SEC position rankings: Quarterbacks


Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Now that most SEC teams are more than two weeks into preseason camp, I'll kick off my position rankings in the league.

We'll start with the quarterbacks.

One thing to keep in mind about these rankings is that past performance, production in key situations and depth are weighted most heavily. But potential and the way a particular unit has improved over the offseason will also be considered.

Here goes:

1. Florida: Big surprise here, huh? Tim Tebow might be the best college player of this era, and his backup, John Brantley, is a big-time passer who Urban Meyer says will play this season. Brantley would be a starter for at least three-fourths of the teams in this league.

2. Ole Miss: Another easy choice. Jevan Snead should be even better in Year 2 in Kent Austin's offense. The guy never gives up on a play.

3. LSU: This is where it gets tough. Talk about a drop-off after the first two. Jordan Jefferson just has that look about him that he's ready to take off this season. True freshman Russell Shepard will be a dynamic playmaker in the Wildcat formation, and Jarrett Lee is also still around.

4. Arkansas: Can Ryan Mallett be to the SEC what Snead was last season? His arm strength is legendary, and he really has a nice feel for Bobby Petrino's offense after being around it and sitting out last season. Tyler Wilson has also looked good, although he's still making the adjustment to playing under center.

5. Georgia: I guess I'm a little higher on fifth-year senior Joe Cox than some people. I think he'll be just fine, and I also like the younger quarterbacks in the Bulldogs' program. Logan Gray with his athleticism gives them some flexibility back there.

6. Kentucky: The big question with Mike Hartline is: How much has he improved as a passer? Coach Rich Brooks says he's been extremely accurate this preseason. Hartline just sort of managed things last year. The Wildcats get a few extra points here because they still have Randall Cobb to step in if they need him.

7. Alabama: The situations at Alabama and Georgia are pretty similar. Junior Greg McElroy gets his shot as the full-time starter, but has yet to see any meaningful snaps in college. His leadership to this point has really been impressive, and the Alabama coaches love true freshman A.J. McCarron.

8. South Carolina: The Gamecocks would be ranked a little higher if they had anybody behind Stephen Garcia. If he goes down or stumbles off the field again, they're in real trouble. That said, I think Garcia has a chance to be one of the most improved quarterbacks in the league.

9. Vanderbilt: It's hard to look at anything the Commodores did in the passing game a year ago and feel good about their quarterback situation. Sophomore Larry Smith is the likely starter because of his ability to throw the ball, but senior Mackenzi Adams is one of those guys who's always ready when his number is called.

10. Tennessee: Coach Lane Kiffin said earlier this week that the race between Jonathan Crompton and Nick Stephens was too close to call. Maybe they're more comfortable in this offense, but neither looked like an SEC quarterback last season.

11. Auburn: Chris Todd came from nowhere to win the Tigers' starting job. Shoulder problems have held him back in the past, but he says he's healthy now. We'll see. Kodi Burns has moved to receiver.

12. Mississippi State: Senior Tyson Lee will probably get the start in the opener, but Dan Mullen has said he can see two quarterbacks playing in the first half of the first game. True freshman Tyler Russell is a talent, but he's not ready mentally.