After the early entries into the NFL Draft have been declared, and just before the second Signing Day is finished up and spring football, here’s the early ranking of all the SEC teams.
2018 SEC Pre-Spring Rankings
Call this the baseline to work off of.
Of course there are the stars up top there look like they’re going to reload, but before the second Signing Day, and before the spring sessions start to kick off, how do all the SEC teams look? Who’s coming back/ Where are the weak spots?
These can and will change after spring ball and going into the season, but for now, as a starting point, welcome to your pre-everything early ranking of all the SEC teams.
Can Kyle Shurmur rise up and become the type of veteran playmaking quarterback who can carry the team to bigger things? That will be tough without top targets Trent Sheffield and C.J. Duncan around. Phenomenal RB Ralph Webb is done, but there are a few veterans ready to step in behind a line that gets back all five starters.
A good rotation has to be found on a line that loses two starters on the front three, but three of the top four linebackers are back. LaDarius Wiley is one of the SEC’s better safeties, and he’ll have to be with some key losses in the secondary. PK Tommy Openshaw is gone, but P Sam Loy is back.
– Vanderbilt Schedule Analysis
Terry Wilson, the season is yours. With Stephen Johnson done and Drew Barker transferring, the JUCO transfer Wilson needs to rock as the new QB. Star RB Benny Snell is back, but three of the top five receivers have to be replaced. The strength of the O should be a line with four starters back.
The defense is loaded with experience – nine of the top ten tacklers are back. The linebacking corps needs a few new key parts to emerge, but the line gets everyone of note back, and the secondary should be a strength with all four starters returning – all will be seniors. Both kickers have to be replaced.
– Kentucky Schedule Analysis
12. Ole Miss
The team hasn’t been totally gutted, but QB Shea Patterson is off to Michigan and it’s Jordan Ta’amu’s show now – at least going into spring ball. Options are needed at running back, but A.J. Brown leads a nice-looking group of big receivers. The biggest offensive plus might be the four starters back up front.
The ends are gone on the defensive front with Marquis Haynes gone and Breeland Speaks leaving early, but there’s hope for a solid interior. All four starters are back in the secondary, but linebacking corps needs work. Both kickers are gone.
– Ole Miss Schedule Analysis
Does Chad Morris have anything to work with? Big Cole Kelley has an inside line on the quarterback job, but it’s wide open. Getting more out of the running game would be nice, and it could happen with all five starters back up front. The top ten targets return for a passing game that should shine.
The experience will be there defensively with the top three tacklers returning, but enough key parts are gone from the secondary to be a problem. Five starters return to the front seven, and both kickers are back.
– Arkansas Schedule Analysis
How quickly can the Vols crank things up under new head man Jeremy Pruitt? The quarterback job should be Jarrett Guarantano’s now without too much of a fight, but can the receivers start to do more? Brandon Johnson and Marquez Callaway return, but star-of-the-offense RB John Kelly left early. Three starters are back on a line that has to be far, far better.
The defensive front returns three starters, but loses the bulk of disappointing Khalil McKenzie inside. However, the linebacking corps has potential, and two starters are back in the secondary. Both kickers have to be replaced.
– Tennessee Schedule Analysis
Start with QB Drew Lock returning for another year, and everything else should be fine around him. J’Mon Moore is gone from the receiving corps, and Ish Witter is done in the backfield, but the Tigers have plenty of weapons for Lock to play with. Best of all, all five starters are back up front.
Five of the top six tacklers are back, but top pass rusher Marcell Frazier is done along with two other starters up front. The linebacking corps will be a plus, and three starters return to the secondary. Both kickers return.
– Missouri Schedule Analysis
8. Texas A&M
What does Jimbo Fisher have to work with? The first big call is his starting quarterback, trying to make everyone happy and keep the losers in the fight – Nick Starkel, Kellen Mond, Jake Hubenak – from transferring. Top RB Trayveon Williams is back behind all five starters up front, but Christian Kirk is gone early to the NFL – the now-sophomore receivers have to do more.
The defense needs a ton of work, but the veterans are there with all the defensive tackles back for the rotation and a good-looking linebacking corps to mold. The ends have to emerge for a pass rush to help out a secondary that loses S Armani Watts, but with three starters back. P Shane Tripuka is gone, but PK Daniel Lacamera returns.
