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Replacing the stars: Where SEC teams will turn in 2020

Myles Brennan
Myles Brennan (Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports)

Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.

With spring football underway and the NFL Draft season in full swing, we will take a look at which players leave big shoes to fill and who might step in. We continue today with the SEC.

REPLACING THE STARS: Big Ten

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

LSU - QB Joe Burrow

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The skinny: It is hard to imagine a replacement who will be more scrutinized this season than Burrow’s, the Heisman Trophy-winning, record-setting, national championship-winning quarterback. That task will likely fall to Myles Brennan, who completed 24 of 40 passes for 353 yards, one touchdown and one interception during eight mop-up duty appearances in 2019. While nobody is expecting Brennan to throw 60 touchdown passes this fall, he will take over a team that has several weapons returning, most notably wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall.

Farrell’s take: Brennan has waited his turn and barring a big transfer , this should be his team if he can take the next step. He was a four-star out of high school who was skinny but showed accuracy and a solid arm. Can he lead this offense like Burrow did? Nope. But he has weapons.

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ALABAMA - WRs Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy

The skinny: Yes, the Tide are still returning Jaylen Waddle and DaVonta Smith, but who are the younger players who will need to step up at the position in Tuscaloosa this fall? The most intriguing candidate is Tyrell Shavers, who at 6-foot-6 gives the position a new dimension. However, don’t just expect him to be a redzone threat, as he has proven himself in practice as a multi-talented receiver.

Aside from Shavers, most likely to slide into a starting position is John Metchie, while Slade Bolden and Xavier Williams are also names that everyone will be hearing more about in 2020.

Farrell’s take: If Smith and Waddle stay healthy, this will be an easy job for the others looking to step up. Shavers was a skinny and raw wide receiver coming out of high school but his ceiling was so high we had him in the Rivals250. He’s the one I expect to take the next step, but keep an eye on Metchie as well as he’s a great athlete.

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AUBURN - Defensive linemen Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson

The skinny: While Brown rightfully received the most publicity, also losing Davidson will make this an interesting transition year for Auburn on the defensive line. There isn’t a great deal of experience behind Brown, but Coynis Miller is trending to become an important piece of the Tigers’ defense this fall. He seems to realize the opportunity in front of him and has worked overtime to improve his game over the last few months.

Davidson’s replacement will likely be Derick Hall, who shined in his one start against Ole Miss when the veteran was out with an injury.

Farrell’s take: I really like Miller and he will be an excellent defensive tackle. We liked him a lot out of high school for his ability to pass rush and his motor. He won’t be Brown in the middle, but he will be good. The end position is a little tougher. Markaviest Bryant should emerge as a standout this season as he’s shown a lot of ability but watch out for Hall who I think can really add some athleticism as well.

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GEORGIA - OT Andrew Thomas

The skinny: Thomas is actually one of four starting offensive linemen that the Bulldogs are losing from their 2019 team. And while they seem to have answers for every other position, Thomas’ left tackle spot is not one of them.

So, who is most likely to try and fill that void? Right now, the early favorite is redshirt freshman Xavier Truss, who has impressed during his time in Athens, while another redshirt freshman, Warren McClendon, will have all eyes on him this spring and summer. True freshman five-star Broderick Jones should also not be discounted for the left tackle position.

Farrell’s take: This is wide open and replacing Thomas isn’t easy as the left tackle and leader of the line. Georgia really needs guys to step up. Jamaree Salyer will be a star, but he’s more of a guard or right tackle. I really look for Jones to come in and push for this job and Truss and McClendon will have a hard time keeping him from jumping them on the depth chart. Jones was our No 1 offensive tackle in the 2020 class.

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FLORIDA - CB C.J. Henderson

The skinny: Having Henderson on the field during the last two seasons gave the defensive coaches at Florida a security blanket they no longer have. However, the Gators have established themselves as a top-level defensive back school, so there is no shortage of talent waiting to take advantage of Henderson’s departure to the NFL.

Marco Wilson played multiple positions in the secondary last year, and may be the answer here, but the play of Kaiir Elam as a true freshman last season produced plenty of optimism regarding his potential. Maybe a bit too aggressive at times, his athleticism is next level, which should give him the edge heading into the 2020 season.

Farrell’s take: Henderson is a loss, but Elam is an elite athlete and will take the next step. We loved him out of high school for his speed and ball skills and he’s flashed signs of that. He’s a great fit to plug in and take over with Wilson on the other side.

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