NFL Power Rankings: Post Draft


Power Rankings are constantly changing in today’s NFL. Teams rise and fall every depending on how they perform on a week to week basis. As we wait for the NFL and the NFLPA to figure out the CBA mess, let’s take a look at how good each team looks to be now that the 2011 NFL Draft is done.

32. Washington Redskins
Playing in the NFC East is hard enough. Playing in the NFC East with John Beck as your QB is a death sentence. With the 1st pick in the 2012 draft, the Washington Redskins select Andrew Luck.

31. Carolina Panthers
I’m not buying the “Cam Newton is making believers out of his teammates” hype that has been coming out recently. It’s easy to impress without pads and without running an actual offense. Rookie quarterbacks are bound to struggle this year thanks to the lockout. On top of all that, Rivera is a brand new coach and won’t be able to implement any of his new stuff until the lockout is over.

30. Cincinnati Bengals
I think the Bengals could end up with the 1st pick in the 2012 draft if they are not careful. Unless Carson Palmer changes his mind, the Bengals are planning on starting rookie QB Andy Dalton. Now, I am a Dalton supporter, but he definitely needs work and he’s going to have a limited amount of time before he’s thrown into the fray. On top of that, he doesn’t have a running game to support him. Bengals are in a tough division with Steelers, Baltimore, and Cleveland. They look to have a high pick next year.

29. Arizona Cardinals
As of right now, they don’t have a quarterback. That drops them. They’ll move up once they get a quarterback like Kolb or Orton, but for now, they are a bottom feeder. Once they do get a guy like Kolb or Orton, they could jump pretty significantly. They have a nice running back corps of Ryan Williams, La-Rod Stephens Howling, Beanie Wells, and Tim Hightower. They could be a contender in the NFC West, although, that isn’t saying much.

28. Buffalo Bills
Buffalo ended up drafting Marcel Dareus with the 3rd overall pick in the 2011 Draft. Dareus should help with their 32nd ranked rush defense, but Buffalo just doesn’t have enough talent to prevent picking high again. They are going to continue with Ryan Fitzpatrick as their quarterback. CJ Spiller needs to step it up after having a poor rookie season, but they also have Fred Jackson their to help. If Buffalo doesn’t want to pick high next year, they need to find a way to stop the Patriots, Jets, and Dolphins from moving the ball at will.

27. Tennessee Titans
New coach. New quarterback. Tennessee is entering a whole new era after giving up on Vince Young and getting rid of Jeff Fisher. However, that era is bound to take a hit next year thanks to the lockout preventing the team from working with projected starter Jake Locker. I am a Locker guy, but the lack of time with the coaches is going to hurt him for his rookie season. He has a stellar running back to help him out, but his receiving corps is below average with their best wideout Kenny Britt getting in trouble with the law constantly.

26. Oakland Raiders
I still don’t understand why the Raiders fired Tom Cable. Cable led the Raiders to a perfect record against all AFC West opponents. I know that they were likely to lose Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson (now head coach), but it just doesn’t make sense to me. Cable and the Raiders had a good thing going. Now they are starting over with a new coach. On top of that, they are going to lose Nnamdi Asomugha and I cannot state enough how much that will effect their defense. With Asomugha gone, the AFC West offenses are going to perform better against the Raiders defense. I sense the Raiders are going to fall off this year causing everyone to question yet again why Davis fired Cable.

25. San Francisco 49ers
Word has it that Alex Smith has already come to the conclusion that he will resign with the 49ers. If that is the case, he will be the starter and I have mixed feelings. Smith is a bust and there is no doubt about it, but he has a new head coach in Jim Harbaugh who works pretty well with QB’s. Harbaugh better hope that Michael Crabtree is taking this time seriously or his pass offense is going to struggle mightily. He will have a good running game thanks to Frank Gore, but there are a lot of question marks with San Francisco.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars
Jack Del Rio got screwed. He is trying to get his team to the playoffs and his GM decides to trade away picks to get a quarterback who likely won’t start this year. Jacksonville has big holes in the secondary that they needed to fill and they have yet to do that. On top of that, they have a pretty tough schedule. I’ve never been a big believer in David Garrard and with the Texans on their way up, I see the Jaguars sliding a bit.

23. Denver Broncos
Kyle Orton or Tim Tebow? Personally, I think Tim Tebow should start. Denver is moving on from the brief McDaniels era and they need to know if Tim Tebow is their franchise guy. If he helps the Broncos improve, they may continue with him going forward. If there is no improvement then they can draft one of the many top quality QB’s next year. Their run game is bound to improve with John Fox as the head coach and their defense can’t possibly be worse. I don’t expect a winning record from Denver but I do see them improving a bit.

