1. Alabama - Nick Saban just churns out linebackers. He's got C.J. Mosley back for what seems like his 10th year. Then they have guys like Trey DePriest, Xzaxier Dickson and Adrian Hubbard - it's really just unfair. All of these guys could end up 1st round draft picks and they've got even more studs behind them.
2. LSU - Kevin Minter leaves and he was their best LB last year but it won't matter. Everyone else from the 2-deep comes back and they will be really good. They are probably as talented as Alabama but since the Tide have 4 LBs instead of just 3 I'll give them the nod. Tahj Jones and Lamin Barrow lead the way.
3. Ole Miss - There's a pretty big gap between two and three but the Rebs will be solid here. They basically return 2 starters because Aaron Garbutt had less production than Mike Marry. Denzel Nkemdiche was stellar last year and many are expecting more big things. They will get D.T. Shacklford back after two years of injury and 5-star Tony Conner could see some action in this unit and the "Husky" in their 4-2-5.
4. Mississippi State - Losing Cam Lawrence is going to sting a little bit but having 4 of the top 5 guys back including Freshman All-American Benardrick McKinney will help out a lot. Deontae Skinner also returns and look for Matthew Wells to take over for Cam. Chris Hughes was dismissed from the team so look for 4-star redshirt freshmen Richie Brown and Beniquez Brown to step in as backups. Plenty of talent and experience in this group.
5. Tennessee - The Vols have one of the best linebackers in the SEC in A.J. Johnson manning the middle. They've also got Curt Maggitt returning as well and fill in the third spot with a senior. This should be a solid unit, mostly because of Johnson - but I think having UT this high may speak to the lack of experienced LB corps across the league more than how good they are.
6. Florida - A lot of talent leaves this group namely Jelani Jenkins and Johnathan Bostic. But Florida also will bring in a lot of talent and under the tutelage of Will Muschamp they should succeed. Antonio Morrison should lead the way at MLB.
7. Vanderbilt - They return a lot of noise from last year with Karl Butler and Chase Garnham who combined for 15 TFL. Darreon Herring should take over an OLB spot and he got on the field a good bit in 2012. They return 5 of their top 6 so they should improve here.
8. Georgia - The Dawgs were gutted losing two time 1st team All-American Jarvis Jones and 3rd team All-American Alec Ogletree. And they lose Micheal Gilliard as well. But Mark Richt has a bunch of talent on board and they should be good, but they'll need to get right quick with Clemson and South Carolina right off the bat.
9. Kentucky - As per the usual, UK had a tackler with well over 100 tackles last year with Avery Williamson (135). The good news is he returns along with Miles Simpson who was third on the team in tackles. Under Mark Stoops I look for this unit to really improve.
10. Missouri - Not a stellar unit last year but they do return 4 of the top 6. Unfortunately the two missing were starters. Andrew Wilson does return, however, and he was their top tackler in 2012. 4-star redshirt freshman Donavin Newsome could be a wildcard coming in.
11. Auburn - This was not a good unit last year and they lose a couple of starter including Daron Bates. Jake Holland returns as a senior and they have added a 3-star juco in Kenny Flowers. Ellis Johnson should have an improved unit from what he inherited.
12. Texas A&M - The Aggies lose 26 of 39 starts at LB only returning Steven Jenkins who was their 3rd leading tackler in 2012. They've got some talent coming in but with major questions on the D-line it won't be good to have this unit inexperienced as well.
13. Arkansas - The bad news is they lose a bunch of experienced talent. The good news is they had a bunch of injuries last year and some of the up and comers got some playing time. We'll see how much they are able to improve if any.
14. South Carolina - No one has more to replace than the ole ball coach. Not only are all 3 starting LBs (all 39 starts) gone but the top 5 tacklers as well. Huge, huge question mark for the Gamecocks.
My top 5 linebackers in the SEC.
1. C.J. Mosley, Bama
2. A.J. Johnson, UT
3. Adrian Hubbard, Bama
4. Lamin Barrow, LSU
5. Benardrick McKinney, MSU
Check back on tomorrow when we have our SEC WR/TE preview.