Mark Zerof

Predicting each SEC team's defensive MVP

Scout asked our SEC panel to pick the most essential defensive player on each respective team. Here's what they had to say.

Jonathon Allen, DE, Alabama - "The Crimson Tide didn't lose its entire defensive line to the NFL draft because end Jonathan Allen elected to return. Allen was outstanding as a junior, strong enough to play the run and quick enough to lead the Tide in sacks (12) and tackles for loss (14 1/2)." -- Kirk McNair, Bama Mag

Deatrich Wise Jr., DL, Arkansas - "Wise Jr. had a monster second half of the season and ended up totaling eight sacks on the season and one forced fumble. If he can take another step forward he has a chance to be one of the more formidable pass-rushers in the SEC." -- Jackson Safon, Scout

Rudy Ford, DB, Auburn - "Ford has led the Tigers in tackles the past two seasons, looks primed for a big senior season playing the nickel position that requires strong run support and pass coverage skills." -- Mark Murphy, AU Tigers

Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida - "He's a hitting machine that turns on the jets when he gets a straight path to the ball carrier. Future high round draft pick." -- Bob Redman, Fightin Gators

Dominick Sanders, DB, Georgia - "So few people know who Sanders is. The former three-star prospect lead the team in interceptions last season. He also makes lots of plays for UGA. Sanders should be All-SEC by the end of the season." -- Dean Legge, Dawg Post

Chris Westry, CB, Kentucky - "Showed glimpses of being a superstar as a freshman starter. Another year wiser (and stronger) Westry could be one of the best-kept secrets in the talent-rich SEC." -- Jeff Drummond, All Wildcats

Tre'Davious White, DB, LSU - "The team’s shutdown corner earned first-team All-SEC honors last year without picking off a pass. That should give you an idea of how well White locked it down on the outside for the Tigers. -- Billy Embody, Tiger Blitz

A.J. Jefferson, DE, Mississippi State - "With new coordinator Peter Sirmon bringing a 3-4 look to town, Jefferson should cause havoc coming off the edge as blockers are forced to pick up blitzing linebackers and safeties." -- David Murray, Gene's Page

Charles Harris, DE, Missouri - "A second-team All-SEC pick in 2015, Harris is the next great pass-rushing defensive end at Missouri and a possible first-round draft pick in 2017. Harris and his talented defensive line mates should cause problems for opponents." -- Nate Latsch, Black And Gold Illustrated

Tony Conner, S, Ole Miss - "Prior to injuring his knee in the Rebels' win at Alabama last season - which sidelined him for most of the remainder of his junior season - Conner was considered a consensus first-round NFL Draft pick. Now he returns as the most experienced, and talented, player for Ole Miss defensively." -- Ben Garrett, OM Spirit

Marquavius Lewis, DE, South Carolina - Lewis was good last season, and he has the potential to be great if he can show some improvement. He will be crucial to South Carolina's pass rush and run defense that will be without injured tackle-machine linebacker Skai Moore. -- Bryan Matecun, Scout

Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee - "Mock drafts for 2017 have the Nashville product pegged to go in the top half of the first round for a reason. Barnett has raw strength together with a 20-sack résumé." -- Danny Parker, Inside Tennessee

Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M - "Considered by many experts to be the first pick in next years NFL draft, Garrett racked up 11.5 sacks and continued to dominate in the best conference in college football. He set a goal of 20 sacks this season." -- Elijah Silas-Tafelsky, Scout

Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt - "Cunningham was thrust into a starting role early in the 2015 season because of injuries and excelled, racking up 103 tackles including 16 1/2 for losses." -- Don Yates, Vandy Mania

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