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2016 NFL Pre-Draft Power Rankings

NFL Power Rankings

Pre-Draft

  1.  New England Patriots

New England has consistently made the playoffs over the last decade. Next year will be no different. The additions of Bennett, Long, and Cooper will have a positive impact on this team. Chris Long can still be very productive if he can stay healthy. However, the departure of Chandler Jones via trade somewhat hurts the roster but it isn’t going to break the team.  The offense has gotten a major boost with the additions of Martellus Bennett and Jonathan Cooper. Gronkowski and Bennett together should generate similar production to the days when Hernandez and Gronkowski were putting up double digit touchdowns at the tight end position.  

  1.  Arizona Cardinals

Arizona has all the pieces to be a Super Bowl contender. Carson Palmer is legitimately playing some of the best football of his career on an underrated offense. Bruce Arians has a great track record over the last three years, getting continued production from what seems to be an injury plagued roster on a yearly basis. Arizona also kept some good pieces in free agency and had some under the radar signings. For example, they brought in Evan Mathis who just won a Super Bowl with Denver. He may be old, but his position affords him more time at an elite level than other positions. If Arizona can stay healthy there is no reason they can’t reach the Super Bowl.  

  1.  Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh had a rough go of it last season. Their big three only played one quarter of a game together and the team sustained multiple injuries to key players such as Le’Veon Bell and Ben Roethlisberger. Despite such things they still made the post-season and should do it again. In fact, they should win the division title. It seems that Roethlisberger is out at least two games a year now, but that offense is so dynamic it may be the best in the league. If they can protect Roethlisberger they will have a very strong season, potentially taking the number one seed in the AFC. Oh yeah! Did I mention they have the best wide receivers in football on their roster?….Antonio Brown anyone?  

  1. Carolina Panthers

Carolina is getting Kelvin Benjamin back, who is a difference maker at the wide receiver position. Benjamin’s return and the fact that they were the highest scoring team in the league last year looks good for this offense. Carolina was not able to retain a key piece on defense in cornerback Josh Norman. This isn’t a major blow to their roster, but it’s still a loss. He is arguably one of the top corners in the league and will be missed. However, they were able to resign Charles Johnson who still has some good football left. Even though Josh Norman is currently no longer under contract and most likely will head for $greener$ pastures, this team is primed for another strong season.  

  1.  Green Bay Packers

It was such a disappointing season for Green Bay and their fans alike. A legitimate Super Bowl contender on an annual basis, mainly due to excellent play from the king of the North Aaron Rodgers. However, despite his unreal playmaking ability the team suffered immensely compared to its usual self, which allowed Minnesota to take the division title. How can this be? That being said, it was a fluke year for Green Bay. The return of Jordy Nelson and the addition of Jared Cook will return control of the North to this team. I foresee them putting up 25+ points a week.  

  1.  Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati just hasn’t been able to put it together yet. They have been knocked out of the playoffs in the first round for the last five years. Despite a very strong season this team was defeated by Pittsburgh in the Wildcard game last year. This was mostly due to the absence of Andy Dalton, who was injured in week fourteen, ironically by Pittsburgh.  Cincinnati has a balanced roster and has added solid playmakers on each side of the ball through the draft. Unfortunately they lost some pieces in free agency that I think will be surprisingly missed. Therefore, I can’t put them higher than they are.  

  1.  Seattle Seahawks

Seattle has made the playoffs all but one year of the Pete Carroll era. They have possibly the best defense in football and a playmaker in Russell Wilson. How does this guy win so many games? Plain and simple their defense is stacked. The “Legion of Boom” terrorizes opponents and provides more opportunities for Wilson to put up points than we realize. Seattle will most likely be attending the post-season again.  

  1.  Kansas City Chiefs

This team has an underrated roster and rightly so. Alex Smith is not a top five Quarterback and quite possibly not a top ten quarterback. However, they have a very strong run game, which is paired with an insane pass rush. They retained so many defensive pieces this offseason and will continue to dominate on that side of the ball. If they had a better quarterback I would have them much higher in the rankings.  

  1.  Denver Broncos

I struggled to put Denver this high. Yes they just won a Super Bowl and yes they had historically one of the best defenses in football last year, but what are we not looking at here? No quarterback… Mark Sanchez is fine to take this team to .500 next season, but he will not be winning any games for them. The defense will be doing that. Oh yes, let’s not forget they lost Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan in free agency. Despite the common perception of this defense, I think those two will be missed. Until they get a quarterback, I can’t see Denver cracking the top five. In fact, they may drop as the season progresses.  

