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The preseason Southeastern 14 defensive ratings

 Chris Lee   in Football

Our list of the 14 best defenders in the SEC heading into 2021.

Derek Stingley Jr. photo courtesy of LSU athletics.

Here's a list of the 14 best defensive players in the SEC heading into the season. We'll update these rankings weekly. 

1. Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU: Two years, two All-American selections so far.

2. DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M: Seven tackles for loss, eight hurries an an almost-impeccable 2020 season.

3. Will Anderson, LB, Alabama: Was spectacular as a true freshman in '20, with 10.5 TFL, seven sacks and eight hurries.

4. Eli Ricks, CB, LSU: Four picks, five break-ups operating opposite of Stingley last year.

5. Josh Jobe, CB, Alabama: Physical corner who had 11 break-ups last season.

6. Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida: Two picks, 11 break-ups (tied for the league lead with Jobe among returnees) and one fumble recovery last year.

7. Tykee Smith, DB, Georgia: Health is a question--it sounds as if he'll miss the Clemson game--but he was spectacular (eight stops for loss, two picks, five break-ups) when on the field at West Virginia last year. 

8. Malachi Moore, S, Alabama: Three picks, six break-ups last season.

9. Emmanuel Forbes, CB, MSU: Three pick-sixes among his five interceptions as a true freshman last year; needs to be more consistent.

10. Jalen Catalon, S, Arkansas: Productive across the board (51 solo stops, 48 assists, three picks, four break-ups, two forced fumbles).

11. Martin Emerson, CB, MSU: Forbes got the headlines, but Emerson was more consistent a year ago.

12. Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn: Had a breakout season as a junior; is one of the league's most underrated players.

13. Brenton Cox, LB, Florida: Had an astounding 18 QB pressures to go with 9.5 stops for loss last season.

14. Grant Morgan, LB, Arkansas: Sixth-year player had a stat-stuffing season while leading the season in tackles (40 solos, 71 assists), with five break-ps and 7.5 stops for loss.