We've looked at lines and receivers, and now it's time to look at the linebackers in this week's SEC on SBN ballot for the SEC's best.
So, as it turns out, there's a lot of linebacker talent in the SEC. This one wasn't easy for me to flesh out because almost everyone returns a great deal of talent, but I think we've got a good enough picture of who the best linebacker groups are in the SEC from top to bottom with these rankings.
- Alabama - Nick Saban's defenses area always going to be towards the top in the conference in terms of linebacker talent, and this year should be no different. Trey DePriest will lead the way for the Crimson Tide. Rashaan Evans should excel in the Tide's 3-4 defense in the "Jack" linebacker role.
- Georgia - The Bulldogs return everyone from last year, meaning that Ramik Wilson and Leonard Floyd will again wreak havoc in the sec. Floyd, in particular, is a dangerous pass rusher.
- LSU - D.J. Welter and Kwon Alexander are back, and bring their combined 145 tackles from last year with them.
- Mississippi State - Benardrick McKinney and Matthew Wells combine to form one of the SEC's more accomplished linebacker duos.
- Florida - The Gators have a big "if" here, and that's if this unit can be healthy then they could be very stout. Most notable is middle linebacker Antonio Morrison, who missed much of the latter part of the season with an injury.
- Auburn - The versatile (and suave) Cassanova McKinzy is moving to middle linebacker, and he will be joined by incoming superstar recruit Tre Williams.
- Ole Miss - If Denzel Nkemdiche can return to his freshman year form, Serderius Bryant can stay healthy, and D.T. Shackelford can make the transition from defensive end to middle linebacker, this could be one of the SEC's more successful groups.
- South Carolina - Rumors are that Carolina's looking to implement more of a 3-4 look to keep a hybrid outside linebacker/end position on the field. Who that would be, I'm not sure.
- Tennessee - If Chris Maggitt returns to form, Tennessee should bound up this list.
- Vanderbilt - Vandy returns a lot here, and in shifting to a 3-4, they'll ensure that more of them see the field.
- Missouri - Mizzou lost their two best linebackers from last year.
- Kentucky - Kentucky lost a good deal of experience to the draft when Avery Williamson left, and after him you've got a linebacker unit that is, shall we say, not good.
- Arkansas - Returning a lot of players from a pretty bad unit doesn't inspire hope here.
- Texas A&M - The Aggies only return two linebackers with any meaningful playing time. Eesh.