The SEC's best 25 players: No. 8

The next player in our countdown of the SEC's best 25 players could have easily let for the NFL early and likely would have been one of the first linebackers taken off the board.

No. 8: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama, Sr.

2012 summary: Last season, the All-American and All-SEC performer led the Crimson Tide with 107 tackles and was third on the team with eight tackles for loss. He also led Alabama with 66 solo tackles and was second with four sacks. Mosley also had two interceptions, defended four passes, registered three quarterback hurries, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble.

Most recent ranking: Ranked No. 10 on the 2012 postseason countdown.

Making the case for Mosley: If Mosley wanted to, he could have left Alabama early and thrown himself into this year's NFL draft without anyone blinking. But Mosely decided to come back and finish school, which means he'll have another year of terrorizing opposing offensive players. Mosley was considered one of the nation's best linebackers last year, even though he had to share time at his position. With Nico Johnson gone, Mosley will see all the time he wants and needs this fall. He should have no problem logging in a few more plays during games this fall. He's a punishing defender who moves swiftly around the field. He can drop back into coverage, rush the passer or stop the run. He's built to make plays all over the field and just figures out ways to find the ball. Mosley doesn't just wow people with his physical ability. The man has great field awareness and instincts. He sees plays before they happen and he can usually make it to spots before the offense can even think twice. Mosley is Alabama's top defender and with another solid season, he could position himself to be an early first-rounder in next year's NFL draft.

The rundown