Building the perfect QB depth chart for every SEC team
I was editing Matt Hinton’s best-in-the-industry SEC QB rankings and suddenly wondered: How many 2021 starters would still be the starter if that team could choose any of its QBs from the previous 5 years?
Short answer: Not many, and maybe not any.
SEC fans were spoiled by an otherworldly QB run from 2016-2020. Those guys set school records and SEC records. They outdueled each other for Heismans and national championships.
No wonder this 2021 class looks so … average.
To further prove the point, I’ve built a QB depth chart for each SEC team — 3 deep — from 2016-2021.
Here’s what every SEC team’s QB room would look like:
- QB1: Tua Tagovailoa
- QB2: Mac Jones
- QB3: Jalen Hurts
Skinny: Bryce Young, the 2021 starter, doesn’t see the field with this group. But there’s no shame in that. Two Heisman finalists don’t, either. If health is a concern and you want to flip Jones and Tagovailoa, I’m not going to argue. Heck, if you want the best story and want to roll with Hurts, that’s all good, too. Point being, I’d take all 3 over Young.
- QB1: Feleipe Franks
- QB2: KJ Jeffferson
- QB3: Austin Allen
Skinny: Jefferson might end up being the Hogs’ best QB of this 6-year run, but he hasn’t surpassed Franks yet. Austin Allen got off to a great start in Year 1 after replacing his brother, but it’s hard to ignore 20 INTs in 2 seasons.
- QB1: Jarrett Stidham
- QB2: Malik Willis
- QB3: Bo Nix
Skinny: Stidham very nearly led Auburn to a Playoff spot in 2017. Gus Malzahn butchered the Malik Willis-Bo Nix decision in 2019, but we’d get it right. Our staff would have had a firm discussion with Nix and moved him to slot receiver, where he would have become Auburn’s version of John Rhys Plumlee.
- QB1: Kyle Trask
- QB2: Anthony Richardson
- QB3: Feleipe Franks
Skinny: A huge caveat: Trask is the starter only if he’s surrounded by all of the weapons he had in 2020. Any other version of the 2016-21 Gators requires more of a play-making QB, and the Gators haven’t had a play-making QB quite like Richardson since a guy named Tebow. Eventually, Dan Mullen will make the switch, too.
- QB1: Justin Fields
- QB2: JT Daniels
- QB3: Jake Fromm
Skinny: Don’t blame my staff. We said in real-time we would have picked Fields over Fromm.
- QB1: Will Levis
- QB2: Terry Wilson
- QB3: Lynn Bowden
Skinny: None of this has been pretty by traditional passing game standards, much less this high-powered era. Kentucky hasn’t had a QB throw 15 or more TD passes in a season since 2010. All Wilson did was (mostly) win. How Kentucky won 8 games with Bowden, including a bowl, remains one of the great coaching feats of this century. Levis is on pace to become the best of this 6-year bunch.
- QB1: Joe Burrow
- QB2: Danny Etling
- QB3: Myles Brennan
Skinny: The best part about this is not only do you get Burrow’s historic 2019 season, you get his durability. Let’s not forget what started LSU’s magical 2019 season. It was the crushing cheap shot Burrow absorbed in the 2018 bowl game against UCF. That shot knocks out just about everybody. It only motivated Burrow. His Tigers never lost again after he got up.
- QB1: Nick Fitzgerald
- QB2: Will Rogers
- QB3: Keytaon Thompson
Skinny: Can we get Dak Prescott a super senior year? No? OK. The other critical question is: Who is the coach? Mullen or Mike Leach? Fitzgerald wasn’t Prescott, but he was a legitimate dual-threat QB. Remember, he very nearly upset Jalen Hurts and Alabama.
- QB1: Drew Lock
- QB2: Kelly Bryant
- QB3: Connor Bazelak
Skinny: Bryant and Bazelak are solid backup options, but Lock’s prowess makes this one of the easiest QB races to settle.
- QB1: Chad Kelly
- QB2: Matt Corral
- QB3: Jordan Ta’amu
Skinny: For 2 years, Kelly arguably was the most exciting offensive player in the SEC. Start to finish, it was a wild ride. Kelly, as much as anybody, forced Nick Saban to open the playbook.
- QB1: Jake Bentley
- QB2: Ryan Hilinski
- QB3: Luke Doty
Skinny: 8 different quarterbacks have attempted at least 40 passes in a season in the past 6 seasons. That’s not ideal. That’s also part of the problem. A lot more QBs entered the huddle with promise than left it with accolades. Bentley gets the starting job because he did more with his opportunity than everybody else.
- QB1: Josh Dobbs
- QB2: Hendon Hooker
- QB3: Alvin Kamara
Skinny: I never understood the angst toward Dobbs. I wrote in real time that Vols fans would rue the day he left and they didn’t appreciate him nearly enough, if at all. Seriously, knowing what we know now, you’d rather go all Lynn Bowden with Kamara than suffer through the post-Dobbs QBs (2017-2020) mess again. Finally, Tennessee looks like it has another playmaker in Hooker.
- QB1: Kyler Murray
- QB2: Kellen Mond
- QB3: Kyle Allen
Skinny: I understand, Murray transferred after the 2015 regular season, so he wasn’t an Aggie in 2016. Therefore, he isn’t even eligible for this list. I also understand he would have been the returning starting QB for the 2016 team in our world. Kevin Sumlin’s mismanagement of that 2015 QB battle led to Murray’s decision to transfer to Oklahoma.
- QB1: Kyle Shurmur
- QB2: Ken Seals
- QB3: Riley Neal
Skinny: Shurmur threw 26 TD passes in 2017 and 24 more in 2018. Vandy starting quarterbacks have thrown 25 TD passes since he left.