Power Ranking the Best SEC Quarterbacks
SEC Boasts Deepest Class of QBs in Recent History
The SEC is loaded at the quarterback position in 2013 and for a conference that has been labeled as being weak and not producing successful NFL players at that position, this year’s crop of talent will change all of that.
The quarterback rankings include a Heisman trophy winner, a two-time BCS champion, the future all-time touchdown leader for the conference, a player that broke multiple passing records at his school and a couple of potential high picks in the NFL draft.
That is quite the impressive resume for a conference known for its ferocious defenses. This list is not an indicator of future NFL success, but rather a list of the best signal-callers for this upcoming season only. Too often we look at quarterbacks and project them to the NFL, but I ranked them accordingly to their college resumes, many of which were prolific.
The conference welcomes some new additions who will be making their debuts under center and some quarterback competitions are still to be determined. I handicapped those races in the slides ahead for the few teams with unsettled quarterback situations and looked into my crystal ball to settle the uncertainty.
As always, leave me your comments and give me your feedback as to who you think should be ranked higher and who you think I was a little too giving and ranked too high. Let the debate begin!
14. Justin Worley-Tenessee
Worley takes over for the departed Tyler Bray and will pressed for the starting job by incoming freshmen Josh Dobbs and Riley Ferguson. I'm expecting Worley to start the opener, but Dobbs will be named the starter after week four.
13. Kiehl Frazier/Jonathan Wallace-Auburn
There is no sugar coating the quarterback situation at Auburn. It's bad. Frazier was benched last season after throwing eight interceptions to only two touchdowns and yet may be the front-runner to start for Gus Malzahn. Wallace finished the season as the starter and the Tigers were 2-3 in his starts, but didn't exactly light it up this spring. Junior college transfer Nick Marshall will enter into this devilish threesome and very well could be the the starter by week one.
12. Brandon Allen-Arkansas
Allen beat out Brandon Mitchell, who has since transferred, in spring practice for the starting job. He has big shoes to fill following in the big footsteps of Tyler Wilson. He has 40 career pass attempts and one touchdown to three interceptions.
11. Austyn Carta-Samuels-Vanderbilt
Carta-Samuels takes over for the graduated Jordan Rodgers, but has starting experience dating back to his days at Wyoming in 2009-2010. He will fend off competition from youngsters Patton Robinette and Johnny McCrary early in the season, but if he struggles, James Franklin may turn to one of his underclassmen.
10. Maxwell Smith/Jalen Whitlow-Kentucky
Smith was awfully impressive in Kentucky's first three games before an injury cut his season short. In those three games, he passed for 975 yards and eight touchdowns. Whitlow finished the season as the starter after starting his freshman season as the third option behind center. He brings a dual-threat to the position and I can envision a scenario where Smith is named the starter and Whitlow, who had the best spring, gets some work with the starters as well.
9. James Franklin-Missouri
Franklin had injuries and inconsistency hamper him throughout the 2012 season after a stellar sophomore season in 2011 made him look like one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country. Provided he's healthy this season, Franklin is poised to have a bounce-back season and help Missouri adjust in their second SEC season.
8. Jeff Driskel-Florida
Driskel has the arm and the feet to be one of the best quarterbacks in the conference. However, he has bouts of inconsistency at Florida that leave you frustrated and wondering if he can harness his impressive tools together at the same time. He has had great passing games and great running games but if he can combine the two, he can be lethal. For now, he ranks in the middle of the conference with the potential to crack the top four.
7. Zach Mettenberger-LSU
Mettenberger is very similar to Driskel in that both are very talented signal-callers, but for whatever reason have yet to take that big leap and show off their talents statistically. Like Driskel, Mettenberger only threw 12 touchdowns last season with only five coming in SEC action. With Cam Cameron running the offense this season at LSU, Mettenberger will have the chance to throw for close to 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns.
6. Conner Shaw/Dylan Thompson-South Carolina
Steve Spurrier hasn't been afraid to use two quarterbacks in the past, and that's what will happen in 2013. I believe Thompson is the better option of the two, but each brings something different to the offense. Shaw has strong leadership skills and his teammates rally around his toughness and competitiveness. Thompson has a great arm and his performance vs. Clemson is proof of that. The duo combined for 2,983 yards and 27 touchdowns through the air, and 458 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
5. Bo Wallace-Ole Miss
Wallace played the bulk of the season with a bad shoulder that required offseason surgery to repair, but still managed to throw for 2,994 yards and 22 touchdowns. He has one of the best wide receivers to throw to in Donte Moncrief and should approach 26-28 touchdowns and 3,400 yards in year two of Hugh Freeze's offense. He needs to cut down on the 17 interceptions of a year ago, but I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt for playing with a bum wing, which had to account for at least a few of those.
4. Tyler Russell-Mississippi State
Many outside of Starkville, Mississippi and the SEC may know about Russell, but when he's on, he's as good a quarterback as there is in the country. Russell is going to leave Mississippi State as the Bulldog's most prolific quarterback in team history. His 2,897 yards and 24 touchdowns would have looked even better if not for the slump at the end of the year. Russell threw nine of his 10 interceptions in the team's final six games, including four in the Gator Bowl loss to Northwestern. The biggest issue for him will be maintaining consistency throughout the season and establishing chemistry with a young wide receiver unit.
3. Aaron Murray-Georgia
Murray coming in at No. 3 speaks to the strength of the quarterbacks in this conference famously known for its defense. Murray has led Georgia to two straight SEC Championship Games and picked up his first bowl win last season in the Capital One Bowl vs. Nebraska. He has more than 10,000 passing yards for his career and barring injury, will leave Georgia as the conference's all-time touchdown leader.
2. Johnny Manziel-Texas A&M
Manziel, the reigning Heisman winner from Texas A&M, checks in at No. 2 after a record-breaking year that saw the redshirt freshman shatter the total offense mark in the SEC en route to a 11-2 season. He led the conference in rushing yards with 1,409 yards and 21 touchdowns and passed for 3,706 yards and 26 touchdowns. His performance in the AT&T Cotton Bowl vs. Oklahoma is one that will live in infamy, but his resume isn't quite good enough to claim the top spot.
1. A.J. McCarron-Alabama
McCarron has the chance to win a third straight BCS National Title and leave Alabama as the school's best quarterback in the program's history. That includes names like Jay Barker, Joe Namath and Ken Stabler. He isn't as flashy as Manziel and doesn't have the career numbers of Murray, but he has two rings and I'm predicting will add a third one in January. His stats aren't too shabby though after a 30-touchdown season in which he only threw three interceptions. In fact, he has fewer interceptions (eight) in his career than Manziel had in his Heisman-winning season (nine). The biggest compliment I can pay McCarron is that if i had to pick one quarterback to win one game, it would be No. 10 for Alabama.