On June 16, the 2018 SEC Media Days will take place at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia. Wednesday, the SEC released the official list of attendees, headlined by a handful of potential first-round quarterbacks and attractive defensive line prospects. The SEC sent 53 players to the NFL during the 2018 NFL draft. Ten players were taken in the first round. The SEC continues to send a plethora of talent to the NFL each year, as the conference has boasted the most draft picks in each of the last 10 years.
Of the student-athletes attending SEC Media Days, many of them will hear their names called early in April of 2019
(1) Devin White, ILB, LSU
Even with a compact frame, White possesses impressive body control to easily unlock his hips and change directions to adjust to the flow of the play. He has controlled movements that pave way for him to play sideline to sideline. He partners that with the agility and sudden, quick-twitch movements to counter the quicker and long-speed ball carriers.
His team was up 45-21 with 1:36 left in the game.
He already had 13 Tackles, 1.5 TFL and a QB hurry.
LSU LB Devin White gets cut, gets up, pursues the football and ends up intercepting a tipped ball to seal the game!
Talent + Effort = Dominance pic.twitter.com/ueAjuJ3bdp
— Coach Dan Casey (@CoachDanCasey) June 29, 2018
White’s most coveted skills involve being able to easily shed at the point of attack and hit his target. The junior linebacker proves his upper body strength by swallowing his opponent and working them to the flow of the play. With his disciplined eyes, he continues to chase the play while maintaining focus on the target.
He shows promise when blitzing (4.5 sacks in 2017) showing the ability to slip through the line of scrimmage while avoiding traffic. He’s powerful, which makes up for his adequate pursuit speed. With reliable coverage skills, White can mirror the quarterback’s eyes to adjust as he follows the play.
PFF Editor @PFF_Cam takes a quick look at the 2019 NFL Draft class at LB – including LSU LB Devin White and his ridiculous 30 QB pressures on just 86 pass-rush snapshttps://t.co/WBugvT91dw pic.twitter.com/a3Z2meIFUU
— PFF College (@PFF_College) June 26, 2018
White accentuates the skills that many position coaches want in a middle linebacker by checking the boxes concerning speed, coverage skills and physicality. White is the best college football linebacker prospect heading into the 2018 college football season.
(2) Damien Harris, RB, Alabama
Though his 2017 teammate, Bo Scarbrough, turned to the NFL, a year early, Alabama running back Harris is the better all-around ball-carrier when looking at NFL traits. Harris is smooth in the backfield and has the vision to press the hole, get skinny through traffic and explode into the open field. Rarely fazed by initial impact, the senior tailback maintains speed through contact and can reach top speed within seconds.
Harris uses an effective jump cut in the backfield when adjusting to pressure then glides to his destination. His jump cut is partnered with his vision by quickly diagnosing the defensive strategy and becoming creative on his next move.
With a surprise senior season return, Harris is one of the more coveted running back prospects in the country displaying plenty of high-end translatable skills.
(3) Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina
Samuel dominated the first quarter of the 2017 season reeling in 15 catches for 250 yards with six total touchdowns. Versus Kentucky, the dynamic receiver
suffered a broken leg and missed the remainder of the year. Samuel looks to get back on track as his quarterback Jake Bentley also returns after a promising season.
Samuel displays his skills starting with sticky hands. The senior receiver constantly snags balls all over the field showcasing a large catch radius though listed only at 6-foot. His crisp route-running skills accompanied with twitchy athleticism provide him with easy transitions out of his breaks producing noticeable separation versus the conference’s elite defenders.
Samuel’s burst off the snap puts him in a category of his own, as his fast release off the line of scrimmage provides him with an instant advantage. His vision and long speed also bring him success in the kick return game.
(4) Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky
Tied for sixth in the conference in sacks last season (7.0), Allen returns as one of the most coveted Kentucky draft prospects in quite some time. Allen’s quickness and prowess to win off the edge is his calling card and that alone has many scouts intrigued.
The 6-foot-4 edge rusher uses his long frame to gain extension to keep blockers off his chest. His power and strength at the point of attack is lacking but that’s not his playing style. Allen must win off the edge with quickness. That comes by running past tackles off the snap with an initial burst or using active hands to slap away the tackle’s counter.
Still needing to tune up some pass rush moves, but Josh Allen's potential is there. Persistent pass rusher that loves to use a late spin to win his battles. pic.twitter.com/zRBHXZfrai
— Christian Page (@_ChristianPage) July 12, 2018
Allen is still a work in progress when being compared to his contemporaries needing to improve handwork and overall pass rush moves. But as far as sheer potential goes, Allen meets the requirements to be featured as an inviting pass rushing prospect. Filling roles at inside and outside linebacker, Allen’s versatility doesn’t hurt his cause either.
(5) Anfernee Jennings, OLB, Alabama
With a healthy offseason under his belt, Jennings looks to flourish in Alabama’s special jack linebacker role. The junior defender was limited to 11 games last season with one of the absences coming in the national championship game (knee). Jennings ranks third among returning tacklers from 2017 (41) and is just one of three returning defensive starters for the Crimson Tide.
Jennings jumps off the page with overwhelming power at the point of attack. He creates pressure with an effective bull rush that instantly jolts blockers back into the pocket adding extra pressure to the passer.
Jennings shows enough lateral agility and gap responsibility to be effective on early downs in the run game. He moves closer to the line of scrimmage (similar to a 4-3 alignment) on passing downs. As a prospect, Jennings’ biggest concern comes with his ability to consistently cover. With his position being heavily emphasized on passing plays by being an edge rusher, Jennings will look to gain more brownie points by seeing more coverage snaps this fall.
The next tier…
(6) Kingsley Keke, DT, Texas A&M
Keke thrives off his first step and punishes linemen with upper body strength and underrated athleticism.
(7) Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn
Stidham thrives when playing within the pocket but must be better when pressure is added.
(8) Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Drew Lock threw a ridiculous 33 quick touchdown passes last season – pacing the returning FBS QBs pic.twitter.com/DJlbyDHvu7
— PFF College (@PFF_College) July 12, 2018
The SEC’s leading returning passer can make every throw with a quick release and acceptable arm strength but needs to be more consistent with his drops and timing.
(9) Benny Snell Jr., RB, Kentucky
Snell doesn’t showcase home run speed but runs with an attractive blend of power and acceleration making it difficult to bring him down.
(10) DJ Wonnum, DE, South Carolina
Wonnum boasts the lateral quickness, acceleration, and change of direction skills to be coveted as an early Day 2 pass rusher.