Mostly agree with your rankings; with the optimism bias from being a cardinals fan personally, I'd argue you could make a 1 star increase at each position, but their current rankings are also fair. I very much disagree with the 1 star ranking at special teams however, as we have a pro bowl gunner in Justin Bethel being joined by some high upside athletes in the kick coverage team and kick return game. Probably the best coverage unit in the game, which coupled with a punter who is below average (don't think he's as bad as stats show- his hangtime is rediculous, and it seems the staff went with him for this reason. I'd choose a distance leg with our coverage team, butI digress). In short, I'd say 3 stars is fair. A perfectly average special teams unit, whose only limitation really seems to be Drew Butler's distance and the uncertainty of a new long snapper (but both seem pretty reliable this far)
San Francisco 49ers (5-11) - Previously: 31.
Back in January, when I predicted Blaine Gabbert would be the starting quarterback for the 49ers next year, I was half-kidding. See, on one hand, deciding to make Blaine Gabbert the starter is completely asinine. Like, why would any team ever do that? Going with some handicapped kid in the stands would probably be a better option. And my apologies to the handicapped, if I've offended you. No one should ever be compared to Gabbert.
That said, I knew it was a possibility because Chip Kelly has absolutely no clue what he's doing. His insistence on rehabilitating Gabbert's career is like a trainer trying to teach a dead dog how to do tricks. "Sit" and "speak" won't work because, you know, the dog is actually dead, much like "be accurate on passes longer than 10 yards downfield" and "throw with your eyes open, Blaine" is a completely futile command for Gabbert.
Tennessee Titans (3-13) - Previously: 29.
I loved Tennessee's decision to trade back from No. 1, as it picked up a number of resources. However, the Titans gave some of those back, thanks in part for trading up for Jack Conklin. They also seemingly wasted a second-round pick on Derrick Henry. We'll see what happens, but I'm suddenly a bit more pessimistic about Tennessee than I was several weeks ago.
Los Angeles Rams (7-9) - Previously: 28.
I don't understand a couple of arguments that people make to support the Jared Goff pick.
Argument No. 1: "He's a California kid, so he's better suited to play in L.A." OK, first of all, there are barely any Rams fans in Los Angeles. If there were, the team wouldn't have moved in the first place. Steve Young said it himself: When he was in the huddle playing at the Rams in the early 90s, he would have to lower his voice because the stadium was so quiet that the opposing defense would be able to hear him. So, with that in mind, Carson Wentz wouldn't have had any pressure. In fact, I'd argue that there's more stress playing for North Dakota State, since they have an expectation of winning at the 1-AA level.
Argument No. 2: "The Rams had to do the trade because they have to win now." Uhh... how is a quarterback transitioning to a pro-style system supposed to win with only two viable players around him? Seriously, this does not seem like a recipe for success.
The Rams surrendered way too many resources, especially considering that the quarterbacks in the next two classes are considered far superior prospects. Oh, and by the way, Josh Rosen is a California kid, too.
New Orleans Saints (7-9) - Previously: 27.
I found it crazy that Sean Payton admitted on national TV that he wouldn't have drafted Sheldon Rankins if he didn't have his 3-cone time. What? That's like telling an auto dealer that you're not going to purchase a specific car unless you learn the name of the person who installed the air bag. It just seems so insignificant.
Rankins should make this defense better, though New Orleans should've placed a higher priority on finding an edge rusher. Oh, and speaking of Rankins, if he turns out to be a crappy player, I'm calling him Stankin Rankins. You heard it here first. Actually, someone else has probably thought of that already, but whatever. They don't count.
Atlanta Falcons (8-8) - Previously: 26.
The Falcons are not having a good offseason. They gave Mohamed Sanu a $32.5 million contract. Brandon LaFell earned about $2 million from the Bengals. Yet, they're pretty much the same player. Then, in the draft, they selected a high second-round safety at No. 17 overall with Shaq Lawson, Myles Jack and Darron Lee still on the board. I feel like Atlanta should just open all of its decisions up to a vote for the fans, since what they're doing right now doesn't work.
Miami Dolphins (6-10) - Previously: 30.
In my previous update, I wrote that Stephen Ross and 49ers owner Jed York should co-write a book called, How to Destroy an NFL Franchise in Five Easy Steps. However, drafting one of the top prospects in the draft at No. 13 is not part of that literature. I guess Ross is going to use that in his next book, How to Be Completely Incompetent and Still Get Lucky Sometimes.