22. Cleveland Browns
It sounds like the Browns are moving into the Colt McCoy era. Colt played pretty well as a rookie and has shown his leadership this off season. The problem is that McCoy still doesn’t have any legit WR to throw too. Greg Little could be that guy down the road, but I doubt he is the go to guy as a rookie. On top of that, their starting running back will be on the Madden cover. Say what you want, but bad things happen to people who are on the cover. Still, I expect Cleveland to improve as they are on their way up.

21. Minnesota Vikings
As of right now, the Vikings starting QB is Christian Ponder and that is a problem. I think that Ponder can be a starting QB, but he is undoubtedly going to struggle in his rookie year. On top of that there are questions on both the offensive and defensive lines. Peterson is still there to help ease the way for Ponder, but Minnesota is not the same powerhouse that it was just 2 years ago. With a Ponder-led Vikings team, I see a similar record to last year. Now, if they get a veteran like McNabb, that could change things.

20. Miami Dolphins
Miami is sticking with Chad Henne despite his lackluster 2010 season. This year, Chad is going to have an even tougher time if and when they lose free agents Ronny Brown and Ricky Williams. They drafted Daniel Thomas, but once again, he’s an incoming rookie in the midst of a lockout. Miami’s offense could struggle this year. Their defense looks to be a top 10 unit, but they are relying heavily on Cameron Wake. They will likely target another pass rusher in free agency.

19. Seattle Seahawks
For all intents and purposes, Seattle should be a lot higher. Matt Hasselback is currently a free agent so they are going to go with Charlie Whitehurst. Even playing in the NFC West, that is a recipe for disaster. However, despite other rumblings, I think Hasselback will be back and that gives them a shot at competing for the NFC West championship. Seattle shocked everyone by drafting James Carpenter with their 1st round pick. They failed to address their impending hole at DT with Brandon Mebane likely on his way out, but Seattle could still try and make a run like they did last year. Never count out the 12th man.

18. Kansas City Chiefs
I’m calling it now, the Kansas City Chiefs are going to take a step back next year. First off, they lost Charlie Weis. That is huge. Weis made an offense that Cassel, Charles, and Bowe excelled in. Now, head coach Todd Hailey is going to call the plays and I have big doubts that he will get everything to run smoothly. Secondly, the Chiefs failed to get a pass rusher opposite of Tamba Hali. Justin Houston could help one day, but not in his rookie year. He is raw and will need coaching up. Hali continues to be underrated. He is a very good player, but he can’t do it on his own and he’s not getting any help from Tyson Jackson or Glenn Dorsey. Finally, the Chiefs have a much more difficult schedule then they did last year. They won’t take a huge dive, but they will dive.

17. Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia fans will likely not be happy with this ranking, but I am not a fan of the Eagles this year. Despite the drafting of Danny Watkins, that offensive line is still a mess. I’m not confident that Watkins can play right tackle and protect Vick’s blindside. Even if he can, he’s a rookie who is not getting the chance to work with his coaches. On top of that, their defense is a middle of the pack defense. With the Cowboys likely to improve, Philly is going to take a step back this year.

16. Detroit Lions
Since getting rid of Matt Millen, the Lions have done an excellent job at acquiring talent through the draft. The last few drafts have given them game changing players who are the core of their team. In the 2011 draft, the Lions picked up DT Nick Fairley, RB Mikel Leshore, and WR Titus Young. These players will add onto the very good, young nucleus of the Lions. The key to the Lions success is going to be Stafford and his health. He has failed to stay healthy due to an average offensive line. Unfortunately, the Lions still have not addressed the line which is a cause for concern, but if Stafford can stay healthy, the Lions will finally be out of the NFC North basement.

15. Houston Texans
The Texans are definitely on their way up. After having an absolutely putrid defense in 2010, they hired defensive guru Wade Phillips as their DC. He is bringing a 3-4 defensive scheme which caused many to wonder how Mario Williams will adapt, but I’m not too worried about it. What I was worried about was where Wade was going to get 3-4 pieces from. Well, the Texans managed to do it. With their 1st round choice, they got 3-4 DE JJ Watt. With their 2nd pick, they got 3-4 OLB Brooks Reed. They also manged to improve their putrid secondary by adding CB’s Brandon Harris and Rashad Carmichael as well as S Shiloh Keo. Houston has a shot at winning the AFC South, but I make it a point to never bet against Peyton Manning. Houston will be better next year and will be in play for the Wild Card.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay will be a Wild Card contender next year, but I have them just missing the cut. Josh Freeman continues to improve. He has main targets Mike Williams and Kellen Winslow as well as Arrelious Benn who should take a step forward this year. The Bucs addressed their DL by drafting Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers after drafting Gerald McCoy and Brian Price last year. Their offense should keep it competitive, but with their young DL and the uncertain status of Aqib Talib, they just narrowly miss the playoffs.

