The SEC's 25 best players: No. 22

Despite missing a few games sorting out an NCAA issue, this player was routinely regarded as one of the best defensive backs in the league.

No. 22: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, safety, Alabama, Jr.

2013 summary: SEC coaches thought enough of Clinton-Dix to make him a first-team All-SEC selection, despite missing two games in the middle of the season. He finished fourth on the team in tackles (65), tied for third in passes defended (6) and tied for first in interceptions (2).

Most recent ranking: Ranked No. 19 in the 2013 preseason countdown

Making the case for Clinton-Dix: At a time where secondary play was down throughout the league, Clinton-Dix stood out almost immediately as a playmaker with the kind of all-around talent to thrive at the next level as a sure-fire first-round NFL draft pick. It should come as no surprise, either, as Alabama has had no trouble developing talented defensive backs under head coach Nick Saban. Exceptional range, good ball skills, great closing speed -- everything you want from a safety, Clinton-Dix had it. And while the final two games of the season left a sour taste in every Alabama fan's mouth, the Tide nonetheless finished in the top 15 nationally in both passing and rushing yards allowed per game, thanks in no small part to Clinton-Dix, who was an anchor to the defense.

The rundown

No. 25: E.J. Gaines

No. 24: Kenny Ladler

No. 23: Gabe Jackson