  1.  Minnesota Vikings

How good did Minnesota and their fans alike feel winning the division title? Pretty dang good I assume. Unfortunately, I think Green Bay takes their throne back. However, this team has a plethora of young defensive talent that will continue to execute strong defensive play. Therefore, they should have another strong season and possibly make a Wildcard spot. The team really needs Teddy Bridgewater to take the next step and start making plays.  

  1.  Dallas Cowboys

What! How is Dallas this high on the rankings? Dallas had an awful season last year, but it can reasonably be blamed on injuries. Tony Romo and Dez Bryant score points and if the two stay healthy this year, they will score points. Not to mention the team just revitalized their run game with the addition of Alfred Morris. I am not sure what happened in D.C. the last two years, but it is reasonable to expect thirteen hundred yards rushing and twelve touchdowns from Morris behind Dallas’ offensive line. He is also a sneaky pass catching option out of the backfield. I expect them to have an explosive offense this year and just outscore their opponents.  

  1.  Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck is not falling apart. He was injured last year and despite how many hits he takes their general manager Ryan Grigson just doesn’t seem to get it. I have no idea why Indianapolis continues to squander their gift and add average to below average starters to their offensive line. Luck is the best quarterback next to Rodgers, therefore, he covers up the plethora of holes Indianapolis has. Despite the poor roster, this team seems to compete when Luck is healthy. If they had any players to surround him, they would be much higher on the power rankings.  

  1.  Houston Texas

Houston could rise the rankings very quickly this year. Their defense will continue to carry this football team, powered by the….I have no words. J.J. Watt is so good I don’t know to describe him. Houston hasn’t had a quarterback in a long time, yet they still continue to win games. The addition of Brock Osweiler is big win for this team and great news for DeAndre Hopkins. I don’t think Osweiler will ever be a top five quarterback, but he is probably the best talent they have had in the last five years. Now that Houston has a competent quarterback, don’t be surprised to see Hopkins challenge the likes of Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. for the receiving title this year.  

  1.  Oakland Raiders

Wow…it’s been a very long time since Oakland cracked the top fifteen entering…well, any part of the season. Reggie McKenzie has received a large amount of criticism during his tenure as the general manager of this football team, but he has quietly done a very good job. Last year’s production turned a lot of heads. They have managed to acquire legitimate franchise players at key positions. The two most notable ones are their quarterback Derek Carr and defensive end/outside linebacker Khalil Mack (insane pass rusher). Both had excellent sophomore campaigns and should only get better. They also had an excellent free agency, filling some holes in the secondary and added to what is starting to look like a very scary pass rush. If they played in a weaker division I would say they are guaranteed to, finally, get back to the playoffs.  

  1.  New York Giants

The Giants spent a lot of cash this offseason, completely revamping their defense. They strengthened their pass with the addition Vernon Olivier and the return of Jason Pierre-Paul and shored up the secondary as well. They will be much better this year, but I am skeptical of their first time head coach Ben McAdoo. Depending on how they draft in the first round I think they could be a surprising team this year. Odell Beckham Jr. continues to wow people with his insane athletic performances. Enough said…  

  1.  New York Jets

I apologize Jet fans. The general manager of this franchise has not resigned Ryan Fitzpatrick, leaving the team without a quarterback. This team had ten wins last year, but I can’t put them higher without a quarterback. The Jets have a solid defense and continue to hit on their picks with players like Leonard Williams and Sheldon Richardson. Their offense is also very capable. Last year Brandon Marshall had a much better season than I had expected him to have and despite popular belief, Eric Decker is actually a fairly productive receiver in the NFL. Matt Forte was a nice addition to this roster but, I can’t get over the hole at quarterback. Fitzmagic is not an elite talent, however, he is much better than what is currently available. I hope you’re not lobbying for Geno Smith right now.  

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville should be close to a winning record this year. They have what it takes to win in this league and that is a franchise quarterback. Blake Bortles is a playmaker and probably the best quarterback in his draft class. They also have two young talented receivers in Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson. Offense is not their problem; despite a defensive minded head coach they give up a ton of points. Jacksonville added Malik Jackson to their defense and they are getting Dante Fowler Jr. back, who missed his entire rookie season. If they can get their defense to produce they will be a very good football team.  

  1.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jameis Winston is truly helping this franchise. The first overall pick in the 2015 draft injected life into the offense, throwing for four thousand yards in his rookie season. He reminds me of another quarterback taken a few years ago… Regardless it is a good sign for Tampa Bay that their quarterback is already producing.  Mike Evans will pair nicely with him for years to come. They have some nice pieces on their offensive line as well. Their two second round picks Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet played very well last year revamping the offensive line. In a few years Tampa Bay may be a challenging Carolina for the division title.  

