The SEC's 25 best players: No. 17

We’re at No. 17 today on our countdown of the SEC’s 25 best players, and the guy on the clock is another talented wide receiver who really came into his own last season.

No. 17: Darvin Adams, WR, Jr., Auburn

2009 numbers: Finished third in the SEC with 60 catches and was second in the league with 997 receiving yards and 10 touchdown catches.

Most recent ranking: Not ranked in preseason or postseason countdown in 2009.

Making the case for Adams: The 6-foot-3, 192-pound Adams was underrated by everybody last season, including the guy who does the SEC blog. The truth is that he came out of nowhere after catching just three passes for 18 yards as a freshman. But he blossomed in Gus Malzahn’s offense and heads into the 2010 season as the league's leading returning receiver in catches, receiving yards and touchdown receptions. Despite his big numbers, Adams wasn’t included among the first- or second-team selections on The Associated Press or coaches’ All-SEC teams a year ago, which should provide plenty of motivation for this coming season. What makes Adams so valuable is his ability to make the tough catches. He has the courage to go across the middle and pull the ball in no matter how tight the coverage is or how many defenders are breathing down his neck. Adams can also make the big play. He averaged 16.6 yards per catch and had a 72-yard touchdown catch against Alabama. Adams emerged as Chris Todd’s go-to guy last season. Cameron Newton takes over at quarterback in 2010, and the Tigers’ stable of playmakers will expand. That ought to be good news for Adams, who will have even more room to work.

The rundown

No. 18: Alshon Jeffery, WR, So., South Carolina

No. 19: D.J. Williams, TE, Sr., Arkansas

No. 20: Cliff Matthews, DE, Sr., South Carolina

No. 21: Clint Boling, OT, Sr., Georgia

No. 22: Greg Childs, WR, Jr., Arkansas

No. 23: Washaun Ealey, RB, So., Georgia

No. 24: Chris Marve, LB, Jr., Vanderbilt

No. 25: Luke Stocker, TE, Sr., Tennessee