SEC Blog

Updated - 6-27-12

By: Sanjay Kirpalani

 

Top 15 Best SEC Senior Prospects for the 2013 NFL Draft

The SEC’s recent reign over college football has extended to the NFL Draft—where nine former Southeastern Conference stars (including eight of the first 18 picks) were selected in the first round in April. 

Do not expect that trend to slow down anytime soon—with the SEC’s 2013 draft class loaded with potential first-rounders.

However, most initial mock drafts have a host of the league’s underclassmen going in the first-round, but several rising seniors have positioned themselves to hear their names called next April. 

Here are the top 15 senior NFL draft prospects for 2013.

 

15.  Nico Johnson – LB – Alabama

Johnson is the lone senior returning in Alabama’s linebacker unit, which should ensure him a bigger role in the defense this season.

Known as one of the SEC’s best linebackers against the run, the 6’2”, 245-pounder is better in coverage than most would give him credit for (has two career interceptions and six pass breakups in his career). 

If Johnson can prove he can be an effective three-down linebacker this season, expect him to be a coveted prospect in next year’s NFL draft. 

 

14.  Ryan Swope – WR – Texas A&M

After darting through defenses in the Big 12 for the last three seasons, Swope will take his talents to the SEC this fall. 

New coach Kevin Sumlin will lean on his playmaking wideout (89 receptions, 1,207 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2011) to spearhead his wide open, fast-paced attack. 

Although he may find rough-sledding this season without quarterback Ryan Tannehill getting him the ball, Swope’s production and ability to be a precise route-runner will benefit his stock at the next level. 

 

13.  Larry Warford – OG – Kentucky

Warford—who graded out at 87.5-percent in 2011—was the Wildcats’ lone bright spot on an offense that finished last in the SEC in total offense.

The 6’3”, 336-pounder allowed only one sack from his right guard position on his way to being named a second team All-SEC performer.

Warford’s ability to play well against the elite defensive linemen in the SEC will be beneficial to his stock at the next level. 

 

12.  Alex Hurst – OT – LSU

Hurst may not possess the potential of his teammate—junior left tackle Chris Faulk—but the first-team All-SEC performer is an excellent prospect himself. 

The 6’6”, 340-pounder is a massive physical specimen with surprising agility for a lineman his size—as evidenced by him recording more than 70 knockdown blocks last season.
 

Hurst will once again be the anchor for a LSU squad that finished second in the SEC in rushing offense, and help fuel the defending SEC champions’ quest to claim a national title this fall. 

 

11.  Sheldon Richardson – DT – Missouri

Richardson is a former 5-star recruit that ultimately had to go the JUCO route before finally transferring to Missouri before last season.

Even though a shoulder surgery (which he underwent surgery to repair in the offseason) hindered him for much of last season, Richardson recorded 37 tackles, eight tackles for loss and a pair of sacks en route to being named as an honorable mention All-Big 12 performer. 

Richardson is a raw, but talented prospect with the type of potential that NFL personnel are likely to take a chance on with an early pick. 

 

10.  Cobi Hamilton – WR- Arkansas

With a trio of receivers departing from the top offense in the SEC, Hamilton will be counted on to be quarterback Tyler Wilson’s go-to weapon this season. 

The 6’3”, 209-pounder has been productive in a supporting role thus far in his career, but it would not be a shock for him to put up numbers that approach his career totals (85 receptions, 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns) this season. 

Bigger wide receivers are becoming a trend in the NFL, and Hamilton could put himself in a great position to rise up draft boards if he produces a big year on the field this fall. 

 

9.  Robert Lester – S – Alabama

Lester is one of just four returning starters on defense for Nick Saban this season, but the veteran safety will take over for Mark Barron as the leader of the secondary unit. 

With 10 career interceptions (including eight in 2010), the 6’2”, 210-pounder is a proven playmaker that Saban will rely on to help bring along three new starters in the defensive backfield. 

Lester may not wow NFL types with his size or speed, but he has great football instincts—which fits the mold of the previous Alabama defensive backs that Saban has sent to the NFL in recent years. 

