The SEC’s top 50 players for the 2017 season: Players ranked 41-50

GN is counting down the SEC’s top 50 players this season; we’re unveiling one player per day until we reach the No. 1 guy.

These are the players ranked 41st through 50th.

“Top” doesn’t necessarily mean the most pro potential or even the most sheer talent. Instead, it’s a mix of what the player has accomplished and what we think the player will accomplish this season. Production does trump potential, though.

Every school has at least one player in the top 50.

Drew Lock

DREW LOCK, by Denny Medley/USA Today Sports

41. Missouri QB Drew Lock

Particulars: 6-4, 225 pounds, junior
Recruiting background: 4-star prospect in 2015 signing class, from Lee’s Summit (Mo.) High
The skinny: Lock was second in the league with 3,339 passing yards and tied for third with 23 TD passes; he also had five 300-yard games and three more outings with at least 280 yards. He has prototypical size, a strong arm and plays with a swagger. Thing is, he also has room for improvement – a lot of it. Ten of his 23 TD passes came in two games, he tossed 10 picks and his completion percentage was just 54.6; he completed 50 percent or fewer of his attempts in five games, including a hide-your-eyes 4-of-18 performance (22.2 percent) against Florida. In Mizzou’s eight SEC games, he had nine TD passes and all 10 interceptions in SEC games. But this will be his second season playing for coordinator Josh Heupel, who oversaw some highly successful passers at Oklahoma, and if Lock makes the needed progression, a big year looms. He has started 20 games in a row (the final eight of his true freshman season and all 12 last season) and should be quite comfortable in Heupel’s offense. There is a solid line in front of him and a good receiving corps, meaning a 3,800-yard season is a legit goal. Only one quarterback has thrown for 3,600 yards in a season in school history, and that’s Chase Daniel.

RELATED: Rushing, passing, receiving: Projecting the top 5 in each category in the SEC

Jarrett Stidham

JARRETT STIDHAM, by Wade Rackley/Auburn athletics

42. Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham

Particulars: 6-3, 214 pounds, sophomore
Recruiting background: 4-star prospect in 2017 signing class, from McLennan CC (Texas); originally a 4-star prospect in 2015 signing class, from Stephenville (Texas) High who signed with Baylor
The skinny: Stidham hasn’t played a down of football in the SEC – heck, he hasn’t played a down of football since November 21, 2015, as a true freshman at Baylor (he did not play last season at McLennan CC) – yet is seen as a savior of sorts for Auburn’s offense. That offense has had mediocre quarterback play the past two seasons. And, yes, even though the hype is reminiscent of that surrounding Jeremy Johnson in 2015, Stidham showed in spring ball that there is legitimate justification. Every offense requires, at the least, competent quarterback play to be successful. But Gus Malzahn’s offense (even if it is run by OC Chip Lindsey) must have a playmaker at quarterback to be truly successful, and Stidham looks to be that type of guy. He has a strong arm and is a better passer than runner, but he can run well enough to make opposing defenses respect that facet of his game. How’s this for pressure: If Auburn is to reach its potential this season and legitimately challenge for the SEC West title (and, thus, the SEC crown overall), Stidham must throw for 3,000 yards and run for 300 or so.

RELATED: 8 key SEC transfers to watch in the 2017 season

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