Hey y'all, I was a little bored yesterday and decided I wanted to write up some power rankings post-draft. I love lists, so power rankings are obviously some of my favorite things out there. I believe the San Francisco 49ers are the best team in the league, and I think it's easy to see why. I also think the Seattle Seahawks aren't too far behind, especially with a monster offseason and a really good draft.
Anyway, onto the rankings. Make your own, tell me I'm stupid, get outraged and generally raise a ruckus in the comments. Do a barrel roll if you'd like, as well.
1. San Francisco 49ers (Niners Nation)
The rich got richer this offseason, as our Super Bowl-losing 49ers added key pieces in both free agency and the NFL Draft. They had possibly the best draft of any team in the NFL, with value all throughout the first five rounds. They replaced Dashon Goldson with Eric Reid and added some key pieces to their aging defensive front, including Tank Carradine, the heir apparent to Justin Smith.
Peyton Manning proved me wrong in a big way. The guy's neck is being held together by bits of string and what I imagine is a good deal of duct tape, but he went in and got things done. Like he did in Indianapolis, Manning makes everyone around him better, and the Broncos have the easiest schedule in the NFL next season. Easy choice.
Improving the secondary was a point of focus heading into the offseason, and after the Falcons traded up to get Desmond Trufant, they took Robert Alford in the second round. In my book, both of those guys can be starters in their rookie season. If the offense can hold up and those picks pan out, they'll be in great shape.
4. Seattle Seahawks (Field Gulls)
All eyes will be on quarterback Russell Wilson. They already had an elite defense, but wouldn't have made it nearly as far if the Wilson pick didn't turn out to be a brilliant spot of drafting. Seattle, possibly fearing a sophomore slump, made some serious strides on offense this offseason to accommodate him, ensuring further progression. Maybe Percy Harvin will work out extremely well, or he'll totally flame out, but either way, the 49ers are on notice. Wilson is a player I have mad "hater respect" for. I hope the dude crashes and burns, and that he throws no more touchdowns and is relegated to a backup role. He has that much potential for being good.
Are the Packers really serious about establishing a running game going forward? Both Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin are feature back material, and if the Packers don't rely on them a good deal in 2013, I'll be surprised. On top of that, there's also Aaron Rodgers, who is, you know, Aaron Rodgers. I expect the Packers to be right back in the thick of it this year.
DeAndre Hopkins was a great draft pick, at least in my opinion. Bringing in a real receiver to compliment Andre Johnson is a big play, and if the quarterback position continues to hold on by whatever thin thread is holding it in place, the Texans will continue their run of playoff appearances. Ed Reed is probably an underrated signing, as well.
Usually, you wouldn't see the Super Bowl-winning team fall this far, but I think the Ravens got a lot worse this offseason. There's an awful lot of leadership leaving that defense, and I firmly believe the quality of that leadership was one of the things that made them so good. They'll struggle at times, but they can still win that division and once that happens, well, you know the drill.
I thought the Patriots had an uncharacteristically poor draft. A lot of totally random names, and a lot of senseless trading when it was pretty obvious that they need to add some talent before their window closes. The Patriots may be in line for a rude awakening next season, and it wouldn't surprise me one bit.
Adrian Peterson is a monster. An absolute monster. He's going to be really good again next year, and I personally think that Cordarrelle Patterson is an upgrade to Percy Harvin, who was nothing but a big headache, pun intended. I also am a believer in Christian Ponder, and the Vikings have done enough to get better on defense. In short, I think that last season wasn't a fluke and that they'll continue their progression. Peterson won't hit the totally insane mark of 2,500 yards, though.
Free agency saw many of Cincinnati's top free agents re-signed, and they had a fantastic draft haul. Andy Dalton is given every opportunity to succeed, especially with the addition of tight end Tyler Eifert. That should be an explosive offensive, especially if Giovani Bernard pans out. On defense, Margus Hunt should be effective from the get-go.
