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Top 2021 Draft Prospects: SEC

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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BJ Bennett's top ten 2021 NFL Draft prospects out of the SEC.

1. Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU

Starring for the record-setting national champions, Chase, establishing a few new SEC marks himself, may have just had the greatest single season by a wide receiver in modern college football history: 84 receptions, 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns for the 15-0 Tigers. He is fast and athletic, dynamic and polished, and could be a top five pick overall at a position where you really don't see many. Chase, standing 6'1'', 200 pounds, is a do-it-all playmaker set to lead another historic draft class on the perimeter. 

2. Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

Patrick's father was a second round NFL Draft pick in 1998 and was a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro cornerback for the Miami Dolphins. The younger Patrick, who played for his dad in high school, is following in those footsteps. At 6'2'', 203 pounds, PS2 is the new physical prototype for a CB1. He is a well-rounded, aggressive playmaker in the defensive backfield who started 12 games for the Crimson Tide as a true freshman in 2018 before taking another step last fall. Surtain recorded a pair of interceptions a year ago.   

3. DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Smith has long been a Crimson Tide and college football legend, catching the walk-off, game-winning touchdown pass from Tua Tagovailoa in overtime of the national championship game as a true freshman. He has quite the overall body of work, too. Smith was simply incredible in 2019, catching 68 passes for 1,256 yards and 14 touchdowns. His uncanny playmaking ability at 6'1'' will make him one of the stars of a heralded wide receiver class. Already, Smith has 23 career scores.  

4. Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama

Moses is the quintessential Crimson Tide defensive centerpiece in the middle of the field: fast, athletic, instinctive and aggressive. He missed all of last season due to injury, but had 86 total tackles, ten tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks two years ago. Expect a return to All-American form. At 6'3'', 235 pounds, Moses has the athleticism to play any of the different positions at linebacker. A modern-day defensive chess piece, he can shift responsibilities depending on the circumstance. 

5. Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama

It seems like the Crimson Tide have a tier one offensive tackle every year and Leatherwood, right after Jerdrick Wills, Jr., is the latest in line. Leatherwood stands 6'6'', 310 pounds and has played both on the edge and along the interior throughout his career, having received All-SEC honors at tackle and guard alike. Coming out of the rough and rugged SEC West, Leatherwood has consistently faced a considerable number of defensive lineman already competing at football's highest level. 

6. Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

There is something a little different to Waddle, a versatility that might give him a slight edge in what will be a crowded receiver group in 2021. First and foremost, Waddle can certainly be a go-to receiver. He has 78 catches for 1,408 yards and 13 touchdowns in two years. Waddle has also been one of the nation's premier return specialists, scoring three times on special teams in his career. His x-factor ability matches new, more-innovative offensive schemes.

7. Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Should his progression continue, Pitts may very well enter the draft as one of the more-sought after tight ends in years. A physical prototype at 6'6'', 240 pounds, he, often emerging as the go-to target for quarterback Kyle Trask, burst onto the scene last season with 54 receptions for 649 yards and five touchdowns. Pitts is a natural pass-catcher who moves fluidly in space and has considerable run-after-the-catch ability.

8. Richard LeCounte, S, Georgia

One of college football's best safeties, the hard-hitting LeCounte was his defense's leading-tackler two years ago and third-leading tackler last season. LeCounte is the type of player who clearly stands out when you watch him live or on tape. In addition to being an elite athlete, LeCounte is a savvy playmaker who quickly diagnoses plays and responds accordingly. As safeties have again become a leading position, LeCounte fits the mold. 

9. Trey Smith, OL, Tennessee

A former prep superstar, Smith, an impressive blocker at 6'6'', 335 pounds, is one of the nation's premier linemen when healthy. His play at the point of attack helped pace the Volunteers' second-half rise a year ago. Smith has everything you look for in a true professional anchor and, with his rare size and physical tools, will likely head to the next level with the ability to play either guard or tackle.   

10. Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina

Mukuamu is a fascinatingly-talented cornerback prospect at 6'4'', a prospect who also has the ability to play safety. He just finished tied for second in the SEC with four interceptions, making a name for himself with three of those picks, including one he returned 53 yards for a touchdown, coming off of Jake Fromm in the Gamecocks' upset win at Georgia. In terms of athleticism and length, Mukuama is already in a rare group

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports