The SEC has seen many wideouts thrive in their transition to the NFL over the past few years as college football has arguably shifted in regards to the importance of passing over rushing in the same time frame.
The case in point is the 2020 NFL Draft when a record 13 wide receivers were selected within the first two rounds. The 2020 class featured many names from the SEC such as Alabama wideout Jerry Jeudy and LSU wideout Justin Jefferson. Both Jeudy and Jefferson are performing well on their respective teams.
Needless to say, the SEC continues to produce some of the most elite wideouts every year. One key factor that allows for SEC wideouts to continue to make an impact on the college football landscape is the plethora of young talent at the quarterback position.
The SEC has seen standout passers make their marks over the past few seasons, and 2022 looks to be another year of competitive quarterback play. The conference features many talented quarterbacks such as Will Levis, Hendon Hooker, Will Rogers, and 2021 Heisman Trophy recipient Bryce Young.
One factor aiding the success of SEC signal-callers is the number of talented wideouts surrounding them. But which wide receivers will stand out above the rest? Who will be the next SEC wide receiver to make their mark in the NFL?
Here's a look at 10 wideouts in the SEC who could have the biggest impact in 2022:
Tauskie Dove (Missouri)
Senior wideout Tauskie Dove is incredibly important to the Missouri Tigers football team. In 2021, Dove played in all 13 games with nine starts. Dove led the Tigers in receiving yards and was one of two Mizzou players with over 500 yards. He also caught a career-high 38 receptions, tied for third-most on the team.
The impact that Dove makes on the gridiron for Mizzou is outstanding. Dove is well on his way to recording 1,000 career receiving yards in 2022. The Tigers will need the experience and talent Dove possesses if they want to compete in the SEC East this season.=
Jadon Haselwood (Arkansas)
Former Sooners wideout Jadon Haselwood has not yet been able to show his true potential but could do so with this change in scenery. Haselwood was a five-star recruit out of high school and was the No. 1-ranked receiver in the nation according to 247 Sports. In his junior year, Haselwood recorded 399 receiving yards on 33 receptions and six touchdowns. Haselwood also set a career-high in receptions against TCU, recording 6 receptions while also scoring three touchdowns.
With injuries and the changes at quarterback during his time at Oklahoma limiting his time on the field, Haselwood looks to make an impact in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks have more consistency surrounding the quarterback position as elite signal-caller KJ Jefferson will step on the gridiron with some SEC experience under his belt. The Jefferson and Haselwood tandem is one the SEC West should watch closely this season.
Jermaine Burton (Alabama)
The Crimson Tide has found a gem at the wideout position in Jermain Burton. Entering his junior year, the Georgia transfer is looking to make an impact for Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide in 2022. Coming out of high school, Burton was ranked a four-star prospect and was also ranked the No. 58 player nationally by 247 sports.
In his freshman year at Georgia, Burton recorded 404 yards on 27 receptions and three touchdowns. Even with the Bulldogs having another elite wideout in George Pickens, Burton still recorded 497 receiving yards with five touchdowns. Burton also averaged an impressive 19.1 yards per reception. With an elite talent at quarterback in Bryce Young slinging the ball, Burton will be an impact player for Alabama in 2022.
Jordan Watkins (Ole Miss)
Lane Kiffin has done an outstanding job in finding talent in the transfer portal for the Ole Miss Rebels. Surrounded by talented offensive players such as quarterback Jaxson Dart and running back Zach Evans, former Louisville wideout Jordan Watkins looks to help the Rebels offense light up the scoreboard in 2022.
During the 2021 season, Watkins recorded 529 receiving yards on 35 receptions and four touchdowns. Watkins also averaged 15.1 yards per reception in his sophomore year. With an offensive genius in Coach Kiffin leading the Rebs, expect Watkins to have an outstanding junior year at Ole Miss.
Tayvion Robinson (Kentucky)
Taviyon Robinson is arguably one of the most underrated wideouts in the country. The former Virginia Tech talent recorded 400+ yards in each season as a Hokie. In 2021, Robinson hauled in 559 receiving yards on 44 receptions and five touchdowns. During his time at Virginia Tech, Robinson compiled a total of 1,555 receiving yards on 113 receptions.
Robinson is also a threat as a punt returner -- finishing the regular season in 2021 with the third-most punt return yards in the FBS with 328 yards and an average of 13.7 yards per return. With Levis at quarterback for the Wildcats, Robinson has a chance to have an incredible season at Kentucky.
Ainias Smith (Texas A&M)
The 12th man has an elite veteran returning to this gridiron in 2022. It's no secret how much of an impact Ainias Smith has been for the Aggies. With the addition of quarterback Max Johnson from LSU, Smith has a talented signal-caller for his senior year in College Station. Last season, Smith recorded 509 receiving yards on 47 receptions and hauled in six touchdown passes.
As a team captain, Smith will look to lead Texas A&M to another successful season. The SEC West is one of the most competitive and brutal divisions in college football. If Texas A&M is to finally break through and become a top team in the SEC West, the Aggies need veterans like Smith to perform well and lead the team through the grueling schedule.
Kayshon Boutte (LSU)
Like the Auburn Tigers, the Tigers down in Baton Rouge have many questions and unknowns this season. An elite talent such as wideout Kayshon Boutte will be detrimental to the success of the Tigers. As a freshman, Boutte recorded 735 receiving yards on 45 receptions and hauled in five touchdowns. Boutte also set an SEC-record 308 receiving yards on 14 receptions in a win against Ole Miss in 2020. As a sophomore in 2021, Boutte hauled in 509 yards on 38 receptions and nine touchdowns.
It's no question Boutte has the talent and athletic ability to be the top wideout in the country, but new head coach Brian Kelly will have to lead Boutte and the Tigers through the grueling SEC schedule. Still, Boutte is an elite wideout and will be an impactful force for the LSU Tigers this season.
Jaden Walley (Mississippi State)
Davis Wade Stadium could very well turn into Walley World in 2022. Jaden Walley is arguably one of the most talented wideouts in the country. As a freshman in 2020, Walley broke many records including single-game and single-season receiving yards. Walley was also the first freshman in program history to record back-to-back 100-yard receiving games. In 2021, Walley continued to show off his talent, recording 628 receiving yards on 55 receptions and catching six touchdown passes.
With a potential top-five quarterback at the helm in Rogers, Walley has a real opportunity to rack up a good amount of receptions and yardage this season. Mike Leach and the Air Raid are facing arguably the toughest schedule in the country in 2022, but with talent such as Rogers and Walley leading the offense, the Bulldogs have a chance to compete among the titans in the SEC West.
Cedric Tillman (Tennessee)
Returning for the Vols as a fifth-year senior, Tillman is one of the most explosive wideouts in the country. In 2021, he recorded 1,081 yards on 64 receptions while recording 12 touchdowns. Tillman has tied many records during his time at Tennessee and is on track to break many of those this season. At 6'3 and 215 pounds, he has tremendous hands and is one of the top returning players in football.
With Hooker taking the snaps for the Vols, Tillman is another wideout in the SEC with an elite quarterback around him this season. Tennessee has an opportunity to make some noise in the SEC this season. Talent such as Hooker and Tillman will help the Vol's offense soar in 2022, as Tennessee looks to be a serious threat to the SEC East this season.