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Rob Weintraub's SEC Alumni Trophies | SportNews

Rob Weintraub’s SEC Alumni Trophies


Eight is a very lucky number in China, where I was fortunate enough to live for a couple of years. I certainly feel lucky to be able to present my eighth annual Alumni Awards — my selections for every season’s best NFL player from each of the Power Five college programs. It’s a great way to gauge the health of the collegiate teams, an indicator of the volatility of the pro game, and, most of all, a fun argument-starter.

Today we cover the conference that has won the national title in 10 of the last 14 years, including 2019, the SEC.


ALABAMA (57 total pros on rosters in 2019 per ESPN.com)

2012: Julio Jones, WR, ATL
2013: Marcell Dareus, DT, BUF
2014: Marcell Dareus, DT, BUF
2015: Julio Jones, WR, ATL
2016: Julio Jones, WR, ATL
2017: Mark Ingram, RB, NO
2018: Julio Jones, WR, ATL
2019: Derrick Henry, RB, TEN

The endless current of Crimson Tide pros continued to dominate the NFL, with Josh Jacobs of the Raiders just the latest to make an outsized impact. Minkah Fitzpatrick’s incredible season in Pittsburgh might have been better from a pure pigskin standpoint, but there was no denying Henry and his overall impact on 2019, both in the regular season and particularly in the playoffs.


2012: George Wilson, S, BUF
2013: Jason Peters, OT, PHI
2014: Jason Peters, OT, PHI
2015: Darren McFadden, RB, DAL
2016: Jason Peters, OT, PHI
2017: Alex Collins, RB, BAL
2018: Trey Flowers, DE, NE
2019: Dre Greenlaw, LB, SF

Flowers, Chargers tight end Hunter Henry, Lions center Frank Ragnow, even Eagles tackle Jason Peters — put them all in a hog bucket and slop them around, and you won’t find much difference between their 2019 campaigns. Greenlaw was in that group, but his top seed-saving tackle in the season finale against the Seahawks was reason enough to give him the Sooey Trophy.


2012: Ben Grubbs, G, NO
2013: Cam Newton, QB, CAR
2014: Cam Newton, QB, CAR
2015: Cam Newton, QB, CAR
2016: Dee Ford, LB, KC
2017: Cam Newton, QB, CAR
2018: Dee Ford, LB, KC
2019: Braden Smith, G, IND

A weak season for Plainsmen in the pros, with Cam and Dee hurt and not much going on from the others. With Derrick Brown poised to come to the league next fall, he will possibly be going toe-to-toe with this year’s War Eagle Award winner, Smith.


2012: Maurkice Pouncey, C, PIT
2013: Joe Haden, CB, CLE
2014: Maurkice Pouncey, C, PIT
2015: (tie) Reggie Nelson, S, CIN and Carlos Dunlap, DE, CIN
2016: Carlos Dunlap, DE, CIN
2017: Carlos Dunlap, DE, CIN
2018: Mike Pouncey, C, LAC
2019: Joe Haden, CB, PIT

Not much to choose from between Dunlap, Haden, Jets safety Marcus Maye, Jags tackle Jawaan Taylor, Cards tackle D.J. Humphries, and Rams end Dante Fowler. Haden wins in a photo finish due to positional value and his contribution to his team’s overachievement.


2012: Geno Atkins, DT, CIN
2013: A.J. Green, WR, CIN
2014: Justin Houston, LB, KC
2015: Thomas Davis, LB, CAR
2016: Geno Atkins, DT, CIN
2017: Todd Gurley, RB, LAR
2018: Todd Gurley, RB, LAR
2019: Nick Chubb, RB, CLE

For many years the story was that Bulldogs made much better pros than they showed down between the hedges. In 2019, anyway, that wasn’t the case, as beyond Chubb and the redoubtable Atkins and Davis it was a down year for Georgia grads. However, there are plenty of reinforcements coming from Athens, as usual.


2012: Randall Cobb, WR, GB
2013: Danny Trevathan, LB, DEN
2014: Randall Cobb, WR, GB
2015: Danny Trevathan, LB, DEN
2016: Randall Cobb, WR, GB
2017: Larry Worford, G, NO
2018: Larry Worford, G, NO
2019: Za’Darius Smith, LB, GB

Just a baker’s dozen of Lexington’s Finest ply their trade in the pros, but they are a pretty good bunch, including Worford, Cobb, and two players who recorded double-digit sacks: Bud Dupree of Pittsburgh and rookie Josh Allen of Jacksonville. But Smith had 13.5 sacks himself, and he was the galvanizing force in Green Bay’s improved defense, so the Cat Trophy goes to him.

