SEC Defensive Player of the Year race: Anderson leads the pack followed by a pack of Bulldogs

 Chris Lee   in Football

Here's how we rate the SEC's 14 best defenders heading into Week Eight.

Nakobe Dean photo courtesy of Georgia athletics.

Here's how I rate the league's top 14 defensive players heading into Week Eight. Factors considered in analysis: Pro Football Focus grades and snap counts, stats, personal observations and opinions of those who watch SEC football and impact in big games. Players get credit for a full tackle for a solo stop and a half-tackle for an assist. 

1. Will Anderson, LB, Alabama: Had four sacks last week in the win at Mississippi State. 

2. Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia: PFF grades him as Georgia's best defender; credited with 13 hurries at the school's website.

3. Antonio Johnson, CB, Texas A&M: PFF rates him as the SEC's best corner this season. 

4. Josh Paschal, edge, Kentucky: 8.5 stops for loss, six hurries and 1.5 sacks; grades well and gets bonus points for durability. 

5. Zach Carter, edge, Florida: 8.5 tackles for loss, but the Gators have slipped defensively in recent weeks. 

6. Kingsley Enagbare, DL, South Carolina: PFF grades him higher than any player on this list, and he's got productive numbers (23.5 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 8 hurries) too.

7. Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia: Statistically, he's the Bulldogs' most productive lineman (6 TFL, 2.5 sacks). 

8. Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia: He's going to be first-team All-American by just about everyone and probably deserves it for his dominance despite being double- and triple-teamed, but low snap counts (he's playing just 37% of the time) hurt him here. 

9. Jordan Battle, S, Alabama: He's the Crimson Tide's best cover man, according to PFF...

10. Lewis Cine, S, Georgia: ... and the same for Cine at Georgia. 

11. Adam Anderson, edge, Georgia: He's a holy terror coming off the edge (4.5 sacks, 12 pressures). 

12. DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M: PFF grades have slipped recently, but it may be because of fatigue: He's had more DL snaps than any player in the SEC.

13. Phidarian Mathis, DL, Alabama: Used all over the line, but production has tailed off in recent weeks. 

14. Latavious Brini, CB, Georgia: He's the Bulldogs' highest-graded corner and tied with Cine for the team lead in pass break-ups (5).