Photo credit: Gus Stark/LSU athletics
As we conclude this series with SEC West defensive backs, we hope you have learned a lot about each team.
Diving into each team’s strengths and weaknesses helps to better understand each program. After taking a look at which secondaries to buy and sell in the SEC East, we wrap this up with the star-studded defensive backs in the SEC West:
Losing Patrick Surtain is a huge blow. Fortunately, Alabama returns practically everyone else from a year ago. Last year, younger guys like Malachi Moore, Jordan Battle, Josh Jobe, and Daniel Wright flashed some serious potential. With a year under their belt, they should be ready to take a huge step forward. Between those, chances are someone will step up and become an elite playmaker.
5-star freshman Kool-Aid McKinstry and veteran Jayln Armour-Davis have been competing for one of the other corner spots. Alabama can’t go wrong either way. Regardless of who wins the job, the Crimson Tide have some serious depth behind them.
These younger guys were borderline elite last season. With a year of eligibility under their belt, chances are they will get even better.
From top to bottom, this group is very good. Jalen Catalon has NFL-caliber talent, and Hudson Clark had a 3-interception game last season. On top of that, Arkansas has other experienced guys like Joe Foucha, Montaric Brown, and Greg Brooks.
Catalon was a third-team All-American, and is super versatile. Arkansas will line him up all over the field, and he will make plays. Clark will need to be more consistent, but he has shown the potential to be an elite corner given the right circumstances.
Arkansas will hope for more consistency out of this group. With the amount of experience they have coming back, chances are, the Razorbacks will find that level of consistency they have been looking for.
This group was already good with guys like Roger McCreary, Nehemiah Prichett, Jaylin Simpson, and Smoke Monday coming back. After loading up in the transfer portal, this group goes from good to elite.
Dreshun Miller was a lockdown corner for West Virginia last year, and will form one of the best cornerback duos in the country with McCreary. Both of those guys could have come out early for the NFL if they wanted. Prichett and Simpson were shutdown at times, and will only get better with a year under their belt.
At safety, Monday is one of the most experienced players in the SEC. Next to him will be a mixture of Ladarius Tennison, Donovan Kaufman, Zion Puckett, and Southeast Missouri transfer Bydarrius Knighten.
There are a lot of different combinations Auburn could use here. Regardless which way you flip it, this group is one of the best in the entire country.
This group was plagued by Bo Pelini’s coaching in 2020. After a disappointing season, the LSU secondary will aim to get back on track in 2021.
The combination of Derek Stingley Jr. and Eli Ricks is arguably the best in the country. Both were considered No. 1 cornerback recruits out of high school, and both have positioned themselves to be first-round picks when the NFL Draft rolls around. Stingley could very well be the first defensive player off the board in 2022.
The talent doesn’t stop there. Guys like Cordale Flott and Dwight McGlothern have shown flashes at cornerback, and will round out the rotation at that spot.
At safety, this group is in good shape even without Jacoby Stevens. Jay Ward and Todd Harris should be towards the top of the group. Georgia transfer Major Burns will also be a key contributor.
This group has a ton of talent and depth. It will likely be one of the best groups in the conference.
Mississippi State: Buying
This group was good at times last season for Mississippi State, and returns practically everyone for 2021. Martin Emerson and Emmanuel Forbes make up one of the best duos in the league; both have generated NFL buzz.
There are still a lot of other experienced guys like C.J. Morgan and Fred Peters at safety. Londyn Craft and Collin Duncan also have plenty of starting experience.
The addition of Jalen Green from Texas makes this group even better. He could very well start at nickel for the Bulldogs.
This group will aim to be more consistent, and it has the pieces to do so.
Ole Miss: Selling
This group vastly improved when Otis Reese became eligible, but we’re not ready to buy them.
There are no shortage of names here. There are plenty of guys back who have starting experience, such as AJ Finley, Jacob Springer, Jaylon Jones, and Miles Battle. Still, this isn’t an experience issue; it’s a personnel issue.
There are guys in the secondary who have played a lot of football, but Ole Miss still isn’t where it wants to be. The Rebels are however, inching closer.
Texas A&M: Buying
This group for Texas A&M has been really good at times, and it has its top seven players back in the secondary. The two leaders of this group are Leon O’Neal and Jaylon Jones, but they aren’t the only big-time guys.
Miles Jones is ready to make a huge impact as a senior. He is one of the three starting seniors in this unit. The younger guys like Demani Richardson and Antonio Johnson have no shortage of talent, and will be able to learn from the veterans in the group.
As far as experience goes, this might be the most experienced in the league. Now, it’s time for everything else to fall in place.