There is some merit to SEC hype. Since 2006, the SEC has had the most players drafted each year, and in all but last year, they had the most first-rounders.
Alabama has 16 first-round picks since 2007, the most of any school). LSU is tied for second with 12. The SEC West alone has had more picks in the last two years (61) than any other full conference except the ACC (73) and the Pac-12 (62).
Going into 2015, NFL eyes will focus on Oxford, Mississippi. The Rebels have the strongest preseason draft class. Next in line is Nick Saban's boys, with a few top-50 defenders. Auburn and LSU are close behind.
Let’s read what SB Nation bloggers who cover each school think.
1. Ole Miss - Red Cup Rebellion
(Analysis by Trevor Sikkema)
Robert Nkemdiche, DL (junior): The former No. 1 recruit has bounced around Ole Miss’ defensive line. He started at defensive end, but has moved inside. I think that’s where he ends up, but no NFL team will keep him at just one spot. He has the athleticism and build to make his presence known at a 3-tech or a 4-3 DT. I’ve read comparisons to Mario Williams, and I can’t say they’re far off.
Laremy Tunsil, OT (junior): The only factor that will keep this reliable tackle from the top 10 is injury. Coming off an ankle injury he suffered in the Peach Bowl, Tunsil is set to battle Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley to be the first offensive lineman selected. It’s been reported Tunsil's work ethic matches his skill.
Laquan Treadwell, WR (junior): Treadwell has ideal NFL size at 6’2, 230. Before his awful season-ending leg injury, he was right there with Alabama’s Amari Cooper as the best receiver in college football. Treadwell impresses you in the categories you can’t teach: turning speed into open space and attacking the ball in the air.
Tony Connor, S (junior): Following a disappointing 2015 safety class, Connor is looking to book his ticket as the fourth first-round Rebel. This 6’, 215-pound heavy hitter makes his presence known in the box. You’ll hear USC’s Su’a Cravens’ and FSU’s Jalen Ramsey’s names, but Connor has a lot of upside. The only hurdle is he has to prove he’s not just a strong safety. He has to show consistent coverage.
2. Alabama - Roll 'Bama Roll
(Analysis by John Saxon)
A’Shawn Robinson, DL (junior): Easily the most talented member of a deep front seven, Robinson moved inside his sophomore year after tallying a team-leading 5.5 sacks and garnering a Freshman All-American nod from the 3-4 end. While less productive on the stat sheet, Robinson was an absolute monster at nose, where his ability to penetrate warranted near-constant double teams.
Despite his massive frame, Robinson plays with quickness, and his ability to keep his pad level low creates havoc. Pileups started by Robinson were a common sight. Robinson projects as a 3-4 end in the NFL and has drawn comparisons to Muhammad Wilkerson and Marcell Dareus.
Reggie Ragland, LB (senior): Ragland emerged as perhaps the Tide most effective defensive playmaker in 2014. He can fill any linebacker position in either a 3-4 or 4-3, though he projects as a 3-4 inside linebacker in the NFL. Ragland is capable in coverage but particularly effective against the run, as he led the Tide with nine stuffs. He possesses sufficient strength to shed blockers and excels in traffic. He matches instincts with technique and fluid movement.
Jarran Reed, DL (senior): A former JUCO All-American, Reed immediately locked down a starting spot on a talented line. Versatile enough to play the nose but better suited outside, Reed projects as a 3-4 end or 4-3 tackle. A good blend of size, strength, and agility for the position, although not an elite athlete.
Not a tremendous pass rusher, Reed does most of his disrupting in the run game, leading the line in tackles. Reed also led the front seven in defensed passes, as he displays a knack for getting his arms up at the right time.
Derrick Henry, RB (junior): The most prolific rusher in national high school history, Henry looks to be the lead back for the Tide after splitting time with T.J. Yeldon. A physical specimen, Henry is a tremendous athlete and is consistently cited for his outstanding work ethic by the coaching staff.
His top-heavy build makes running in traffic challenging, but once Henry gets into the open he is a load to bring down. Surprisingly fast, Henry has issues changing direction, and relies more on vision and speed than brute power or jukes. Has shown adequate hands and is absolutely lethal on screens. Needs to improve as a pass blocker, but has the talent to be an every-down back.
