The SEC has won seven consecutive national championships and that is in large part due to the completely different level they are on in the trenches, but as each year goes by the SEC improves at the skill positions. Here I breakdown a list of where each team ranks when it comes to wide receivers and tight ends.
1. Texas A&M - While I think Alabama may have a deeper list of talented wideouts, I think TAMU's wideouts will put up bigger numbers and I believe that Mike Evans who caught 82 passes for 1,105 yards last season as a redshirt freshman might just be the best returning receiver in the conference. Malcolm Kennedy should see an increased role as well with the loss of Ryan Swope. Also, its worth mentioning that the Aggies brought in five receivers rated as 4-stars or better, with Ricky Seals-Jones, JaQuay Williams, and Laquvionte Gonzalez. Kevin Sumlin also went to the juco ranks to find former Tennessee Volunteer tight end, Cameron Clear.
2. Alabama - Like I mentioned, Alabama has a deep list of wide receivers with tons of talent, but I imagine their won't be quite enough to go around for this crew. While I think the Tide will pass the ball more than ever before under Nick Saban this year, I still feel they won't ignore a stud like TJ Yeldon in the backfield(a running back that will also help in the passing game). Still when you return the likes of Amari Cooper, Kevin Norwood(a Mississippi native), Christion Jones, Kenny Bell, and DeAndrew White(injured most of last season), then you're talking about one of your deepest positions. I also expect Cyrus Jones to help out in the slot this season and I expect Chris Black to become a big time playmaker on the outside opposite Cooper.
3. Ole Miss - With much of the talk on youngster LaQuon Treadwell, I think people forget the Rebels are returning three productive wide receivers in Ja-Mes Logan, Vincent Sanders and of course, Donte Moncrief. I also feel that Moncrief, along with previously mentioned Amari Cooper and Mike Evans are the best three receivers in the SEC. With that being said, I do feel like freshmen, Quincy Adeboyejo and Treadwell will help. The problem for the Rebels is the tight end position is non-exsistent. The Rebels graduated their two top tight ends from last season, they lost a big time freshman in the spring in Christian Morgan, lost a signee to juco in AJ Jackson, and will count on an undersized freshman in Evan Engram and some walk-ons for production out of the position this season. However, I think you will mostly see four receiver sets this season.
4. Vanderbilt - Jordan Matthews could have been a high draft pick in the 2012 NFL draft, however, he decided to come back and join fellow returning wideout in Chris Boyd as one of the best returning tandems in the league. However, they won't see too much help other than Jonathon Krause in the slot. However, the Commodores could get help from two highly rated freshmen in Carlos Burse and Jordan Cunningham.
5. LSU - The Tigers, much like Alabama I assume, won't be able to fully use the stable of wideouts they will have this season. But boy do they have one of the most athletic groups of receivers in the country on their roster currently. Of course the star of the group is the electrifying receiver and special teams ace, Odell Beckham Jr.. However, the likes of Jarvis Landry, Kadron Boone, and James Wright isn't too shabby. Those guys have good size and can all be deep threats. I expect the nations top juco receiver from the 2013 class, Quantavius Leslie, will also contribute this season. I also think redshirt freshman Travin Dural will be productive as well.
6. Georgia - Aaron Murray will spread the wealth, we know that. And it appears he will have a nice mix of receivers and tight ends to throw it to in 2013. He returns two productive wideouts in Michael Bennett and Chris Conley, he'll also have Arthur Lynch, a returning tight end that has been productive, but there is no doubt his playmaker will be Malcolm Mitchell. Mitchell was considered by some to be one of the top cornerbacks in the country coming out of high school, so his athletic ability and speed have never been questioned. The question is this year, can Mitchell be a number one wideout and can be balance the dominant Bulldog running game by being a consistent deep threat? I think Jay Rome is a name to watch at tight end for Georgia this Fall, as well. You also can't forget about big time juco wideout Jonathon Rump(he was a big time MSU prospect, if you remember).
