Ranking SEC's top 10 receivers in 2021: Yes, Alabama football tops the list again

USA TODAY Sports Network

DeVonta Smith last year became the first wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy since Desmond Howard in 1991. If a panel of journalists who cover the SEC for the USA TODAY Sports Network are correct, Alabama football may have yet another top pass-catcher emerging in 2021.

John Metchie III is the top receiver going into the fall season according to the poll, garnering 10 of a possible 17 first-place votes.

Nineteen players from 13 schools received votes from the panel in choosing the SEC's top 10 receivers, with Auburn being the only league school not to have a player receive at least one vote. Five players received first-place votes. Ten points were awarded for a first-place vote down to one point for a 10th-place vote.

The USA TODAY Sports Network is counting down to SEC Media Days, scheduled for July 19-22 in Hoover, Alabama, by revealing its top players at each position grouping.

Here is a look at the SEC's top 10 receivers:

The next in line:How first-year starters have fared at quarterback during Nick Saban's time with Alabama football

Bouncing back?:Why LSU football is the SEC's most undervalued team entering 2021 season | Toppmeyer

1. John Metchie III

Alabama, junior (160 points, 10 first-place votes)

Metchie III has the chance to lead the Alabama receiving corps after playing with several first-round draft picks. He caught 55 passes for a 16.7-yard average and six touchdowns last season.

Nick Kelly

2. Treylon Burks

Arkansas, junior (140 points, 2 first-place votes)

A member of the All-SEC second team in 2020, Burks paced Arkansas with 820 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. At 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, he's a mismatch for most defensive backs. 

Will Backus

Nov 21, 2020; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks wide receiver Treylon Burks (16) fields a kickoff during the first half against the LSU Tigers at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

3. Kayshon Boutte

LSU, sophomore (131 points, 3 first-place votes)

After Terrace Marshall Jr. opted out with three games to play, Boutte took over. He caught 27 passes for 527 yards and four touchdowns in three games, including an SEC-record 308 receiving yards and three touchdowns against Ole Miss.

Glenn Guilbeau

LSU wide receiver Kayshon Boutte (1) tries to get a first down, as Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31) makes the tackle during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

4. Jacob Copeland

Florida, junior (87 points, 1 first-place vote)

Copeland is only the returning starter from Florida’s loaded receiving corps. He led the team in yards per catch (18.9) last year with 23 receptions for 435 yards and three touchdowns.

Zach Abolverdi

5. Jaden Walley

Mississippi State, sophomore (82 points)

Walley led Mississippi State with 718 receiving yards. He eclipsed 100 receiving yards in each of the final four regular-season games.

Tyler Horka

6. Jermaine Burton

Georgia, sophomore (67 points)

With George Pickens sidelined after tearing an ACL, a player who led the team averaging 15 yards per catch will have a chance to shine. Burton was third on the team with 27 catches for 404 yards and three touchdowns. 

Marc Weiszer

7. Cam Johnson

Vanderbilt, senior (59 points, 1 first-place vote)

Johnson is the SEC’s returning leader in receptions with 56. He is a sure-handed receiver who should benefit from an accurate quarterback (Ken Seals), especially on third downs. 

Adam Sparks

8. Wan’Dale Robinson

Kentucky, junior (55 points)

This Nebraska transfer was a Paul Hornung Award finalist in 2019. He can do a little of everything but is expected to be the top receiver in Kentucky’s new offense.

Jon Hale

9. Braylon Sanders

Ole Miss, senior (53 points)

Injuries have held Sanders back the last few years, but he’s still averaged 20.8 yards per catch the last three seasons. He’ll take over as the primary receiver after playing behind DK Metcalf, AJ Brown and Elijah Moore.

Nick Suss

10. Velus Jones Jr.

Tennessee, senior (25 points)

Jones came on late in 2020 for the Vols. He might be UT’s most consistent option in an offense that could take to the air often.

Mike Wilson

NOTE: Arik Gilbert, who caught 35 passes for 368 yards with two touchdowns as a tight end at LSU last season, announced his intention to enter the transfer portal before voting took place. He joined Georgia's roster after the voting had ended. Georgia lists him as a wide receiver on its roster.

Voting panel: Zach Abolverdi, Gainesville Sun; John Adams, Knoxville News Sentinel; Will Backus, Knoxville News Sentinel; Eric Blum, Columbia Daily Tribune; James Fletcher, The Tuscaloosa News; Gentry Estes, The Tennessean; Aria Gerson, The Tennessean; Glenn Guilbeau, The Daily Advertiser; Jon Hale, The Courier Journal; Cecil Hurt, The Tuscaloosa News; Nick Kelly, The Tuscaloosa News; Adam Sparks, The Tennessean; Nick Suss, The Clarion-Ledger; Blake Toppmeyer, Knoxville News Sentinel; Josh Vitale, Montgomery Advertiser; Marc Weiszer, Athens Banner-Herald; Mike Wilson, Knoxville News Sentinel.