Top 10 SEC Linebackers in 2017

College football will finally be back this weekend. The Wheelhouse crew has compiled the top 10 players at each position within the SEC to help the days go by quicker.

Let’s dive into the 10 best linebackers in the Southeastern Conference.

Photo courtesy of Steve Franz — LSU Athletics
  1. Arden Key (Jr.), LSU

This is the easiest decision for a number one player in any top 10 The Wheelhouse has released so far. Key is the most dominant player in the SEC after tallying 55 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks in 2016. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound monster was a selection to the Bednarik, Maxwell, Butkus and Walter Camp preseason awards for 2017. Barring any major injury, Key will be just as explosive as he was last season.

2. Roquan Smith (Jr.), Georgia

Playing in all 13 games for the Bulldogs in 2016, Smith was one of the most dynamic players in the nation. Last year he notched 95 tackles, five tackles for loss and five quarterback pressures. Smith had three games with over 10 tackles including two 13-tackle games to end the 2016 season. Keep your eyes peeled for Smith, but it won’t be hard, as he will likely be right in the middle of every play for Georgia.

3. Jordan Jones (Jr.), Kentucky

The Wildcats have once again produced an NFL caliber linebacker. Jones was third in the SEC in tackles with 109 in 2016 while also logging four sacks. He had four games last season with over 10 tackles, including a 19-tackle performance against Southern Mississippi in the season opener. To add to his impressive stat sheet in 2016, he was added to the All-SEC first-team.

4. Shaun Dion Hamilton (Sr.), Alabama

Even with Reuben Foster on the opposite side of him last year, Hamilton still showed out. Before suffering a season-ending injury in the SEC Championship Game, he racked up 64 tackles, nine tackles-for-loss and two sacks. Heading into 2017, Hamilton is the leader of the Crimson Tide linebacker corps. Look for him to come back from his injury last year with a vengeance.

5. Skai Moore (Sr.), South Carolina

The already stout South Carolina defense just got even stronger with Skai Moore returning from injury. After missing the entirety of the 2016 season with a neck injury, Moore picks up where he left off as the leader of the defense. In 2015, Moore was the first South Carolina player to reach 100 tackles since 2006, and he also had four interceptions. The leading tackler from 2013–2015 for the Gamecocks is back and better than ever.

6. Rashaan Evans (Sr.), Alabama

Another Alabama player on the top 10 list, shocking. Evans is coming off of a season in which he recorded 52 tackles and four sacks in 2016. He has proven how well he plays in important games after he had a season-high 11 tackles in the 2016 National Championship Game. Expect the talented duo of Evans and Hamilton to create a nearly unfair linebacker corps for the Crimson Tide.

7. Josh Allen (Jr.), Kentucky

Allen is yet another reason why Kentucky’s front seven and entire team could be on the rise in 2017. In his sophomore year in 2016, he totaled 62 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks. Allen was noted by some as being the best linebacker that the Wildcats had to offer, which is impressive considering the talent they possess. The 6-foot-5 New Jersey native will stuff the stat sheet in 2017.

8. DeMarquis Gates (Sr.), Ole Miss

After the 2016 season, Gates led the Rebels for the second straight season in total tackles. He was ranked tenth in the SEC in tackles per game last season, totalling 79 tackles and four sacks last season. Gates was one of the most consistent linebackers in 2016 as he only had one game with less than six tackles. He may not be at the top of the list of players to watch, but Gates will surely be a difference maker for Ole Miss.

9. Leo Lewis (So.), Mississippi State

Perhaps one of the more underappreciated players for the Bulldogs last season was Lewis. Even though the Mississippi State front seven had its struggles, Lewis still had 79 tackles and 4.5 sacks. He posted double-digit tackles in two games last season, one of them being against one of the best running teams on the country, LSU. If Lewis can get past his issues off the field, he will be a serious game changer for Bulldogs.

10. Bryson Allen-Williams (Sr.), South Carolina

After not starting in his sophomore year, Allen-Williams received unexpected starting time at linebacker for the Gamecocks last season. In his first year starting he had 75 tackles with 8.5 tackles-for-loss and two sacks. With the addition of Skai Moore back into the defense, South Carolina’s linebackers are going to be solid. Allen-Williams won’t disappoint in his second full season as starting linebacker in Columbia.

Honorable Mentions:

Lorenzo Carter, Georgia

Dee Greenlaw, Arkansas

Otara Olaka, Texas A&M

Tre’ Williams, Auburn

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