While the bulk of the ratings of the prior units has been taking units as a whole and looking at collective stats, now we turn our attention to the individualists: the receivers.
We tend to rate the quality of a passing offense by its quarterback and while its hard to be good at throwing the ball without good receivers, its pretty easy to sink at passing stats with good receivers. So here, we are looking at individual stats more than the overall passing offense.
46 players had over 300 receiving yards last season in the SEC, which seems like a decent baseline, and of those, 23 receivers return (well, maybe… we’ll get into it). For your receiver group, we care about star talent first and foremost.
1 BAMA. On the one hand, both DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle are gone. On the other, John Metchie III amassed 916 yards on 55 catches, and returns as the SEC’s top receiver. And they have the usual glut of talented guys vying for more time. They will be awesome. Again.
2 GEORGIA. The Dawgs were so close to returning a trio of terrific receivers, but then George Pickens had to go and get hurt, and his return is very much questionable. They still have the excellent 1-2 punch of Kearis Jackson and Jermain Burton, but this could have been an all-timer.
3 LSU. Terrace Marshall left in the middle of last season, so LSU had time to adjust to its new receiver corps and, well… it’s pretty awesome. Kayshon Boutte is already the best receiver in the SEC and Jaray Jenkins is an explosive threat.
4 ARKANSAS. What they lack in depth, they have in star power. Treylon Burks had 51 catches for 820 yards and 7 TD. He is an elite wide receiver who could put up insane numbers in a more dynamic offense. Let’s not hold that against him.
5 TEXAS A&M. Everybody is back. Everybody? Everybody. Maybe even more, as Ainias Smith was practicing as a receiver this spring. That’s the difficulty of unit rankings. I’m still counting Smith as a running back, but I think it says something about the receiving corps that its receiving leader was a running back (43-564). Jalen Wydermyer is the usual stud A&M tight end, and he had more receiving yards than any wide receiver. So everyone comes back, and it’s a talented room, but they don’t have that elite playmaker at receiver.
6 MISSISSIPPI ST. State also returns nearly everyone, and Jaden Walley is indisputably The Guy in the room, with 52 catches for 718 yards as a freshman. But this is a deep group with tons of options beyond their top guy.
7 OLE MISS. Geez, how many good receiver groups are there in the SEC? The Rebels lose their top two receivers, and still return three guys with over 300 yards receiving. They just keep throwing guys at you who can make plays, though there is now an Elijah Moore sized hole in the production.
8 VANDERBILT. Vandy’s receivers are… pretty good, honestly. They return three productive wideouts, making them a poor man’s Georgia, but they also have tight end Ben Bresnahan (28 catches, 300 yards) back in the fold. This is a solid, deep group of guys playing for an offense that will difficulty getting them the ball.
9 FLORIDA. The Gators had a terrific receiving corps but the last one out of the room, turn out the lights. Kadarius Toney and Kyle Pitts alone would be a massive blow, but losing a productive depth guy like Trevon Grimes makes the losses that much worse. Jacob Copeland had 435 yards on 23 catches, but he’s got to be looking around and wondering where everyone went.
10 MISSOURI. Keke Chism caught 35 balls for 458 yards which is… nice, I guess. This was a deep unit last year in which five guys topped 300 yards, but now only two return. It’s a decently productive group which now loses its biggest asset of extreme depth. Chism and Tauskie Dove need to step up.
11 KENTUCKY. Josh Ali was Kentucky’s only productive wide receiver last season (54-473), and he’s back for his senior year. They really need someone else to become a threat, but I don’t see who they have. At least there’s some consistency.
12 SOUTH CAROLINA. Our bottom three units were all completely eviscerated by graduation. The Gamecocks at least return tight end Nick Muse, but last year was the season to find someone to replace Shi Smith and it didn’t happen. That’s a missed opportunity.
13 TENNESSEE. The Vols actually return some guys, its just that they were extremely unproductive. Their leading returning receiver was Velus Jones, Jr. at 280 yards on 22 catches. They return zero starters and are hoping long-time program guys can step up. That usually works out poorly.
14 AUBURN. The Plainsmen had a productive group last year, but they have all lost them this offseason. This receivers group is built entirely on hope.