No. 2 – LB Lamin Barrow
When considering the value of a player like Lamin Barrow, perhaps this fact best frames the discussion: He's one of only five returning defenders in the SEC who notched 100 tackles in 2012 (the others – A.J. Johnson, Tennessee; Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State; C.J. Mosley, Alabama; and Avery Williamson, Kentucky). Last fall truly was a coming-out party for Barrow, who as a redshirt junior racked up 104 tackles (second on the team), 7.5 tackles for loss (fifth) and forced one fumble and five quarterback hurries.
Barrow was durable, too, starting and playing in all 13 games at weakside linebacker for LSU in 2012. Going into 2013, the 6-foot-2, 232-pound senior will face two primary challenges. He'll have to play without safety blanket Kevin Minter, now with the Arizona Cardinals. Barrow may also have to fill in at Minter's old position in the middle, a move many are anticipating with 6-foot, 226-pound D.J. Welter (No. 27 on our list) currently manning the starting Mike linebacker position. Wherever Barrow ends up, he's one of LSU's most decorated returning players and a tackling machine.
By The Numbers
Barrow's highest ranking: 1st
Barrow's lowest ranking: 2nd
Why this ranking is too high
Despite Barrow's monster season in 2012, there is at least a small element of ‘let's see you do it again' with the player. The reason? In 2010 and 2011, Barrow combined to make only 35 tackles as a reserve for a linebacking corps that, frankly, needed some help. Then there's the no-Minter factor. Without Minter in the middle as a physical run-stopping force, it's a fair question to ask how Barrow will respond. This year Barrow will be asked to do more and quite possibly could be moved into Minter's former role.
Why this ranking is too low
Just looking at the TSD highest and lowest rankings above, Barrow did receive at least one vote as the No. 1 player on LSU's team. That should speak to the level of respect that he commands coming off a season as the SEC's fifth-leading tackler. His durability at an extremely physical position also makes him an attractive candidate to be the Tigers' top player. Finally, given who's coming in at No. 1 tomorrow (just think about the name you haven't seen yet this summer on the countdown), at least Barrow is guaranteed to be on the field for LSU in week one.
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