Sorry about the delay for these rankings, I'm on vacation in DC so I can take the Lil Poseur to see dinosaur bones while I sneak off to see Archers of Loaf in the evening. Oh, and that whole family thing. Computer access has been spotty, so this week's rankings post got delayed. So let's get into the wide receiver rankings!
I'm pretty impressed by the receiving units in the conference. None of them are abjectly terrible, and there's a real depth in the competition for the best unit. I even like the units ranked in the bottom third, and think there's some real breakout candidates down there. We lack an Amari Cooper this season, that one singular talent, but I think the depth of talent has never been better at this position.
1 Texas A&M: Returning leader Josh Reynolds return, and barely anyone thinks he's the best player in this unit. He has to hold off Speedy Noil and Ricky Seals-Jones. An embarrassment of riches.
2 Auburn: They return the best receiver in the conference in D'haquille Williams, and that means a lot. There's good depth, too, but Williams is the show here. Throw in a dash of Gus, and these guys will put up some gaudy numbers.
3 Ole Miss: If Laquon Treadwell is fully healthy, he could boost this unit to #1. They return almost everyone, including one of the best TE's in the SEC in Evan Engram. A deep, experienced, and scary unit. And I don't like saying nice things about the Rebs.
4 LSU: Very similar to A&M, only not quite as good. Dural returns as the leading receiver and almost no one thinks he's the best receiver on the team. There's serious talent, they just have to start delivering. There's almost too much talent for them not to.
5 Tennessee: If you can't root for a guy named Pig Howard, I don't even want to know you. They return 3 starters and almost all of their production. I'm not sold on the upside, but they have the highest floor in the SEC.
6 South Carolina: Pharoh Cooper is the only returning 1000 yard receiver in the SEC, but there just isn't much around him. One great receiver is not enough to rate any higher.
7 Florida: Demarcus Robinson put up impressive numbers despite inept QB play, and will have to do it again. There's not much else there, but one guy can carry a receiving corps.
8 Mississippi St: Du'Runnya Wilson put up pretty good numbers last year in a near perfect storm of an offense. I think his numbers drop a tad this year, as Dak runs for his life.
9 Alabama: You know there has to be talent there because... Bama. But outside of OJ Howard at tight end, I'm hard pressed to think of anyone I'm impressed by at all.
10 Georgia: Failed to work in the new guys last year, and now has a fairly bare cupboard, hoping some young guys pan out. Still, UGa hasn't had bad receiver play in a decade.
11 Arkansas: WR Keon Hatcher and TE Hunter Henry form the basis of a solid, unspectacular group. Of course, the Hogs don't ask for the spectacular in the passing game.
12 Kentucky: Hoping a young corps develops quickly behind Ryan Timmons, who at least could start for almost any SEC team.
13 Vanderbilt: The good news is that they return four of their top five receivers. The bad news is that none of them are particularly good.
14 Missouri: The Tigers return a grand total of 10 catches on the roster. They've had good production since joining the SEC, but this is the real challenge: rebuilding on the fly.
1 Texas A&M: Four out of the top five pass-catchers return, including the incredibly productive Josh Reynolds, and former stud recruits Speedy Noil and Ricky Seals-Jones. There's no question the Aggies are loaded at this spot.
2 Ole Miss: This is a very balanced unit, with the bigger body of Treadwell and a couple of speedy downfield types on Cody Core and Quincy Adeboyejo. Tight end Evan Engram is one of the few legit matchup nightmares at his position in the league.
3 Tennessee: This is a group on the come with all of the top players returning. There's some good balance with steady chain-mover types like Pig Howard, potential stars in Josh Malone and Marquez North and a senior with some experience in Von Pearson. And Ethan Wolf has some breakout potential at tight end as well.
4 South Carolina: Pharoah Cooper was the second-most important receiver to his team last season after Amari Cooper. He's the only proven commodity here, but he's good enough to count for a lot with me.
5 LSU: Travin Dural has an argument for the league's top deep threat, and the freshmen he was surrounded by are a year better, with a potential No. 1 guy in Malachi Dupre. If somebody can get them the ball consistently, there are a lot of weapons here that will make it tough to focus on one guy.
6 Auburn: Duke Williams is really good, but how much can he do by himself? Ricardo Louis is somehow back for his eighth season of eligibility.
7 Missouri: This is a program that usually cycles in new receivers without much of an issue, and while none of the top three guys return, there are two seniors in the lineup and a dangerous tight end in Sean Culkin.
8 Florida: DeMarcus Robinson will likely lead the conference in receptions out of necessity, because Florida just doesn't have anybody else they can count on here. Jake McGee may help out as a graduate transfer, although all of this is before we get to the issues at QB.