– Texas A&M Schedule Analysis
Who’ll be Dan Mullen’s starting quarterback? That’s going to take a while to figure out, but Lamichal Perine leads a decent group of backs that should be good enough to grind out the ground attack behind a line that returns all five starters. Now the offense has to find more playmakers for the passing game.
Taven Bryan is off the defensive front, but three other starters are back for a group that should be among the best in the East. The young producers from last year’s defense should be terrific – seven of the nine top tacklers return. However, there has to be more of a pass rush. PK Eddy Pineiro left early for the NFL, and P Johnny Townsend has to be replaced, too.
– Florida Schedule Analysis
6. South Carolina
There’s a lot to like about the returning Gamecocks, but the offense has to be more consistent. Three starters return on the line to protect QB Jake Bentley and a potentially loaded running game with all the parts back – now they have to do more. Star TE Hayden Hurst is gone, but Deebo Samuel is coming back from an injury to a good-looking receiving corps.
Five starters are finished from the front seven, hurt most by losing LB Skai Moore. Throw in the departure of three starters in the secondary, and there’s work to do. In all, seven of the top 12 tacklers have to be replaced, but DE D.J. Wonnum and LB T.J. Brunson are good places to start. Both kickers are back after solid seasons.
– South Carolina Schedule Analysis
It’s going to be a hard battle for the starting quarterback job. It’s not like Danny Etling isn’t replaceable, but it might take the entire offseason to settle on the right guy. Running back is the bigger issue with Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams gone, but three starters are back on the line. Superstar recruit Terrace Marshall is added to the mix of a good young receiving corps.
The defensive front should be fine, the linebacking corps should be great, and despite the early loss of speedy CB Donte Jackson to the NFL, the secondary should be fantastic. The kicking game should be a strength with both back.
– LSU Schedule Analysis
4. Mississippi State
How quickly can Nick Fitzgerald come back from the broken leg suffered against Ole Miss? Keytaon Thompson is a keeper after his performance in the bowl, but no matter who’s under center, having fix of the top eight receivers back helps. Leading rusher Aeris Williams returns, too, behind a line that loses Martinas Rankin, but gets back four other starters.
The defensive front returns intact around Jeffery Simmons on the nose, and in all, 14 of the top 16 tacklers are back. Cornerback will be the early issue – a slight one – around a strong group of safeties. Punter Logan Cooke is gone, but kicker Jace Christmann is back.
– Mississippi State Schedule Analysis
It starts with getting back QB Jarrett Stidham for another year – he automatically makes up for a few key losses – and should blow up with the top six receivers back. Kam Martin is the top returning back with Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway going pro early. The bigger issue is a line that replaces four starters.
Jeff Holland is gone of the defensive front, but Derrick Brown and Dontavius Russell form one of the best defensive tackle tandems in college football. Three of the top six tacklers are gone, but Deshaun Davis and Darrell Williams are strong returning linebackers. With CB Carlton Davis leaving early, just one starting defensive back returns. The team’s biggest loss, though, could be PK Daniel Carlson. P Aidan Marshall is back.
– Auburn Schedule Analysis
The Bulldogs didn’t get hit too hard by defections to the NFL, but the running game loses the 1-2 punch of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. De’Andre Swift has to be the star now behind a promising line that gets back four starters. The receiving corps should be fantastic, with Terry Godwin and Mecole Hardman as good a pair punch as any in the country. Who’ll throw to them? Super-recruit Justin Evans will push Jake Fromm for the quarterback gig.
Trenton Thompson is gone off the line, and Roquan Smith left early from the linebacking corps, but there should still be a good rotation up front. However, all three starting linebackers have to be replaced. The secondary has enough talent to overcome the loss of two starters, including S Dominick Sanders. CFP almost-hero Rodrigo Blankenship is back at kicker, but P Cameron Nizialek is done.
– Georgia Schedule Analysis
The offense was along for the ride for parts of last season – not this time around. No matter who’s at quarterback, both Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa will seen time in a loaded backfield with Damien Harris and Najee Harris leading the way.
Calvin Ridley might have left early, but national title hero DeVonta Smith is back along with a slew of great young talents. Best of all, four starters return up front.
Da’Ron Payne and Da’Shawn Hand are done on the defensive line, but as always, there’s more than enough talent to fill in the gaps. Anfernee Jennings and Mack Wilson headline another good linebacking corps, but who’ll step in for Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ronnie Harrison from the secondary?
The loss of P JK Scott is going to hurt, but the placekicking should be steadier without Andy Pappanastos.
– Alabama Schedule Analysis