  1.  Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore hasn’t been as good as the year they won the Super Bowl. Player departures and some missed draft picks have hurt this franchise, not to mention the Ray Rice business. Whoops! I mentioned it. The injury bug bit them in a big way last year. For example, they lost their best defensive player in Terrell Suggs during their first game of the season. However, Flacco is good enough to be a top ten quarterback and if they get back to business they can contend in the AFC North again.  

  1. Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta was the team to beat a few years ago, but they have continued to drop out of relevance in the league for some strange reason. They had a surprisingly good season last year, despite their record. A majority of their losses were within a three point deficit. Their defense wasn’t the issue. Atlanta struggled on offense only scoring 339 points. However, there is good news for this team. They brought in some good pieces, via free agency, adding four of the top one hundred free agents. Alex Mack and Mohamed Sanu should help their offense get back to how explosive it was a few years ago.  

  1.  Washington Redskins

Washington got very lucky with Kirk Cousins play, which started off slow and then picked up towards the end of the season. It’s unfortunate that RGIII didn’t work out considering the price they paid for him. However, after reaching the post-season last year this team has something to build on. They do need some help in a lot of areas on defense and offense. Luckily for them the upcoming draft is loaded with defensive talent, which should allow them to address their needs. The jury is still out on Cousins, I feel a full season as the starter will give the football world a better idea of how good he is. Until Washington can fix their holes and more importantly know what they have in Cousins, I don’t think they will consistently put good football games together.  

  1.  Buffalo Bills

Sigh…Rex Ryan syndrome took over faster than I thought it would in Buffalo. The Bills were a top five defense in 2014, but something strange happened last year and they struggled mightily. They had and still have good players. It’s a shame, they were a dark horse pick to win their division going into the season. Mario Williams has left for the shores of South Beach, but this loss isn’t that bad. There were grumblings that teammates were upset with his level of commitment to the team and that he didn’t get along with Ryan. His departure may be a blessing in disguise. The offense continues to remain a conundrum. Sammy Watkins is an excellent up and coming receiver, but he needs to stay healthy and Buffalo needs to find an identity on offense.  

  1. Los Angeles Rams

Los Angeles has been on the verge of being contender for a few years now. They have been missing the most important position during this time. A franchise quarterback has eluded this team. They have played in what was widely considered the best division in football until San Francisco’s massive drop off.  Otherwise they may have been more successful over the last few years. Despite the exit of some good defensive pieces, Los Angeles still has an elite defense. If Robert Quinn can bounce back from his injury he will continue to be a disruptive against the run and the pass. Plus, they were able to retain Trumaine Johnson. The addition of Todd Gurley in last year’s draft was huge. He is a playmaker who is already in the talk for best running back in the league. If they can fix their quarterback issue, they will be able to take the next step. Although, it may not be as noticeable, as they play Arizona and Seattle twice a year.  

  1.  San Diego Chargers

San Diego is much better that their record last year. Injuries hindered this team, as multiple starters were out at various times throughout the season. Taking Melvin Gordon in the first round didn’t work out the way they had planned. Hopefully he can adjust to the NFL. That being said they had a quiet, but good free agency. They added several pieces to their roster, which softens the loss of Eric Weddle. San Diego helped out their secondary by adding Casey Hayward, who should be productive considering he will be playing alongside Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett. Not to mention the team added another weapon to their offense in Travis Benjamin. He should be fairly productive with Keenan Allen lining up on the other side of the field.  

  1.  Philadelphia Eagles

The post Chip Kelly era has begun with a flurry of moves. The team has already shipped out Byron Maxwell, Kiko Alonso, and Demarco Murray. They resigned Sam Bradford who as of now is their projected starter, but can this franchised be revitalised after all the shenanigans Kelly pulled? I think they can. They have some good players in Philadelphia, they just lacked team unity. First time head coach Doug Pederson was surprisingly productive as an offensive coordinator in Kansas City the last few years, where he had Alex Smith at the helm. Philadelphia could make a surprise recovery this year and get back on track.  

  1.  New Orleans Saints

This is a very sad time for New Orleans fans, as the end of an era is coming. Gone are the days where Drew Brees can will his offense down the field and win football games. New Orleans is lucky they have him at the helm or they would probably be ranked thirty two. I am not saying Drew Brees is starting to go downhill. Nor am I saying the offense sucks. In fact, they ranked eighth in points scored. Are you starting to see where I am going with this? The issue is their defense, which has been awful for years now. They gave up a league high 479 points last year. Wow, no wonder they did so poorly. However, they still managed to get seven wins. Bottom line: they absolutely need to start fixing that defense.  

