The next player in our countdown of the SEC's best 25 players could have left early for the NFL following the 2012 season, but is now looking to be the first left tackle taken in next year's draft.
No. 6: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M, Sr.
2012 summary: The third-team All-American and All-SEC member started at right tackle for the Aggies in 2012. He helped a line that blocked for the SEC's best offense last season. Texas A&M led the SEC in rushing, passing, scoring and total offense and ranked third nationally in total offense and scoring offense. He also served as the team's long-snapper.
Most recent ranking: Ranked No. 16 in the 2012 postseason countdown.
Making the case for Matthews: After having a very impressive year as the Aggies' anchor on the right side, Matthews is moving to left tackle to replace All-American and Outland Trophy winner Luke Joeckel. He has very big shoes to fill, but not many people think Texas A&M or Matthews will miss much of a beat with his move. He'll enter the 2013 season as an Outland Trophy candidate, and with his three years of starting experience, he shouldn't have much trouble adjusting to a new position. Matthews has very strong football bloodlines running through his body and would have been a first-round draft pick if he had decided to leave Texas A&M early this year. If he makes the successful transition to left tackle like people expect him to, Matthews should play himself right into the top part of the draft, just like Joeckel. He has so much talent that he's already considered one of the best left tackles in the country, and he hasn't even taken any snaps there as a starter yet. Matthews is a big body at 6-5, 305 pounds, but he moves very well and has tremendous strength. He's great in pass protection and blocks the run well, too, making him the complete package at the most important position along the offensive line.
No. 7: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama, So.