Who Has Most To Gain In SEC Championship Game?

Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 SEC Championship Game could very well end up being a play-in game for the College Football Playoff. Or, perhaps, it will be an appetizer for a matchup later this winter. But either way, you can expect an entertaining show. TDN certainly is, as several of their scouts are in town for the game and looking to see who seizes the opportunity. 

Scouts Kyle Crabbs, Keith Sanchez, and Joe Marino weighed in on some of the biggest storylines entering the SEC Championship and the magnitude of draft stock that hangs in the balance. 

Who Is The Best Prospect? 

Kyle Crabbs: Georgia NT Jordan Davis

  • “Davis’ presence is dominating at the point of attack and his ability to command two bodies up front allows his linemates and linebackers alike to reap the benefits of his presence. This isn’t the most high-impact position, but I do feel as though Davis does his individual role better than any of the other draft eligibles.”

Keith Sanchez: Georgia LB Nakobe Dean

  • “Dean’s instincts are rare. To have the kind of ball-hawk mentality that he illustrates, it’s pretty special. That plus his ability to be a consistent threat in a blitz role allows him to align in multiple positions and bring his ability to center stage.” 

Joe Marino: Georgia NT Jordan Davis

  • “Davis’ ability to have an impact on defense stands out. His presence immediately will make an NFL run defense better and opens up schematic opportunities in all phases, including when pushing the pocket.” 

Interestingly missing is Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal, who has spent all three versions of the TDN100 this season as a top-10 prospect. But as our scouting group has studied Neal more this season, several of our scouts find themselves higher on Georgia talent than the mammoth Alabama tackle. 

Who Is The First Prospect Drafted? 

Kyle Crabbs: Alabama OT Evan Neal

  • “Offensive line scarcity is a real thing and Neal has all the ‘uncoachables’ at his disposal. If I’m accounting in positional value, I don’t see Davis or Dean pushing into the stratosphere of the top 12 that would be needed—even if Neal does slip a bit with the likes of Charles Cross and Ikem Ekwonu waiting in the wings.” 

Keith Sanchez: Alabama OT Evan Neal

  • “I would say Neal’s size and power, combined with some positional flexibility, will prove plenty valuable to NFL franchises in their decision-making process.” 

Joe Marino: Alabama OT Evan Neal

  • “Neal’s size and mobility combination is too tough for teams to not pick early given the needs to improve offensive line play across the league.” 

A clean sweep for our group. The play of the defenders on the Georgia defense is hard to ignore, but the collective group of TDN scouts in Atlanta seems to be buying that the position value and rare physical tools presented by Neal is going to be even harder for pro teams to ignore. 

Which Prospect Has The Most To Gain? 

Kyle Crabbs: Georgia WR George Pickens

  • “We don’t know the full extent of Pickens’ workload, as he’s still working his way back from a torn ACL in the spring. But Pickens’ end of 2020 tape was masterful as an alpha receiver and with a strong performance against Alabama, this could be the ticket to reigniting his high-level perception. Georgia hasn’t needed many big plays in the passing game thus far this season. Could this weekend be the first? And will Pickens rise to the occasion?”

Keith Sanchez: Alabama WR John Metchie III

  • “The Georgia defense has yet to be consistently tested vertically this season. Metchie III has elite speed and will have the opportunity to prove his home-run hitting abilities and cement a chance to be a first-round prospect if he can flip the game Alabama’s way.” 

Joe Marino: Georgia EDGE Travon Walker

  • “The bottom line is that this is a deep class of EDGE defenders and Walker brings an all-around skill set to the table. His matchup against Neal will give him a chance to shine on the biggest stage against one of the biggest players on the other side of the ball.”

Our group had a lot of fun with this question. There were a lot of names mentioned beyond the three that were finalized above. Bottom line, this is a high-stakes affair for the CFP, for SEC supremacy, and for the 2022 NFL Draft. Don’t miss it.