 

8.  Jesse Williams – DT – Alabama

Williams is the latest JUCO import to make an impact for Nick Saban, and after lining up at defensive end in his first year in Tuscaloosa, the 6’3”, 320-pound native of Australia will slide inside to the nose tackle position in Alabama’s 3-4 scheme. 

Considering his limited production (24 tackles, four tackles for loss), his ability to adjust and play well at his new position will be critical for his draft stock.

However, he’s an athletic specimen capable of wowing NFL personnel into taking a chance on him due to his enormous potential and his versatility to play at various spots on the defensive line. 

 

7.  Chance Warmack – OG – Alabama

Considering he’s part of a Crimson Tide front wall that includes All-American Barrett Jones and elite junior tackle D.J. Fluker, Warmack’s abilities are overshadowed by his more well-known teammates. 

However, the 6’3”, 320-pound Warmack was an integral part of a line that propelled Alabama to finish with the top rushing offense in the SEC. 

Entering this season, the second team All-SEC performer is one of the top guard prospects on draft boards for 2013.

 

6.  Devin Taylor – DE – South Carolina

Taylor arrived in Columbia as a 215-pound athlete whose biggest accomplishment on the prep level was winning a state title in the triple jump. 

Three years later, Taylor has packed 45 pounds onto his 6’7” frame—and produced 15.5 sacks and 27 tackles for loss in two seasons as a starter at defensive end. 

His freakish athletic ability (he’s recorded a broad jump of 10-feet, 11 inches and vertical jumps in the high 30s) should help him tear up the combine—and could vault him into the first-round.

 

5.  Johnathan Jenkins - DT – Georgia

Standing at 6’3”, 351 pounds, Jenkins could be the biggest run-stuffing defensive tackle available in this draft class.

His presence in the middle was a huge factor in the Bulldogs finishing 11th nationally in rush defense last season. 

Assuming he maintains his level of production (28 tackles, six tackles for loss, three sacks and one interception), Jenkins will be one of the most coveted pluggers available in next year’s draft. 

 

4.  Sean Porter – LB – Texas A&M

Coming into last season, Aggies opponents likely were breathing a sigh of relief with Von Miller no longer available to terrorize quarterbacks.

The Aggies plugged Porter into an edge rusher in their 3-4 alignment, and the 6’3”, 230-pounder responded with a season in which his numbers (79 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks) closely resembled Miller’s final year in College Station

With the Aggies switching to a 4-3 defensive front this season, another big season by Porter could help vault him to the top of the group of linebackers in the upcoming class. 

 

3.  Johnthan Banks – CB – Mississippi State

Banks is a big corner (6’2”, 185 pounds) with ball-hawking ability in coverage (11 career interceptions), which in recent history has been the metaphorical equivalent of possessing a first-round lottery ticket. 

His athleticism is evident considering he started seven games at safety in his freshman season, and served as the Bulldogs punt returner last season. 

Banks will be in a group of big corners—along with N.C. State’s David Amerson and Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes—that are fighting for the right to be the top-rated corner prospect in the 2013 draft class. 

 

2.  Barrett Jones – OG – Alabama

Despite being projected as a first-round pick had he left school a year early, the reigning Outland Trophy winner will try to help the Crimson Tide win its third national championship in four seasons. 

In addition, Jones will lineup at his third different position in three seasons—with his latest switch moving him from left tackle to center this fall. 

Most pundits have him projected as a guard at the next level, but his versatility to play multiple positions along the line at a high level makes him one of the safest picks of next April’s draft. 

 

1.  Tyler Wilson – QB – Arkansas

After patiently waiting behind Ryan Mallett for two seasons, Wilson carved up a league full of elite defenses en route to throwing for a league best 3,638 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2011. 

Considering that he operated out of a sophisticated pro-style offense under 

Bobby Petrino, the attraction to the 6’3”, 220-pound first-team All-SEC selection is understandable. 

Barring injuries or a disastrous season, Wilson should ultimately duel with USC signal-caller Matt Barkley for the right to be the top quarterback selected in the 2013 NFL Draft. 

   
 

 


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