Cyrus Jones, CB (senior): Recruited as a receiver, Jones switched to defense in 2013, and was by far the most consistent coverage player for the Tide in 2014, leading the team in passes defensed. Surprisingly tough given his average frame, Jones is a good athlete with an instinctive feel. His stout build allows him to play physical, but he is capable of being burnt and occasionally gets lost on double moves. His relatively recent switch to the position translates to average technique, but he is a preseason All-SEC selection. His small frame projects as an NFL nickel.
Kenyan Drake, RB (senior): With the misfortune of joining the Tide during an astonishing stretch of talent, Drake has not received much work out, but has shown flashes of game-breaking ability.
Averaging 7 yards per carry for his career, Drake has consistently been the most explosive running option, as he blends acceleration and top-end speed with vision and shiftiness. Possessive of good hands, Drake showed real promise lining up outside before a broken leg brought an early end to his 2014. Not a great blocker, and has serious issues with ball security. Provided his recovery from leg surgery continues to go smoothly, Drake will split carries with Henry and projects as a change-of-pace back.
3. Auburn - College and Magnolia
(Analysis by Walt Austin and David Speck)
Ricardo Louis, WR (senior): Perhaps best known for being on the receiving end of the Miracle in Jordan-Hare, Louis has a knack for getting open downfield. A combination of scheme, route running, and pure speed allows the quarterback to find him for big gains, sometimes well after the play has broken down.
Louis contributes to the run by carrying on speed sweeps. He gets a few carries a game, but he’s broken 40 yards rushing six times. Receivers in Gus Malzahn’s offense aren’t allowed to be shy blockers, and Louis is no exception. Louis’s focus and hands combine for some frustrating drops. Sometimes it’s hard to say if he’s already thinking about making a move after the catch or he really has that hard of a time catching the ball.
Avery Young, OL (junior): Young has played guard and tackle, and almost went pro last season. I think his versatility is going to make him appealing to NFL teams. He's extremely talented.
Carl Lawson, DE/LB (RS soph.): Even though technically a sophomore, he's a redshirt due to his injury last season. He's spent the last year reviewing films of other great defensive ends and buck linebackers. He was one of the nation's top recruits in 2013, and I look for him to have a monster year as Auburn's primary end-rusher. He's iffy on whether he goes pro, but with one ACL surgery already behind him, I think he jumps if it looks like he's a high pick.
Cassanova McKinzy, ILB (senior): McKinzy anchored Auburn's defense and is on numerous award watch lists. I wish I knew more about the defensive side of the ball to give you a good breakdown on where he might need help, but as a run-stopper, he's been fantastic.
4. LSU - And the Valley Shook
(Analysis by Billy Gomila)
Jerald Hawkins, OT (senior): He's the most likely to be this draft's "who??" riser, because he's getting almost no preseason pub, but projects very well. Typical 6'5, 300-pound dancing bear athlete. He came to LSU very raw and didn't even play offensive line in high school, but he found himself after a redshirt year, and hit the starting lineup very well.
Great feet and long arms. He might even be a better pass protector than La'el Collins, although he's not quite as mean and nasty in the running game. A year at left tackle should really demonstrate his ability. Possible first or second round pick.
Vadal Alexander, G (senior): He's going to try out right tackle, but he might be better off at guard in the pros. Big, mauling run blocker, who played tackle as a true freshman due to injuries and managed to help contain Jadaveon Clowney for a game. His biggest issue has been health, with some back and knee problems that have contributed to conditioning issues. Prone to mental lapses. But a big senior year could propel him forward, especially at a more high-profile position. Like a second-to-fourthish round guy.
Jalen Mills, S (senior): He's a strong "tweener" type of safety, who's played nickel and corner. Seems best in the safety role. Strong tackler, and a smart player who rarely gets fooled. Has some limited man-to-man skills, but best dropping into a zone. Versatility is a big plus. Third/fourth-round guy.
Tre'Davious White, CB (junior): Gifted corner who is really smooth in man coverage, with good hips and feet. Long arms for his size and good on the jam. He's not the stud that LSU's had in the past, but he could still be a first-rounder. Better man-to-man guy than Jalen Collins, who made the second round last year. Held his own against Amari Cooper, and Alabama moved Cooper away from him when they could.
