Ranking the SEC’s wide receivers for spring practice

The SEC has been home to some standout receivers over the last few years. But now, players like Cobi Hamilton, Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson are gone, and a new wave of youngsters – and some vets – take center stage and become primary targets for their quarterbacks.

Let’s get the skinny on the receivers for spring practice:

Game Breakers

1. Amari Cooper, Alabama
2. Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss

If you gave me one choice for one receiver in the SEC, I’m going with Amari Cooper. Just a true freshman, Cooper jumped on the scene and added another dimension to a deep threatless Alabama offense. Cooper’s ability to stretch the defense became crucial down the stretch against Georgia and Notre Dame. Cooper caught 59 passes for 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 16.9 yards per catch…Donte Moncrief is a baller, and just because he may not have a top-flight quarterback throwing him the football, Moncrief is as good as any receiver in the country. He caught 66 passes for 979 yards and 10 touchdowns in ‘12, and he’ll be a star in ‘13 and projects well at the next level.

Impact Players

3. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
4. Mike Evans, Texas A&M

Jordan Matthews rarely gets the credit he deserves playing at Vanderbilt. And ranking him 3rd overall shouldn’t silence any critics. After all, he caught a league-high 94 passes for 1,323 yards and eight touchdowns. But both Cooper and Moncrief are a different caliber of receiver. With that being said, I would take Matthews on my team as my #1 receiver in a heartbeat…If you need a receiver who catches everything in a 10’ radius, you’ll love Mike Evans. Johnny Manziel overshadowed the former basketball player’s freshman dominance, but it was Evans, not Ryan Swope, who became Manziel’s big-game receiver. He caught 82 passes for 1,105 yards and five touchdowns. There is not a better possession receiver in the country.

Needs more touches

5. Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia
6. Odell Beckham, LSU
7. Jarvis Landry, LSU

Malcolm Mitchell needs the football more. He’s a game-breaking receiver who has elite ability. However, he was overshadowed somewhat by the cast of receivers in 2012, as well as his back and forth action from corner to receiver. Mitchell caught 40 passes for 572 yards and four touchdowns. Now with Tavarres King gone, Mitchell, along with Michael Bennett, should emerge as Aaron Murray’s primary target… Odell Beckham has big-play potential, but he drops way too many passes. Beckham flashed crazy athleticism two years ago as a freshman, but he had somewhat of a sophomore slump in ‘12. He did lead the team in receiving yards with 713 yards, but he caught just two touchdowns all season. Again, this could have more to do with a lack of a passing game, but Beckham was too inconsistent…Jarvis Landry is a star in the making, if LSU can get him the football. Zach Mettenberger’s struggles may be attributed to a lack of impact plays in the passing game. Landry caught a team-high 56 passes for 573 yards and a team-high five touchdowns. Do you remember his sick one-handed catch against Arkansas? Of course you do.

Strong Starters

8. Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri
9. Chris Boyd, Vanderbilt
10. Bruce Ellington, South Carolina

Dorial Green-Beckham has arguably more ability and passes the eye test better than any receiver in the league, but he must have a quarterback get him the football. DGB started to break out towards the end of 2012, and he caught a total of 28 passes for 395 yards and five touchdowns. He looks like a Baby Lebron and a man among boys…Don’t look now, but Vandy returns a strong #2 starter in addition to Jordan Matthews. Chris Boyd caught 50 passes for 774 yards and five touchdowns. Vandy has two of the best receivers in the league for a new starting quarterback. We’ll see if the new starter can get them the football…The 10th best receiver in the league, Bruce Ellington, is the starting point guard on the basketball team. However, now with Ace Sanders’ absence, Ellington’s role becomes that much bigger. And surprisingly, it was Ellington who led the team with 600 receiving yards on 40 catches and seven touchdowns.

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