  1.  Chicago Bears

What is there to say about Chicago? They have some good players and John Fox prepares his team pretty well for games.They just have so many holes on their roster. They made some good moves with their additions in free agency, but they still have a ways to go. They added Jerrell Freeman, Akiem Hicks, and Danny Trevathan. As a result, they should be better on defense. The loss of Adam Gase is a big deal. He was able to help Jay Cutler cut down his interceptions from eighteen to eleven and had that offense hopping. Chicago has some pieces, but they need to add a lot more if they want to be competitive on a regular basis.  

  1. Miami Dolphins

Miami is so low on this list because they continue to underperform. They have an excellent roster on paper, well….had an excellent roster on paper. Miami lost five players from the top one hundred free agents. Yes they added Mario Williams, but he seems to create locker room issues, which I can’t imagine will mix well with Ndamukong Suh. Despite what used to be a strong roster, this team just can’t pick up wins. New head coach Adam Gase should sort out the offense and get them back on track. Plus, Ryan Tannehill seem to get better every year, as he has increased his total yards passing and reduced his interceptions. The major drawback for this team is the loss of Lamar Miller and the offensive line needs a lot of help. Tannehill has been sacked an average of 50 times over the last three years. Even though Miami no longer has Derrick Shelby, Olivier Vernon, and Brent Grimes on their roster, they still have Cameron Wake, Suh, and now Williams. However, they need to start winning games to move up the rankings.  

  1.  Detroit Lions

Detroit is also an underperformer. They do play in the NFC North, but it isn’t the juggernaut that is the AFC North. Green Bay had a down year last season and Detroit still only managed third in the division. That being said, they did play very well in spurts last year, unfortunately it was against lesser teams. Calvin Johnson announced his retirement this year, which downgrades the offense. Detroit should be able to score in spurts this season as they have some tools to do so. However, they need to improve their defense. It took a step backwards last year and I have a funny feeling it may take another step backwards this year. Detroit has not added any noteworthy defenders to their squad and Haloti Ngata continues to age.  

  1.  Tennessee Titans

I wish that I could put Tennessee higher, but outside of Marcus Mariota they don’t have anyone special on their roster. They did add Rishard Matthews, Rashad Johnson, and Demarco Murray, but all those guys are complementary pieces. Murray can be a contributor, but he needs a good line to run behind. The next closest player they have to a superstar is Brian Orakpo and he isn’t quite good enough to be a superstar. Depending on their draft they could make a jump up the board. However, as of right now they have no offensive weapons next to Mariota and their defense is suspect. On the plus side, Mariota is a franchise player and they should feel good about building around him. Quarterback is the hardest position to find elite playmakers. Time will tell, but it seem they have that one figured out.  

  1.  San Francisco 49ers

My how the mighty have fallen…Just a few years ago San Francisco was a powerhouse in the NFC West and almost won a Super Bowl. Currently, San Francisco looks to be a bottom dweller for the 2016 season. Colin Kaepernick is on his way out and should be dealt to a team, via trade, before the first game kicks off. Due to player departures and retirement, their once stocked roster now looks barren. However, they do have some playmakers in Carlos Hyde, Arik Armstead, and Navorro Bowman. Unfortunately these guys are not enough to make this team competitive. It is going to take a few years of good drafting and free agents before this team gets back to relevance.  

  1.  Cleveland Browns

I feel so bad for Cleveland fans. They have had a great defense, a great offensive line, and even a superstar receiver in Josh Gordon, but they have always been missing a quarterback. Sigh…it looks like being one piece away from competing for the division title is over. There was a mass exodus out of Cleveland this year. They lost players on both sides of the ball and it may have sealed their fate for the 2016 season. They no longer have a stud receiver because Josh Gordon can’t stop participating in his extracurricular activities. They no longer have a stout offensive line, as they lost their starting center Alex Mack and starting right tackle Mitchell Swartz to free agency. Lastly, they have taken some hard hits to their defense because multiple starters from last year’s team are gone. Tashaun Gipson left, via free agency, for Jacksonville and the team cut their other starting safety Donte Whitner. It seems that when it rains it pours in Cleveland. However, there are some bright spots along the horizon. Their new Head Coach Hue Jackson can do wonders with an average roster and they just signed RGIII. Jackson is the right coach for RGIII to play under and could potentially revitalize his career in Cleveland. In conclusion, the current state of their roster forecasts a bleak setting, but things could clear up quicker than expected.

Published in All Things NFL Power Rankings

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