With SEC Media Days a little over a month away, ESPN has kicked off its player rankings for the upcoming season, and it started Tuesday with the top returning quarterbacks.

How could one not rank the SEC’s reigning Offensive Player of the Year at No. 1? Jalen Hurts is the top ranked QB in the SEC, according to the outlet. Quickly following Hurts is Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald. Arkansas’ Austin Allen, Ole Miss’ Shea Patterson and Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham round out the top five.

Here’s the snippet on Hurts being No. 1:

At the end of the day, a quarterback is judged on his record. And, frankly, Hurts was impeccable in that respect as a freshman, helping Alabama win the SEC and reach the College Football Playoff with a 14-1 record. The kid is pretty talented, too. The dual-threat QB amassed 3,734 total yards and 36 touchdowns while basically learning on the fly. With the maturity that comes with a year under his belt, along with the possibility of an improved deep ball, Hurts could be even more productive as a sophomore.

Here are ESPN’s top five quarterbacks for 2017, with the first two being dual-threat signal callers:

1. Jalen Hurts, Alabama
2. Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State
3. Austin Allen, Arkansas
4. Shea Patterson, Ole Miss
5. Jarrett Stidham, Auburn

A few things stand out to me:

  • No SEC East QB made the top five. One would have to think Georgia’s Jacob Eason certainly has a shot to land on this list by season’s end, as does Mizzou’s Drew Lock. Florida’s job is largely up in the air, and it could add graduate transfer Malik Zaire to the mix, too. Tennessee’s job is not settled yet either. South Carolina’s Jake Bentley, well, that leads me to my next point …
  • The biggest omission — if there is one — is Jake Bentley. Bentley looks primed for a huge sophomore season, and with just a little help from his defense getting him the football back, the Gamecocks’ offense under Will Muschamp — wait for it — could be downright explosive. Bentley is a top five signal caller in the league right now.
  • The outlet thinks the state of Alabama and the state of Mississippi will have great quarterback play. Jalen Hurts and Jarrett Stidham both made the cut, as did Nick Fitzgerald and Shea Patterson. Ole Miss could have the league’s best passing attack, too.
  • The only two SEC West teams without a quarterback listed are LSU and Texas A&M, and that’s not surprising at this point.