13. Chicago Bears
After making it to the NFC Championship game last year, I think the Bears are headed for a drop off. The Bears eased Jay Cutler’s nerves by getting him some OL help in the form of Gabe Carimi, but they failed to give him any WR help. Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett, and Devin Hester are not going to cut it. Urlacher just turned 33 and it remains to be seen if he will continue to be as effective as he has been. Julius Peppers is 31 now and will be asked to make similar production that he had last year. The Bears are as good as they are because of their defense and with their key guys getting older, I can see them dropping off.

12. St. Louis Rams
The NFC West is the Rams to lose. They have their franchise QB in Sam Bradford, an elite runner in Steven Jackson, and a nice WR corps consisting of Wide Receivers Mark Clayton, Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson, Danario Alexander, and rookies Austin Pettis and Greg Salas. Additionally, they have tight ends Daniel Fells, Hoomanawanui and rookie Lance Kendricks. They also added a very good pass rusher for their defense in Robert Quinn. Their offense should be very good and their defense should be pretty good too. The Rams look to have a firm grip on their division.

11. San Diego Chargers
I have the Chargers winning the AFC West partially because they addressed their Special Teams, but also because I don’t think the Raiders, Broncos, or Chiefs will be all that great in 2011. They still have an elite QB in Phillip Rivers and their defense was ranked #1 last year. However, I don’t expect them to make any push for the Super Bowl. They could lose key players like Eric Weddle and Vincent Jackson to free agency. Weddle is one of the best safeties in the game and his loss will definitely hurt. Additionally, I’m not confident their defense will be a top unit next year. Shaun Phillips has never put up consecutive double digit sack seasons and there really isn’t anyone helping in the pass rush department. I don’t expect the Chargers to get a bye and I expect them to play either the Ravens, Steelers, Jets, or Patriots in the playoffs. I don’t see the Chargers beating any of those teams.

10. New York Giants
I think the Giants had the best draft out of everyone this year. They made great value picks and got potential starters throughout the entire draft. The good thing is that they won’t have to rely on their rookies to make significant contributions. Prince Amukamara can start on the outside or slide into the nickel. Marvin Austin will rotate in and out of the Giants ridiculously talented DL. When all is said and done, the Giants success will depend on Eli Manning. Eli led the league in interceptions last year. He is going to have to play better if the Giants are to make a run.

9. New England Patriots
The Patriots had a 14-2 record last year and had a 1st round bye. However, they lost the divisional playoff game to Rex Ryan and the New York Jets. Going into the off season, the Patriots needed to get quarterback Tom Brady better receivers, replace potential free agent LT Matt Light, and find a pass rush. They accomplished just one of those and even that is debatable. Going into the draft, the Patriots had more draft picks then anybody with two 1st rounders, two 2nd rounders, two 3rd rounders among other late round picks. They came out with Nate Solder, Ras-I-Dowling, Shane Vereen, Steven Ridley, Ryan Mallett, Marcus Cannon, Lee Smith, Markell Carter, and Malcolm Williams. Out of that group of guys, Solder, Dowling, and Vereen will likely be the only ones to see any significant playing time. My biggest problem with the Patriots is that they are counting on rookie Nate Solder to protect the blind side of Tom. With Solder not getting any coaching right now, he’s going to have to learn the Pats system quickly. I don’t think the Patriots have improved much through the draft. Their secondary and running corps improved, but their OL took a step back and they still didn’t get a 3-4 OLB or 3-4 DE. With Tom Brady at the helm, they’ll still be a contender, but I don’t see them winning a Super Bowl.

8. Dallas Cowboys
The good news it that the Cowboys take a huge step forward after a disastrous 2010 season. The bad news is that it still isn’t good enough to get them to the Super Bowl. The Cowboys have an elite team. Their offense should be one of the best with quarterback Tony Romo and his wide receivers Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten. The Cowboys defense is the question. They still have very good players in DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff, but they have some big question marks in the secondary. They failed to address the secondary in the draft so they will need to pick up some free agents. Ultimately, their defense fails them.

7. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons are hoping that I am wrong but I don’t think I am. Atlanta made a big gamble by trading up to #6 in the draft to select WR Julio Jones. The move gives Atlanta two very good, young wide receivers for Matt Ryan to utilize. Unfortunately, the move cost Atlanta a lot as they traded away next years 1st round pick. Atlanta is mortgaging their future for a shot at a Super Bowl now. The problem is that Atlanta failed to address their middle of the pack defense. They ranked 30th last year in sacks and unless they get someone in free agency, they aren’t going to be much improved next year. Their offense should be great, but their defense is still going to get massacred by great offenses.

