Welcome back to week two of NFL Pre Draft power rankings! Last week, we looked at the bottom of the league, from the absolute worst, team number 32, all the way to number 25 on my list. In the past few weeks, teams have cut, traded, and signed numerous big name free agents and players and rosters are being reshaped in order to prepare for training camp and the NFL Draft. The following are power rankings based on teams’ moves and rosters up until this point in free agency. After the NFL Draft in late April, we’ll come back and take a look at where these teams stand. Enjoy!
24) Indianapolis Colts
I’m torn deciding where to place the Colts. On one hand, they were probably the second worst team in football last year based on talent and personnel. On the other hand, though, Andrew Luck is set to return along with others, like Malik Hooker, from injury. There’s a few reasons why they are so low on my list, despite Andrew Luck returning. For one, Luck hasn’t throw an NFL pass in an eternity. How ready is he going to be at the NFL level coming off of such a layoff? Two, the offensive line is still atrocious. Luck will have to be on the Colts side, all pun intended, if they are going to be anything relevant next year. Indy went out and signed veteran Matt Slauson to help patch together that offensive line. They also went out and acquired former Lions tight end and top ten draft pick Eric Ebron. Although Ebron isn’t going to help in the blocking department, he will add a versatile weapon to the Colts’ offense. In a division featuring the Texans, Jags, and Titans, the Colts may just have to wait their turn, and compete again in a few seasons.
23) Chicago Bears
23 may be a bit high for a team that only won five games last season, but I think the Bears took major steps forward last year and into this offseason. The defense wasn’t as bad as many thought it would be in 2017, and the offense showed… spurts. John Fox really put a cap on how much rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky could do on offense, and it limited how effective the Bears could be on that side of the ball. This year, they have a new, young coach taking the reigns and an offense that features more weapons. The Bears signed receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, giving Trubisky much better options on the perimeter to throw to. Robinson, before his injury riddled 2017, was one of the best receivers in football. Gabriel was a crucial part of the Atlanta offense, while being paired with another elite receiver in Julio Jones. I think the Bears could surprise some people this coming season, maybe not with a winning season or anything crazy, but winning upwards of 7 or 8 games.
22) Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens are in almost the same spot as the Seahawks. They have talent, and a better defense than Seattle, but their offense, for lack of a better word, sucks. Their division is getting more competitive, obviously featuring Pittsburgh but now the Browns. The Ravens added some skill position players this offseason in order to help what was a stagnant offense last year. They signed former Oakland receiver Michael Crabtree and Cardinals wide out John Brown to deals the past few weeks. The Crabtree signing provides an instant playmaker on offense, especially in the red zone, and Brown gives Flacco and company a deep threat. I don’t think that just these two fix the problem, though. They still need an upgrade at tight end, running back, and more depth at receiver. Playoffs would be a stretch for this upcoming Ravens team.
21) Seattle Seahawks
This may be the lowest preseason ranking the Seahawks have seen in quite some time. They still have one of the league’s best at the quarterback position, Russell Wilson, but everything else “elite” is almost gone. In addition, teams in their division continue to improve, the Rams have more elite players and San Francisco has better personnel. Seattle lost cornerbacks Richard Sherman, Deshawn Snead, and Jeremy Lane. They also lost two defensive linemen, Michael Bennett and Sheldon Richardson. To make things worse, they also lost two of their best offensive skill position players in Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham, along with backup tight end Luke Willson. The plan for Seattle looks to be cut out all huge contracts and rebuild a horrid offensive line with new, quality players. This will be Pete Carroll’s biggest test yet, rebuilding a poor team with better teams in the division. I’d put the ceiling on Seattle, because of Carroll and Wilson, at eight or nine wins.
20) Denver Broncos
Denver is a team in a tricky spot. Just a few years ago, they boasted one of the best defenses the league has ever seen. A mix of rushers, solid linebackers, and an elite secondary made it near impossible for opposing offenses to score. That’s different now. Free agency and trades, including losing Aqib Talib to the Rams this season, have dismantled Denver’s secondary and front seven a bit, and it’s not the same scary defense as it once was. The reason they haven’t made a playoff push in years isn’t because of the defense, though. It’s the offense. Poor quarterback play, paired with a relative lack of skill players has made it tough on Denver’s diminishing defense to hold the team up. This offseason, they went out and acquired quarterback Case Keenum to help add a day one starter to the position. They also resigned linebacker Todd Davis to a three year extension. The Broncos may still choose a quarterback in the top ten, but with the signing of Keenum, it becomes less of a priority. This upcoming season will be a test. How good is Case Keenum? If he’s the same guy as last year, the Broncos could return to playoff form.
19) Oakland Raiders
Oakland may be the only team with a non-player being the team’s biggest story going into the next season. The Raiders signed former coach Jon Gruden to a long term contract in order to turn around a team that has had its struggles recently. The team has a franchise quarterback, Derek Carr, they just need a team around him. Defense was a real sore spot last year, and besides Khalil Mack, there wasn’t a lot of good that came from that side of the ball, especially in the secondary. In free agency thus far, the Raiders signed former Lion linebacker Tahir Whitehead, Colt corner Rashaan Melvin, and Texan safety Marcus Gilchrist. Although solid additions, none will be game changing or game breaking to the point of which the Raiders need on defense. To make things even tougher, receiver Michael Crabtree wasn’t extended, so he will be gone next season. The Raiders will need to shore up the defensive side of the ball in the draft, or else next season opposing teams will be licking their chops when the Raiders come to town.
18) Washington Redskins
Washington made one of the biggest early splashes in the offseason in acquiring Alex Smith, after the team couldn’t come up with a long term solution with quarterback Kirk Cousins. The ‘Skins did have to give up cornerback Kendall Fuller and a draft pick to get Alex Smith, though. The biggest need in the offseason, one that has still yet to be addressed fully, is the lack of talent on the offensive side of the ball. Terrelle Pryor didn’t work out last season, so the Redskins decided to sign former Seahawk’s receiver Paul Richardson to a long term deal. Running back remains an area of concern, as health and production lacked in the backfield last year. In a tough division featuring the Eagles and Cowboys, both of which with better personnel, it’s going to be a tough 2018 for the Redskins.
17) Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers, although finishing 9-7 last year, missed the playoffs. They have talent on both sides of the ball, but a horrid start set the team too far back of the playoff picture. Quarterback Phillip Rivers is still performing at a high level, and the team bolsters a dynamic back in Melvin Gordon, defensive end in Joey Bosa, and corner in Casey Hayward. Los Angeles has been relatively quiet this offseason, with no major impact player signings besides acquiring center Mike Pouncey. They did add a veteran tight end in Virgil Green and solid kicker Caleb Sturgis to the roster in the past couple of weeks, but both won’t make or break the team in years to come. With great quarterback play and a rebuilding division, the Chargers could make a push at the playoffs in 2018.
Find Out Next Week!