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Which SEC teams were biggest winners with their underclassmen?

As usual, the SEC was hit hard by underclassmen defections for the NFL draft. A record 106 underclassmen, including 27 from the SEC, declared for the 2018 NFL draft.

But not every SEC team was hit hard by players leaving early. Indeed, there are a few schools that escaped relatively unscathed. Here’s a look at the four SEC schools that fared the best regarding underclassmen.

(If you’re wondering which SEC underclassmen will be most difficult to replace, here they are.)

Jordan Jones

JORDAN JONES, by Jamie Rhodes/USA Today Sports

4. Kentucky

Why: UK wasn’t exactly stout defensively, finishing 12th in the league and 92nd nationally in total defense and 74th nationally in scoring defense. But the Wildcats had three defenders – linebackers Josh Allen and Jordan Jones and safety Mike Edwards – who could’ve turned pro. Instead, all three will return, which lends hope that UK can be improved on defense this fall. All three have all-league ability. Edwards was ninth in the league with 96 tackles. Jones, who was injured and missed four games, was third in the league with 109 tackles in 2016. And Allen is one of the best edge rushers in the league; he had seven sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss.

RELATED: A look at some notable SEC recruiting busts during the 2000s

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