Ranking the SEC Quarterbacks

ESPN.com's Chris Low recently published his take on how the SEC teams stack up against each other in regards to their quarterbacks. Low is usually a pretty good read, so I thought we might take a look at what in his rankings makes sense and what doesn't. Here's how Low breaks things down and what I think about each ranking.

1. Florida

No surprise here. Tim Tebow is probably the country's best quarterback and will go down in history as one of the best ever to play the college game.

2. Ole Miss

Again, no surprise. Jevan Snead is also a great quarterback and may be the top pick in next year's NFL draft. He won't put up the numbers you'll see from Tebow, but he's still head and shoulders above anyone else in the SEC at this point.

3. LSU

As Low admits, things get a little murky after Snead. I imagine that Low is mainly picking LSU here because Jordan Jefferson played so well against Georgia Tech in the Peach Bowl and LSU has a group of more or less talented players behind Jefferson on the depth chart. I guess I would say I'm OK with this pick. Jefferson has proved as much as any other SEC quarterback other than Tebow and Snead. Jefferson should also benefit from a strong LSU running game to open things up for him. However, I frankly believe that he'll drop a spot by the time the season ends.

4. Arkansas

Here's the first of the guys without significant experience. Ryan Mallet, though, was one of the nation's top recruits a few years ago and is playing in an offense that suits his skills. He also has a slew of top receivers to throw to and a good group of backs to take the pressure off him. If his offensive line performs well, I expect he'll put up big numbers and will move up to the third spot by year's end.

5. Georgia

I'm not really sure what to think of Joe Cox. I'm frankly not too impressed with his abilities, but he is a fifth-year senior that knows the offense. He's also playing behind a good line, has A.J. Green to throw to, and his backfield is simply loaded. In reality, he probably won't be asked to do anything too crazy this year, as the Georgia ground game will rake up most of the yards. If Cox can avoid mistakes and make key throws when he needs to, he'll be fine. Still, I'd probably have Cox a little lower than this. I just don't see him as being this good, even though I expect UGA to have a much better than average offense overall.

6. Kentucky

I think this is the wackiest pick of the bunch. Mike Hartline is one of the more experienced quarterbacks of this bunch, but he was also awful at times last year. Should we really expect him to be much better this year? Randall Cobb also wasn't very good, and if Hartline fails, I expect the 'Cats will go to true freshman Morgan Newton. Newton has talent, but handing over the reins to a true freshman usually doesn't end well in the SEC. It doesn't help matters that Kentucky is generally in need of play makers on offense, making the quarterbacks' job doubly tough. In sum, I'd probably have Kentucky near the bottom of the list.

7. Alabama

Greg McElroy is probably a good but not great quarterback, much like his predecessor John Parker Wilson. Like UGA, though, 'Bama probably won't need McElroy to be too good. The Tide should get McElroy protection, have a good ground game, and when the going gets tough, McElroy can count on all-world receiver Julio Jones to reel in the catches.All in all, having McElroy at seven seems about right to me.

8. South Carolina

I say this with no homerism: this seems a little low to me. Stephen Garcia was hardly a world beater last year, but he proved as much as Hartline, at least. Plus, the upside is there for the multi-talented Garcia. I'd move Garcia up a bit.

9. Vanderbilt

Vandy appears to be going with Larry Smith instead of Mackenzi Adams. Smith played only slightly above average in the Music City Bowl and still has quite a bit to prove. Adams is ready to go if needed but really hasn't been very good most of the time. I might have Vandy a little lower.

10. Tennessee

This is another pick I'd disagree with a bit. True, Jonathan Crompton was a bust last year after showing lots of promise in mop-up duty in prior years. However, he was also playing in an offense that even the coaches admitted after the fact that they needed much more time to implement. Crompton has the talent to be an effective SEC quarterback, and in a simpler offense this year, I have a hunch he'll show lots of improvement. I'd move him up a couple of spots.

11. Auburn

I have no problem with this pick. Chris Todd is Auburn's starter, and he looked awful for most of last year. That said, Todd was apparently playing hurt, so we may see a different player this year. Also, like Crompton, Todd may play better now that he won't have to deal with whatever was going on between Tommy Tuberville and Tony Franklin. Still, the guy has a lot to prove. I wouldn't be surprised to see Kodi Burns back under center by year's end.

12. Mississippi State

No surprises here. It will be interesting to see if Dan Mullen can infuse any life into this offense next year.

For what it's worth, here's how I would rank the quarterbacks. This is based on the kind of years I expect these guys to have, not on what they've proved so far. I'm also factoring in how important I think these guys are to their offense.

1. Florida

2. Ole Miss

3. Arkansas

4. LSU

5. South Carolina

6. Alabama

7. Tennessee

8. Georgia

9. Kentucky

10. Vanderbilt

11. Auburn

12. Mississippi State

So, sound off: what did I get wrong? How would you rank 'em?

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