SEC 2019 Pre-Spring Rankings, Depth Chart Projections, Biggest Issues

SEC 2019 Pre-Spring Rankings, Depth Chart Projections, Biggest Issues

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SEC 2019 Pre-Spring Rankings, Depth Chart Projections, Biggest Issues

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The 2019 early rankings, depth chart lookaheads, and projections for the SEC.


Contact @PeteFiutak

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.

SEC EAST

7. Vanderbilt Commodores

Can Ball State transfer QB Riley Neal come in and take over for Kyle Shurmur? If he can’t Mo Hasan will get the look. The winner of the battle gets a fantastic receiving corps to work with – everyone is back – helped by TE Jared Pinkney not taking off for the NFL. The O line takes a hit losing three starters, but RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn is back for what should be a decent ground game.

The defensive front three is in decent shape, but three of the four bowl game starters at linebacker are gone. Losing CB Joejuan Williams early to the NFL doesn’t help – only one starter returns to the secondary.

Final 2018 Record: 6-7 (3-5)
2018 SEC East Finish: 6
2018 Prespring SEC Conference Ranking: 14
Biggest Issue To Fix: Pass Rush & Tackles For Loss
Biggest Depth Chart Positive: Wide Receiver
Biggest Depth Chart Negative: Secondary
– Vanderbilt Schedule Breakdown

6. Missouri Tigers

This changed after the punishment from the NCAA – Mizzou is now banned from going bowling in 2019. If everything was normal, this was probably around the fourth-best team in the East.

It’s pushing it to say that Clemson grad transfer Kelly Bryant will be as good as Drew Lock, or possibly and upgrade, but he’ll be … different. Rarely do you find a guy with College Football Playoff credentials ready to step in and go.

Dangerous deep threat Emanuel Hall is gone, but Arkansas transfer Jonathan Nance will fill in just fine and Albert Okwuegbunam might just be the nation’s best tight end. Leading rusher Larry Rountree is back, but No. 2 man Damarea Crockett is leaving early for the NFL. Three starters return up front.

Five of the top seven tacklers are back, but the interior of the defensive line has to be replaced. The pass rushers and talent are there on the outside, but linebackers Terez Hall and Brandon Lee have to be replaced. It might have been a rough year for the secondary, but three of the four starters return.

Final 2018 Record: 8-5 (4-4)
2018 SEC East Finish: T2
2018 Prespring SEC Conference Ranking: 11
Biggest Issue To Fix: Pass Defense
Biggest Depth Chart Positive: Wide Receiver
Biggest Depth Chart Negative: Defensive Tackle
– Missouri Schedule Breakdown

5. Kentucky Wildcats

Of course this is way too low, but the rest of the division is better. What Mark Stoops did with the Cats last year was amazing. Doing anything close to that this year would be miraculous considering what he has to replace.

There’s no replacing hybrid defensive star Josh Allen, but he’s not the only one missing. Four of the top five tacklers are gone, almost the entire starting secondary, and the line needs reworking, too. Even so, there’s a decent core to work around, starting with LB Kash Daniel in the middle.

Heart-and-soul RB Benny Snell is done, but there’s an interesting young rotation of backs ready to go around QB Terry Wilson. The O line should be fine with a little bit of time, but the receiving corps has to find some new key pieces around Lynn Bowden.

Final 2018 Record: 10-3 (5-3)
2018 SEC East Finish:  T2
2018 Prespring SEC Conference Ranking: 12
Biggest Issue To Fix: Passing Offense
Biggest Depth Chart Positive: Quarterback
Biggest Depth Chart Negative: Defensive Back
– Kentucky Schedule Breakdown

4. Tennessee Volunteers

QB Jarrett Guarantano needs to become something special after a promising year – there aren’t a slew of viable other options at the moment. The receiving corps is very deep and very promising with almost everyone who caught a pass last season returning.

