The SEC has traditionally boasted the most talent of any conference in the country, and the 2020 season will be no exception. The star players in the conference blanket the south like humidity on a long summer day, and having established players on a roster is going to take on even more importance than normal when you factor in the coronavirus-shortened offseason.
With that said, it's impossible to make a list of the top-10 players in the conference without leaving off multiple superstars. But, since the season is right around the corner (maybe), we're here to give it the best shot.
1. Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
The reigning Biletnikoff Award winner was a superstar last year for the national champions with 84 catches for 1,780 yards and a nation's best 20 touchdowns. Yes, he had No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow tossing him the ball, but that doesn't change the fact that he, like Burrow, revolutionized LSU's offense with an increased focus on taking the top off of defenses deep downfield. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder was a big reason for LSU's success last year and will be a critical cog in the transition from Burrow to Myles Brennan.
2. Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
Did you forget about Moses? You shouldn't have. The redshirt junior missed all of last season with a knee injury and then passed on the NFL Draft to return to Tuscaloosa and lead the Crimson Tide defense. Moses had 86 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks as the "quarterback" of the defense. If the Crimson Tide intend on climbing back to the top of the SEC, their defense -- which finished seventh in the conference against the run (137.15 yards per game) -- is going to be what drives them there.
3. Kylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State
The senior running back for the Bulldogs made history this offseason for his part in getting the Mississippi state flag changed. He's just as impactful on the field, too. Hill rushed for 1,350 yards and 10 touchdowns last year on an offense that didn't exactly make defensive coordinators quiver when they popped on the film. Or, to put it more simply, Hill averaged 103.85 yards per game despite having the opponent's undivided attention. His duties will likely change in the wide-open offense under first-year coach Mike Leach, which could make him the most dangerous player in the conference.
4. Derek Stingley, Jr., DB, LSU
Stingley was so good as a freshman last season that he finished tied for fifth in the country in interceptions with six, and did it despite opposing quarterbacks continually avoiding him. The 6-foot-1 190-pound native of Baton Rouge broke up 15 passes, had 38 tackles and added 163 yards on punt returns. LSU lost a medium-sized village to the NFL Draft, which will put even more pressure on Stingley to be the rock that holds the Tigers together. After what we saw from him as a freshman, it's clear that he can handle it.
5. Trey Smith, OL, Tennessee
The big men need some love, and nobody deserves it more than the senior offensive guard Trey Smith. The 6-foot-6, 335-pounder didn't allow a single sack last year and is the highest-rated interior run-blocker returning to the conference, according to Pro Football Focus. Smith will be the anchor of one of the most experienced offensive lines in the country in 2020. If Tennessee is going to get back into the SEC East championship discussion, it's going to have to do so behind its best player.
6. Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
There are so many good players in the SEC that I really feel bad about putting Harris so "low" in these rankings. After all, the former hotshot recruit rushed for 1,224 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns, had 304 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns while providing some of the most jaw-dropping highlights of the 2019 season. The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder has the power of a Mack truck and the feet of a dancer. He will be the centerpiece of the high-octane Crimson Tide offense in 2020 as they look to get back to the top of the SEC peak.
7. Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
The junior linebacker for the Tigers notched 107 tackles in 12 games last season and finished atop the conference in tackles per game (8.92). He added 7.5 tackles for loss and broke up eight passes on a defense that, very quietly, finished No. 4 in the SEC in defensive yards per play (4.86). Bolton is the highest-rated returning rush defender according to Pro Football Focus, and is the rock of a Missouri defense that looks to be the strength of the team heading into the 2020 season.
8. Richard LeCounte, DB, Georgia
LeCounte is only 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, but the senior defensive back packs the biggest punch in the conference. He passed on the NFL after tallying 61 tackles and four interceptions to come back and be the rock at the back end of a Georgia defense that should be one of the best in the country in 2020. Pro Football Focus pointed out that, out of 1,073 coverage snaps through three season, LeCounte has allowed exactly one catch of 30 or more yards. The combination of coverage ability and willingness to stick his nose in to help out against the run makes him one of the top defensive players in the entire country.
9. Alex Leatherwood, OL, Alabama
The senior moved back to tackle last season after playing guard in 2018 and was a big reason why Alabama's offense was one of the most feared units in the country. He allowed just two sacks, three quarterback hurries, graded out at 89% and missed just seven assignments on 752 snaps as a junior. He was the anchor of an offensive line that finished third in the nation in sacks allowed per game (0.92). Leatherwood could have jumped to the NFL but chose to come back to Tuscaloosa to boost his stock and lead the Crimson Tide back to a national title.
10. Kyle Trask, QB, Florida
Trask stepped in for an injured Feleipe Franks in Week 3 vs. Kentucky and threw for 2,941 yards last year -- the best season for a Florida quarterback since 2009, which was Tim Tebow's final season in Gainesville. He completed 54.8% of his passes while under pressure last season, the second-best mark in the country. Not bad for a guy who hasn't been the starting quarterback in an offseason at any point during his college or high school career. His future looks bright now that he's finally the unquestioned starting quarterback for the Gators.
DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama), Drake Jackson (OL, Kentucky), Darrian Kinnard (OL, Kentucky), Rakeem Boyd (RB, Arkansas), Monty Rice (LB, Georgia), Bobby Brown III (DL, Texas A&M), K.J. Britt (LB, Auburn), LaBryan Ray (DL, Alabama), JaCoby Stevens (DB, LSU), Kellen Mond (QB, Texas A&M), Jaylen Waddle (WR/KR, Alabama), Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)