SEC's best DL duos [Archive] - SEC Sports Forum | SEC Basketball | SEC Football


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06-21-2017, 10:39 AM

1. LSU: Arden Key, Christian LaCouture: Key is listed as a linebacker, but he's more of a pass-rushing hybrid. He's a Buck, who can stand up or put his hand on the ground. Regardless, he's here and he was second in the SEC with 12 sacks last season. He should be one of the first defenders taken in next year's NFL draft. LaCouture is coming off a knee injury and is moving from tackle to end. Still, he's one of LSU's best players, and they make quite a formidable duo up front.

2. Georgia: Trenton Thompson, Jonathan Ledbetter: Thompson is a rising star despite missing all of spring with a medical issue. He has a chance to be one of the SEC's best interior linemen this season. Ledbetter was suspended for seven games last season because of two alcohol-related arrests during the offseason, but made a full turnaround this spring, both on and off the field. He started in four of the seven games he played in last year.

3. Alabama: Da'Ron Payne, Da'Shawn Hand: These two have all the potential to rise to the top of the list, but Hand still has a lot to prove this fall after being a top prospect coming out of high school. Payne doesn't have the flashiest stats (just 3.5 tackles for loss last season), but he's incredibly disruptive and creates plays for his teammates. Hand, who replaces Jonathan Allen, should really benefit from Payne's destructive style.

4. Ole Miss: Marquis Haynes, Benito Jones: Haynes might be the league's most underrated defender. In three seasons, Haynes has 24.5 sacks and 36.5 tackles for loss. He's also forced nine fumbles in his career. Jones started the final four games of the 2016 season as a true freshman. The former five-star recruit has a lot of upside and could be in for a true breakout year in 2017.

5. Florida: Jabari Zuniga, Taven Bryan: The Gators lost a lot of defensive talent, but top sack artist Zuniga returns. However, four of his five sacks came against nonconference opponents, and he didn't register another after the first weekend in October, but coaches love his potential as a dangerous pass-rusher. Bryan had just one sack and three tackles for loss last season, but his coaches are excited about what he could do with an increased role inside.