- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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The crimson parade continues in our countdown of the SEC's best 25 players, which might explain why Alabama won the national championship ... again.
No. 7: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama, Jr.
2012 summary: Milliner led the SEC with 22 passes defended and 20 pass breakups. He tied for fourth on Alabama's team with 54 total tackles and had two interceptions, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and a blocked kick. One of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award as the top defensive back in college football, Milliner was also a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which goes to the national defensive player of the year. He was a unanimous first-team All-American and first-team All-SEC selection.
Most recent ranking: No. 22 in the 2012 preseason countdown.
Making the case for Milliner: The Crimson Tide just keep churning out premier defensive backs. Milliner projects as the fourth Alabama defensive back to be taken in the first round of the NFL draft in the past four years. He's everything you're looking for in a cornerback. At 6-foot-1 and 199 pounds, he's big enough and physical enough to match up with bigger receivers and is also excellent in run support. And when it comes to matching up with speedy receivers, he has the cover skills to stick with those guys as well. Go back to the Discover BCS National Championship when Notre Dame tried him deep a couple of times, and Milliner was right there to make the play every time. Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart relied on Milliner to be his stopper in the secondary and put a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. The term "shutdown corner" is thrown around a lot in football circles, and there's been some debate on whether Milliner would fall into that category. What's not debatable is the impact he had Alabama's defense this past season, his instincts to be in the right place at the right time and the way he defended his side of the field. After playing in the shadow of Dre Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie the season before, Milliner developed into the league's most complete defensive back in 2012.
No. 8: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama, RJr.
No. 9: AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama, RJr.
No. 10: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama, Jr.
No. 11: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia, Fr.
No. 12: Barrett Jones, C, Alabama, RSr.
No. 13: Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia, RJr.
No. 14: Kevin Minter, LB, LSU, RJr.
No. 15: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia, Jr.
No. 16: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M, Jr.
No. 17: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri, Jr.
No. 18: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida, Jr.
No. 19: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU, RJr.
No. 20: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama, Fr.
No. 21: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee, Jr.
No. 22: Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida, Sr.
No. 23: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt, Jr.
No. 24: Matt Elam, S, Florida, Jr.
No. 25: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State, Sr.
7dEdward Aschoff and Alex Scarborough