LSU (38)

2012: Patrick Peterson, CB, ARI
2013: Patrick Peterson, CB, ARI
2014: Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, NYG
2015: (tie) Patrick Peterson, CB, ARI and Tyrann Mathieu, CB, ARI
2016: Andrew Whitworth, OT, CIN
2017: Deion Jones, LB, ATL
2018: Jamal Adams, S, NYJ
2019: Tre’Davious White, CB, BUF

The national champs are poised to add another raft of top prospects to go with the studs already in the league, starting with presumptive No. 1 pick Joe Burrow. Between Adams, Jones, Big Whit, Honey Badger, Odell, Jarvis Landry, Devin White, and DJ Chark, the Bayou Bengals had plenty of star power, but White’s outstanding season made him the clear winner, even over this august group.


2012: Vick Ballard, RB, IND
2013: K.J. Wright, LB, SEA
2014: Fletcher Cox, DE, PHI
2015: Fletcher Cox, DE, PHI
2016: Dak Prescott, QB, DAL
2017: Fletcher Cox, DT, PHI
2018: Fletcher Cox, DT, PHI
2019: Dak Prescott, QB, DAL

Tough break for all the good defenders who come straight outta Starkville — Cox, fellow tackle Chris Jones of the Chiefs, Wright, Packers linebacker Preston Smith — but Dak led the league in DYAR and plays quarterback to boot. So ring the Cowbell Award for Prescott, and mention the victory in his contract negotiations.


2012: Aldon Smith, LB, SF
2013: Sheldon Richardson, DT, NYJ
2014: Sheldon Richardson, DT, NYJ
2015: Jeremy Maclin, WR, KC
2016: Shane Ray, LB, DEN
2017: Sheldon Richardson, DT, SEA
2018: Sheldon Richardson, DT, MIN
2019: Mitch Morse, C, BUF

Morse, Richardson, and Giants linebacker Markus Golden had roughly equivalent seasons, but the Bills had the best year so the Mizzou trophy goes to Mitch, who will give his victory speech as a series of dots and dashes.


2012: Patrick Willis, LB, SF
2013: Patrick Willis, LB, SF
2014: Eli Manning, QB, NYG
2015: Eli Manning, QB, NYG
2016: Laremy Tunsil, G, MIA
2017: Evan Engram, TE, NYG
2018: Eli Manning, QB, NYG
2019: A.J. Brown, WR, TEN

DK Metcalf got all the pub, but Brown (not Green) had the better season and the better team. Texans tackle Laremy Tunsil was in the hunt as well.


2012: John Abraham, DE, ATL
2013: Alshon Jeffrey, WR, CHI
2014: Stephon Gilmore, CB, BUF
2015: Johnathan Joseph, CB, HOU
2016: Jadeveon Clowney, LB, HOU
2017: Jadeveon Clowney, LB, HOU
2018: Stephon Gilmore, CB, NE
2019: Stephon Gilmore, CB, NE

Plenty of good Gamecock alums around the NFL but none had the shutdown season Gilmore did to repeat as winner of the Rooster.


2012: Peyton Manning, QB, DEN
2013: Peyton Manning, QB, DEN
2014: Peyton Manning, QB, DEN
2015: Eric Berry, S, KC
2016: Eric Berry, S, KC
2017: Alvin Kamara, RB, NO
2018: Alvin Kamara, RB, NO
2019: Alvin Kamara, RB, NO

Easy threepeat for Kamara, even in a somewhat down season by his standards, reflecting the dearth of talent coming out of Knoxville in recent campaigns.

TEXAS A&M (34)

2012: Von Miller, LB, DEN
2013: Ryan Tannehill, QB, MIA
2014: Von Miller, LB, DEN
2015: Von Miller, LB, DEN
2016: Von Miller, LB, DEN
2017: Von Miller, LB, DEN
2018: Von Miller, LB, DEN
2019: Ryan Tannehill, QB, TEN

What’s the bigger surprise — that Tannehill would capture the Aggie Award at this point in his career, after signing with the Titans as a backup in the offseason, while fending off Miller’s six-peat attempt (as well as good seasons from Bucs wideout Mike Evans, Falcs tackle Jake Matthews, and Cards receiver Christian Kirk), or that he actually won it once while with the Fish? I’ll go with the former, but just barely…


2012: Jay Cutler, QB, CHI
2013: Zac Stacy, RB, STL
2014: Jordan Matthews, WR, PHI
2015: Jay Cutler, QB, CHI
2016: Casey Hayward, CB, SD
2017: Casey Hayward, CB, LAC
2018: Zach Cunningham, LB, HOU
2019: Zach Cunningham, LB, HOU

Fairly easy repeat award for the mobile and violent Cunningham.

Source: footballoutsiders.com

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