If you had to put money on it, which players would you be willing to bet will be no doubt stars and perennial Pro Bowl guys in the NFL?
Auburn defensive lineman Derrick Brown (nine votes)
All but two of the 11 SEC staffers who took part in this poll put in a vote for Brown, a 6-foot-5, 325-pound first-team All-American who will likely be a top-10 draft pick. “Best player in America that I saw in person and on tape,” one defensive staffer said. Brown, who may have gone in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft had he turned pro, tallied 55 tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss and four sacks as a senior for Auburn last season. “You panicked every time you had him singled up in protection, just wondering if your guy was going to be able to hold up,” a director of player personnel said. “Kevin Steele did a really good job getting him mismatched on your worst offensive lineman. Kevin also did a really good job of when the other team had him matched up or whatever, he would bring pressure away from him and cause the offense to slide protection away from Derrick that left him singled up and gave him the best matchup. I thought that was schematically really smart and something inside the game that people don’t see a lot of times.”
South Carolina defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw (three votes)
While Derrick Brown is widely viewed as the safer draft pick, at least some in the SEC and NFL scouting world believe Kinlaw has the bigger upside between the two. “He doesn’t play hard every snap, but he’s a game-wrecker when he wants to be,” an offensive assistant coach said. “If you get him with the right people, he could be a great player.” The 6-foot-5, 325-pound Kinlaw, who spent two years at South Carolina after two seasons at Jones County Junior College, recorded 35 tackles and six sacks as a senior last season and was a first-team All-American. “A lot of the things he possesses, you can’t coach,” a personnel figure said. “And the guy’s continued to improve, but I still think he’s just scratching the surface of what he can be. He’s still developing as a player — junior college guy and hasn’t been in a real SEC college program for more than two years — and the improvement he made from last year to this year and then just what the guy’s got in his body, I think the sky’s the limit.”