Finding an MVP doesn't always mean you're finding a team's best player. The most valuable players keep things together and don't always have to enjoy the limelight. Sometimes they do, but they don't have to.
Important players come in all shapes and sizes, but what remains constant is that their play will always be crucial to influencing the win-loss column for their respective teams.
Today, we're looking a the most important players on each team in the SEC Eastern Division. Esteemed colleague Alex Scarborough will take a look at the Western Division on Tuesday.
David Sharpe, OT, Jr.: People will point to the quarterback position, and that makes sense when you consider how rocky the position has been, but with real depth there, I went with the left tackle Sharpe. He's quietly been one of the league's more consistent linemen over the past two years, and he will once again be the anchor for the Gators' offensive line. Coach Jim McElwain thinks he has one of the most talented linemen in all of college football. While this should be a much-improved line in 2016, Florida needs Sharpe to be at his best in 2016 for the quarterback position to improve and the running game to chug along.
Trenton Thompson, DT, So.: The Bulldogs' defense is in good hands with Kirby Smart and Mel Tucker in town, but if this side of the ball is going to have the right sort of bite, the big man in the middle has to show off the elite talent we all think he has. Losing three starters at linebacker, including rush specialists Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins, takes a big chunk of production out of Georgia's front seven. Thompson had an underwhelming freshman season, but he was a monster in spring practice and should be a force this fall if he becomes the double-team machine many think he will be.
Jon Toth, C, RSr.: The recent Rimington Trophy Watch List member is the heart of Kentucky's offense. He'll enter the fall with 35 consecutive starts, and is one of the top leaders of this team. Toth will be counted on to run this offensive line and help make sure the Wildcats get top production out of this running game and also make sure new starter Drew Barker stays upright and has a chance really get this offensive game going in 2016.
Drew Lock, QB, So.: This offense went absolutely nowhere last year, and the play at quarterback was a major reason why. However, Lock looked much more comfortable in new offensive coordinator Josh Heupel's hurry-up scheme. Once again, this offense will live and die by how Lock, who sported a SEC-low 33.3 QBR among SEC starters, goes. The Tigers need to find some playmakers at both receiver and running back, and this offensive line still has questions marks, but Lock's play will be the guiding force of this entire team.
Skai Moore, LB, Sr.: The SEC's worst defense from a year ago needs its star linebacker, who is the best player on this entire team, to be even more dominant in 2016. The Gamecocks aren't entirely sure where a consistent pass-rush will come from, and the secondary is full of concern. Moore can do everything, and with his versatility, Will Muschamp and his defensive staff should be able to line him up all over to get the most out of a guy who had every reason to leave early for the NFL.
Joshua Dobbs, QB, Sr.: His teammates will admit that their SEC East chances would dramatically dwindle if Dobbs wasn't behind center. The SEC's toughest mobile quarterback to take down, Dobbs worked even harder on this throwing ability this spring to be a stronger dual-threat option. Dobbs needs more freedom in the Vols' offense in order to show his full skill set and to really get comfortable throwing the ball around down field. With very little experience behind him, keeping Dobbs up and moving will be the only chance Tennessee has at winning the East.
Ralph Webb, RB, RJr.: The Commdores need much better quarterback play and some playmakers at receiver. This group also needs a lot better play from a struggling offensive line. But the key to Vanderbilt's success still lies in the hands of Webb, who has been arguably the team's best player the last two years. He is the linchpin of the offense and is the most reliable playmaker on this team. He has more than 2,000 career rushing yards over two years, and he'll once again be the focal point of this offense.