The SEC QB Rankings are bleak after the top tier, as Jayden Daniels continues to lead the group. After a dominant showing, how large is the gap at the top for Daniels, and can anyone challenge him this season?
Our weekly iteration of our 2023 SEC QB Rankings is here, taking a look at where they stack up through seven weeks of the season.
2023 SEC QB Rankings
As with all of our conference rankings and our national quarterback evaluations, the SEC QB rankings below consider everything involved with quarterbacking at the major college football level.
While statistics will be mentioned, they were not the lone deciding factor in ranking the athletes. The list below prefers programs with a solidified quarterback situation and one signal-caller who plays significant snaps against top-tier competition. Two-quarterback systems will always be looked down upon, especially in those cases where an answer has not yet been provided for the long term.
Other factors in these rankings include but are not limited to game film, injury history, play-calling, offensive system knowledge and continuity, general quarterbacking mechanics, level of competition, the elevation of supporting casts, and several other influential factors.
All QB Rankings: 1-133 | ACC | B1G | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC | AAC | C-USA | MAC | MWC | Sun Belt | FBS Ind.
Reminder – we also released our Midseason All-SEC Team and Midseason All-Americans this past week.
Tier 1: The Elite SEC QBs
1) Jayden Daniels | LSU
Last Week’s Ranking: 2nd (+1)
Yards: 2,294 | TDs: 22 | INT: 3 | Comp. %: 73.1% | YPA: 11.0
What a season it continues to be for Jayden Daniels. The LSU defensive woes didn’t quite show up in Week 7 and for the third consecutive game, Daniels and the Tigers’ offense scored at least 48 points. He’s thrown 14 touchdowns in the past four games and multiple touchdowns in all but one game this season.
Daniels is clearly not the issue, and in fact, continues to be the reason this LSU defense remains competitive. He’s seeing the field well, and continuing to make moves with his legs, except this season, he seems to be picking his shots with his legs much better than in years past.
2) Jaxson Dart | Ole Miss
Last Week’s Ranking: 1st (-1)
Yards: 1,638 | TDs: 12 | INT: 2 | Comp. %: 64.1% | YPA: 9.8
With a bye week to get healthy, the Ole Miss team stays afloat in the SEC West. Jaxson Dart has been the reason for the majority of their success on offense, throwing for 12 touchdowns and maintaining the offense’s schedule brilliantly.
Dart has tested the waters at every level of the field well and shown the talent that made him such a highly sought-after recruit. The defenses aren’t quite the best over the next three weeks, and Dart should have a considerable advantage until the Georgia game in November.
Tier 2: Well-Above-Average SEC QBs
3) Spencer Rattler | South Carolina
Last Week’s Ranking: 5th (+2)
Yards: 1,724 | TDs: 11 | INT: 4 | Comp. %: 73.6% | YPA: 8.9
It could be said that this South Carolina defense is sadly wasting one of the best South Carolina quarterback seasons we’ve seen in recent memory. Spencer Rattler is dotting the field with accurate passes, powerful shots, and zone beaters left and right, middle and deep.
The defense has allowed at least 30 points in the past three games and 41 points in back-to-back contests, forcing errant throws down the stretch that bury just how good Rattler has been this season. Rattler has vaulted himself back into the NFL Draft picture and is certainly in the top tier of the top college quarterback rankings.
4) Carson Beck | Georgia
Last Week’s Ranking: 3rd (-1)
Yards: 2,147 | TDs: 12 | INT: 4 | Comp. %: 73.6% | YPA: 9.1
The only thing knocking Carson Beck this early into his starting career with the Georgia Bulldogs is inconsistency. He’s shown flashes over the past three weeks, but in Week 7, forced a few throws and made a few errant decisions.
Fortunately, for Georgia fans, Beck can get away with those with how good his defense is playing. Quietly, though, he’s second in the SEC in passing yards and has done so with three straight 300-yard performances prior to a sluggish game against Vanderbilt.
Tier 3: Above-Average SEC QBs
5) Brady Cook | Missouri
Last Week’s Ranking: 4th (-1)
Yards: 2,046 | TDs: 14 | INT: 3 | Comp. %: 71.0% | YPA: 9.4
We’ve not seen the best Brady Cook over the past two weeks, throwing three picks in his past two games, but he’s still earned a season split against top 25 teams in LSU (loss, 39-49) and Kentucky (win, 38-21). Cook was dominant over the first five games of the season and flashed a bit of that skill against Kentucky in Week 7, but there were some missed opportunities and forced throws that could’ve gone the other way.
He’ll have to clean up his decision-making as the season continues on through SEC play if the Tigers want to keep their winning ways. Find Luther Burden, get back to what worked, and Cook should continue to thrive.
6) Jalen Milroe | Alabama
Last Week’s Ranking: 8th (+2)
Yards: 1,397 | TDs: 11 | INT: 4 | Comp. %: 64.4% | YPA: 10.6
Finding his groove against Arkansas, Jalen Milroe was dominant on downfield passing and within the scripted portion of the Alabama offense. However, the wheels fell off with his accuracy down the stretch and the Razorbacks nearly came back.
Fortunately for Milroe, the Crimson Tide defense stepped up big time in the win over Arkansas. Milroe hit several deep shots, however, that showcased what makes him a potential special kind of player. With time in the pocket, Milroe could be a dominant downfield passer.
