The past, present and future of the SEC at each position
Each Power Five conference lost stars to the NFL Draft last month but plenty of talent returns and is on the horizon. We call this Past, Present and Future and it’s self explanatory. We continue with the SEC today.
Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.
MORE: The past, present and future of the Big Ten at each position
CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State
CLASS OF 2022: Top 100
The past: Joe Burrow, LSU — The No. 1 pick in the draft isn’t easy to replace and Burrow had arguably the best season ever by a college quarterback.
The present: Kyle Trask, Florida — Trask is the most proven of the group coming back and some expect a Burrow-like emergence this season. Jaime Newman (Georgia), Kellen Mond (Texas A&M), Mac Jones (Alabama) and KJ Costello (Mississippi State) also have to be mentioned, as well. Lots of question marks here, but some real talent as well.
The future: Bryce Young, Alabama — Young could win the job this season and make a Trevor Lawrence-like impact on college football.
The past: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU — The first round running back was the cream of the crop last year in the SEC but it’s so deep this year, he won’t be missed that much.
The present: Najee Harris, Alabama — Harris is ready to make his last year at Alabama his best one yet. Kylin Hill (Mississippi State), Rakeem Boyd (Arkansas), Larry Rountree III (Missouri) and Zamir White (Georgia) also need to be in this conversation. This is an excellent group and the SEC is very deep at running back.
The future: Kendall Milton, Georgia — Marshawn Lloyd for South Carolina could also be right here as well. Both are downhill runners with nifty feet.
The past: Henry Ruggs, Alabama — Ruggs, along with Jerry Jeudy and Justin Jefferson from the SEC, was drafted in the first round of the draft as part of a crazy-talented 2020 wide receiver class.
The present: Ja’Marr Chase, LSU — Chase might have gone ahead of Ruggs or anyone else in the NFL Draft had he been eligible. He’s that good. Jaylen Waddle (Alabama), DeVonta Smith (Alabama), Terrace Marshall (LSU), Seth Williams (Auburn) and George Pickens (Georgia) are also very good.
The future: Demond Demas, Texas A&M — He’s a potential CeeDee Lamb clone who should eventually dominate the SEC.
The past: Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri — Okwuegbunam is a great athlete who will have a very good NFL career.
The present: Kyle Pitts, Florida — Pitts is a combo wide receiver and tight end and a matchup nightmare, but we can't forget about Major Tennison (Alabama), Harold Joiner (Auburn) or Jamal Pettigrew (LSU), either. There is definitely some potential around the conference at the tight end position.
The future: Arik Gilbert, LSU — Georgia's Darnell Washington should absolutely be mentioned here as well, but Gilbert is more of a can’t-miss.
The past: Andrew Thomas, Georgia — Thomas was the first lineman taken in the draft and an elite tackle. He’ll be hard to replace.
The present: Alex Leatherwood, Alabama — Jedrick Willis is gone, so Leatherwood will step right in and be the next great one. Trey Smith (Tennessee), Deonte Brown (Alabama), Cade Mays (Tennessee) and Dylan Wonnum (South Carolina) also have to be mentioned.
The future: Broderick Jones, Georgia — Jones is a freakish athlete who will fill out and should be a first-round draft pick down the line.
The past: K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU — Chaisson was a first-rounder for his outside pass rushing ability and the SEC won’t have another like him this season.
The present: Big Kat Bryant, Auburn — The Tigers keep churning out elite defensive linemen and Bryant should emerge as a double-digit sack man this season. The SEC is never short on defensive linemen, and this year is no different. Keep an eye out for Jamar Watson (Kentucky), Azeez Ojulari (Georgia) and Kingsley Enagbare (South Carolina).
The future: Jordan Burch, South Carolina — Burch is an elite athlete with a high ceiling. He will be unstoppable once he refines his game.
The past: Derrick Brown, Auburn — Brown is the best defensive tackle that college football will see for quite a bit.
The present: Christian Barmore, Alabama — Barmore is a big athlete who should dominate all over the line for the Crimson Tide. Tyler Shelvin (LSU), Tedarrell Slaton (Florida), and LaBryan Ray (Alabama) need to be mentioned here, as well.
The future: Justin Rogers, Kentucky — One of the biggest commitments in Kentucky history, Rogers should be an absolute star and could have been an elite offensive lineman as well.
The past: Patrick Queen, LSU — Queen emerged last season as an elite sideline to sideline player with great athleticism.
The present: Dylan Moses, Alabama — Moses missed last season due to injury but should be back as a dominant force for the Crimson Tide this season. Nick Bolton (Missouri), Jabril Cox (LSU), and Dimitri Moore (Vanderbilt) will also make plenty of plays this season.
The future: Chris Braswell, Alabama — Braswell can be a hybrid or a pure stand-up linebacker and he can rush the passer with the best of them.
The past: C.J. Henderson, Florida — Henderson has good size and was elite in coverage at the college level.
The present: Patrick Surtain II, Alabama — Surtain is here because Derek Stingley Jr. won’t be draft eligible for another couple of years. Surtain has elite size and speed. Israel Mukuamu (South Carolina), Tyson Campbell (Georgia), Josh Jobe (Alabama) and Eric Stokes (Georgia) should not be counted out, either.
The future: Elias Ricks, LSU / Kelee Ringo, Georgia - Take your pick. Both have rare size and speed and they will be early draft picks down the line.
The past: Xavier McKinney, Alabama — McKinney somehow fell to the second round of the draft but played like a first-rounder at Alabama.
The present: JaCoby Stevens, LSU — Stevens can play many different roles and has proven that already. He’s a freaky athlete. Richard LeCounte (Georgia), Todd Harris (LSU) and Leon O’Neal (Texas A&M) are right up there also.
The future: Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M — Johnson is a ballhawk and a great steal out of the Midwest for the Aggies.