If you haven’t seen Phil Steele’s preseason All-SEC teams (he sets up four), here they are:
A few choice observations, by position:
- Quarterbacks. I guess Phil’s taken Steve Spurrier’s Garcia message to heart. I’m a little surprised at Newton’s appearance, but the more I think about it, if you think Malzahn’s system works, then it’s not much of a stretch. After all, Chris Todd, a far less gifted quarterback than Newton, finished third in the conference in passing efficiency last year. Bottom line, though: it’s not shaping up as a great year for SEC quarterbacks.
- Running backs. I can’t really question the first or second team choices, but I think you can make a good case for challenging the third and fourth team picks. I like both fourth teamers better than either of the two on the third. In fact, I don’t really know what Demps is doing on the list at all. If Steele is basing this on projected production, it’s hard to see how somebody like Tauren Poole doesn’t make the list, as UT figures to be doing a lot of running this year. And Steele must have a lot of faith in Lattimore’s talent, especially since he doesn’t include a single South Carolina offensive lineman in his top four teams. Any way you look at it, though, the conference looks to be well stocked at the position in 2010.
- Wide receivers. Randall Cobb ahead of Alshon Jeffery? I don’t think so. Darvin Adams is one of those guys who deserves more attention than he’s gotten; it’s a good decision to place him first team. Deonte Thompson’s inclusion feels like one of those “you know Florida’s gonna throw the ball, so put somebody on the list” picks. I’d probably put SC’s Gurley ahead of Bumphis. And Russell Shepard strikes me as a wee bit of a stretch, given it’s his first year at the position full-time and the state of LSU’s quarterback position. Still, you know what? There are a lot of pretty good receivers in the SEC.
- Tight ends. Hard to argue with any of Steele’s picks here.
- Offensive line. I like this part of Steele’s projections. He’s always been good at finding guys who are ready to step up, like Florida’s Xavier Nixon. I really like the Cordy Glenn second-team inclusion, too. MSU’s Sherrod is another guy who deserves more attention. He’s good. On the other hand, and maybe it’s just me, I think Lee Ziemba is overrated. I’d switch him with Sherrod.
- Returners. I’m not sure where Steele came up with his list of punt returners, other than Cobb, who’s a pretty obvious pick. It’s true that most of the top guys from last season are gone, but why Gilmore and Rainey? Kick returners are better, but I’d probably put MSU’s Leon Berry ahead of Grandy.
- Defensive line. Drake Nevis is another one of those guys – he didn’t start for LSU last year, but still wound up as one of the conference leaders in tackles for loss. Omar Hunter looks like a stretch at second team – don’t get me wrong, he’s hugely talented, but he’s battled injuries and he’s not currently listed first team on Florida’s depth chart. It’s not a strong year for defensive tackles in the SEC. The ends are better – look at a guy like DeQuin Evans sitting at third team.
- Linebackers. This position is loaded. Ole Miss’ Walker and Cornell are both underrated guys, so kudos to Steele for recognizing that. I think he’ll regret not squeezing Cornelius Washington in there somewhere, though.
- Defensive backs. Bacarri Rambo, fourth team. Way to go, Phil. Overall, he’s done a solid job with his picks here. Corey Broomfield is another guy to watch.
- Kickers. I’d move Byrum ahead of Jasper. And I’m not sure why Tydlacka makes the punters list and Ole Miss’ Campbell doesn’t.
And some team observations:
- By far, the biggest overall surprise is how few LSU players appear on the offensive teams.
- Alabama has three outstanding players to build around on defense, but there ain’t much after them right now.
- If you want to look at why Georgia should be better than South Carolina in the East, look no farther than the offensive line picks.
- Steele isn’t buying Arkansas fans’ confidence in an improved defense.
- How bare is Tennessee’s cupboard?
- The Florida secondary will be outstanding.
So, your thoughts?