Now that the 2016 NFL Draft has concluded, we might as well move on to 2017, right? After all, it's never too early to look at where the SEC's best players will further their careers.
This year, the SEC had 51 players drafted. For the 10th year in a row, the SEC led the way among its Power Five brethren (Big Ten, Pac-12, ACC, Big 12). The SEC has proven time and time again that it has the most talented players in the country. But will that streak continue in 2017?
Power Five Conference 2017 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch
ACC I Big 12 I Big Ten I Pac-12 I SEC I Notre Dame
Here is an early look at the top 25 NFL Draft prospects (in alphabetical order) out of the SEC for 2017.
Jamal Adams, S, LSU (Jr., 6-1, 211)
As a sophomore in 2015, Adams started all 12 games for the Bayou Bengals and earned second team All-SEC honors. Before that, Adams was a consensus freshman All-American. He should be poised and ready to make the jump to the NFL.
Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama (Sr., 6-3, 294)
It’s no surprise that Allen is projected to be at least a top-10 pick in 2017. He probably would have been taken in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft if he had entered his name. In the fall, Allen should be able to fine tune his skill set, which will benefit him greatly this time next year.
Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee (Jr., 6-3, 257)
Tennessee’s top prospect, Barnett, made his name known early in Knoxville with 20.5 tackles for a loss and 10 sacks as a true freshman. Opposing offenses tried to double-team him more in 2015, but Barnett still managed to finish third in the SEC in sacks.
Kendell Beckwith, ILB, LSU (Sr., 6-2, 252)
There aren’t many more reliable middle linebackers out there than Beckwith. Last season, he was a semifinalist for both the Bednarik Award and the Butkus Award. As a junior, he finished second on the team with 76 tackles. Beckwith is built for the NFL.
Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia (Jr., 5-10, 220)
After a gruesome knee injury in the Tennessee game cut Chubb’s 2015 season short, he took a backseat to LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Alabama’s Derrick Henry. Now, Chubb looks ready to make a triumphant return this fall. Pro teams are hoping for Chubb to get back to the level of production he was at before the injury.
Tony Conner, SS, Ole Miss (Sr., 6-0, 215)
Going into last season, Athlon had Conner listed as a first team All-American. He was nearly a unanimous preseason first team All-SEC selection. Unfortunately, injuries hampered Conner from being very productive. He has a chance to improve his draft stock this fall.
Travin Dural, WR, LSU (Sr., 6-2, 203)
With the potential to be one of the SEC’s most dynamic receivers, Dural has suffered a bit at LSU because of the lack of a reliable quarterback. But the Tigers feel much better about Brandon Harris coming out of spring practice. Dural should benefit from consistency in the passing game.
Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss (Sr., 6-3, 227)
Engram has been one of the SEC’s most productive tight ends in his time in Oxford. In his career, Engram has hauled in 91 catches for nearly 1,300 yards and seven touchdowns. Last season, he was on the John Mackey Award watch list. As long as Chad Kelly keeps tossing him a couple balls a game, Engram will be able to flash his skills and get drafted next year.
Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama (Sr., 6-1, 240)
Alabama always has a solid crop of linebackers, and Foster is the next guy in line to get drafted. He is a consistent tackler on the inside for the Tide. Last season, he had 73 stops and also did a respectable job of getting after opposing quarterbacks.
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU (Jr., 6-1, 230)
A few weeks into the 2015 season, people were comparing Fournette to Herschel Walker. Make no mistake, he was dominant early on. But that dominance faded as LSU encountered stiffer defenses. Still yet, Fournette is one of the most talented running backs in the country. He will be a prized commodity come draft day.
Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M (Jr., 6-5, 262)
Garrett has wreaked havoc on SEC offensive lines since his arrival to College Station two years ago. Now, not only has he gotten bigger, but he has improved his speed and agility. As one of the most purely talented players on the board, Garrett is expected to be taken early in the first round.
Daeshon Hall, DE, Texas A&M (Sr., 6-6, 260)
Often playing opposite to Garrett, Hall has made a name for himself. Hall racked up 50-plus tackles last season with a season-high seven in the first game against Arizona State. He also had seven sacks. If Hall can continue to develop quickness off the edge, he could fit the needs of a few NFL teams.
