Power Ranking the 10 Most Underrated Offensive Weapons in the SEC

Kurt WirthCorrespondent IMarch 31, 2014

Power Ranking the 10 Most Underrated Offensive Weapons in the SEC

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    Rogelio V. Solis

    With much of its offensive talent flushed by the NFL or graduation, the 2014 edition of the Southeastern Conference will look much different than its 2013 predecessor.

    Though offenses, led by names like Aaron Murray and Johnny Manziel, dominated the SEC's landscape a year ago, offensive weapons will be at a true premium in the upcoming year. With many of the league's gems hidden behind award winners and multi-year starters, breakout names should be the story of 2013.

    The list following is a list of those names, ranked in ascending order according to both how relatively unknown the player is and how much potential he has. Some may be more proven, some may be more talented, but the ranking will be taking those and combining their "name" value.

    Look into the crystal ball by clicking "next" and see which names you'll need to know in 2014.

10. Michael Bennett, Georgia

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    David Goldman

    Position: Wide Receiver

    2013 Stats: 41 receptions, 538 yards (13.1 avg), 4 TD

     

    Incoming starting quarterback Hutson Mason will need some help in the backfield as he adjusts, and senior Michael Bennett should emerge as the one to provide that cushion.

    Bennett started nine games in 2013, appeared in 11 games, and ranked fourth on the squad with 538 all-purpose yards. He's a proven performer in the red zone and brings 97 career receptions to the position. Battling various knee injuries throughout his career, the Alpharetta, Ga. native could make a big splash in 2014 if he manages to stay healthy.

9. Corey Grant, Auburn

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    Dave Martin

    Position: Running Back

    2013 Stats: 66 rushes, 664 yards (9.8 avg), 7 TD

     

    Playing behind Heisman finalist Tre Mason is no easy way to make a name for yourself, but Grant steps out of that shadow in 2014 and has a chance to follow in Mason's wake.

    Behind only starting quarterback Nick Marshall and Mason in total offense, Grant racked up 160 yards on kickoff returns including a run-back for a touchdown. His dynamism is obvious and stepping into the starting role should pay off huge dividends for both he and the loaded Tigers this fall.

8. Trey Williams, Texas A&M

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Position: Running Back

    2013 Stats: 58 rushes, 416 yards (7.0 avg), 6 TD

     

    Showing flashes of potential in both the Aggies' ground and air attacks, Williams is a versatile talent who averaged over 25 yards per kick return in 2013. Ranked third on the squad in total offense as a true freshman, the Spring, Texas native should play a major role in 2014.

    As the leading Aggie returning yardage producer, Williams will likely step into the starting role for the Aggies in 2014. With his strength and great hands, Texas A&M's offense shouldn't take too large a step back.

7. Jerron Seymour, Vanderbilt

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Position: Running Back

    2013 Stats: 164 rushes, 716 yards (4.4 avg), 14 TD

     

    A small, stout runner at 5'7", Seymour started eight games for Vanderbilt in 2013. As the team's top rusher, this vertical rusher registered the fourth-most touchdowns by a back in the league last year and his 716 yards ranked second all-time for a sophomore at Vanderbilt.

    In fact, the Hialeah, Fla. native found the end zone on the ground more than former Heisman winner Johnny Manziel and now finds himself at the helm of the Vandy offense. Though the 'Dores may struggle after head coach James Franklin left Nashville, Seymour will be a great reason to tune into Vanderbilt games in 2013.

6. Sammie Coates, Auburn

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    Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

    Position: Wide Receiver

    2013 Stats: 42 receptions, 902 yards (21.5 avg), 7 TD

     

    Leading the SEC and ranking third nationally in yards per catch, Coates is often overlooked due to the Tigers' run-heavy offense. He's a big-time playmaker, averaging over 50 yards per touchdown reception, and put up over 100 yards against LSU and Texas A&M.

    With Heisman finalist Tre Mason gone, look for quarterback Nick Marshall to look downfield a bit more. This should benefit the native of Leroy, Ala. and make him one of the biggest offensive threats in the SEC this fall.

5. Kenyan Drake, Alabama

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    John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

    Position: Running Back

    2013 Stats: 92 rushes, 694 yards (7.5 avg), 8 TD

     

    Though T.J. Yeldon grabbed the national spotlight a year ago, his backup was potentially even more talented. Drake has a reputation for sparking the offense when things behind Yeldon and quarterback A.J. McCarron stalled, as his athleticism and skill at multiple positions makes him a difficult opponent to plan for.

    There's perhaps more competition at the running back position for Alabama as there is for any position at any university. Drake remains behind Yeldon, but rest assured that he'll make waves when he hits the field.

4. Maty Mauk, Missouri

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    Tim Sharp

    Position: Quarterback

    2013 Stats: 68-of-133 passing (51.1 %), 1,071 passing yards (143.1 ypg), 11 TD

     

    Stepping in for an injured James Franklin, Mauk's arm strength proved doubters wrong as he helped the Tigers maintain their positive momentum in 2013.

    Mauk's 15.8 yards per completion is tops in the league among returners and his 11 touchdowns to just two interceptions shows his down-field vision. In head coach Gary Pinkel's high-flying offense, Mauk should flourish in the starting role this fall.

3. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State

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    Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

    Position: Quarterback

    2013 Stats: 156-of-267 passing (58.4 %), 2,769 total yards (251.7 ypg), 23 TD

     

    Ranked second in the league in total offense for 2013, Dak Prescott is exactly the dual-threat quarterback head coach Dan Mullen has been looking for. A surging Mississippi State team will be led by the rising junior who, as just a sophomore, overtook senior Tyler Russell last season for the starting role.

    Prescott is one of the most elite athletes returning to the league, as both his hands and feet make him a national-level talent. Already getting buzz as a dark-horse Heisman candidate, look for the Haughton, La. native to become a household name in 2014.

2. Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina

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    Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

    Position: Wide Receiver

    2013 Stats: 3 receptions, 22.2 yards per kickoff return, 10.0 yards per offensive play

     

    It's very difficult to nail down just how important Pharoh Cooper is to South Carolina's offense. Technically listed as a wide receiver, he saw more snaps as a tailback in 2013. The lightning-fast athlete rushed 20 times for 202 yards and a touchdown and even passed three times for two completions and a touchdown.

    The all-SEC freshman's role at the wide receiver slot should increase dramatically in 2014, improving his opportunities to get into the end zone on offense. Don't be shocked if the rising sophomore makes a play for SEC Player of the Year if new starting quarterback Dylan Thompson settles into his position well.

1. Jameon Lewis, Mississippi State

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    Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

    Position: Wide Receiver

    2013 Stats: 64 receptions, 923 yards (14.4 avg), 11 TD

     

    What can't Jameon Lewis do? Clearly among the most versatile talents in the country, Lewis' list of roles and accomplishments is a long one. Punt returns, kick returns, receiving, rushing and yes, even passing, are among this dynamic athlete's abilities.

    His main role is receiving, as the SEC's leading returning receiver. Lewis thrives in route-running and yards after the catch, standing as one of the most elusive players in the conference. Ranked third in all-purpose yardage, Lewis has had the bad luck of playing for a middling Mississippi State squad.

    With a favorable schedule, a standout quarterback and Lewis leading the offense, MSU's reputation should no longer hold the rising senior back from getting the attention he deserves.

     

    Think you would have done this list another way? Let me know by following me on Twitter @SEC_Nerd.