Leading the conference in sacks (12), Garrett has developed into an absolute blur off the edge. There might not be another player in college football possessing Garrett’s first-step quickness. Only a sophomore, he’ll have one more year on the collegiate level before terrorizing NFL offensive tackles.
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DL: Jonathan Bullard - Florida
Florida’s stud defensive tackle performed exceptionally well for a talented Gators’ front seven. Bullard accrued 63 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, and an eye-popping 17.5 tackles for loss. The senior out of North Carolina looks primed for a long and fruitful career on the next level.
DL: Jonathan Allen - Alabama
An integral element in Alabama’s suffocating defense, Allen was tied with teammate Tim Williams for second in the conference with 10 sacks. Highly productive off the edge in obvious passing situations, Allen also accumulated 12.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. Along with A’Shawn Robinson, the duo is incredibly potent up front.
DL: A Shawn Robinson - Alabama
Robinson is an ancillary reason for why Alabama is ranked No. 1 in the country in rush defense. At 6’4”, 320 pounds, the Texas native plugs the middle and renders offensive linemen virtually useless. Additionally, Robinson notched 3.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss for the Crimson Tide.
LB: Reggie Ragland - Alabama
One of the most productive players at any position in the country, Ragland is the heart and soul of the Alabama defense. The middle ‘backer led the team with 90 tackles – and also accrued 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. His ability to roam sideline-to-sideline makes him a special prospect.
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LB: Kentrell Brothers - Missouri
Missouri’s senior linebacker lkeyed the nation’s ninth-ranked defense at a high level. He led the country with 152 total tackles. Brothers also was tops with an average of 12.7 tackles per contest. Inexplicably, he was not in contention for the Butkus Award – given to the nation’s best linebacker.
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LB: Zach Cunningham - Vanderbilt
Cunningham was a bright spot amidst another tough season in Nashville. The redshirt sophomore out of Alabama finished the year with 103 tackles. Cunningham’s 16.5 tackles for loss ranked him third in the conference, and he led his team in forced fumbles (4) and sacks (4.5). Assuming he comes back for his redshirt junior season, Cunningham could be one of the preseason favorites for SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2016.
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DB: Vernon Hargreaves III - Florida
Florida’s shut-down junior corner collected All-America status for the third-straight season. Hargreaves III led arguably the deepest and most talented secondary in the country. He finished with four interceptions and four pass-breakups, and was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award – given to the nation’s top defensive back.
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DB: Jalen Tabor - Florida
With Hargreaves III likely set to enter next year’s NFL Draft, Tabor looks set to take the mantle as the top defensive back on the roster. The Washington D.C. native has possessed the physical tools requisite in becoming a lockdown corner. In ’15, he improved immensely on becoming a more consistent player. Like Hargreaves III, he also had four interceptions, and also led the team with 14 pass-breakups.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAChristopher Hanewinckel
DB: Eddie Jackson - Alabama
An emblem of versatility, Jackson has performed exceptionally well at both corner and safety for the Crimson Tide. Charging back from a torn ACL, Jackson leads the team with five interceptions. He’s highly effective both in coverage, as well as in the box when attacking ball-carriers towards the line of scrimmage.
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DB: Dominick Sanders - Georgia
A true sophomore, Sanders’ ceiling as a football player is supremely high. He led Georgia with five interceptions and five pass breakups. A rangy safety, Sanders truly has a combination of terrific athleticism and superlative instincts. He likely will be the next great defensive player to hail from the program.
Getty ImagesStreeter Lecka
Punter: Drew Kaser - Texas A&M
A semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award, the Texas A&M special teams dynamo was the best punter in the SEC. He led the conference with a 47.96 yards-per-punt average – and had a long of 71 yards. On multiple occasions, the senior out of Ohio flipped field position for the Aggies – effectively pinning the opponent back against its goal line.