Today, we finish our look at the best position groups in the SEC by looking at the top defensive back units.
Best of the best: Welp, Alabama is back, and for good reason. The Crimson Tide returns most of its secondary from last year, led by arguably the country's most versatile defensive back -- safety/cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick, who has returned a school-record four interceptions for touchdowns in his two seasons at Alabama, can play the boundary corner spot, nickelback and safety for Alabama. He started the spring at corner, but moved back to safety after Trevon Diggs found a home opposite returning starter Anthony Averett at cornerback. Diggs has the ability to be one of Alabama's best, but he still needs to shore up his coverage before the season. Tony Brown will get looks both inside and out, as well. Safety Ronnie Harrison, the leader of this unit, is back to start for the second year. Hootie Jones began the spring as a starting safety, but moved back after Fitzpatrick returned to safety.
Next in line: The defensive-minded Kirby Smart has the luxury of returning four starters from a secondary that finished second in the SEC last season against the pass. Losing nickelback Maurice Smith is big, but sophomore Tyrique McGhee and freshman DeAngelo Gibbs look capable of filling that hole this fall. Outside of that, Georgia returns do-everything safety Dominick Sanders, who has a chance to set the school record for interceptions, and corner Malkom Parrish, who had a solid junior year with two interceptions and 11 passes defended. Aaron Davis was solid at safety after moving from corner last year, but he's also in the mix at nickel. Starting corner Deandre Baker is also back and the Bulldogs will figure out a way to get five-star freshman safety Richard LeCounte on the field this fall.
Don't sleep on: Kentucky coach Mark Stoops has to be very happy about his secondary in 2017. After ranking fifth in the SEC in pass defense, the Wildcats return one of the best cornerback duos in the SEC in eventual third-year starters Chris Westry and Derrick Baity. Those two combined for four interceptions and 14 defended passes last year. But the true leader of this group is safety Mike Edwards, who some feel is the best defender on the entire team. He could get early draft love during his junior season, and he finished last year with 100 tackles, three interceptions and 11 passes defended.
Also, keep an eye on Tennessee's secondary. After a disastrous last two games in the regular season, many won't be too high on the Vols' secondary, but they should be careful. Senior safety Todd Kelly Jr. was one of Tennessee's best players and led the team in tackles last year, while Micah Abernathy and Rashaan Gaulden (both starters) return as two of Tennessee's top tacklers, as well. Senior Emmanuel Moseley's spring was cut short by a shoulder injury, but he'll return as a starting corner and will likely be joined by either Justin Martin or Marquill Osborne, who both had impressive spring game performances.