#SEC

Here’s the GN 2016 preseason All-SEC team

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PHOTOS BY USA TODAY SPORTS

We draw ever closer to the start of the 2016 season, and arguing about college football is one way to make the time go by quicker when you’re waiting for college football to begin. Thus, in our quest to appease fans who like to argue, we present our preseason All-SEC team.

One thing: We pick a position-specific team, i.e., a center, two guards and two tackles along the offensive line. Our defensive front doesn’t include four ends, and our secondary doesn’t include four cornerbacks. We pick a team that actually could be put on the field.

Some positions – most notably defensive end, linebacker, cornerback and safety – were extremely difficult to choose because of the immense amount of talent at those spots in the SEC. Those positions are where the arguments are going to ensue, so have at it.

First team

OFFENSE

kelly

Chad Kelly set the Ole Miss single-season record for passing yards and led the league in that category last season. JUSTIN FORD/USA TODAY SPORTS

QB Chad Kelly, Ole Miss
RB Nick Chubb, Georgia
RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
About the backfield: Kelly is, by far, the best quarterback in the SEC and has a legit chance to set the SEC single-season passing record. The mark is 4,275 by Kentucky's Tim Couch in 1998; Kelly threw for 4,042 yards last season and should be – needs to be? – even more productive this season as Ole Miss seeks its third consecutive New Year's Six bowl bid. His mobility is a plus, but you wonder how often Ole Miss coaches will run him considering his importance to the team. Chubb's health remains somewhat of a mystery, but it's looking increasingly likely he will start the opener against North Carolina. A healthy Chubb should be expected to run for 1,400 or so yards while sharing carries. Fournette is the most talented offensive player in the league, but LSU will be better off if he doesn't have to do all the heavy lifting. He ran for a school-record 1,953 yards and 22 TDs last season. He, too, should share carries – to an extent, anyway. LSU's conundrum: Do your ride your horse hard every week or do you leisurely use him early (using Derrius Guice for 15 or so carries a game) so Fournette is raring to go in the second half of the season?

Calvin Ridley

Calvin Ridley had 89 receptions last season, an Alabama single-season freshman record. BOB ROSATO/USA TODAY SPORTS

WR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama
WR DaMore'ea Stringfellow, Ole Miss
About the receivers: The SEC has three high-level tight ends, but the league's wide receiver group is so deep, we're skipping the tight ends on the first team. Kirk and Ridley became full-fledged stars as true freshmen last season; both arrived with a ton of hype as five-star recruits -- and both lived up to it. Ridley had 89 receptions for 1,045 yards and seven TDs, and Kirk -- who doubles as one of the most dangerous punt returners in the nation -- had 80 catches for 1,009 yards and seven scores. While A&M and Alabama have some quarterback questions and deep receiving rotations, these two guys are too good not to put up big numbers again. Speaking of big numbers, look for Stringfellow -- who began his career at Washington before running into some off-field trouble and transferring -- to put up eye-popping stats as Ole Miss' new go-to guy. The Rebels also have a deep receiver rotation, but Stringfellow played extremely well down the stretch last season, and with Laquon Treadwell now in the NFL, he should be Kelly's favorite target this fall. And with Kelly having a legit chance to throw for 4,300 yards, Stringfellow will benefit.

Dan Skipper vs. Texas A&M 2015

At 6 feet 10, Dan Skipper cuts an imposing figure, no matter what side of the line he plays on. MATTHEW EMMONS/USA TODAY SPORTS

T Cam Robinson, Alabama
T Dan Skipper, Arkansas
G Martez Ivey, Florida
G Braden Smith, Auburn
C Ethan Pocic, LSU
About the linemen: The weakest position group in the SEC is quarterback; offensive line is second (and considering how strong the defensive linemen are in this league, there could be some nasty results this fall). Pocic and Robinson are the two best linemen. Robinson must play with more consistency this fall; he also needs to put an embarrassing offseason behind him. At one point, it looked as if Pocic might move to tackle, but he has remained at center, where he will anchor what should be the league's best line. Skipper is moving from right tackle to the left side this season. He is one of just two returning starters up front for the Hogs. Ivey is a sophomore with a huge ceiling, but he has to become a better pass protector. Smith is the best guard in the league and a part of the SEC's strongest interior line.

