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Alabama leads way with eight players on ESPN.com All-SEC team

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Howard: 'Everyone knows what needs to be done' (1:37)

Alabama TE O.J. Howard discusses his team's mindset going into the College Football Playoff with an unwavering No. 1 ranking. (1:37)

When assembling an All-SEC team, there is invariably a boatload of questions that will accompany the selections.

No Christian Kirk at wide receiver or kick returner? No LSU seniors Kendell Beckwith or Tre’Davious White on defense? Evan Engram over O.J. Howard at tight end? How do you pick between the eight running backs who topped the 1,000-yard mark? And which of the SEC’s seemingly endless supply of dominant edge rushers should make the list?

Of course there is a heavy Alabama influence, with a league-high eight players hailing from the SEC champion Crimson Tide.

It’s impossible to make everyone happy, but here is the blog’s all-SEC team, as selected by our five conference writers:

OFFENSE

QB: Jalen Hurts, Alabama: Of Hurts' many accomplishments -- 34 total touchdowns, to begin with -- maybe the most impressive thing about his season was how he minimized his inevitable freshmen moments, never wavering and playing his best after making mistakes. -- Alex Scarborough

RB: Derrius Guice, LSU: He probably won’t get much attention for SEC offensive player of the year, but Guice ranks second in the SEC with 1,249 rushing yards. He did that despite taking a back seat to Leonard Fournette for about half the season. In four games, Guice carried the ball five times or fewer. He also ran for 250-plus in two of the last three games, making him one of just four SEC players with two 250-yard games on their career resumes. -- David Ching

RB: Rawleigh Williams, Arkansas: Who would've guessed that this sophomore would lead the SEC in rushing this year? That's what happened with Williams, who enjoyed a breakout year with 1,326 yards and 12 touchdowns. His 110.5 rushing yards per game was second-best average in the league. -- Sam Khan Jr.

WR: J’Mon Moore, Missouri: The sophomore was one of the big reasons the Tigers offense took a step forward this year, with his SEC-leading 1,012 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. His 62 receptions were fourth among SEC receivers. -- S.K.

WR: Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M: The senior was second among SEC receivers in receiving yards (885) and touchdowns (10), and was one of the league's best at making his catches count (77.6 percent of Reynolds' 46 receptions resulted in either first downs or touchdowns, a rate second only to Ole Miss' Damore'ea Stringfellow). -- S.K.

TE: Evan Engram, Ole Miss: It’s still baffling how Engram wasn’t a finalist for the John Mackey Award, but as the SEC leader among tight ends in receptions (65), yards (926) and touchdowns (8), he more than deserves to be chosen for our list. -- Greg Ostendorf

OT: Cam Robinson, Alabama: Good luck finding a better offensive lineman in the SEC during the second half of the season. After a so-so start, Robinson turned into a stone wall, keeping Hurts clean and the running game going down the stretch. -- A.S.

OG: Braden Smith, Auburn: Between Smith, Alex Kozan and Austin Golson, was there a better interior group in the SEC? Smith, a junior, is the strongest of the three and likely has the most potential at the next level. -- G.O.

C: Ethan Pocic, LSU: Although injuries forced him to chip in at tackle for a portion of the season, Pocic is at his best at center. In fact, he is widely perceived as one of the nation’s top players at the position, as his status as a Rimington Trophy finalist would indicate. -- D.C.

OG: Josh Boutte, LSU: The 6-foot-5, 346-pound Boutte finally locked down a starting role as a senior, and he developed into one of the conference’s top players at his position after a rocky opener against Wisconsin. -- D.C.

OT: Jonah Williams, Alabama: Ho-hum. Just another true freshman offensive tackle to come into Alabama and start from Day 1, a la Cyrus Kouandjio and Cam Robinson. -- A.S.

DEFENSE

DL: Derek Barnett, Tennessee: The best player on Tennessee’s roster this season, Barnett had an All-American-type season with an SEC-high 12 sacks and 18 TFLs. He’s tied with Reggie White as Tennessee's all-time sacks leader with 32, which is also second among all active FBS players. -- Edward Aschoff

DL: Jonathan Allen, Alabama: It's a shame linemen don't get more Heisman Trophy love, because Allen deserved some with 8.5 sacks, 15 quarterback hurries and two defensive touchdowns. -- A.S.

DL: Myles Garrett, Texas A&M: The junior finished fourth in the SEC in tackles for loss (15) and sixth in sacks (8.5) despite playing only 10 games and being bothered by an ankle injury for half of those. When healthy, he was one of the country's best defensive players. -- S.K.

DL: Arden Key, LSU: One of only two sophomores on this list of top defenders, Key will enter next season as the SEC’s top pass rusher by reputation. He might be that guy already, having notched 10 sacks in just 10 games. -- D.C.

LB: Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt: One of the nation’s most athletic players, regardless of position, Cunningham registered an SEC-high 119 tackles, with 68 solo, and 16.5 TFLs. But what he’s best known for was his amazing hurdle over Auburn’s offensive line to block a field goal late in the season. -- E.A.

LB: Reuben Foster, Alabama: Alabama didn't have any drop-off at middle linebacker after Reggie Ragland left. Foster came in, led the team in tackles and won the Butkus Award. -- A.S.

LB: Tim Williams, Alabama:There isn't a more dangerous third-own pass-rusher in the SEC than Williams. He was a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks, racking up a team-high 8.5 sacks. -- A.S.

CB: Teez Tabor, Florida:He might have had a quiet year in the statistics category, but Tabor was still one of the nation’s best cover corners in 2016. QBs didn’t throw his way a ton, but he recorded four interceptions with nine passes defended and was one of Florida’s best open-field tacklers in the back end. -- E.A.

S: Jamal Adams, LSU: His statistics don’t exactly jump off the page (70 tackles, 6.5 TFLs, one interception), but Adams’s ability to do a bit of everything makes him one of the league’s best defensive playmakers. There’s a good reason why pro scouts drool over his potential as a likely first-round NFL draft pick. -- D.C.

S: Justin Evans, Texas A&M:The senior was second among SEC defensive backs in tackles (85), tied for third in interceptions (three) and had an impact all over the Aggies' defense, with five tackles for loss, six pass breakups, a blocked kick and a role as the team's primary kickoff returner (averaging 28.9 yards per return). -- S.K.

CB: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama: The star sophomore had a pick-six in the first half of the season, when he was starting at corner against Arkansas. Then Eddie Jackson went down, he moved to safety and didn't miss a beat, getting his fourth career pick-six during the SEC Championship Game against Florida. -- A.S.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K: Daniel Carlson, Auburn: We’ll see if Carlson wins the Lou Groza Award over Arizona State’s Zane Gonzalez, but he was by far the best kicker in the SEC this season. The junior made 26 of his 30 kicks, including 10 field goals from 40 yards or further. -- G.O.

P: Johnny Townsend, Florida: It’s an absolute shame that Townsend wasn’t named a Ray Guy Award finalist. All Townsend did was lead the nation with an average of 48.05 yards per kick, he had a long of 62, 17 of his punts were fair caught, 25 were down inside the 20-yard line, 28 went 50-plus yards and only 25 percent of his punts this season were returned. -- E.A.

RS: Eddie Jackson, Alabama: Not only was Jackson the team's most vocal leader, he was also a standout safety and return specialist with three non-offensive touchdowns in eight games played. -- A.S.