Every Tuesday, The SEC Blog will rank the top player at each position for each team in the SEC. Today, we start with the most important position on the field—quarterback.
Position strength seems to go in waves in the SEC, and it's most noticeable at the quarterback position. This year will be a strong year for quarterbacks in the SEC, with the top six passers all being All-American candidates.
Here's how the quarterbacks rank right now.
14. Bo Wallace, Ole Miss
Wallace has never taken a snap at the FBS level but is the presumed starter in Oxford. He's competing with Randall Mackey, Barry Brunetti and Zack Stoudt for the starting job.
There's a reason that former ACC Rookie of the Year Danny O'Brien is taking a trip to visit Ole Miss.
13. Jameill Showers, Texas A&M
Another toss-up at quarterback, but for now, it appears that Showers has a slight lead over Matt Joeckel, Johnny Manziel and Matt Davis.
Texas A&M is in for a rough ride with a new quarterback going against SEC defenses. Expect some growing pains.
12. Kiehl Frazier, Auburn
The coaches want Frazier to be the guy on the Plains, but nothing from his freshman season suggests that he can handle the responsibility.
Granted, former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn rarely let him throw passes, so we really don't know what he's all about. Frazier is in a battle with returning starter Clint Moseley and true freshman Zeke Pike for the top spot on the depth chart.
11. Jacoby Brissett, Florida
Florida's offense was a mess last season, so Brissett and Jeff Driskel never were able to get into a rhythm when they were called upon.
This battle will probably last all the way into summer practice, and neither has proven that they have what it takes yet. Give it time.
10. Zach Mettenberger, LSU
I thought Mettenberger out-played Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray when the two were competing for the Georgia starting quarterback job in the spring of 2010. He took a circuitous route to Baton Rouge, but now that he's there, he's ready to make the quarterback position in Red Stick prosperous again.
The only knock on him is his lack of experience. He won't be in the No. 10 spot once the season cranks up.
9. Maxwell Smith, Kentucky
Smith stepped in for an injured Morgan Newton in 2011 and played well at times—particularly against Ole Miss. With Newton still out, he's got the spring all to himself, but expect Newton to get back in the mix when fall camp rolls around.
8. Tyler Russell, Mississippi State
Dan Mullen played musical quarterbacks last season, which eventually led to Russell getting significant playing time late in 2011.
He showed flashes of brilliance, but a knee injury forced him out of Mississippi State's bowl game. He's on the right track, but Russell needs to do more to live up to his recruiting hype.
7. Jordan Rodgers, Vanderbilt
Rodgers proved to be a solid option at quarterback last season as a runner and a passer, but he's still a little inconsistent. An offseason of work should help, but he finds himself in a battle with Wyoming transfer Austyn Carta-Samuels
6. Connor Shaw, South Carolina
Shaw improved late in the season, which culminated with dominating performances over Clemson and Nebraska. He provides a running and passing threat out of the backfield and doesn't make the mental mistakes that his predecessor, Stephen Garcia made. Stud in the making.
5. AJ McCarron, Alabama
McCarron was overlooked last season, mostly because Alabama didn't need him to go out and win games.
Late in the season, McCarron looked the part of an SEC quarterback with solid performances vs. Auburn and vs. LSU on college football's biggest stage. He needs wide receiver help, but McCarron proved that he's ready.
4. Tyler Bray, Tennessee
He's 6'6", 215 pounds and has a laser, rocket arm ($1 to Peyton Manning commercials). He's probably the top NFL prospect out of all of the SEC quarterbacks, and with Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers to throw to, he has all of the weapons to be successful.
3. James Franklin, Missouri
Franklin is unknown in SEC circles, but that won't last long. He's capable of putting up 3,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a single season, especially given the offense in which Missouri employs.
Get comfortable with Franklin, because he will be a household name in the SEC by October.
2. Aaron Murray, Georgia
He threw for a school-record 35 touchdowns last season, but he needs to cut down on the interceptions.
He found Malcolm Mitchell early and often last season, and Tavarres King emerged as a legitimate threat at the Outback Bowl. He has weapons now, which should vault him into Heisman contention.
1. Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
Need a Heisman candidate? Look no further than Wilson. Yes, he lost three wide receivers, but he gets Cobi Hamilton and Chris Gragg back and will have a solid running game behind him to alleviate some pressure.
Speaking of pressure, he needs an offensive line that can block. It's amazing what Wilson was able to do considering he was on his back virtually every time he dropped back to pass.