Ranking the No. 1 WR in each class who entered the SEC this decade
With the recent signing of Kayshon Boutte by LSU, the SEC stands to add another big-time wide receiver in 2020. There’s nothing new about that.
We took a look in the way back machine to see who came before Boutte — specifically, who was the top-ranked wide receiver recruit (as per 247sports.com’s rankings) who entered the SEC each season in the 2010s, and then ranked how they all worked out.
Here’s how it all ended up.
10. Speedy Noil (2014, Texas A&M, No. 1 WR, No. 10 overall player)
Noil was the top receiver in the 2014 class, but it never truly worked out at College Station. He caught 46 passes for 583 yards and 7 touchdowns as a freshman, but that was as good as it got. Noil had just 21 catches in his sophomore and junior seasons before he left school for the NFL Draft. Part of the reason was Texas A&M’s rotating cast of QBs.
Noil wasn’t drafted in the NFL and couldn’t make a name in that league or the CFL or AAF. He was in legal trouble involving assault charges in 2019, and his football days seem to be behind him.
An interesting tidbit from that class: D.J. Chark was the No. 59-ranked receiver. He just produced a 1,000-yard receiving season for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
9. Tyrie Cleveland (2016, Florida, No. 3 WR, No. 34 overall player)
Cleveland was the lowest-rated of this group, as the No. 34 overall player in his class and his time in Gainesville wasn’t very productive. He caught 79 passes for 1,271 yards and 8 touchdowns, but it took 4 seasons and 40 games played to reach those totals. He never eclipsed 25 catches or 410 receiving yards in any season at UF.
Cleveland is hoping to impress NFL observers and gain a chance to jump-start his career at the next level. If not, he’s probably best remembered for catching a Feleipe Franks Hail Mary to beat Tennessee in 2017.
Demetris Robertson was the No. 1 receiver in this class. He initially signed with Cal before transferring to Georgia. This class is best represented by No. 4 receiver A.J. Brown and No. 16 D.K. Metcalf, who chose Ole Miss. The most overlooked? Bryan Edwards, ranked No. 42 at the position.
8. Dorial Green-Beckham (2012, Missouri, No. 1 WR, No. 1 overall player)
Trouble followed Green-Beckham, who missed a couple of games as a true freshman due to an arrest. He caught 87 passes in 2 seasons at Missouri and then transferred to Oklahoma. He sat out a season there, but never played as a Sooner, and instead entered the NFL Draft.
Despite being a 2nd-round pick by the Titans, DGB played just 2 NFL seasons, with the Titans trading him after his rookie season. Legal troubles have continued after his NFL career, and while his 6-5 frame always made him a standout (note that he’s the only top overall player on this list), he’s spent more time in trouble than in the end zone.
No. 5 receiver Amari Cooper is the clear prize of this class.
7. Da’Rick Rogers (2010, Tennessee, No. 3 WR, No. 15 overall player)
It was a bumpy ride for Rogers, who starred as a sophomore at UT, earning All-SEC honors with 67 catches for 1,040 yards. He also failed 3 drug tests after the season and was suspended from the team. He had a great season as a junior at FCS Tennessee Tech, but only played briefly in the NFL, going undrafted before catching 14 passes for the 2013 Indianapolis Colts. He was last seen in the CFL.
6. George Pickens (2019, Georgia, No. 4 WR, No. 24 overall player)
Pickens showed flashes of brilliance in his true freshman campaign, snagging 49 catches for 727 yards and 8 touchdowns. He was somewhat hindered by Georgia’s pedestrian offense, but there’s no reason to expect less than an All-SEC season from him in 2020.
He certainly has the potential to climb several spot as his career progresses.
5. Laquon Treadwell (2013, Ole Miss, No. 1 WR, No. 14 overall player)
An impact player at Ole Miss, Treadwell battled some gruesome injuries to earn his way into the NFL. After catching 72 passes as a freshman, Treadwell had 48 catches as a sophomore before he broke his leg on a horrifying play against Auburn. He rebounded to catch 82 passes for 1,153 yards as a junior, leaving Ole Miss as the Rebels’ top receiver ever, in terms of reception numbers.
Treadwell has struggled in the NFL. Despite being a 1st-round pick by the Vikings, he has caught only 65 passes in 4 NFL seasons, even getting released by the Vikings in 2019 before the team resigned him.
4. Terrace Marshall (2018, LSU, No. 3 WR, No. 13 overall player)
The future is still bright for Marshall. He played sparingly as a freshman, catching just 12 passes, but he grabbed 46 receptions for 671 yards and 13 touchdowns as a sophomore, helping LSU to the national title. He’s likely to put up even bigger numbers as a junior this season in Baton Rouge.
Ja’Marr Chase, who just set the SEC single-season record with 20 TD receptions, was the No. 15-ranked receiver in this class.
3. Jerry Jeudy (2017, Alabama, No. 3 WR, No. 21 overall player)
Like Calvin Ridley before him, Jeudy assumed the mantle of the best of the best and has thrived in that spotlight. He caught just 14 passes as a freshman (in part because of Ridley). But he made his way onto the field the next 2 years, catching 68 passes for 1,315 yards as a sophomore and 77 balls for 1,163 yards as a junior when he won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver.
Jeudy entered the 2020 NFL Draft and is likely to be a very high selection. He could well end up being the best pro of this entire group. His existing body of work is good enough to move him to No. 3.
This class, headlined by top SEC QB recruit Tua Tagovailoa, also included No. 9 receiver DeVonta Smith and No. 11 receiver Henry Ruggs.
2. Calvin Ridley (2015, Alabama, No. 1 WR, No. 12 overall player)
Ridley was all that the recruiting experts thought he could be. He grabbed 224 passes for 2,781 yards and 19 touchdowns in his 3 seasons in Alabama, helping the Tide win national titles in 2015 and 2017.
A 1st-round draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons, he has started well at the NFL level, grabbing 64 and 63 passes in his first 2 NFL seasons, and adding 17 touchdowns. Had his 2nd season not ended with an abdominal injury in Week 14, he might well have had a 1,000-yard campaign.
Christian Kirk was the No. 4 receiver in this class. The oft-troubled but supremely talented Antonio Callaway was No. 43.
1. Jarvis Landry (2011, LSU, No. 2 WR, No. 15 overall player)
Landry lived up to his billing. A solid starter as a sophomore at LSU, he was All-SEC as a junior, with 77 catches for 1,193 yards and 10 touchdowns.
He’s been even better in the NFL.
A 2nd-round NFL pick, he has made 5 consecutive Pro Bowl appearances and 3 1,000-yard seasons.
Odell Beckham Jr. was the No. 20 receiver in this class and joined Landry at LSU. Last season, they reunited with the Cleveland Browns and combined for 2,309 receiving yards and 10 TDs.