The SEC's 25 best players: No. 3

Finally, a quarterback shows up in our countdown of the SEC’s 25 best players, and he might be one of the best three or four quarterbacks in the country.

No. 3: Ryan Mallett, QB, Jr., Arkansas

2009 numbers: Led the SEC with 3,624 passing yards and 30 touchdowns while throwing just seven interceptions. Completed 55.8 percent of his passes.

Most recent ranking: No. 6 on the 2009 postseason countdown.

Making the case for Mallett: Really, not much of a case needs to be made. The 6-foot-7, 238-pound Mallett is one of the most talented quarterbacks in college football and showed just how talented last season in his first tour through the SEC after transferring from Michigan. He set or tied 16 Arkansas school records and finished seventh nationally in pass efficiency (152.5). Mallett is still recovering from a broken bone in his foot that he suffered during offseason conditioning, but should be back to full strength by the time preseason practice begins next month. Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino has raved about Mallett’s feel for the offense, and he should be even better in that department next season, in particular when it comes to spreading the ball around to his deep stable of playmakers. Mallett was the only player in the SEC last season to throw five or more touchdown passes in three different games. He also led the league in passes of 50 yards or more with 10. As good as he is at hitting the deep ball, he’s also extremely effective when it comes to throwing the ball on the move. One of Mallett’s goals this coming season is to improve his overall accuracy and take the shorter throws when they’re there instead of trying to force the ball down the field. He thinks his mechanics have improved and is bursting at the seams to lead the Hogs to a special season. Mallett threw 30 touchdown passes a year ago. Don’t be surprised if he makes a run at 40 in 2010.

The rundown

No. 4: Patrick Peterson, CB, Jr., LSU

No. 5: Marcell Dareus, DE, Jr., Alabama

No. 6: Julio Jones, WR, Jr., Alabama

No. 7: Dont'a Hightower, LB, Jr., Alabama

No. 8: Mike Pouncey, C/G, Sr., Florida

No. 9: Pernell McPhee, DE, Sr., Mississippi State

No. 10: Jerrell Powe, NT, Sr., Ole Miss

No. 11: Trent Richardson, RB, So., Alabama

No. 12: Stephon Gilmore, CB, So., South Carolina

No. 13: Kelvin Sheppard, LB, Sr., LSU

No. 14: Randall Cobb, WR/QB, Jr., Kentucky

No. 15: Janoris Jenkins, CB, Jr., Florida

No. 16: Mark Barron, S, Jr., Alabama

No.17: Darvin Adams, WR, Jr., Auburn

No. 18: Alshon Jeffery, WR, So., South Carolina

No. 19: D.J. Williams, TE, Sr., Arkansas

No. 20: Cliff Matthews, DE, Sr., South Carolina

No. 21: Clint Boling, OT, Sr., Georgia

No. 22: Greg Childs, WR, Jr., Arkansas

No. 23: Washaun Ealey, RB, So., Georgia

No. 24: Chris Marve, LB, Jr., Vanderbilt

No. 25: Luke Stocker, TE, Sr., Tennessee