ever had the size-athleticism combo that Henry possesses. Now, if Lane Kiffin could just give him the ball a few hundred times.
12. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State (6-2, 230)
He may not have the arm talent of the pure pocket passers in the NFL but few have his heart, toughness, physicality and leadership. He's a great athlete who is a better thrower of the ball than scouts think.
13. Tony Conner, S, Ole Miss (6-0, 217)
The fourth member of the highly-touted 2013 Rebels' signing class could find himself in the first round alongside Tunsil, Treadwell and Nkemdiche. Conner flies around the field and makes big plays consistently.
14. Chris Jones, DL, Mississippi State (6-5, 308)
He didn’t blossom into the star last year many expected but his stock hasn’t slipped too far. He’s a monster in the middle and could develop into an All-American this fall after just 26 tackles, 3.5 for a loss and 3.0 sacks in ’14.
15. Duke Williams, WR, Auburn (6-2, 224)
From a talent standpoint, Williams could be one of the first SEC players taken in the draft. But he needs to refine his game, be more consistent with his hands and learn how to run routes on the next level to become an NFL star.
16. Eddie Jackson, CB, Alabama (6-0, 195)
The former big-time recruit has slowly developed into one of the best athletes in the Bama secondary. He posted 41 tackles a year ago and will be the leader of the Tide defensive backfield this fall.
17. Marquez North, WR, Tennessee (6-4, 220)
North could be the best wideout in the league if he stays healthy and Joshua Dobbs develops. He has elite hands, great ball skills, a huge frame and excellent athleticism. He could easily be a first-round pick.
18. Jeremy Johnson, QB, Auburn (6-5, 230)
If Auburn’s offense churns out yards and points like many expect, Johnson could fly up draft boards. He has a huge frame and a big arm with better than average athletic ability. The pocket passer could make this Tigers offense nearly unstoppable.
19. Josh Augusta, DT, Missouri (6-4, 335)
The man-mountain in the middle will continue Mizzou’s recent run of elite NFL defensive line prospects. He didn’t play full-time last year but is poised for a breakout season.
20. John Theus, OT, Georgia (6-6, 313)
Theus has been in the starting lineup from the beginning and has seen his game develop nicely over his career in Athens. He has gone from weak link as a freshman to an All-SEC performer. The former five-star recruit has all the right NFL tools.
21. Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama (6-2, 250)
The leading returning tackler for the Tide (93) will be one of the top true linebacker prospects in the draft next year. The NFL doesn’t normally take too many LBs in the first round but that doesn’t hurt his stock within his position rank.
22. Travin Dural, WR, LSU (6-2, 192)
Similarly to Robinson, Dural must get good QB play to shine this fall. That said, he’s more polished but slightly smaller than Robinson. He’s a big play waiting to happen after averaging 20.5 yards per catch last fall.
23. Demarcus Robinson, WR, Florida (6-2, 200)
The physical tools have been there all along but it has taken some time for him to develop. He has an elite size and speed combination and could vault into the first round should he refine his game (and get good QB play).
24. Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas (5-11, 224)
There isn’t much difference between one Arkansas back and the other, so fans in Fayetteville could expect both to be drafted fairly quickly next fall. He’s posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons entering his third year.
25. Kendall Beckwith, LB, LSU (6-2, 245)
The rising junior blossomed midway through his freshman season and only continued to make plays last fall (77 tackles). He has a chance to rise quickly in the national conversation as one of the best tacklers in the SEC. How will he fit into Kevin Steele’s new scheme?
Best of the Rest:
26. Jordan Jenkins, OLB, Georgia (6-3, 252)
27. Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU (5-11, 191)
28. Jalen Mills, S, LSU (6-0, 194)
29. Jarran Reed, DL, Alabama (6-4, 313)
30. Jonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas (6-0, 224)
31. Denver Kirkland, OT, Arkansas (6-5, 343)
32. Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss (6-3, 227)
33. Jerald Hawkins, OT, LSU (6-6, 309)
34. Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M (6-5, 325)
35. Jonathan Bullard, DL, Florida (6-3, 277)
36. Curt Maggitt, LB, Tennessee (6-3, 251)
37. Montravius Adams, DT, Auburn
38. Taveze Calhoun, CB, Mississippi State (6-1, 185)
39. Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama (6-3, 282)
40. Keith Marshall, RB, Georgia (5-11, 215)