SEC’s Top Players: Defensive Linemen

Today we take a look at the best defensive linemen in the SEC:

5) Jaye Howard DT, Florida

This is a beast athletically, a big man that can also run. That’s a bad combo for offensive linemen. He “only” had 28 tackles last year, but that’s deceiving of just how dangerous he truly is. He can pick any gap he wants, and he’ll crash it. He did that numerous times last year and there was nothing o lines could do about it. He’s just too quick. He’s got good instincts, too. And when he hits you, you go down. Watch for him to break out with a fantastic 2011 season.

4) Kendrick Adams, DE, LSU

He had 27 tackles a year ago. Not bad, but nothing fantastic, either. So why is he #4? Because with Drake Nevis gone, he will have more of an opportunity to rack up the stats. He was pretty damned good last year, but it was under Nevis’ shadow… and everything Nevis did was buried by everything Nick Fairley did over on the Plains. But now, everybody will get to see the newest great defensive end at LSU dominate the show. He’s got sweet moves to put on offensive linemen to go along with solid tackling, which should propel him to a great year.

3) Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State

On a Mississippi State team that the average fan kind of turned away from and said, “ew”, Cox was quietly wreaking havoc in opponent’s backfields a year ago. If the Bulldogs are going to get attention nationally in 2011, Cox will have to step up and do even more. He’s got the tools: He’s huge, and with moves. Oh and he can also put the bone jarring hit on a poor unsuspecting running back and force a fumble if he’s in a really bad move. He’s a force to be reckoned with, even with the departure of former defensive coordinator Manny Diaz.

2) Ronald Powell, DE, Florida

He’s actually a hybrid linebacker/defensive end, but look for him to play the latter in 2011. And look for him to absolutely dominate. He’s quick off the snap and just quick in general, combined with sure tackling and nasty moves on offensive linemen. When 25 tackles as a (mostly) defensive end is “highly” underachieving, then you know the guy’s loaded with talent. He really seemed lost in 2010 under Teryl Austin and he really seemed to buy into Will Muschamp’s new, attack happy scheme. The former #1 overall recruit in the nation playing for a coach that has produced some great defensive ends who were not as talented? Look out, world.

1) Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida

He’s the defensive end version of Powell. Unbelievable athlete who had a slightly disappointing 2010. Then again, all Gator players not named Ahmad Black and Andre Debose had disappointing 2010 seasons. Floyd is a beast. He may be even quicker than Powell off the ball, and he’s stronger than most offensive linemen he’ll be facing. Oh and he can put crunching hits on QB’s and ball carriers, and has the instincts to snag an easy pick. Go ahead and call me a homer, Florida’s got 3 of the 5 best d linemen. But the truth is, they do. And Floyd leads the way, just like he’ll lead a suffocating defense in 2011.

Also considered:

6) John Jenkins, DT, Georgia

7) Damion Square, DT, Alabama

8) Dominique Easley, DT, Florida

9) Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas

10) Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU

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