They made the best of their situation without any first-round picks by taking David Amerson, a player I believe to be underrated and an immediate starter, in the second round. That alone signifies huge improvement, but they also landed my draft crush, Bacarri Rambo. If Robert Griffin III comes back healthy, the NFC East should be theirs to lose.
The Bears had one of the absolute worst offensive lines in football last season. I wrote over 1,000 words on just how horrible they were. They grabbed a great player in Kyle Long in round one, who should be an immediate starter, and then snagged Jordan Mills in the fifth round, who may be the right tackle of the future. The most striking thing to me about the Chicago offense is that they almost led the team to the playoffs, finishing 10-6, with such a terrible offensive line. Also, I'm VERY interested in seeing how Marc Trestman fares in the NFL.
Andrew Luck will never be as good as Peyton Manning, in my opinion, but he's going to be an effective quarterback for a long time. The Colts will win games based on him alone, but the rest of the team is also moving in the right direction as well. Greg Toler is a solid addition, and if LaRon Landry is healthy, he could wind up doing some really good things in Indianapolis.
I haven't really been impressed with the Giants all that much over recent years, but they still manage to win and squeak by in spite of that. However, I feel like they're going in the wrong direction at this point. I think Justin Pugh was a reach, but Johnathan Hankins should end up being an extremely effective player. That said, I think New York pays far too much attention to its defensive line and not enough to the rest of the defense, which is lagging behind.
The Saints are still the Saints, and Drew Brees is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. I think he's the best pure passer in the league by a wide margin, but they do have an insanely tough schedule next season. The Saints may be an absolute wreck in a few years, but for now, they're still plenty dangerous to any of the playoff-hopeful teams in the league.
Jarvis Jones was probably an excellent pick for the Steelers, and if they can help Le'Veon Bell develop, they just might postpone the total ruin that the team is currently headed towards. Ben Roethlisberger needs to bounce back, and the Steelers will certainly be dangerous on any given Sunday, but the team might be in the same position as the Saints: bracing for a steep decline.
Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey once again represent an attempt to bring in wide receiving talent, but this is a much more real play than when the team brought in Greg Salas and Austin Pettis. Unfortunately, Sam Bradford just isn't that good a quarterback and I think the Rams made a huge mistake in passing up on Robert Griffin III last year. I think Austin and Bailey will show impressive stuff here and there, but ultimately the Rams will be ineffective with the short ball offense and a defense almost constantly in transition.
I keep thinking the Bucs are going to make the leap to being a great team. Josh Freeman has all the tools but he consistently under-performs, and Tampa Bay's propensity for picking guys that fall in the draft hasn't paid off, as few have actually developed into real contributors. I'm off the Tampa Bay bandwagon, with the caveat that there's a lot of high ceilings on that roster.
Detroit had high expectations last year, and that will be the case this year as well, despite only winning four games in 2012. Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh cannot be names you see on a 4-12 team. They are much more talented than that, and can easily make the leap back into the NFL's elite in one offseason. Landing Larry Warford late in the draft and, of course, Ziggy Ansah in the first round were both strong plays that should help their case.
The Chargers have been laughably bad at drafting for some time now. First round pick after first round pick has been totally worthless, but it looks like that's changing this year. D.J. Fluker and Keenan Allen could be good hauls and though the Broncos are clearly the favorites in that division, another year or two of San Diego trekking back into the NFL's elite wouldn't be surprising before their own inevitable collapse..
Michael Vick will probably be the starting quarterback, which is bad because he's ... bad. He's not the player he once was, and while I think Matt Barkley in the fourth round was a fantastic pick up for them Iggles, I don't think he'll do much in his rookie season. Zach Ertz was a good pickup, but the team once again ignored its struggling defense.
Coming out of college I thought Cam Newton was going to fall flat on his face. I'm usually pretty good with my quarterback predictions (own horn, consider yourself tooted), but he proved me wrong. Then he fell flat on his face last year, and I don't expect much better this year. That said, Star Lotulelei will be just as good as originally advertised, and Kawann Short could be a star as well. Carolina may shine on defense next season.
