Top SEC Juniors Heading to NFL Draft

Saturday's midnight deadline for juniors to declare for the NFL Draft passed without doing much harm to the Gators. Janoris Jenkins stuck with his decision to stay for his senior season, and Will Hill was the only early departure that Florida suffered. The rest of the SEC wasn't so lucky.

Jenkins' decision to stay was officially announced on January 10, but it wouldn't be official until the January 15 deadline passed. There were nervous moments with the situation as Janoris Jenkins was tempted to change his mind. He made the final decision to return for his senior year. As new head coach Will Muschamp aims to rebuild the defense, he now has a shutdown cornerback on the roster that can take one wide receiver out of the game.

Will Hill was expected to leave since before the season started. He recorded two interceptions, both coming against Georgia, and decided it would be best to move on to the NFL.

Alabama was the team hit hardest by players leaving early for the NFL. 2009 Heisman Trophy recipient Mark Ingram decided to leave early after rushing for 875 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. The Crimson Tide will still have Trent Richardson at running back, and he will be a junior during the 2011 season.

Julio Jones will head to the NFL a year early after 1,133 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, easily his best season since coming to campus. Defensive lineman Marcell Dareus will also make the jump from Alabama.

The national champion Auburn Tigers lost quarterback Cam Newton to the NFL after his Heisman Trophy season. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley also elected to move on to the NFL and could be the top pick in the draft.

LSU suffered one big loss. The Tigers lost shutdown cornerback Patrick Peterson after recording seven interceptions this year. His 6-2, 222-pound frame makes him capable of playing physical, and Peterson projects as the top cornerback in the draft. LSU also loses its running back as Stevan Ridley declared.

Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett also decided to go pro. His stock slipped some during the season, but there is no questioning the skills Mallett possesses. He has a big arm that threw for 3,869 yards and 32 touchdowns. His 6-6, 238-pound frame is ideal for the quarterback position in the NFL.

Georgia lost their pass rusher and pass catcher. Defensive end/linebacker Justin Houston will head to the NFL after recording ten sacks and one interception this season. A.J. Green left early after recording 848 yards and nine touchdowns in only nine games.

Kentucky lost their most versatile player in Randall Cobb. After lining up at quarterback, wide receiver, running back and punt returner this season, Cobb accounted for seven receiving and five rushing touchdowns.

South Carolina lost wide receiver Tori Gurley after his redshirt sophomore season. He recorded 464 receiving yards and four touchdowns. His 6-5, 230-pound frame could make him an interesting target for an NFL team.

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