Ranking current SEC rosters minus the QB position
Quarterbacks get all the attention, but not right now.
We wanted to look at the top overall rosters in terms of talent and depth, while the the most glamorous, headline-getting position sits on the sidelines for a change.
These are the teams that enter the 2016 season with the most pieces to the puzzle in place around their signal-callers, in reverse order:
5. OLE MISS
Even without the consensus top QB in the conference excluded from this conversation, the Rebels are one of the most talented teams in the SEC.
And even with star WR Laquon Treadwell going to the draft, Ole Miss may have the deepest group of pass-catchers in the league with Quincy Adeboyejo, Damore’ea Stringfellow, Markell Pack, Damarkus Lodge and Evan Engram. Don’t be surprised if someone from the team’s trio of four-star receivers in this past recruiting class steps up.
Ole Miss would actually love if a few players emerge from its No. 6 recruiting class as it has holes to fill, especially on the offensive line.
The team has to replace some holes, namely the one at left tackle where Laremy Tunsil once was, but five-star signee Greg Little at least has the talent to anchor that position. He’ll have a tough test on his hands in Week 1 against Florida State.
Meanwhile, the group will likely have a trio of guys with starting experience in Javon Patterson, Robert Conyers and Rod Taylor.
The defensive line is talented as Marquis Haynes should emerge as a star whose name everyone will know by season’s end, and Fadol Brown is still recovering from a broken bone in his left foot but is expected to hold down the opposite side.
The question mark on this side is right up the middle of the defense at defensive tackle and middle linebacker, and DT Breeland Speeks and transfer LB Rommel Mageo will likely be key in addressing that.
The secondary could be the strength of the team as its plenty deep, and it will be led by (hopefully) a healthy Tony Conner, Tony Bridges, Zedrick Woods, C.J. Hampton and Armani Linton.
4. TEXAS A&M
This was a really tough call, but the Aggies get a slight edge over Ole Miss to make our list. QB Chad Kelly obviously would’ve tilted this the other way if he wasn’t excluded.
While both teams boast maybe the two best receiving corps in the SEC, Texas A&M has two proven stars in sophomore Christian Kirk and senior Josh Reynolds. In the backfield, the Aggies have what could be a promising duo of transfer RB Keith Ford and James White.
Like Ole Miss, Texas A&M’s offensive front will be a main concern. The team has to replace the right side of the line and its center, so it will be imperative for first-year offensive line coach Jim Turner to find guys to fill in for center Mike Matthews, RG Joseph Cheek and RT Germain Ifedi, a first-round draft pick a little over a week ago.
As for the defense, arguably the best pass-rusher in the entire country will line up at one end opposite of senior Daeshon Hall to form a nasty pass-rush. Last season, the two combined for 19.5 sacks and 34 tackles for loss.
In the middle, the team will have Daylon Mack in one spot and possibly Zaycoven Henderson at the other. A lot is also expected of Kingsley Keke, a four-star prospect in the Class of 2015.
Both starting corners are gone in De’Vante Harris and Brandon Williams, but last season’s nickelback Donovan Wilson — who led the team with 5 INTs last season — will fill one of those spots. Meanwhile, the team will have stud safety Armani Watts.
The improvement of QB Brandon Harris is viewed as so crucial because of the talent the Tigers have around him.
First of all, we know about the Heisman candidate he’ll have right behind him in RB Leonard Fournette, who has a strong partner in Derrius Guice.
The depth at receiver might not be spectacular, but LSU has a great duo with Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural. Plus, the offense is hoping to benefit from four-star wideouts Stephen Sullivan and Dee Anderson arriving early for spring. Another four-star signee, Drake Davis, is on the way.
The team will need to replace both offensive tackles with LT Vadal Alexander and RT Jerald Hawkins both gone, but the Tigers’ standouts on the interior last season — Ethan Pocic, Toby Weathersby, Will Clapp and Maea Teuhema — are back. This could end up being a strength of the team.
On defense, new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda has plenty to work with.
All four starters on the defensive line are back, which is great news for Aranda as he looks to work in his 3-4 scheme. Kendell Beckwith is back in the middle, but outside linebackers Deion Jones and Lamar Louis are gone, and that may be the biggest question mark on the team other than the QB position.
Then there’s the secondary. As if you need to know, it’ll be amazing and one of the best in the country. CB Tre’Davious White and S Jamal Adams return after earning Second-Team All-SEC honors. Adams could be an All-America selection.
CB Kevin Toliver earned True Freshman All-America honors from 247Sports.com despite playing most of last season with a torn labrum in his shoulder, so a lot of people are excited to see what he can do as a healthy sophomore.
Overall, the group has plenty of experience. Even one that doesn’t have any in Saivion Smith, the No. 5 CB in the 2016 class, shined in spring practices.
While I’ve pointed out the fact that the Vols haven’t sent a player to the NFL draft in the last two years, that’s not exactly a bad thing.
Not when you have talented guys coming back, and Tennessee has plenty of that.
We can start with what could be the best running back tandem in the SEC with Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara. Georgia’s pair of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel is the only thing that prevents me from saying that definitely.
Hurd and Kamara combined for nearly 2,500 yards from scrimmage and 24 TDs. Receiver may have been a cause for concern, but the spring yielded some potential stars in Preston Williams and Jeff George. Receivers Josh Malone, Josh Smith, Jauan Jennings and Vincent Perry as well as tight ends Ethan Wolf and Jason Croom (converted) are all options.
Contrary to some other SEC teams, offensive line isn’t an issue this season as four of five starters return but with the exception of left tackle. Right now, it looks like redshirt freshman Drew Richmond could end up there, but the team has some depth at guard and could move someone out there if needed.
New defensive coordinator Bob Shoop inherited a heckuva defense that has plenty of star power. Star defensive end Derek Barnett and Corey Vereen will be on the edge with the hope that No. 1 overall JUCO signee Jonathan Kongo can back up his big talk recently and make an immediate impact.
There may not be a better pair of linebackers in the SEC than Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Darrin Kirkland Jr. Behind them will be a potential All-American CB in Cam Sutton, and safeties Todd Kelly Jr. and Rashaan Gaulden locked down the starting safety spots with impressive springs.
The rich have only gotten richer when you look at the Crimson Tide roster.
Football isn’t played on paper, but Alabama doesn’t seem to have any weaknesses when examining its roster right now outside of the quarterback position.
We’ll start with the defense because that’s what will be turning heads in the fall. There are potential All-SEC performers at every position group.
DE Jonathan Allen and safety Eddie Jackson were first-teamers last season and return to the unit. At linebacker, you have Tim Williams, second on the team in sacks (10.5) and tackles for loss (12.5), Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson. In the secondary, you have corners Minkah Fitzpatrick and Marlon Humphrey.
Offensively, running backs Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris are unproven, but history seems to remind us that Alabama’s production at the position never seems to waver. Receivers Calvin Ridley, ArDarius Stewart, Robert Foster and Gehrig Dieter (grad transfer from Bowling Green) along with TE O.J. Howard will give likely starter Cooper Bateman good options.
The offensive line returns First-Team All-SEC LT Cam Robinson, who may be a potential first-round pick after this season, but he won’t be back until August as he recovers from a shoulder injury.
Ross Pierschbacher, who started all 15 games last season at left guard, has drawn rave reviews after switching from left guard over to center this spring.
The key for Alabama will be developing depth on the offensive line and deciding if Bateman indeed will lead the offense.