Yesterday, you saw our votes for best and worst games for the upcoming season. Today, it’s time to take a look at who the staff has voted as the best players in the league. Again, as was the case yesterday, we (mostly) abstained from voting for Auburn.
Offensive Player of the Year
Drew Lock, QB, Missouri (3 votes)
There are cases being made now that Drew Lock could be the highest QB drafted in next year’s draft. He has a huge arm, and he plays in a system that encourages him to rack up yards and touchdowns. Lock has a real shot to put up 4,500 yards and 50 touchdowns, and if he does that, look out Heisman.
D’Andre Swift, RB, UGA (1 vote)
Georgia’s running backs have been one of the best units in the league for the last several year. Swift is the next man up, and if he merely plays equal to his predecessors, he’ll be one of the top players in the conference.
Nick Fitzgerald, QB, Mississippi State (1 vote)
Probably the best dual threat quarterback in the league, Fitzgerald has a chance to make a big name for himself if he can improve his passing this year. He suffered a nasty leg injury in last year’s Egg Bowl, and he lost dual-threat QB guru/head coach Dan Mullen this offseason, but there’s no doubting the elite talent in Fitz.
Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina (1 vote)
We’ve still yet to see a full season from the electric wideout in Columbia. He may not be the best traditional wide receiver, but his incredible athleticism is has led him to about 14 yards per catch in 18 games over the last three years, and in 17 career carries, he has 128 yards and 7 touchdowns. Not only does he catch and run the ball, but in two kick returns last year, he returned them BOTH for touchdowns. Safe to say, he’s probably the most electric player in the SEC.
Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn (1 vote)
We don’t care about the rules. Stidham rocks.
Defensive Player of the Year
Devin White, LB, LSU (5 votes)
One of the top returning linebackers in the country, White had 133 tackles and 5.5 sacks in 2017. He looks to build on that campaign in Baton Rouge, and be one of the first players taken in the NFL Draft come 2019.
Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State (1 vote)
Sweat, who started his career at Michigan State, is one of the premier pass rushers in the SEC, leading the conference with 10.5 last season. I think he puts up at least another 10 this season.
Cece Jefferson, DE, Florida (1 vote)
Jefferson has had a solid career at Florida, including 47 tackles (13.5 TFL) and 4.5 sacks last year. He’ll lead the Gators in DC Todd Grantham’s first defense in Gainesville.
Newcomer of the Year
Eyabi Anoma, DE, Alabama (3 votes)
The #4 player in last year’s draft class, the 6’5” 235 Anoma had 50 sacks between his junior and senior years of high school. He may not be an immediate starter, but opposing coaches will have to keep him in mind when gameplanning.
Zamir White, RB, Georgia (2 votes)
He’s going to be behind some talent at running back in Athens. But there’s a ton of hype around White, and if he gets a chance to shine this season, you can bet he probably will.
Emory Jones, QB, Florida, (1 vote)
Though the quarterback spot is still up for grabs, Jones has a chance to become Dan Mullen’s star pupil this season, and we all know what Mullen can do with mobile quarterbacks.
Justin Fields, QB, Georgia (1 vote)
He probably won’t play much this year. But you’ve seen UGA and freshman quarterbacks. If Eason goes down, Fields will be the only other scholarship quarterback on Georgia’s roster, and he’ll be ready to play.