Charles Harris, OLB, Missouri (Jr., 6-3, 255)
Mizzou’s defense, which has been the strength of the team under Barry Odom, is led by Harris. As a sophomore, Harris earned second team All-SEC honors. He has played in every game in his career at Missouri and has been the key factor in the Tigers’ defensive success.
O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama (Sr., 6-6, 242)
It took a while, but Lane Kiffin finally figured out he had a weapon in Howard last season. The senior tight end had a stellar national championship game, pulling in five catches for 208 yards and two touchdowns. He was the Tide’s offensive MVP in that game, proving his worth on the big stage.
Eddie Jackson, SS, Alabama (Sr., 6-0, 194)
Nick Saban is known for being able to develop defensive studs, and Jackson is no exception. After moving to safety last spring, Jackson earned second team All-America honors in the fall. He led the Tide with six interceptions last year. A true ball hawk, Jackson has a chance to play in the NFL for a long time.
Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss (Sr., 6-2, 215)
Simply put, Kelly is the SEC’s best passer. The numbers prove that. He has shown an ability to launch deep balls accurately, which sounds simple, but is rare. Some guys are accurate, some have arm strength. Kelly has both. If he continues to develop this fall, he will be one of the first quarterbacks taken in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Skai Moore, OLB, South Carolina (Sr., 6-2, 218)
The Gamecocks haven’t had much going on defense the past couple seasons, but Moore has done his job and then some. The senior linebacker was a team captain for South Carolina last season and led the team with 111 tackles. That was the second-highest total recorded by a Gamecock in the last 25 years.
Lewis Neal, DE, LSU (Sr., 6-2, 264)
Neal led the Tigers with eight sacks in 2015, good enough for sixth in the SEC in that category. Neal has shown the ability to play either tackle or end, but seems to be better off the end. He plays physical, and knows how to get around offensive linemen. There aren’t many more explosive defensive ends in the SEC.
Greg Pyke, OG, Georgia (Jr., 6-6, 313)
A mainstay on Georgia’s elite offensive lines the past two seasons, Pyke has been a driving force in front of the Dawgs’ success in the running game. Pyke is tough enough to play in the SEC, but he still has a desired finesse aspect to his game, proven by his athletic ability to pull across the line and get to linebackers.
Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama (Jr. 6-6, 327)
Robinson is a prototypical left tackle, and will be highly sought after by multiple NFL teams. In fact, he may be one of the most positively regarded tackle prospects in a few years. He can punish as a run blocker, but still has quick enough feet to develop into an elite pass blocker. Robinson was a first team All-SEC player last season.
Fred Ross, WR, Mississippi State (Sr., 6-2, 207)
With Dak Prescott slinging passes, Mississippi State has had a handful of productive receivers, but arguably none more so than Ross. Now that Prescott is gone, it will be interesting to see how head coach Dan Mullen uses Ross on offense this fall. He is shifty and will probably be desired in the slot as next year’s draft approaches.
Dan Skipper, OT, Arkansas (Sr. 6-10, 326)
Without a doubt, Skipper will be the tallest tackle at the Scouting Combine next year. He has been a key piece in opening holes for Arkansas’ punishing and productive running game. Skipper blocks well into the whistle. Although pass blocking isn’t the strongest part of his game, he won’t be too hard to develop. His reach certainly won’t be a concern.
Cam Sutton, CB, Tennessee (Sr. 5-11, 186)
He could be called Tennessee’s best-kept secret. Most of the Vols’ 2017 NFL Draft talk is focused around Derek Barnett and some of the offensive players, but Sutton is a true lockdown corner. There aren’t many wide receivers in the SEC that can beat him one-on-one. One service named Sutton a first team All-American last season.
Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida (Jr., 6-0, 191)
At this point in time, Tabor is probably the most highly touted cornerback prospect out of the SEC. He has had the luxury of playing opposite of Vernon Hargreaves III for most of his career. This fall will be Tabor’s time to prove that Hargreaves wasn’t the only talented pass defender for the Gators.
Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU (Sr., 5-11, 191)
Staying on the topic of cornerbacks, LSU’s White has 19 career pass breakups to go along with four interceptions. He was a semifinalist last season for the Jim Thorpe Award and there isn’t anything out there that would signal a drop-off in 2016. The sky is the limit for White.