Power Ranking Top SEC WRs Pre-2014 Spring Practice
Sure, it'll be a down year for quarterbacks in the SEC. But with its five top receivers from 2013 moving on and seven of the top 10, the SEC will also be searching for answers outside at wide receiver in 2014.
There are established stars like Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham and Alabama's Amari Cooper, but the door is open for several younger players to become stars. That starts this spring, when depth charts begin forming and potential becomes power.
Who are the top five wide receivers in the SEC based on past performance and potential heading into spring practice?
Our picks are in this slide show.
* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All statistics are courtesy of CFBStats.com.
Marquez North, Tennessee - As a true freshman in 2013, North caught 38 passes for 496 yards and a touchdown. Now that he's had a full offseason in the system and is getting some help with a solid recruiting class, he should evolve into a superstar as a sophomore.
Chris Conley, Georgia - Conley caught 45 passes for 651 yards and four touchdowns last year, and will be part of a stellar wide receiving corps in 2014 that includes Malcolm Mitchell, Justin Scott-Wesley and Michael Bennett.
Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss - Treadwell emerged as a reliable possession receiver in 2013 as a true freshman, hauling in 72 passes for 608 yards and five touchdowns for the Rebels. With Donte Moncrief gone to the NFL, he should be the top option in Oxford in 2014.
Shaq Roland, South Carolina - As a sophomore in 2013, Roland emerged as a complementary deep threat to Bruce Ellington, catching 25 passes for 455 yards and five touchdowns. With Ellington gone, Roland should become a star in 2014.
DeAndrew White, Alabama - In a wide receiving corps that was loaded with talent, White emerged as a solid option for AJ McCarron last year with 32 catches for 534 yards and five touchdowns. He'll provide stability for the Crimson Tide as they break in a new quarterback in 2014.
5. Mississippi State WR Jameon Lewis
Raise your hand if you knew Mississippi State wide receiver Jameon Lewis is the leading returning receiver in the SEC.
Now most of you put your hand down, because you didn't.
The 5'9", 195-pounder hauled in 64 passes for 923 yards and five touchdowns last season, capping off his stellar campaign with a 220-yard performance in the Bulldogs' 44-7 win over Rice in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
A versatile wide receiver who has great hands and is dangerous after the catch, Lewis provides quarterback Dak Prescott and head coach Dan Mullen options with how he's used in the game plan. Lewis, Prescott and Mullen now have an entire offseason with Prescott as the unquestioned starter to draw up even more creative ways to get Lewis the ball.
The best is yet to come.
4. Georgia WR Malcolm Mitchell
In a wide receiving corps that also includes Michael Bennett, Chris Conley, Justin Scott-Wesley and a host of others, Georgia's Malcolm Mitchell is sort of the forgotten man. The 6'1", 190-pound native of Valdosta, Ga. missed nearly all of the 2013 season after tearing his ACL celebrating a Todd Gurley touchdown in the opener versus Clemson.
It's time to remember him again.
He caught 85 passes for 1,237 yards and eight touchdowns during his first two seasons between the hedges and will be Georgia's top option at wide receiver in 2014 once he fully recovers from his injury. That may not be the case this spring, but it will be this fall.
New quarterback Hutson Mason will benefit from Mitchell's experience. He's got great hands, runs solid routes and is dangerous in space with the ball in his hands. Getting him back at 100 percent for the 2014 season will be huge for the Bulldogs, as they look to regain their SEC East crown.
3. Auburn WR Sammie Coates
Auburn was a run-first, run-second and run-third team during its remarkable SEC championship run in 2013. But the fourth option wasn't too bad either.
Sammie Coates emerged as the most reliable wide receiver for quarterback Nick Marshall, hauling in 42 passes for 902 yards and seven touchdowns. He finished the season third in the nation in yards per reception at 21.48, after routinely getting behind defenses that had to creep up to guard against Auburn's dynamic rushing attack.
Not only is the 6'2", 201-pound Coates back for 2014, but he has help in the form of junior college transfer wide receiver D'haquille Williams. The duo of big-bodied wide receivers will put even more pressure on opposing secondaries, who will still face the same challenges of slowing down the Tigers on the ground.
Marshall, who was clearly raw as a passer in 2013, now has an entire offseason to progress with Coates, Williams and head coach Gus Malzahn.
2. Alabama WR Amari Cooper
Alabama produced three wide receivers who topped the 500-yard mark last season, and that trio was led by rising junior Amari Cooper. The 6'1", 202-pound native of Miami hauled in 45 passes for 736 yards and four touchdowns.
What's more is that it was considered a mildly disappointing season.
But Cooper will be back and should evolve into a full-fledged superstar now that he'll be counted on to stabilize the passing game with a new quarterback taking the snaps.
He's already proven that he's a deep threat, has great hands and is incredibly dangerous in the screen game, which was a big part of former offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier's game plan and even more of a staple of new play-caller Lane Kiffin's.
Cooper is already one of the most reliable receivers in the SEC, and that could translate to a 1,000-yard season as a junior in 2014.
1. Missouri WR Dorial Green-Beckham
In an offense that spread the ball around to several wide receivers, Missouri's Dorial Green-Beckham still found a way to live up to the hype in 2013, catching 59 passes for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns for the SEC East champs.
That included 93 yards against Texas A&M in the final game of the regular season, which clinched the division title for the Tigers. He followed it up with a 144-yard, two-touchdown performance in the SEC Championship Game loss to Auburn.
At 6'6", 225 pounds, the rising junior presents matchup nightmares for opposing defensive backs who can't compete with the big-bodied monster. On top of that, he has breakaway speed and phenomenal hands, which make him the top receiver in the conference heading into spring practice 2014.
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