The SEC receiving yardage leader returns this season, as well as three of the top five in total receptions. As always, the conference lost some of its stars to the draft (so long Calvin Ridley, I will not miss you), there’s a good portion of talent returning. Especially at some of the more prolific passing offenses.
1. Ole Miss. AJ Brown was the best receiver in the SEC last season, and the Rebels not only return him, but they return three of their four receivers with at least 20 catches, plus their tight end, Dawson Knox (24-321-0). Absolutely loaded and they play in an offense which highlights their skills.
2. Auburn. Much like Ole Miss, they return one of the SEC leaders, Ryan Davis led the SEC in receptions. They also return their entire two-deep depth chart at three receiver positions, though two receivers had offseason surgery, the only thing keeping them out of the top spot.
3. South Carolina. Bryan Edwards (64-793-5) is probably a tick below the top receivers, but the Gamecocks return every wide receiver who recorded a catch last season, including two productive freshmen. The loss of tight end Hayden Hurst keeps them out of the top spot, but this is another elite unit returning buckets of talent.
4. Georgia. The Dawgs lose their top receiver, but this was a unit that relied on its depth anyway. Terry Godwin (38-639-6), Mecole Hardman (25-418-4), and Riley Ridley (14-218-2) are all productive players showing there’s space for multiple targets. Hell, they even go two deep on tight end options in Isaac Nauta and Charlie Woermer.
5. Missouri. Where does Drew Lock end and the Mizzou receivers begin? I’m not sure, but Emmanuel Hall (33-817-8) is one of the most explosive deep threats in the SEC, paired with Johnathon Johnson (41-724-6). They also boast the best tight end in the conference in Albert Okwuegbunam (29-415-11). Receiving talent is so deep, we’re still dealing with teams who at least have a case for the top slot.
6. Texas A&M. The Aggies lose their top two receivers from last season, but they had already planned for the transition, boasting four freshmen last season with at least ten catches. The unit will now be headlined by Jhamon Ausbon (50-571-3) who should see his numbers skyrocket in a more featured role.
7. Florida. The receivers have depressed numbers due to the horrific quarterback situation, and transfer Van Jefferson (42-456-1) should give them an immediate boost.
8. Alabama. The team loses three seniors including all-around stud Calvin Ridley. Jerry Jeudy (14-264-2) and Henry Ruggs III (12-229-6) got some work as freshmen. I don’t trust this unit at all and don’t see where the production is going to come from, but let’s be frank, it’s Alabama, so someone will step up and be great because of course they will.
9. LSU. The Tigers return just two receivers who made at least 10 catches, and Derrick Dillon leads the pair with 14. LSU is banking on the incoming freshman and finally being able to unleash Texas Tech transfer Jonathan Giles.
10. Arkansas. The Hogs return virtually everyone from a modestly productive unit. That’s the good news. The bad news is that their top receiver, Jonathan Nance (37-539-5), doesn’t really scare anyone.
11. Vanderbilt. The Commodores lose three of their top five receivers, and that includes their starting tight end, but Kalija Lipscomb (37-610-8) is a solid rock upon which to rebuild this unit.
12. Kentucky. There was some depth last year, but the top of the depth chart was decimated by graduation. Some experienced backups are going to have to blossom into starters.
13. Tennessee. A lot like Arkansas, only with a bit more graduation from the bottom of the roster. They return their top receivers, but the top returnee is Brandon Johnson (37-482-1).
14. Mississippi State. Yikes. Their leading receiver last season was Jesse Jackson (27-276-0). They took some hits on the depth chart, but return most of their receiving corps, but the issue is, they weren’t very good last year. The biggest hole on a team expecting big things.
Receivers are a bit different for me in that I tend to reward returning production a little more than other positions. Sure, you may have caught 50 balls on a bad team, but at least I know you can do that, as opposed to somebody who only caught 15 or 20 who may very well be ready to step up to the big time, but also hasn’t done it yet.
1. Ole Miss. This is No. 1 with a bullet for me. AJ Brown is the league’s best receiver, and he has partners in D.K. Metcalf and DaMarkus Lodge that will both definitely play NFL football. And a solid tight end on top of that.