6. Indianapolis Colts
Last year was an abomination for the Colts. Despite an obscene number of injuries, they still managed to make the playoffs. While they may have lost in the 1st round, what they were able to accomplish with such an underwhelming class is unbelievable. They were taking practice squad players and used them as starters. This year, they look to be healthier and with an improve offensive line. The Colts spent their 1st and 2nd round picks on offensive lineman to protect the man who makes it all work, Peyton Manning. They also picked up DT Drake Nevis who should fit perfectly for them. The Colts should be much improved from last year which will give them a shot at the title. Unfortunately, I don’t see them winning it all. They still have enough holes in their defense and they are going to be counting on rookie offensive lineman which makes me uncomfortable with predicting them as the Super Bowl Champions. Besides, how often does the team that hosts the Super Bowl actually play in it?

5. Pittsburgh Steelers
Historically, the Super Bowl losers have always struggled the following year. I don’t think the Steelers will struggle as much as other past losers have, but I don’t see the black and yellow going back to the Super Bowl. The Steelers have to re-sign stud pass rusher LaMarr Woodley. Woodley is a fantastic, young player and it’s hard to imagine him signing elsewhere, but enough money from the right team can quickly change things. Cornerback Ike Taylor is also set to be a free agent and leaves the Steelers without a clear successor. Finally, the Steelers needed to acquire talent for their offensive line that gave up 43 sacks last year. They drafted Marcus Gilbert, but once again, starting a rookie is a big risk. Pittsburgh is still an ultra talented team, but they are going to have to make some moves in free agency or they won’t be headed back to the Super Bowl.

4. Baltimore Ravens
Will this be the year the Ravens leap above the Steelers? Possibly. They absolutely must re-sign Haloti Ngata, but I don’t think that will be much of a problem since coach Harbaugh publicly came out and said that signing Ngata is priority #1. Flacco continues to grow and improve. The only thing that deters me a bit from Baltimore is their receiving corps. They drafted Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss, but trusting two rookieide outs is dangerous this year with the lockout. If I were Baltimore, I would strongly consider signing Plaxico Burress. Nevertheless, their defense is still one of the best and their offense will continue to improve as Flacco improves. Baltimore will make a run this year, but I have them just missing out on the Super Bowl.

3. New Orleans Saints
After winning the Super Bowl in 2009, the Saints suffered from the typical post-Super Bowl winner slump and ended up losing in the wild card round to the Seattle Seahawks. It was the shock of the year after many considered the Saints a lock to win. However, don’t think for one second the Saints are now on their way down. Quite the opposite. The Saints have been very committed this off season with their workouts and they should be back to contending for a championship next year. The offense will get a good, young player in Mark Ingram to compliment starter Pierre Thomas and possibly Reggie Bush if he is still with the team. They also acquired some good defensive pieces in Cameron Jordan, Martez Wilson, and Johnny Patrick. The Saints suffered a number of injuries to their defense last year and if they are healthy, they should be back to 09 form. I have them just barely missing the Super Bowl.

2. New York Jets
I know what you’re thinking and no, I’m not out of my mind. I’m perfectly sane. I think the Jets have a good shot at getting to the big game. After 2 years of talking about getting to the Super Bowl, they might just do it this year. Rex Ryan is a defensive genius and he added more talent to the team with the additions of Muhammad Wilkerson and Kendrick Ellis. Their offense should improve as long as quarterback Mark Sanchez continues to improve. They need to resign Braylon Edwards and/or Santonio Holmes, but the Jets are a team to look out for. The only thing that makes me pause is their running game may not be as good next year with LT getting another year older, but Shonn Greene is a player that many think could break out this year. As long as Sanchez gets better, the Jets will be a Super Bowl contender. Unfortunately for them, and the rest of the league, they aren’t the best, at least on paper.

1. Green Bay Packers
I wish I could pick a different team to win the Super Bowl since most of the Power Rankings have the same team at #1. Unfortunately, I just can’t bring myself to pick anyone else. The Packers are really, really good. Led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Packers offense was incredible last year and they will be even better this year. It’s a very scary thought. Stud TE Jermichael Finley will be back after missing most of last season with an injury. Additionally, starting RB Ryan Grant will also be back. The Packers also went out and got Rodgers new toys in the form of WR Randall Cobb, RB Alex Green, and TE DJ Williams. The one thing they haven’t done is get another 3-4 OLB to play opposite of Clay Matthews, but the Packers are still stacked. Most teams struggle after winning a Super Bowl, but the Packers are so talented it is hard to doubt them at this point. They could be back to back Super Bowl champions if things go according to plan. Then again, how often do things go according to plan?

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