9 Mississippi State: There's an intriguing No. 1 here in De'Runnya Wilson, but can he handle being the top guy without Jameon Lewis around to help move the chains?
10 Alabama: After years of four- and five-star recruits, why is Alabama moving quarterbacks to this position and taking graduate transfers from Oregeon State? I've said it before, but part of why Amari Cooper's 2014 season was so impressive was because Alabama asked him to do so much. But part of that was due to not really trusting any other targets.
11 Georgia: Another program that has recruited really well here, but doesn't seem to have anybody ready to step up right now. Malcolm Mitchell is back, but he hasn't been healthy in two years. Jeb Blazevich may be poised for a nice season at tight end.
12 Arkansas: The Razorbacks have the league's best tight end in Hunter Henry, but there isn't anybody else here that scares a defense.
13 Vanderbilt: Well, they certainly have experience back, but I don't know that it's experience to write home about.
14 Kentucky: A pedestrian group from 2014 returns just one significant target.
Really hard to go against the grain on this one too much.
1 Texas A&M: Lots of production returns and a ton of talent too. Reynolds, Noil, Seals-Jones. Oh and they add 5-star Christian Kirk. A&M wins this by a country mile.
2 Ole Miss: Next to A&M they return the most production. If Treadwell is healthy and DaMarkus Lodge and Van Jefferson can adjust quickly, this could be the no. 1 unit in the conference by season's end.
3 Tennessee: They haven't lived up to the talent, but I think with Dobbs entrenched this group will finally take a huge leap forward. They have some otherworldly talent at the position in Malone and North. Then a quality player like Pig Howard... these are easily the 3 best units in the conference.
4 Arkansas: I'm way higher on this unit than every one else. Why? Well, they distributed the ball exceptionally well. They return 5 guys with at least 10 catches, including their top 2 targets from last year in Henry and Hatcher. I'm also quite keen on RS Fr. JoJo Robinson, who could be the explosive talent they need to take them to the next level.
5 South Carolina: The unit is almost entirely Pharaoh Cooper, but having the most productive WR in the conference on your side is never a bad thing. I don't love the rest of the pieces, but Pharaoh boosts them enough.
6 LSU: Chicken or egg here. LSU suffered last year from poor QB play, but also from young WRs who hadn't mastered the finer points. Still, there's a core here so deep and talented, this could be the best group in the NATION, much less the SEC. Dural is explosive, Dupre can be AJ Green-esque, Trey Quinn and Diarse have amazing tools themselves. Then throw in Tyron Johnson and spring star D.J. Chark and you are looking at a really well rounded group. Oh, we have TEs?
7 Mississippi State: May fall a few pegs with all the OL losses, but they were one of the most productive units in the conference last year. It's a lot of DeRunnya Wilson, but he's not nearly as productive as the other one-man show group at South Carolina.
8 Auburn: I trust Gus, a lot. Duke Williams is a physical specimen that's a bit overrated due to his penchant for the spectacular. After him, there's not a ton here and none of the incoming Freshman are the types of game changers that will give you pause to think.
9 Florida: Hey, they blow chunks at QB, but Demarcus Robinson could be the single best WR in the conference by year's end. Hell, he produced last year with the morque-esque situation Florida had at QB.
10 Georgia: I'm a talent guy at the end of the day. I trust Georgia will find some pieces that work. I like Malcolm Mitchell, and look out for Terry Godwin, my early pick for SEC Freshman of the Year.
11 Kentucky: Without looking it up, couldn't tell you a single WR on the roster, but they do return 81 catches, 1,001 yards and 6 TDs. That's pretty good. Probably middle of the conference in total production. Should probably be higher on my list, but yeah.. that whole "talent guy" thing.
12 Vanderbilt: Remember what I said about talent? Well Vandy returns even more production than Kentucky, but I just can't find it within myself to believe in them.
13 Alabama: So, I know what you are thinking. If you are a talent guy, how can you rate Bama so low? Well, look at the guys they have. It's not exactly a who's who of superstar talent. The highly recruited guys they have, haven't really produced. They were a one-man show at WR last year. OJ Howard is the only dynamic talent on the roster here. They need Calvin Ridley to make an immediate impact.
14 Missouri: oofta. They return almost nothing and what they have isn't anything to call home about.
There's pretty good consensus here, but each of us have one unit for which we are totally out of step. I'm championing Auburn (puking noise), Billy and Mizzou, and Paul has Arkansas. Other than that, our ranks are all within two slots of each other, but each of us pushed one team way up the rankings relative to everyone else.
However, we also have our first unanimous #1 unit. Every single one of us voted for A&M, the first time that has happened so far. Not even Paul could find a reason to dissent from voting for A&M as the #1 unit. Here's the final rankings:
1 Texas A&M
2 Ole Miss
5 South Carolina
8 Miss State