DEFENSE

Charles Harris vs. UConn 2015

Charles Harris steaming in off the edge is a frightening sight for quarterbacks. DENNY MEDLEY/USA TODAY SPORTS

E Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
T Davon Godchaux, LSU
E Charles Harris, Missouri
About the linemen: The SEC is loaded at defensive end – to the point where you can make a legitimate case that the six best ends in the nation play in the SEC. Garrett is a pass-rushing force and the best end in the nation. He has improved against the run and should be even better in that facet of the game this fall, but make no mistake: He is going to be a rich man next April because of his pass-rush ability. He likes to think of himself as a raptor, and that thought should terrify opposing quarterbacks. Harris, a former two-star recruit who was better at basketball than football in high school, looks primed for a huge season; he had 18.5 tackles for loss last season – second in the league to Garrett's 19.5. And if you question his inclusion on the first team, just ask some NFL scouts about him. Godchaux likely will line up at all three positions in LSU's new 3-4 set. He can provide an interior pass rush and also is quite stout against the run. His mobility is a big selling point, which means coordinator Dave Aranda can move him around like a chess piece.

jarrad davis florida 2015

Jarrad Davis should vie for All-America honors, and will be the emotional and physical leader of Florida's defense. KIM KLEMENT/USA TODAY SPORTS

LB Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt
LB Jarrad Davis, Florida
LB Reuben Foster, Alabama
LB Tim Williams, Alabama
About the linebackers: Collectively, this is a nasty group. Foster brings the lumber – he might be the league's biggest hitter – and moves well sideline to sideline. after two seasons as a reserve, he became a starter last season; he'll make the jump to full-fledged star this season. Davis, who has an excellent feel for the game, also moves well sideline-to-sideline. But he also is quite comfortable playing downhill, and like Foster, he can dole out some punishment. Davis should be both the emotional and physical leader for the Gators this fall. Cunningham toils in relative anonymity but fills the stat sheet; he had 103 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and three pass breakups last season. Williams is a senior who never has started a game in his Tide career but still is seen as a likely first-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft. Why? His pass-rush ability is noteworthy. He saw situational duty last season, yet still had 10.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss.

Jamal Adams was a Freshman All-American in 2014; he'll contend for 'regular' All-American honors this fall. DERICK E. HINGLE/USA TODAY SPORTS

Jamal Adams was a Freshman All-American in 2014; he'll contend for 'regular' All-American honors this fall. DERICK E. HINGLE/USA TODAY SPORTS

CB Jalen Tabor, Florida
CB Tre'Davious White, LSU
S Jamal Adams, LSU
S Marcus Maye, Florida
About the secondary: The secondary is another loaded position group in the SEC. Tabor and Adams can make cases that they are the best players in the nation at their respective positions; at the least, each is in the top two or three at his position. Tabor plays with enormous swagger, and while he certainly talks the talk, he walks the walk as well. He had four interceptions and 14 pass breakups last season. He is willing in run support but needs to become a surer tackle. White seems likely to spend most of his time as the Tigers' nickelback this season, but he has excellent ball skills and is a legit cover corner. He has extremely quick feet. Adams is a thumper who covers a ton of ground and has good coverage skills; he led the Tigers with four picks last season. Maye is one of the most versatile safeties in the nation. He can play in the box, over the slot receiver or patrol deep; he had 82 tackles, two interceptions, six pass breakups and five forced fumbles last season.

SPECIAL TEAMS
K Daniel Carlson, Auburn
P Johnny Townsend, Florida
KR Evan Berry, Tennessee
PR Cam Sutton, Tennessee
About the specialists: Carlson was 23-of-27 on field goals, with a long of 56, and 49 of his 69 kickoffs were touchbacks last season. He should be a leading contender for Lou Groza Award, which goes to the nation's best kicker. Townsend has a strong leg (45.4 yards per punt on a league-high 84 attempts), gets excellent hang time, is a good directional punter and had just five touchbacks on those 84 attempts. He was the major reason the Gators led the SEC and were third nationally in net punting. The Vols have the best return duo in the nation. Berry was phenomenal as a kick returner last season, averaging a nation's-best 38.3 yards on his 21 returns, with three TDs. And Sutton averaged 18.7 yards on his 25 punt returns, with two scores.

Second team

OFFENSE
QB Josh Dobbs, Tennessee
RB Jalen Hurd, Tennessee
RB Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt
WR Malachi Dupre, LSU
WR Fred Ross, Mississippi State
TE Jeremy Sprinkle, Arkansas
T Avery Gennesy, Texas A&M
T David Sharpe, Florida
G Alex Kozan, Auburn
G Jashon Robertson, Tennessee
C Frank Ragnow, Arkansas
DEFENSE
E Jonathan Allen, Alabama
T Terry Beckner Jr., Missouri
T Caleb Brantley, Florida
E Derek Barnett, Tennessee
LB Kendell Beckwith, LSU
LB Arden Key, LSU
LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Tennessee
CB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
CB Cam Sutton, Tennessee
S Eddie Jackson, Alabama
S Armani Watts, Texas A&M
SPECIAL TEAMS
K Elliott Fry, South Carolina
P Sean Kelly, South Carolina
KR Brandon Holloway, Mississippi State
PR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M

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(You can follow Mike Huguenin on Twitter @MikeHuguenin)

© 2016, Mike Huguenin. All rights reserved.

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