7. Missouri - So Dorial Green-Beckham didn't dazzle in his first season in Columbia, but he did lead the team in touchdown receptions with five. I expect Green-Beckham to put it together this season and become the big time player that everyone always thought he would be. I expect for the Tigers to line him up in the slot to stretch the middle of the field and use him outside as a deep edge threat as well. They will try to find any mismatch they can with DGB this Fall. Marcus Lucas also returns for Mizzou this Fall as well and he should be one of the top wideouts in the league as well. Eric Waters should increase production at the tight end spot this season, too, with a healthy James Franklin.
8. South Carolina - The Gamecocks will feature a few explosive, quick slot-type receivers this season in Bruce Ellington and Damiere Byrd. They also should have one of the better returning tight ends in the league as well in Rory Anderson. With the slot receivers in place, it is an outside playmaker that USC will be searching for. While he's young, I think Shaq Roland has a chance to be one of the best wide receivers in this league and I think he is what the ol' ball coach is looking for on the outside. Remember the name Shaq Roland.
9. Florida - Quinton Dunbar and Trey Burton will be the most experienced producers that the Gators return and I think they will be up to the challenges that will bring. However, the Florida receiving corps will be about the breakout players and I expect those to be: Andre Dubose(elite speed), Latroy Pittman and Raphael Andrades. Not a lot of people will be talking about the Gators' receivers early on, I think this will be a well-known group by season's end. I think Kent Taylor should bring some playmaking ability to the tight end position for the Gators, as well.
10. Mississippi State - I think this is a little low of a ranking for where I personally feel the talent is for MSU at wide receiver, but the facts are the receivers that are returning have not lived up to their talent to this point. I think that Jameon Lewis, Joe Morrow, and Robert Johnson are talented and I think they will all finally show it this season, now that the weight falls on their shoulders. However, the strength for MSU here is the tight end position. With a renewed emphasis on the tight end position for MSU this offseason, I feel that Malcolm Johnson will have a big year. Juco transfer Jeremy Chappelle and freshman Fred Ross are also guys to watch here at WR. I feel both will be productive this Fall.
11. Auburn - For Auburn there will be breakout guys at this position. There is ability on the depth chart at receiver and with Gus Malzahn returning I expect a potent offense to return to the plains with him. Maybe not SO potent in year one, but I feel guys like Quan Bray, Trovon Reed, Sammie Coates, Ricardo Louis and tight ends, CJ Uzomah and Brandon Fulse will make sure it isn't a slouch of an offense either.
12. Arkansas - The Razorbacks will likely be looking for any offensive bright spot they can find next season and I expect one of those bright spots to be Mekale McKay. He will be returning for his second season and I think he's ready to become a star. The question is, will Bret Bielema's offense and a new starting quarterback allow him to do so. Returning will be Julian Horton and Javontee Herndon should help as well. I also think incoming freshman tight end Hunter Henry will lend a helping hand immediately too.
13. Tennessee - I feel confident Butch Jones won't let the Vol offense fall on its face, but it's kind of one of those close your eyes and hope for the best situations. The only returning receiver that looks poise to really contribute is Vincent Dallas and a tight end that could help looks to be Brendan Downs. I expect a young wideout named Jason Croom (picked between UT and MSU) to really blossom this Fall and I think he's a star down the road. The Vols also have a big time freshman that looks primed to contribute this Fall in Marquez North.
14. Kentucky - Demarco Robinson is a returning guy that could help Kentucky this Fall and I think he will have to. Tyler Robinson and Ronnie Shields are two tight ends that return that could potentially breakout and it would be much needed for the Wildcats. There is an incoming juco transfer by the name of Javess Blue that will be needed to produce come this Fall as well. It could be a long season for the Wildcats.
My top five WR/TEs:
1. Mike Evans, Texas A&M
2. Amari Cooper, Alabama
3. Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss
4. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
5. Jarvis Landry, LSU