Kendell Beckwith, MLB (junior): Big, fast linebacker who became a regular starter and played great down the stretch. He has almost everything you want out of a mike linebacker: size to take on blocks, speed and quickness to get down the seams, and long arms for shedding blocks if he blitzes. Big key for him this season will be improving his coverage skills, something a couple of teams attacked last year. Expect him to be heavily featured by new DC Kevin Steele.
5. Mississippi State - For Whom the Cowbell Tolls
(Analysis by Justin Sutton)
Dak Prescott, QB (senior): Prescott has showed a steady improvement. The challenge will be refinement. Can you improve his accuracy? Can his footwork improve? Can his touch on certain passes be better? If the answer to these questions are yes, Prescott has a chance to move way up the draft boards. NFL teams are going to want to see more of what he can do as a passer.
He is a proven leader, and he keeps his nose clean. He also has a knack for making a big play after a mistake, with the victory over LSU in 2014 being a great example.
Will Redmond, DB (senior): Redmond has picked up some press after being named the top senior defensive back by Mel Kiper. The pressure will be to live up to the hype.
Many fans might not know much about Redmond because he has had an interesting career. He basically lost a year and a half of eligibility over a used car, which was an outrageous punishment. He did not start many games in 2014, but he made many plays to save games. His game-saving interception in the end zone to hold of Arkansas shines as the brightest example. He enters 2015 as the starter. Can he become the type of corner who shuts down one side of the field?
Chris Jones, DE/DT (junior): Jones came out of nowhere to become one of the top players in the nation in high school. He has an impressive combination of speed and power. However, he has not made as many plays as some have expected. Some of that might come from facing double teams, and some of it might come from the fact that other NFL-quality players such as Preston Brown have made the plays. Also contributing was a scheme in which players rotated in and out quite frequently.
If Jones can put together a solid season, this could be his last in Starkville. If not, he could return for his senior season.
De'Runnya Wilson, WR (junior): Name an NFL team that does not like a wide receiver with size and speed. Wilson's size and speed will automatically draw attention. Wilson came to Mississippi State as a player gaining more recognition for his basketball abilities, being named Mr. Basketball for Alabama. In fact, he did not seriously play football in high school until his senior season. By the end of his freshman year in Starkville, he had become a football player, all but leaving basketball behind.
Wilson has shown a tremendous trajectory, and all signs point to a potential breakout season. It would not shock many if Wilson goes over 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns. While still raw, Wilson will look so good that teams may be interested in him early in 2016. If not, he should be a sure 2017 pick.
6. Arkansas - Arkansas Fight
(Analysis by Doc Harper)
Jonathan Williams, RB (senior): Williams has been one of this team's leaders ever since Bret Bielema arrived. Tough runner who can get yards after contact. Can also catch out of the backfield. Good quickness but not elite speed.
Alex Collins, RB (junior): An elite prospect out of high school, he's had two really solid seasons at Arkansas. He's a very shifty back able to break tackles. Although he did have a couple of long runs last year, he hasn't really showed that extra gear. Most believe we haven't seen the best of him yet.
Sebastian Tretola, OL (senior): Massive guard came to Arkansas out of JUCO before 2014. He worked to lose a significant amount of weight and became a starter. Most well known for throwing a touchdown pass on a trick play.
Denver Kirkland, OL (junior): Another top prospect out of high school, Kirkland started for Arkansas at guard as a freshman and sophomore. He's recognized as one of the top linemen in the league. He's moving to left tackle as a junior, so we'll see how that goes.
7. Texas A&M - Good Bull Hunting
(Analysis by Rush Roberts)
Germain Ifedi, RT (junior): Ifedi is a redshirt junior, but it looks like he will be coming out early. The university has taken out a similar insurance policy on him that it did for Cedric Ogbuehi last year, when he came back as a senior. Ifedi is a three-year starter and will play at right tackle but can play guard as well.
Mike Matthews, C (senior): Matthews is a three-year starter at center and the latest member of the Matthews family to seek out a future in the NFL. The center in a Kevin Sumlin offense has a lot of responsibility for making calls, especially with younger QBs like last season. Matthews is a little undersized, but he's got football in his blood.
Tra Carson, RB (senior): A bruising back who is quicker than he looks. He sort of took on the majority of the workload at the end of last season and will probably be the featured back after splitting time over the past two years.