Ranking the SEC’s quarterbacks for 2013

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Previous Rankings:

Ranking the SEC quarterbacks is a Herculean effort and one that is met with much criticism, especially when you’re trying to shake out the top three. Not many care who is No. 4 is when you have the trio of Aaron Murray, AJ McCarron and Johnny Manziel.

I ranked the top 10 signal callers based on how I think they’ll perform in 2013. Let’s give this a shot:

Three kings

1. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (SO)
2. AJ McCarron, Alabama (SR)
3. Aaron Murray, Georgia (SR)

The electrifying and slippery Johnny Manziel is set for his encore, but don’t count me as thinking he has any type of sophomore slump. I think he improves as a player and a passer, but I’m not sure he equals his crazy 2012 production of 5,116 yards and 47 touchdowns and wins the Heisman again. I’m just not buying into the ‘SEC defenses will be more prepared for him’ theory either, although I know one that willAJ McCarron won’t post gaudy numbers, and I’m not a stat rat. We’ll never know how good AJ McCarron truly is because of all the great talent around him. He’s thrown for 5,950 yards, 49 touchdowns and just eight INTs. The stoic McCarron leads the Tide in their quest for a three-peat. That’s unheard of…Aaron Murray will surpass nearly every single individual stat in 2013, but he’s still chasing that elusive championship. He’s thrown for 10,901 yards and 95 touchdowns in three years. He’ll go on to break Danny Wuerffel’s career touchdown mark in 2013. An SEC Championship would be the perfect ending to an illustrious career.

Related: Aaron Murray vs. AJ McCarron breakdown

Weathered winner

4. Connor Shaw, South Carolina (SR)

Connor Shaw is the most underrated player in the SEC. His 17-3 career record screams winner, and his tough, physical and gutsy approach tells me he’ll do anything it takes to win. Steve Spurrier has changed his entire offensive identity for the son of a coach who’s a winner. He won’t throw for 3,000 yards or rush for 1,000, but he’ll win games. That’s Connor Shaw, and I’d be glad to have him lead my offense any day.

Most improved

5. Bo Wallace, Ole Miss (JR)
6. Jeff Driskel, Florida (JR)
7. Zach Mettenberger, LSU (SR)

One quarterback who should take the biggest step forward is Bo Wallace. He was so good at times with 22 touchdowns, but he was also erratic at times with 17 INTs. We’ll see what type of effect missing spring with a shoulder injury will have, because James Franklin had the same type of injury and surgery entering last season, but Wallace sure does have enough talent around him… Jeff Driskel does a lot for Florida. Sure, Florida’s passing offense was putrid, but Driskel managed the game and rushed for over 400 yards and four touchdowns. The suspect passing game was also a combination of a weak offensive line and receivers who couldn’t create any type of separation. I think he makes a big jump in 2013…Zach Mettenberger’s numbers stand to improve this season with new OC Cam Cameron. Cameron will get Mett more in flow earlier in games by throwing more to backs and tight ends. Mett has two big-time receivers to work with in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham and should reach 3,000 yards. But is Mettenberger a championship quarterback?

One last ride

8. Tyler Russell, Miss State (SR)
9. James Franklin, Missouri (SR)

Several will have a problem with me ranking Tyler Russell at No. 8. He has some natural ability but can be erratic at times. Against ranked teams and Ole Miss, Russell finished with five touchdowns and nine INTs. He’s definitely the leader on offense and improved throughout 2012, but he could experience some growing pains with losing his top three receivers…Ah, yes, James Franklin. He’s the most interesting quarterback on this entire list. He looked so good in 2011 when he was healthy, but he looked so suspect last season. His 36 touchdowns became a distant memory compared to last year’s 10 total. David Yost is gone, and all eyes are on Gary Pinkel and Franklin entering 2013.

The backup

10. Dylan Thompson, South Carolina (JR)

Don’t think I’m partial to just starters! Dylan Thompson had ice water in his veins whenever he spelled Connor Shaw in 2012. I’m not suggesting that Steve Spurrier rotate quarterbacks, but Thompson has enough talent and spark to make an impact off the bench if Shaw struggles or gets banged up again.

Photo Credit: Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

REFERENCES

COMMENTS

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  • I think Driskel will be the most improved player in the SEC East. My only question is about intangibles…can he handle the bright lights?

  • Arkansas’ Brandon Allen will be in this top 10 by the end of the season. He is a talented, strong-armed QB with very good accuracy, and is a natural leader. He is being under-valued right now due to his lack of experience, but that will change.
    I’d like to see this poll brought back out after the season, and see where these guys rank then, because THAT is when it really matters!

  • James Franklin at Missouri is even more interesting than what you’re writing. He was not healthy in 2011 either. Both years he was within one score of winning quite a few more games. This year he says he is healthy for the first time since high school. He went to the QB guru in San Diego and got high praise for his work there. BUT THIS IS JUST WHERE IT STARTS… because the new QB coach in Andy Hill. Hill is consistently called a football genius by his players. Do the Tiger’s finally have the right man with the right squadron? Then Whitfield said “If Missouri has a quarterback competition for the starting job, they must have a great group of quarterbacks”, which is right on, because Mauk and the experienced Berkstresser (Berk-dozer), are far more ready this year….. and holy cow, Hosick and Printz, they have some strong but very different qualities.

  • Jon….you don’t hafta be a big “stat guy” to know the difference between being in the fire and being protected from it right? You also don’t hafta be a genius to know that it’s not hard for a college level QB to complete the occasional pass when everyone has to send 8 or 9 players to stop the run…right? I’m not gonna get too far into this again but just answer me this: If you were to ask all of the DCs that will face Bama in 2013 what do you think their main objective is? And we all know who won the SECCG (please someone tell me anyways) but did anyone actually pay attention to the QB play? It’s two different worlds. Ok now lets see how many times I can get called “Hater/Whiner/butthurt” for my points…just take a breath y’all and relax…everyone knows you’re the champs…but that does not automatically make your QB better.

    • JP – You know I only rank QBs to get you fired up. All kidding aside, I’ll take championships any day.

      • Bahaha…but ya still didn’t answer the questions. Anyone will take championships…but the fact is Saban wins them no matter who is playing QB. He’s a non-factor and that is by design.

        • 49 TD’s with 8 INT’s a non-factor? Ohhhhh.

        • Look Who’s throwing up stats now? But yeah it’s kinda hard to throw INTS when you’re just playing pitch and catch with no safeties coming over the top. And when your coach controls everything you do.

        • “Hater/Whiner/butthurt”…… gotta give you points for honest self-evaluation.

  • I like Russell @ #8….. Gives him plenty of ceiling height and plenty of room to move up the list. Realistically he should end up within the top 5 some where.

  • @Jon: Feels right to get Conner Shaw in there. I saw gutsy,character,and dependable in him since his freshman year–thrown into the 4th quarter fight against Cam Newton/ Auburn in the 2010 regular season . As ,of course, that 17-3 starting record is too much to take lightly.
    Also, I find it refreshingly original–and also right to get in there the only backup I know of to have won the “Capital One” national player of the week award. A shout out to Dylan Thompson and to you for rightly recognizing this talented player.