Anyone who’s been paying attention to the Southeastern Conference lately knows that there are three schools that have clearly stood out recently at the defensive backs positions.
While Florida and LSU have been arguing about which should be called DBU, Alabama has the best track record in the NFL draft. With safety Deionte Thompson selected by the Arizona Cardinals with the first pick in the fifth round he was the 18th Crimson Tide defensive back to be selected during the Nick Saban era.
However, Alabama‘s string of having someone in the secondary taken in the first or second round was snapped at eight.
While opponents might think that’s good news for them, it’s not in terms of the 2019 season. After having to replace all six starters in the dime package a year ago, Saban only has to fill one spot this year, Thompson’s.
Alabama has a pair of long and lanky shutdown corners with Trevon Diggs and Patrick Surtain II, plus Xavier McKinney really came on last season. Saban’s also added another defensive backs assistant coach, giving the players two to work with plus he works with the position group during practices as well
It’ll be a strong unit.
LSU is a close second. Very close.
The Tigers may only return two starters in the secondary, but of them is Grant Delpit, who might be the best safety in college football. Last season the All-American became the first LSU player in the 5-5 club, which is five picks and five sacks in a season. The other returner is junior cornerback Kristian Fulton. Freshman Derek Stingley Jr. is already making a strong bid to be the other starting corner.
Florida cornerback CJ Henderson is one of the conference’s best cornerbacks. Marco Wilson is coming off knee surgery but how well the youngers players like Trey Dean III step up will likely dictate if it’s a good Gators’ secondary of talented players or a really good unit.
Auburn’s secondary struggled last year, but the only person who isn’t back is Jamel Dean. Jeremiah Dinson is the leader of the unit, but if cornerback Noah Igbinoghene keeps improving the Tigers are going to have a tough secondary.
A lot of teams have to do a lot of rebuilding on the back end, but South Carolina is a team to watch. Although the Gamecocks had a lot of issues at safety last year, having two 6-foot-4 cornerbacks in Isreal Mukuamu and Jamel Cook is pretty unique.
Teams to watch: Texas A&M, Mississippi State and South Carolina
This is the second story in a summer Friday series, ranking the top SEC teams position by position.