An early (real early) look at the 2017 SEC Power Rankings

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Ray Carlin/USA TODAY Sports

Forgive us if we’re already looking forward to September 2017 — but we are.

To that end, here’s a January 2017 look at the SEC for the fall of 2017. It’s an early view of the 2017 SEC Power Rankings.

Our final 2016 SEC Power Rankings are here.

14. Missouri

This season: 4-8, no bowl
The skinny: How much can Mizzou improve defensively? The Tigers were rancid on that side of the ball this season – 232.8 rushing yards per game allowed, 479.7 total yards per game allowed, 31.5 points per game allowed. While the potential exists for a potent offense, it’s hard to see Mizzou in a bowl in 2017 unless the defense makes vast improvement.

13. Vanderbilt

This season: 6-7, lost in Independence Bowl
The skinny: While Mizzou must get better defensively, Vandy must get better offensively. The return of RB Ralph Webb is a big positive, but QB Kyle Shurmur must become more consistent as a passer. He showed glimpses of becoming an adequate quarterback in 2016, but “glimpses” won’t get it done.

12. South Carolina

This season: 6-7, lost in Birmingham Bowl
The skinny: The Gamecocks overachieved this season, and expectations will be higher next season. But the overall talent level is not where it needs to be. QB Jake Bentley is a great building block, though; truthfully, it’s amazing how well he played considering he should’ve still been in high school. Will Muschamp and his staff need to find and/or develop some defensive playmakers.

11. Mississippi State

This season: 6-7, won St. Petersburg Bowl
The skinny: QB Nick Fitzgerald put together a huge first season as a starter, and if he makes the expected progression, he could be a guy who produces 4,500 yards of total offense. But there are questions at wide receiver and along the offensive line. And while departed defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon was blamed for a lot of his unit’s issues in 2016, it was not an overly talented unit – and there could be even less talent in 2017. And here is some news for Bulldogs fans who didn’t like Sirmon: New DC Todd Grantham is overrated; you’ll be cussing him soon enough.

10. Ole Miss

This season: 5-7, no bowl
The skinny: Ole Miss went into this season as a dark-horse pick to win the league. That won’t be the case in 2017 – and maybe for a long while. Ole Miss was another SEC team whose defense was pitiful, and new coordinator Wesley McGriff – who had been Auburn’s secondary coach – has a tough road ahead. But there is offensive talent on hand. QB Shea Patterson showed some things when he started the final three games, and the offensive line should be a lot better in 2017 than it was in ’16. It would help, though, if a legit feature back emerged.

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