Tony Romo isn't that good of a quarterback, and it's laughable for the Cowboys to think that him spending a few more hours a day at team facilities will magically make him all that much better. The fact is, the organization is unhappy with what Romo brings to the table as a whole, but they still gave him a big extension. Couple that with a relatively weak draft class in which they apparently believed that beards equated to good football skills (it doesn't, but it does make us super awesome at life in general), the Cowboys are trending downward, not up.
I just don't get any of the hype surrounding the Dolphins. Dannell Ellerbe being called one of the top free agents was as confusing as it gets, and Dion Jordan was a surprising pick that they really didn't need at that point in the draft. On top of all that, their quarterback position could go in either direction right now. If Ryan Tannehill works out, they'll do much better than this No. 24 ranking, but if he falters, they're in for a long season.
I'm not sure why Browns fans are unhappy with the club's draft. Maybe it's because Brandon Weeden is still their quarterback. I know that would really piss me off as a fan, given that Weeden is not very good and all joking aside, HE'S OLD, MAN! Seriously, I don't know how the old regime thought picking him was a good idea, unless giving a last middle finger to the new regime and the fanbase was their idea of fun. That said, Cleveland's defense is nearing the makeup of an elite unit, and it wouldn't surprise me if they made some serious strides in that vein. Their defense is kind of like the one that the Seahawks fielded just a couple of seasons ago.
Alex Smith will have a good career with the Chiefs, and I firmly believe that. I think he will be productive and effective next season, and he'll guide them to a few wins. Possibly enough wins to transform that 2014 pick into a second rounder. But even if not, Kansas City won't be the worst team in the NFL next season. Eric Fisher was also a really good pick, in my opinion.
I keep forgetting that the Titans are actually a team. Chance Warmack was a strong draft pick, as was Justin Hunter, even if they overpaid for him. But at the end of the day, the Titans are still shoring up the players around Jake Locker, and bringing in Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't exactly going to change that.
Did the Cardinals draft five new starters on the offensive line? No? Then they're still going to struggle extensively in 2013. They had far and away the worst offensive line in football last year, and Carson Palmer isn't the kind of quarterback you want to bring in when your line is struggling. He's going to get hit a lot and I wouldn't be surprised if he gets injured next year.
Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin may not be top-flight receivers right away, but they're a huge step in the right direction and illustrated solid value on the part of Buffalo. Unfortunately, they went with E.J. Manuel as the quarterback and I don't have any idea what to expect from him. Maybe he'll be the best quarterback in this class eventually, but maybe that won't end up meaning much at all. My read on him is basically blank, so by default, I have the Bills and their recent crippling mediocrity down here near the bottom of the pack.
I can't shake the feeling that the Raiders are going to be good in a few years. I'm not sure what it is, but I feel like they're making the right moves. Unfortunately, it's more like one good move per offseason, and the total purging of talent in free agency a few years back has still left the team crippled. Reggie McKenzie might eventually steer them in the right direction, but they're destined for mediocrity for a few more seasons.
If the Jaguars are sticking with Blaine Gabbert, they will not be a good team in 2013. I was sick to my stomach every time I saw someone suggest that the 49ers might be interested in drafting Gabbert. He's not good and he never will be, and drafting Luke Joeckel to put at right tackle isn't going to magically fix him. Losing Justin Blackmon for four games doesn't help, either.
Here is some prime mediocrity at its finest. Not only is Mark Sanchez still in the discussion, but I never understood what was all that great about Geno Smith to begin with, either. There's a reason this quarterback class was regarded as pretty terrible in the long run and Smith is just one part of that. The Jets have a terrible offense, a defense that has gotten so lackluster that it's embarrassing and it's all just a wreck. They might win some games if Sanchez doesn't play just for the decrease in lost fumbles, but they're the least-dangerous team in the league, in my book. The New York Jets: the Mr. Irrelevant of NFL teams.