In all seriousness, bravo to the Dolphins for drafting Laremy Tunsil. There was no reason for any team to be scared of this. It's not like he has failed a drug test recently. As long as the Dolphins don't allow Tunsil to create the password for the team Web site, they should be fine.
Detroit Lions (7-9) - Previously: 24.
The Lions' offseason can be described in one word: Blegh. Like, signing Marvin Jones to replace Calvin Johnson? Blegh. Keeping around Jim Caldwell? Blegh. Drafting a middling right tackle in the first round? Blegh. Like, none of this is terrible, but it's not good, either. It's just... blegh.
San Diego Chargers (4-12) - Previously: 22.
Laremy Tunsil. Jalen Ramsey. DeForest Buckner. Any of these three options would've been better than Joey Bosa, who A) may not fit the system, and B) won't have as much of an impact this year because he'll be behind Melvin Ingram and Jeremiah Attaochu. In fact, it could be argued that none of San Diego's picks this year will be impactful in 2016. That's not exactly a good thing, considering that Philip Rivers has only a few more years of high productivity.
Philadelphia Eagles (7-9) - Previously: 21.
The Eagles surrendered way too many resources for Carson Wentz. Unless he's the next Andrew Luck, Philadelphia will struggle to have success for the next five or so years because of depleted depth. Much like the Falcons, who have suffered even though Julio Jones hit, they won't have any sort of shot if they sustain a handful of injuries.
Oh, and speaking of having no shot, it appears as though Chase Daniel is going to be the starting quarterback this year in the wake of Sam Bradford's idiotic holdout.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-10) - Previously: 20.
Call me crazy, but I think the Buccaneers would be better if they actually drafted a position of more significance than a kicker in the second round. But hey, don't take my word for it. An NFL general manager was quoted saying this:
"It was the dumbest pick in the history of the draft."
Wow. I wouldn't go that far, as kickers were taken in the first round once upon a time, but it was pretty horrible.
By the way, check out my NFL Draft Wrap-Up, where I list the worst picks of each round. And yes, Roberto Aguayo made the cut.
New York Giants (6-10) - Previously: 19.
I wrote earlier that Eli Manning isn't having the best offseason. First, they canned his Hall of Fame head coach for no particular reason. Then, he observed as his brother ruined all of his glory...
And now, the player the Giants coveted, Jack Conklin, was snatched off the board when the Titans traded up for him. Manning could've used someone like Conklin to protect him. Instead, opposing pass rushes will beat him down once again.
New York Jets (10-6) - Previously: 17.
Ryan Fitzpatrick better re-sign with the Jets as quickly as possible. Not that Christian Hackenberg will convince the coaches to play him right away, but I could see New York pulling the trigger on a Sam Bradford trade, as he would be the perfect bridge to Hackenberg.
Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11) - Previously: 25.
The Jaguars looked like they were going to continue in their old ways when they signed Chris Ivory to a $32.5 million deal in the offseason. No word yet if one of the lawyers was fired for misplacing the decimal point, since $3.25 million would actually make so much more sense.
Having said that, I feel as though I can't make fun of Jacksonville much longer. The Jaguars absolutely killed the draft, obtaining great values and filling needs with nearly every selection. They were the only team to earn an A+ in my NFL Draft Team Grades.
Baltimore Ravens (5-11) - Previously: 15.
Signing Eric Weddle was great, but the Ravens lost more than they gained this offseason, as they said goodbye to one of the league's best guards (Kelechi Osemele) and a very talented safety (Will Hill). The draft - at least the first round - wasn't promising either, given that the Ravens passed on Laremy Tunsil in favor of an inferior tackle. Baltimore should still be a solid team, provided it doesn't sustain too many injuries. Thanks to Joe Flacco's albatross of a contract, the Ravens just aren't as deep as they used to be.
Dallas Cowboys (4-12) - Previously: 11.
The Cowboys needed to bolster their pass rush and secondary, so what did they do? They drafted a running back, a position that grows on trees, even though they had two decent ones. Dallas had drafted so well in past seasons that I believe something changed. I feel like Jerry Jones wrestled away control in the wake of the 4-12 finish and took the guy he wanted. Great job, Jerry. If only you had your way two years ago, Johnny Manziel would be your quarterback right now.
It's mind-boggling how utterly stupid the Ezekiel Elliott pick was. And the thing is, the explanation for it was even worse. Dallas' assertion that Elliott is more valuable because the opponent doesn't have to throw toward Jalen Ramsey is quite literally the dumbest thing I've ever heard. So, a cornerback who can erase half the field - per their words; not mine - is less valuable than running backs, who should typically be drafted on Day 2? What's next? Is Jerry going to argue that punters are more valuable than a receiver since they might see more action than a double-teamed wideout does?
