Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Wrapping up the SEC player rankings
By Edward Aschoff
And just like that, we're done with the 2012 SEC player rankings.
Johnny Manziel appropriately capped things off in our countdown to No. 1, so it's time to take a closer look at how things played out in our rankings. Remember, we could only put 25 players on our list. I wasn't a math major, but I'm pretty sure you can't squeeze 30 players into a list made up of 25. Trust me, we wanted to, but we just couldn't figure out a way to do it.
When ranking players, we looked at stats, progress through the season, impact, and importance to their team on and off the field.
Some very good players were left off the list ... but we'll get to that later. For now, let's see a breakdown of our countdown:
Texas A&M: 4
Mississippi State: 1
South Carolina: 1
A lot of readers displayed their disapproval of all those Alabama players who made it. I believe some even referred to it as a "love fest" with the Crimson Tide. Well, look at the seasons those players had and that team had. Look at where some of the Alabama players on our list are ranked in mock drafts. Six Alabama players were All-Americans. It's hard to leave any of those players off.
Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky and Ole Miss were the only schools without any representatives. Now, there certainly were deserving players on each of those teams, but, again, space was limited.
The biggest complaint from readers dealt with us not having Arkansas wide receiver Cobi Hamilton on our list. He was in our first couple of drafts, but when the final list came out, we decided to go with Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews. Yes, Hamilton had 12 more receiving yards than Matthews to lead the SEC, but Matthews finished with three more touchdowns, had 130 more receiving yards in conference play, led the SEC with seven 100-yard receiving performances and grabbed five touchdowns in SEC play compared to Hamilton's one.
We also felt Matthews meant more to his team last fall. Someone had to be left off, and this was by far the toughest decision we had when it came to cutting players. As for the other receivers, Amari Cooper was arguably the SEC's best wide receiver during the final stretch of the season, and Cordarrelle Patterson was the most versatile receiver out there and led the league in all-purpose yards.
No surprise that our list featured a heavy number of big fellas. Some of the top offensive linemen in this year's NFL draft hail from the SEC, and two of NFL draft guru Mel Kiper's top linebackers are SEC players. We also had five defensive linemen. In the quintessential line-of-scrimmage league, we had nine big uglies on our list, showing yet again how important it is to control things up front in the SEC.
Also, it was nice to see the quarterbacks return to real relevancy in the SEC this season. Manziel led the countdown and was the nation's best player, and Alabama's AJ McCarron and Georgia's Aaron Murray were the nation's most efficient quarterbacks, combining for 66 touchdown passes last fall.
We'll take one last look at our top 25 later today when we check out the players who just missed the cut, so stay tuned.