Jan 22, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates a touchdown with tight end Rob Gronkowski (right) against the Baltimore Ravens during the fourth quarter in the 2011 AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

NFL Power Rankings: 1.0

The draft is all about projection; how good CAN this player be IF he reaches his potential?

I used the same philosophy in building this list.  I looked at each team’s draft and offseason, and tried to project how each team would be impacted by those moves if they got the most out of their new players.

With that in mind, here’s my first look at this year’s power rankings in the NFL:

  1. New England (13-3 in 2011): Finished third in the league in offense, 31st in defense.  I loved their draft.  DE Chandler Jones and MLB Dont’a Hightower upgrade their toughness and pass-rush, and remember the name of 3rd-round DE Jake Bequette. He’s Patrick Kearney 2.0.
  2. Green Bay (15-1): Similar story for the Packers; who led the league in offense but went defense with their first 6 picks in the draft.  They needed to.
  3. Pittsburgh (12-4): They beefed up the offensive line, added speed, and should get Rashard Mendenhall back.
  4. NY Giants (9-7): RB David Wilson is a potential star and WR Reuben Randle was a steal at the end of round two.
  5. Baltimore (12-4): Losing Tyrell Suggs to an Achilles injury is an obvious blow, so Courtney Upshaw will have to grow up in a hurry.  Temple RB Bernard Pierce gives the Ravens a bigger back to compliment Ray Rice.
  6. Detroit Lions (10-6): They focused primarily on defense in the draft but their two offensive picks were crucial pieces; LT Reily Reiff and WR Ryan Broyles.  If Broyles knee is sound, he gives Matthew Stafford another dangerous weapon.
  7. Houston (10-6): The pieces are in place for a deep playoff run by the Texans if (repeat after me) Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub can stay healthy.
  8. Cincinatti (9-7):  Don’t look now but the Bengals are assembling one of the best young rosters in the league.  QB Dalton and WR Green were rookie stars last year, and all 10 players picked this year have starting potential. May need another year to come together.
  9. San Francisco (13-3):  All 11 starters back on defense and lots of offensive help added in the draft.  There’s more pressure on Alex Smith this year than ever to follow up on last season’s breakthrough. An improved NFC West will be tougher sledding.
  10. Atlanta (10-6): Feels like it’s time for a breakthrough for the Falcons.  The draft focused mostly up front on both sides of the ball but the skill positions were already in place. At some point, Mike Smith is going to have to take this team deep into the playoffs.
  11. New Orleans (13-3):  Too much drama and uncertainty to rank them any higher, and the draft brought nothing to the table.
  12. Seattle (7-9): Biased? Maybe, but only because I know them better than national outsiders.  This is a young, talented roster full of physical, nasty players on both sides of the ball. The Seahawks are no longer soft.  Better QB play would have meant at least 3 more wins last year.  Matt Flynn will prove to be a significant upgrade over Tavaris Jackson.
  13. Dallas (8-8): The draft brought help for the defense, but too few options behind Bryant and Austin at WR.
  14. Philadelphia (8-8): One of the best drafts in the league brought a ton of help.  This all depends on Vick staying healthy.
  15. Chicago (8-8): They added weapons, but didn’t address the offensive line.
  16. Tennessee (9-7): Lot to like about Titans, but who’s the QB, and how well will he play?
  17. Arizona (8-8): See Tennessee.
  18. San Diego (8-8): Good defensive draft, and this should be a breakout year for Ryan Matthews. My money says Phillip Rivers bounces back and the Chargers win the AFC West.
  19. Denver (8-8):  Sky is the limit, but until I see it it’s hard to rank them much higher.
  20. Tampa Bay (4-12): No team fell shorter of expectations last year.  It’s also possible that no team helped itself more in the offseason.
  21. Kansas City (7-9): Good-looking young roster but too dependant on the inconsistent Matt Cassell.  Surprised they didn’t go QB in the draft at some point.  Might be looking ahead to strong 2013 class.
  22. Buffalo (6-10): Agressive in free agency and filled some big holes in the draft.  A team on the rise.
  23. NY Jets (8-8): The WR corps is still a mess, and the QB situation is a distaster waiting to happen. Rex Ryan could be in trouble.
  24. Cleveland (4-12): Potential for dramatic improvement, but more realistically we’ll see it in small doses.
  25. Carolina (6-10): Newton played so well as a rookie, can he avoid the Sophomore Jinx?  The league will be more prepared for him.  This is a rebuild still in progress.
  26. Miami (6-10):  Ryan Tannehill will start at QB at some point, there will be growing pains, but the future is bright if they surround him with talent.  They haven’t yet.
  27. Jacksonville (5-11): Meddling new owner, shaky franchise QB, Justin Blackmon will be a great target……for the next QB the Jags draft in 2013.
  28. Washington (5-11): There will be plently of RGIII highlights, and plenty of losses.
  29. St. Louis (2-14): They brought in Jeff Fisher, added help in free agency, and had a draft full of quantity and quality.  It may not show in the standings for a couple of years but this is a team headed in the right direction.
  30. Minnesota (3-13): The obvious joke here is that the Vikings drafted two Arkansas WR’s so they’ll be ready for the arrival of Razorback QB Tyler Wilson next year…only it might not be a joke.
  31. Oakland (8-8): Carson Palmer just looks too much like an old pitcher who’s lost his fastball.  Will be looking QB with their top 5 pick in 2013.
  32. Indianapolis (2-14):  The Colts took a risk in the draft, opting to focus almost entirely on surrounding Andrew Luck with talent.  This is going to take awhile.




Tags: Green Bay Packers New England Patriots NFL Power Rankings Pittsburgh Steelers

comments powered by Disqus