Ty Chandler and Tim Jordan lead a decent group of running backs behind a line that gets four starters back, only losing OT Drew Richmond to transfer.

Nine of the top 12 tacklers return. The defensive front gets gutted, but Pruitt has enough of a rotation that it shouldn’t be too massive an issue after some reworking. Most of the linebackers return – losing Quart’e Sapp early to the NFL – and the secondary gets enough talent back to be a whole lot stronger.

Final 2018 Record: 5-7 (2-6)
2018 SEC East Finish: 7
2018 Prespring SEC Conference Ranking: 9
Biggest Issue To Fix: Total Offense
Biggest Depth Chart Positive: Wide Receiver
Biggest Depth Chart Negative: Defensive Line
– Tennessee Schedule Breakdown

3. South Carolina Gamecocks

The Gamecocks are an interesting blend of loaded and concerning. Start with the defensive line that gets back everyone and should be a deep, talented killer as the year goes on. Continue with the linebacking corps that welcomes back leading tacklers TJ Brunson and Sherrod Greene, and then … the secondary.

It’s going to take some work around emerging young talents Jaycee Horn at one corner spot and RJ Roderick at safety. Getting back JT Ibe for a sixth year is a huge help at safety.

Star WR Deebo Samuel is gone for veteran QB Jake Bentley, but Bryan Edwards is a No. 1 guy for a good-looking receiving corps. Everyone of note is back for the ground game, but the O line has to undergo an overhaul.

Final 2018 Record: 7-6 (4-4)
2018 SEC East Finish: T4
2018 Prespring SEC Conference Ranking: 5
Biggest Issue To Fix: Turnover Margin
Biggest Depth Chart Positive: Defensive Line
Biggest Depth Chart Negative: Defensive Back
– South Carolina Schedule Breakdown

2. Florida Gators

The expectations are higher now, but there are just enough glaring holes to keep the 2019 season from blowing up – and it starts on the offensive front. Jawaan Taylor is an NFL starter somewhere on a front five next year, and Martez Ivey will have a place in the league, too.

Four starters have to be replaced on the line, but leading rusher Lamichal Perine is back along with a terrific-looking receiving corps. Can QB Feleipe Franks step up and be a superstar? If he gets the blocking, maybe.

The defense takes a hit losing DE Jachaei Polite, leading tackler Vosean Joseph from the linebacking corps, and S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson early to the NFL, but the return of Jabari Zuniga helps. The secondary should be a killer with Marco Wilson expected to return fine from a torn ACL to join CB CJ Henderson and a great group of safeties.

Final 2018 Record: 10-3 (5-3)
2018 SEC East Finish: T2
2018 Prespring SEC Conference Ranking: 6
Biggest Issue To Fix: Penalties
Biggest Depth Chart Positive: Defensive Back
Biggest Depth Chart Negative: Offensive Tackle
– Florida Schedule Breakdown

1. Georgia Bulldogs

The talent is all across the board, but there might be little margin for error over the first part of the season until the depth develops. It’s all Jake Fromm’s quarterbacking world now, but who will he throw to? Riley Ridley, Mecole Hardman, and TE Isaac Nauta all left early – this is where Kirby Smart’s great recruiting classes kick in. RB D’Andre Swift should go off behind a line that gets back four starters.

The defense still might not have any Roquan Smith-like obvious superstars, but it’s going to be really, really good despite the loss of five of the top ten tacklers. The line will form a killer rotation, the linebackers should rise up with a little time, and despite the loss of CB Deandre Baker, the secondary will be fantastic.

Final 2018 Record: 11-3 (7-1)
2018 SEC East Finish: 1
2018 Prespring SEC Conference Ranking: 2
Biggest Issue To Fix: Pass Rush & Tackles For Loss
Biggest Depth Chart Positive: Offensive Line
Biggest Depth Chart Negative: Wide Receiver
– Georgia Schedule Breakdown

NEXT: SEC WEST

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