Ranking the SEC Football’s Top 10 Defensive Backs for the 2022 Season




SEC football could be a no-go zone this year if the league’s defensive backs have anything to say about it.

Alabama’s Jordan Battle is the SEC’s top defensive back in the fall, according to a poll of sportswriters who cover the league for the USA TODAY Sports Network.

The Crimson Tide’s top passing defenseman has garnered eight of 16 possible first-place votes to top a list of the SEC’s Top 10 defensive backs. Alabama placed two players on the roster.

A total of 28 defensive backs from 13 schools received votes in the poll: Kentucky was the only playerless school to get at least one vote. Ten points were awarded for a first place vote to one point for a 10th place vote.

Alabama defensive back Jordan Battle (9) defends during the Cotton Bowl NCAA College Football Playoff Semifinals Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, in Arlington, Texas.  (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

The USA TODAY Sports Network is counting down to SEC Media Days, scheduled for July 18-21 in Atlanta, by revealing its top players in each position group.

Here’s a look at the top 10 defensive backs in the league:

1. Battle of Jordan

Alabama, senior safety (136 points, 8 votes for first place)

A second-team All-American in 2021, Battle is a dependable safety whose 8.5% missed tackle mark was one of the best among regular starters on the Alabama defense, per Pro Football Focus.

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2. Cam Smith

South Carolina, junior cornerback (108 points, 3 votes for first place)

Smith was one of the most dominant corners in the country last season, allowing 15 catches on 32 targets with three picks and 11 pass breakups.

3. Kelee Ringo

Georgia Bulldogs defensive back Kelee Ringo (5) returns the ball after catching a pass from Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) for a touchdown during the College Football Playoff National Championship against Alabama at Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday, January 10.  2022, in Indianapolis.  Georgia won 33-18.

Georgia, sophomore cornerback (106 points, 1 first-place vote)

There is already first-round buzz for the player who will forever live in Georgian lore for his late-game pick six to seal the domestic title.

4.Antonio Johnson

January 2, 2021;  Miami Gardens, Florida, USA;  North Carolina Tar Heels wide receiver Dazz Newsome (5) misses a reception against Texas A&M Aggies defensive back Antonio Johnson (27) during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Texas A&M, Junior Safety (96 points, 2 votes for first place)

Johnson was second on the team in tackles with 79 while adding 8½ tackles for loss and one interception en route to first-team PFF All-America honors.

5. Eli Ricks

Alabama, junior cornerback (61 points)

After dealing with injuries at LSU in 2021, Ricks is aiming to return to 2020 form, as he made 20 tackles and four interceptions, including two he brought back for touchdowns.

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6. Jalen Catalonia

Arkansas, junior safety (56 points)

Catalon missed half of 2021 with a shoulder injury, but one of Arkansas’ most exciting defensive players will be back after starting nine games the previous season.

7. AJ Finley

Ole Miss, senior safety (53 points)

Finley is a three-year-old starter who led Ole Miss in consecutive interceptions and was one of only two SEC players last year with more than three interceptions and more than 90 tackles.

8. Emmanuel Forbes

Mississippi State, junior cornerback (48 points)

Forbes has eight interceptions in two seasons and was selected to the All-SEC Second Team in 2021.

9. Kris Abrams-Draine

September 4, 2021;  Columbia, Missouri, USA;  Missouri Tigers defensive back Kris Abrams-Draine (14) returns a kick against the Central Michigan Chippewas during the game at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley - USA TODAY Sports

Missouri, junior cornerback (27 points)

Abrams-Draine went from receiver to defensive back in 2021 and had three interceptions and seven breakups in starting 10 games.

10. Sevyn Banks

LSU, senior cornerback (25 points, 1 vote for first place)

Banks is a transfer from Ohio State who was a third-team preseason All-American last year.

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