The SEC's best 25 players: No. 25

With preseason practice set to start next week for some teams, let’s rev up the hype for the start of the 2013 season by kicking off our annual countdown of the top 25 players in the SEC.

You know the drill by now. Obviously, there’s some projection in these rankings, although past performance certainly has a bearing. It’s not a career achievement award, but it’s also not a list of the top prospects for the 2014 NFL draft.

Simply, after consulting with everybody from league coaches, to media members who cover the league, to those who scout college players, we’ve ranked who we think will be the best 25 players in the SEC for the 2013 season.

As we do every year, we’ve taken into account a player’s ability to make everybody else around him better and any upside that player has heading into the season.

You can review our postseason list from last year here.

We’ll start with No. 25 today and will count it down until No. 1 the week leading up to the season opener.

No. 25: Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida, Jr.

2012 summary: Roberson finished second in the SEC among returning players in passes defended with 14. His 12 pass breakups were the most at Florida since Joe Haden had 12 in 2008. In four starts, Roberson had 23 total tackles and two interceptions. He was a second-team All-SEC selection by the Associated Press.

Most recent ranking: Not ranked in the 2012 postseason countdown.

Making the case for Roberson: The 6-foot, 195-pound Roberson has all the tools to be one of the premier cornerbacks in college football. He's shown flashes of brilliance in the past, and those in and around the Florida program are convinced he's ready to put it all together in 2013. He has very good ball skills and led the Gators last season with 12 pass breakups. Roberson is still working to get stronger and become a more consistent tackler, but he's versatile and can excel in both man and zone coverage situations. Florida coach Will Muschamp said when Roberson stepped onto campus as a freshman that he had a chance to be special, and with Roberson being thrown into the fire each of the past two seasons and racking up 14 starts, he's in great shape to make his biggest move yet and further bolster a Florida defense that should again be one of the best in the SEC.