This is the second of our position-by-position look at the best tandems of NFL prospects in the Southeastern Conference this season. We veered away from superstars and their sidekicks, instead looking to highlight truly strong pairs where the headliner and the supporting role are harder to distinguish, and where a pro career is most promising for both. High-level production last season was a must.
Offensive linemen: Tennessee's Antonio "Tiny" Richardson and Ja'Wuan James
Richardson is regarded with Texas A&M's Jake Matthews and Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio as the elite left tackles in the SEC. At 6-foot-6, 327 pounds, he's the biggest and strongest of those three, although he's not regarded quite as highly as a pro prospect as either of the other two. NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah ranked Richardson as the No. 37 prospect in the nation and breaks his game down here. Richardson will look to vault his draft stock into first-round range this fall by showing improvement in space as a run blocker, particularly in reaching second-level linebackers. As a pass blocker, Richardson is outstanding, and his head-to-head matchup on Oct. 19 against South Carolina star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will be scouted heavily.
James handles the right tackle position for the Volunteers, making for a true bookend pair with Richardson. A senior who passed on the chance to turn pro early last year, James (6-5, 318) has recorded 37 career starts and with a healthy season and a bowl game for UT, could reach 50. Scouting projections on James indicate he may not be athletic enough to have NFL potential as a left tackle. He is regarded more as a right tackle or, possibly, a guard. Entering his final collegiate season, James is expected to be a mid-round draft choice in 2014. Vols center James Stone and left guard Zach Fulton will likely be drafted next spring as well, but James is expected to be chosen ahead of his teammates on the interior.