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SEC Football: Ranking The League's Linebacker Units

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A Sea of Blue ranks the SEC's linebacker units top to bottom.

Khalid Henderson must step up big for UK this season.
Khalid Henderson must step up big for UK this season.
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

SB Nation’s SEC blogs are ranking each major section of each football team via the SEC Power Poll. The comprehensive results will be published over at For Whom The Cowbell Tolls in the next day or two. Below are the rankings submitted by A Sea of Blue. The league overall has several good linebacker units this season. It wasn't until #10 that I felt the talent drop-off become apparent. Kentucky is ranked next to last but I could see a finish that's borderline SEC Top 10 by the end of the season, but in order to do so would require several players making a leap and JUCO Ryan Flannigan to pan out in his first season.

Ranking The SEC's Offensive Lines

1.       Georgia. The return of three really good linebackers - Leonard Floyd, Jordan Jenkins, and Ramik Wilson - along with the arrival of Pruitt as DC will be a potent combination. Floyd may have the most potential of the trio, but Wilson is no slouch and led the SEC in tackles last season. Jenkins and Floyd will probably combine for at least 19.5 sacks. Easily my top choice.

2.       Alabama. The loss of CJ Mosley will hurt, but this is ‘Bama we're talking about and they will just reload. Trey Depriest returns along with his 65 tackles from last season. I suspect this'll be the year college football fans become acquainted with the names Adrian Hubbard and Denzel Devall. Maybe this year we see Reuben Foster and Da'Shawn Hand's get blooded?

3.       LSU. DJ Welter returns along with his 80 tackles and 6.5 TFL. Kwon Alexander will also have a strong season. LSU's young linebackers always seem to develop under Chavis, and I don't expect this season to be any different.

4.       MSU. Nine returning defensive starters is usually a harbinger for good things defensively. On top of that Benardrick McKinney returns, and will inevitably end up on an All-SEC team.  I also really like Matthew Wells game.

5.       South Carolina. Skai Moore, Marcquis Roberts, and Kaiwan Lewis all had great seasons as underclassmen last season. Very impressive that Moore led the team in tackles as a freshman. I watched his high school team destroy a good Ohio program his senior season, and he was one of the more impressive players I've ever watched in person. This unit should also have solid depth at the position. This unit is a year away from being truly elite, but they should be very good this season.

6.       Florida. All of their linebackers return including their leading tacklers Michael Taylor and Antonio Morrison. Dante Fowler Jr. will also be in the mix, and this season should be a breakout year for sophomore Jarrad Davis. This should be a good unit.

7.       Ole Miss. Denzel Nkemdiche and Serderius Bryant each return, and Bryant will contend for All-SEC honors this season.  I'll hold off ranking Ole Miss higher for now because JUCO transfer Christian Russell is a bit of an unknown. Solid group.

8.       Vanderbilt. Caleb Azubike, Darreon Herring, and Kyle Woestmann are all good SEC linebackers. Herring may end up being the best of the entire group. Jake Sealand also returns with his 45 tackles from last season. The looming unknown is how will the transition to a 3-4 defense impact this group's abilities. They'll have a great coaching but it would be natural for everything to come together.

9.       Tennessee. AJ Johnson returns for his senior campaign, and he's great, but the next linebacker on the roster returning with tackles will be sophomore Jalen Reeves-Maybin. Curt Maggit returns but will he truly be 100%? He'll be needed because there is not much proven depth in this unit. If Maggit and Johnson both have big years this unit will finish much higher than ninth in the SEC. They must stay injury-free.

10.   Auburn. This group was not very good last year, but they all return with another year of experience. No doubt, there is a lot of potential there as Auburn doesn't miss often for the high profile recruits it wants. I'm curious if true freshman Tre Williams is starting at MIKE by the end of the year.

11.   Missouri. Lost two linebackers including their leading tackler. Kentrell Brothers was set to have a breakout year but then had surgery on his labrum. Darvin Ruise you will be relied upon. Perhaps Mizzou's outstanding defensive line will pick up the slack for their linebacker corps this year.

12.   Arkansas. This unit wasn't very good last season, but they are all back. Another year of experience should prove for at least marginal improvement.

13.   Kentucky. This unit wasn't very good last season, and they lost leading tackler Avery Williamson to the NFL.  The returning linebacker with the most experience is Khalid Henderson, and UK will rely on a JUCO transfer to contribute who isn't set to arrive on campus until August 1st. Depth at linebacker may be why the preseason roster indicates UK will start in the 4-2-5 this season instead of last season's 4-3 base defense.

14.   Texas A&M. This defense was the worst in the SEC last season by many statistical standards, and they lost their best linebacker Darian Claiborne. The returning linebacker with the most experience is Donnie Baggs and he was A&M's 14th leading tackler last season.