GN continues its SEC unit rankings series with linebackers.
One of the nation’s best defensive players is an SEC linebacker, and there are four or five other league linebackers who could vie for All-America honors. As far as elite linebacker units, though, the league is lacking this season.
The first position group was the offensive backfield, and receiving corps (including tight ends), offensive lines and defensive lines also have been covered. After the linebackers, we’ll take a closer look at the league’s secondaries and special teams.
One thing with the rankings: Proven production (generally) trumps potential.
14. Ole Miss
The good: Senior DeMarquis Gates has made a combined 155 tackles in the past two seasons and has shown flashes of being a playmaker.
The bad: Truthfully, that’s not much good here. Ole Miss was last in the SEC in rushing defense last season and the linebacker corps was a big reason; it was not an SEC-caliber group but more a Conference USA-caliber group. Gates is the only proven commodity, and he is adequate, nothing more. Ole Miss likely will play a lot of nickel this season, and a paucity of proven talent at linebacker will be one of the reasons.
The good: Senior middle ‘backer Eric Beisel is a personable guy who is great with the media; he also played well down the stretch last season.
The bad: Mizzou was horrible against the run last season and mediocre linebacker play was one of the reasons. Coaches hope Kansas State transfer Kaleb Prewett can handle a hybrid safety/linebacker role. Can any Mizzou linebacker be a consistent playmaker?
RELATED: The SEC’s top 50 players for 2017
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