SEC defensive player power rankings: Alabama's Will Anderson stays on top

 Chris Lee   in Football

Alabama's Will Anderson leads the pack of four Crimson Tide defenders in our rankings.

Will Anderson photo courtesy of Alabama athletics.

Here's our ranking of the SEC's 14 best defensive players. This year's performance is considered, but we still heavily weight previous years also; that balance will change as the year goes on. I add some insight into the process at the end, so be sure and read that, too. 

1. Will Anderson, Alabama, LB: Suffered a minor knee injury vs. Mercer but it sounds as if he'll play Saturday vs. Florida.

2. DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M, DL: Playing the majority of snaps so far and producing in every way.

3. Josh Jobe, CB, Alabama: Didn't play against Mercer.

4. Eli Ricks, CB, LSU: One pick, which happened vs. UCLA.

5. Derek Stingley, CB, LSU: As usual, teams aren't challenging him much.

6. Malachi Moore, S, Alabama: Had an interception vs. Miami, then sat most of the Mercer game.

7. Jalen Catalon, S, Arkansas: Two interceptions, a break-up and 19 total tackles this season.

8. Lewis Cine, S, Georgia: A pick and a pair of break-ups. 

9. Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida: One interception and six tackles.

10. Zach Carter, DL, Florida: Has been one of the league's better pass rushers (three sacks) but the competition's about to get a lot tougher.

11. Josh Paschal, DE, Kentucky: And that same can be said of Paschal (1.5 sacks, 2.5 stops for loss).

12. Jordan Battle, S, Alabama: Steady in every phase of the game.

13. Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia: Sits more often than he plays, but boy, he's dominant when he's in.

14. Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn: Consistent last year, and great in two games against poor teams so far this year.

Some thoughts: 

- I try to use everything at my disposal to do this. That includes watching, sometimes talking to folks who cover the teams, reading stat sheets, looking at PFF.com, etc. You''ll sometimes get mixed signals in all that and the earlier in the year, the more difficult that becomes. 

- Folks will have an issue with having just two Georgia players in here, and let me be clear here: That's no disrespect to Georgia and I suspect you'll see more before the year's done. The problem with the Bulldogs is that they play a lot of people and they all contribute, and it's hard to assign credit to any one player for a lot of that, especially when you have a lot of guys at other schools who are doing big things and rarely coming off the field. If this were a top 50 instead of a top 14, Georgia might have a bigger presence than any team.

- PFF isn't particularly high on Ricks or Stingley right now, for reasons I can't entirely discern in looking at their metrics underneath their grades, especially with neither being targeted much. I have a ton of respect for PFF and value their work but in these two cases, I've leaned more on reputation here. That said, I also have some reservations about having two LSU players in the top five given the way the defense has played the last two seasons, but I suspect this gets a more clear resolution as the season goes on. 

- There are a lot of other guys who could have made the list, including Nakobe Dean and Christopher Smith (Georgia), Phidarian Mathis (Alabama), Kingsley Enagbare (South Carolina) and Martin Emerson (Mississippi State).