7) KJ Jefferson | Arkansas
Last Week’s Ranking: 7th (no change)
Yards: 1,450 | TDs: 14 | INT: 6 | Comp. %: 66.0% | YPA: 7.7
KJ Jefferson started off too slow, ultimately, to come away with an upset win over Alabama in Week 7. Still, he made a game of it and threw for two scores against the Crimson Tide, but it was too little too late, and he was a bit too erratic when it was all said and done.
Jefferson is a strong athlete, that’s never been in question, but he’s not taken his game to the next level in terms of his consistent passing ability. Until then, Jefferson plays in the middle of the road of these SEC QB Rankings.
Tier 4: Average SEC QBs
8) Joe Milton | Tennessee
Last Week’s Ranking: 6th (-2)
Yards: 1,264 | TDs: 10 | INT: 4 | Comp. %: 61.5% | YPA: 6.9
It just hasn’t been what Tennessee Volunteers’ fans wanted it to be from Joe Milton in 2023. A year after Hendon Hooker dominated in the same offensive scheme, Milton has struggled to see the field and struggled even more to make the right reads.
Despite Josh Heupel’s system being a QB-friendly offense, Milton hasn’t even come close to the expectations set forth this offseason. Everyone knows of his arm talent, but the lack of accuracy has shown on multiple occasions this year.
9) Graham Mertz | Florida
Last Week’s Ranking: 12th (+3)
Yards: 1,897 | TDs: 12 | INT: 2 | Comp. %: 76.2% | YPA: 8.5
We’re starting to see the best of Graham Mertz for the Florida Gators. He’s been pressed into duty and pressed into downfield passing, something that fits his strengths when he’s brought his A-game. Mertz is fourth in the SEC in passing yards and has thrown six touchdowns over his last two starts.
Against good defenses, however, Mertz has still struggled at finding his receivers open downfield. We’ll remain cautious about moving him up too far until he proves his top form is here against strong defenses.
10) Will Rogers | Mississippi State
Last Week’s Ranking: 10th (no change)
Yards: 1,275 | TDs: 10 | INT: 4 | Comp. %: 61.4% | YPA: 7.5
On a bye week in Week 7, Will Rogers and the Mississippi State Bulldogs have a chance to look at what has been successful this season, and what hasn’t. Rogers’ ability to spread the ball around to each side of the field has worked, but finding receivers downfield has not.
Getting back to the ways of this offensive scheme’s most successful passes — stick concepts and routes working back to Rogers — should pay off in the long run for their season win total and Rogers’ overall game.
11) Max Johnson | Texas A&M
Last Week’s Ranking: 11th (no change)
Yards: 898 | TDs: 7 | INT: 4 | Comp. %: 56.8% | YPA: 7.6
Max Johnson struggled to see the field against Texas A&M, mirroring what we saw against Alabama a week prior. The way Conner Weigman was playing prior to his injury is a real shame as this Texas A&M team was moving the football really well, and instead, with Johnson in, have been boom or bust.
Johnson’s ‘yolo’ style of play hasn’t quite shown and he’s found his receivers well in the short area of the field, but it’s been too little to overcome some strong defenses this season. He’s thrown three picks and just one touchdown over the past two weeks, and that’s likely to continue unless he improves his overall mechanics and field vision.
12) Devin Leary | Kentucky
Last Week’s Ranking: 9th (-3)
Yards: 1,377 | TDs: 14 | INT: 7 | Comp. %: 54.4% | YPA: 7.1
The Kentucky Wildcats season has come off the rails with back-to-back losses, showing the biggest discrepancy they have over their SEC rivals: quarterback play. Devin Leary got away with some errant throws and some bad decisions against lesser competition to start the season, but now that SEC play has heated up, he’s been inconsistent, inaccurate, and not willing to tempt the field.
Leary has thrown two interceptions and completed less than 46% of his passes over the past two outings. Making matters more concerning, he’s not faring nearly as well on play-action passes in SEC play despite a historic season from Ray Davis and their offensive line.
13) AJ Swann, Ken Seals | Vanderbilt
Last Week’s Ranking: 13th (no change)
Yards: 1,290 | TDs: 11 | INT: 7 | Comp. %: 53.8% | YPA: 7.5
Ken Seals has filled in admirably for AJ Swann, but the Vanderbilt Commodores offense has failed to move the ball consistently with either one in the lineup this year. Seals has thrown two touchdowns in each of his three starts this fall, but struggled with his ball security overall.
He withers under pressure, unfortunately, and has been under duress almost more than he hasn’t so far in 2023. A concerning factor whether it’s Seals or Swann as this season continues.
14) Robby Ashford, Payton Thorne | Auburn
Last Week’s Ranking: 14th (no change)
Yards: 745 | TDs: 4 | INT: 4 | Comp. %: 60.7% | YPA: 6.4
We’re not quite sure that Robby Ashford nor Payton Thorne will be the answer for Auburn moving forward, but maybe this works for them. Their two-quarterback situation has thrown some defenses for a loop in 2023, but far too often, they’ve not been consistent enough to do anything at all offensively.
Thorne, the more experienced passer, has thrown for four scores, but not a single touchdown through the air against SEC defenses as the going is set to get really tough for the Tigers in 2023.
Tier 5: Work-To-Be-Done SEC QBs
We’ll remain cautious that we don’t lose another quarterback situation to the bottom tier here, but a few are trending in this direction, sadly.