2. South Carolina. Bryan Edwards was pretty solid, and if you pair him with the big-play potential that Deebo Samuel showed early last year, I think that could be your breakout twosome.
3. Missouri. Four out of the top five guys are back, along with the triggerman. No question they’ll produce again.
4. Georgia. Nobody here scares me on their own, but as a unit, they produce.
5. Texas A&M. Jhamon Ausbon is a player, big question is can they find somebody to get him the ball.
6. Auburn. How have they had, functionally, the same group of receivers since Cam’s days? Just a bunch of guys that on an individual matchup are not all that scary. They’re all of the “makes a play while you’re keying the running game” type.
7. Alabama. This is where the Tide just beat you on talent. There’s no way this many blue-chips fail to produce.
8. LSU. Possible breakout group here. No. 1 guy was insanely productive elsewhere, and there’s a bevy of studs ready to show off if they have a quarterback.
9. Florida. If they’re healthy, Tyrie Cleveland and Kadarius Toney have some potential. Plus Cyontai Lewis has been there since the Jesse Palmer Era.
10. Arkansas. A lot of veterans are back, which is convenient for a team with a new coordinator, but hard to see anybody breaking out.
11. Vanderbilt. Couple guys back, but can they handle the load for Shurmur?
12. Tennessee. Big fan of Marquez Callaway. The rest? Not so much.
13. Kentucky. Return a few bodies that may be able to take advantage of the single coverage Bennie Snell provides.
14. Mississippi State. This, as much as my questions about Nick Fitzgerald, is why I wonder how Joe Moorhead adopts to this roster.
1. Ole Miss. This team easily has the best wide receiver in the conference in AJ Brown. On top of that, two others at the position are of NFL caliber with a solid TE unit to support.
2. Missouri. Between stellar QB play and almost all of their experienced players returning this season, there’s no way the Tigers don’t have a top-notch offense.
3. Auburn. A typically run-heavy offense, Auburn made serious use of the passing game last year. It makes sense, because they’ve got all the tools they need to do so. Ryan Davis is the star player here, and is going to have a huge season. Nate Craig-Myers and Marquis McClain should make a splash too.
4. South Carolina. The Gamecocks have all of the depth you could wish for and more. Look for Bryan Edwards and Deebo Samuel to do big things, with some underclassmen like Chad Terrell preparing to assume larger roles as well.
5. LSU. Trusting that Joe Burrow is solid, there are many rising stars that could have breakout seasons. Let’s not forget about senior Foster Moreau at TE either, who was PFF’s No.1 run blocker in the FBS at the position last year. He should be rock solid in 2018.
6. Texas A&M. Despite losing two of their best receivers, the Aggies have what they need at receiver and tight end this year. Jhamon Ausbon will enter a star role, with a lot of young talent behind him. At least one of those guys is bound to make a name for themselves.
7. Alabama. The Tide lost their star players here, but that doesn’t change the fact they recruit well and will find a way to make it work. They do it every year, so this one should be no different.
8. Georgia. A quality, quietly productive unit. Still, there’s no one here that really catches the eye.
9. Arkansas. The Razorbacks will enter the 2018 season with several veterans, meaning they have the power of experience on their side. But the fact that none of these athletes really stand out, coupled with a brand new coordinator leaves them at No. 9 on the list.
10. Florida. There’s a lot of high hope and potential for WR’s and TE’s on this year’s Gators team, it’s just a question as to whether or not they actually meet that expectation. This is going to be especially a challenge, given the state of the quarterback situation in Gainesville.
11. Vanderbilt. Kalija Lipscomb brings some hope of rebuilding, but there’s no denying that Vanderbilt has a lot of work to do here.
12. Kentucky. With the loss of so many to graduation, someone within the Wildcats’ receiving corps is really going to have to step up.
13. Tennessee. As mentioned, the Vols will return with their top receivers. The only issue is none of those guys were standouts, and honestly far from it.
14. Mississippi St. A very bad overall wide receiving unit last year that very reasonably could return even worse this year.
An LSU blog voted Ole Miss unanimously No. 1. I feel like we should do some sort of penance. But that should also tell you how good the Rebels receiving corps is.
1. Ole Miss
2. South Carolina
6. Texas A&M
14. Mississippi St.