HOOVER, Ala. – The SEC lost Myles Garrett, Jonathan Allen, Derek Barnett and other high-profile defensive linemen to the NFL Draft, but analyst Marcus Spears has two words about the talent level of the pass rushers still here.
“Super high,” Spears said.
The SEC Network commentator doesn’t expect the conference’s pass rush power to drop off this season.
“You’ve got (LSU’s) Arden Key, who could potentially be the best pass rusher in the country,” Spears told GN at SEC Media Days. “Marquis Haynes at Ole Miss, Marlon Davidson at Auburn. You’ve got Da’Shawn Hand at Alabama. It’s just reload.
“You’ve got (Florida’s) Jabari Zuniga, CeCe Jefferson, (Auburn’s) Byron Cowart, who they say is a different guy. It’s all over the place.”
Spears, a two-time All-SEC defensive lineman who won the national title with LSU in 2003, said the current class of pass rushers could end up comparing to the sensational group from the 2016 season.
“Last year was a special year because Jonathan Allen was unbelievable. Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson were unbelievable,” he said. “You look at Myles Garrett, freak of nature, first pick of the draft. You had a bunch of really good guys, but this year, when you get to April, it’ll probably be six more of them going first round.”
Those pass rushers, he said, often bring a background that’s not limited to the defensive front, and their effect extends even further as well.
“A lot of these guys that you see, they were running backs and linebackers when they were in high school,” Spears said. “They ended up putting their hand in the dirt and they’re physical beasts, super athletic.
“That’s why you see offensive linemen being so good in the SEC, because you have to recruit the best of them to deal with these monsters that you’re going to have to deal with every Saturday.”
Listen to the full interview at the link below:
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