If the latest mock NFL draft by ESPN analyst Todd McShay is any indication, the SEC will shatter its record for most players selected in the first round this April. McShay has 15 SEC players going in the first round, including five among the top 10 picks. The SEC record for most players selected in the first round is 11, which happened in 2007. The SEC produced nine first-round picks last year and 10 the year before. The 2013 draft could be the biggest bonanza yet for SEC players, and 12 of the players McShay projects to go in the first round are underclassmen. ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has also updated his Big Board of the top 25 NFL prospects, and it includes 12 SEC players. The No. 1 player on Kiper's board is Georgia outside linebackerJarvis Jones.
The list of talented underclassmen in the SEC that could be leaving early for the NFL draft is staggering. Based on early projections, there could be as many as 12 underclassmen alone from the SEC going in the first round. That's not even counting seniors. Even with that much talent potentially leaving the league, there's still an impressive nucleus of young players returning. We've come up with our list of the top 10 players in the SEC who are sophomores or younger this season and not eligible for the draft. As you can see below, it's a star-studded cast:
The SEC is a conference founded on defensive principles. If you don't have a top-notch defense, chances are you won't rise to the top. There are exceptions (Auburn in 2010), but for the most part, when you look at five of the past six national champions from this league you see a very good defense as well. Last year, the SEC crowded the top 10 nationally when it came to defenses. This year, Alabama, Florida, LSU, South Carolina and Vanderbilt are all ranked within the top 17 in total defense.
Editor's note: Each day this week we'll review the five biggest plays or moments of the season for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Yesterday, we looked at AJ McCarron's game-winning drive down the field in Death Valley.
Editor’s note: Each day between now and Alabama's date with Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship, we will review the season for a key Crimson Tide player or coach and attempt to project what’s next for him. Today we’ll look at nose guard Jesse Williams.