This is the first of our position-by-position look at the best tandems of NFL prospects in the Southeastern Conference this season. We veered away from superstars and their sidekicks, instead looking to highlight truly strong pairs where the headliner and the supporting role are harder to distinguish, and where a pro career is most promising for both. High-level production last season was a must.
Wide receivers: Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd
Matthews blistered SEC secondaries last season for a school-record 1,323 yards on 94 receptions, the second-highest single-season catch total in SEC history. He has the toughness to go across the middle, the size (6-3, 210) to catch the ball in traffic, and plenty of speed. He is an experienced senior who had every opportunity to turn pro last year, and with a healthy season, he'll leave Vandy as the most prolific receiver the school has ever had. He's been making spectacular grabs since he was a freshman, like this one from 2010. Early draft projections on Matthews range as high as the first round and as late as the third.
Boyd made 50 catches for 774 yards last season, more than any returning No.2 receiver in the league. Like Matthews, he is built for the NFL (6-4, 205). Those close to the Commodores program believe he may be a bit more athletic than Matthews, but simply lacks the polish and instincts that Matthews brings to the position. And it doesn't hurt to make ESPN SportsCenter's No.1 play on a fall Saturday. Boyd is only a fourth-year junior, so it could be the 2015 NFL Draft before he gets his chance at the pros. Even the best Vandy players tend not to declare early for the NFL. This season, he and Matthews will be building chemistry with a new quarterback in Wyoming transfer Austyn Carta-Samuels.