SEC Football: Where Does Newcomer James Franklin Rank Among SEC's Top QBs?

Adam SpencerCorrespondent IJune 18, 2012

SEC Football: Where Does Newcomer James Franklin Rank Among SEC's Top QBs?

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    The SEC may not have the quarterback prowess of the Big 12, but it’s a pretty good conference for quarterbacks nonetheless.

    The quality of quarterbacks in the conference will certainly improve with the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M.

    With guys like Tyler Wilson and Aaron Murray leading the way, the quarterback play is sure to be stellar in 2012.

    So, where does a dual-threat quarterback like Missouri’s James Franklin fit in to the hierarchy of SEC quarterbacks?

    Let’s take a look at how the eight certain SEC starters stack up.

    (Note: I won’t rank the schools that are currently in the midst of preseason QB battles. I’ll wait and see how those battles play out before ranking those quarterbacks.)

8. Zach Mettenberger, LSU

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    Mettenberger only saw action in two games last season and only attempted passes in one of those games.

    But, after losing Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson, it’s Mettenberger’s job to lose.

    The 6'5", 222-pound quarterback has all the physical assets the Tigers could want in a quarterback.

    Now, he’ll have to prove himself against the tough defenses of the SEC. If he can’t handle the mental aspect of playing quarterback in the nation’s toughest conference, it could be a very long year for LSU fans.

7. Jordan Rodgers, Vanderbilt

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    Rodgers is certainly not as good as his brother Aaron, quarterback of the Green Bay Packers.

    He threw 10 interceptions last season compared to only nine touchdown passes.

    If he can’t improve his stats this season, Vanderbilt will certainly struggle their way through 2012.

    Another similar year from Rodgers might mean the Commodores’ only SEC win comes against Kentucky.

6. AJ McCarron, Alabama

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    McCarron showed great poise in leading the Crimson Tide to a BCS National Championship in 2011.

    He threw for a modest 2,635 yards and 16 touchdowns. However, his most important contribution to the team was that he only threw five interceptions.

    Without Trent Richardson in the backfield in 2012, however, McCarron is going to have to step up and play a bigger role in the Alabama offense.

    He’s a smart player, though, and he should be able to handle the added pressure.

5. Connor Shaw, South Carolina

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    Now that he no longer has to share the job with the embattled Stephen Garcia, Shaw is ready to show just how good he can be in 2012.

    He’s a good dual-threat quarterback, rushing for 525 yards and eight touchdowns last year to go with 1,448 passing yards and 14 touchdown passes.

    Those numbers aren’t very eye-popping, but considering he played in only 10 games and only had more than five passing attempts in eight games, it was a pretty good season.

    He’s going to improve as the full-time QB in 2012.

4. Tyler Bray, Tennessee

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    Bray has all the physical tools he needs to succeed. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of talent surrounding him on the Tennessee roster.

    Despite throwing for fewer than 2,000 yards in 2011, Bray was able to take care of the ball by throwing 17 touchdowns and only six interceptions.

    He’ll have to improve his numbers all around if the Volunteers are going to be anything other than cellar-dwellers in the SEC East.

3. James Franklin, Missouri

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    Franklin is one of the, if not the single, best dual-threat quarterbacks in college football right now.

    He can throw and run incredibly well. He has the potential to throw for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 yards.

    If he can do that, the Tigers will be in good shape in their first season in the SEC.

2. Aaron Murray, Georgia

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    Murray doesn’t get too much national attention, but he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the country.

    He threw for a whopping 35 touchdowns in 2011 to go with 3,149 passing yards.

    If he can increase his total yards and keep up his high number of touchdown passes, the Bulldogs will be in great shape.

    Add in the fact that he will still have Isaiah Crowell in the backfield, and the sky is the limit for Murray and the Bulldogs.

1. Tyler Wilson, Arkansas

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    Wilson would have been drafted ahead of Ryan Tannehill if he had declared for the 2012 NFL Draft.

    No matter what happens this year, he’s pretty much a lock to be a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.

    If he improves upon his 2011 season, during which he threw for 3,638 yards and 24 touchdowns, he could challenge USC’s Matt Barkley for the No. 1 overall pick.

    Wilson is the leader of Arkansas; as he goes, so go the Razorbacks.