Chicago Bears (6-10) - Previously: 23.
The Bears made some great upgrades in free agency, and they continued to strengthen their team by drafting extremely well. I wasn't crazy about the trade for Leonard Floyd, but the two picks Chicago made in the second round - Cody Whitehair, Jonthan Bullard - were outstanding. Any quarterback not named Jay Cutler would be pretty stoked right now. Cutler, I imagine, is just sitting on his couch right now, watching paint dry.
Buffalo Bills (8-8) - Previously: 16.
I'm going to do a futures podcast with my picks podcast co-host Matvei soon, but I can tell you right now that he believes the Bills will be in the playoffs in 2016. I could see it, but I still have my doubts. Can Tyrod Taylor stay healthy? Will Rex Ryan get his team to cut down on penalties for a change? Buffalo has the talent, but I thought that was the case last year.
Denver Broncos (12-4) - Previously: 14.
This may seem very low for a Super Bowl winner, and it's not an overreaction to the quarterbacking situation. Yes, Mark Sanchez is an abomination, but so was Peyton Manning last year. The difference will be in terms of what Denver lost. Evan Mathis, Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan all departing is absolutely huge. The Broncos won't be able to win playing unbelievable defense once again, meaning it'll need someone better than Sanchez under center. Sure, Paxton Lynch was drafted, but it wouldn't surprise me if Denver holds him out for an entire season.
Indianapolis Colts (8-8) - Previously: 13.
I am utterly shocked that Ryan Grigson did the right thing and finally addressed the offensive line. It's like he watched the games last year, and it all suddenly clicked for him. "Oh, wait a second, if I get better blockers, maybe Andrew Luck won't get hurt!"
With Luck bound to be healthy, perhaps the Colts can make another deep run into the playoffs. Unfortunately for them, they won't have the luxury of beating up on a choking Peyton Manning again.
Washington Redskins (9-7) - Previously: 18.
It seems like the players the Redskins drafted were all about the long term and much less about 2016. Josh Doctson won't start until DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garcon leaves. Meanwhile, Kendall Fuller will probably need some time to heal.
Speaking of Fuller, I'm guessing we won't be hearing from the dumb commenter named "Walter Is Still a Moron," since he constantly harassed me about mocking Fuller to the Redskins because he's too short. Whoops! Fuller is six feet tall, so I don't even know what he was talking about. Then again, he said the Redskins were a lock to beat the Packers in the playoffs, so the nickname he goes by is completely ironic.
Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) - Previously: 10.
Sometimes winning in free agency doesn't require spending tons of money on big names like the Giants did this offseason. Often, successful teams add a bargain piece or two, all while re-signing key members of the roster. That's exactly what the Chiefs did this offseason, losing only Jeff Allen and Sean Smith. They managed to compensate for the Allen loss by bringing in Mitchell Schwartz, and they were already deep at defensive back, so I like their chances of being competitive again in 2016, especially after drafting a couple of solid players in Chris Jones and KeiVarae Russell.
Houston Texans (9-7) - Previously: 12.
The Texans had an awesome draft. They signed Brock Osweiler in free agency, but needed to surround him with better weapons. It was a job well done, as they now have plenty of speed at receiver and a new stud center to keep Osweiler safe. Houston is certainly in contention for a Super Bowl.
Oakland Raiders (7-9) - Previously: 9.
Anyone want to hop onto the bandwagon with me for a Raiders' appearance in Super Bowl LI? I thought they would be legitimate playoff contenders prior to free agency. They thrived in the open market, signing an elite guard (Kelechi Osemele), a talented, versatile linebacker (Bruce Irvin), a solid cornerback (Sean Smith) and a replacement for Charles Woodson (Reggie Nelson). I wasn't in love with their draft, but it wasn't horrible. So, unless Derek Carr regresses, Oakland is definitely a sleeper to make a deep playoff push.
New England Patriots (12-4) - Previously: 6.
The Patriots move down because of the Tom Brady suspension. They'll survive, but it still hurts. And you know what else hurts? All of the bad picks Bill Belichick made in the 2016 NFL Draft. Vincent Valentine? What, Tifa Lockhart wasn't available?
OK, I realize that this is the 80th Final Fantasy VII joke I've made since Friday night, but can you blame me? I think I'll stop when that game finally gets a re-make, which will be, umm, never.
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) - Previously: 4.
A reader wrote about how the Steelers killed themselves with a horrible draft. Couple that with Martavis Bryant's suspension, and I'm suddenly a lot less optimistic about Pittsburgh's chances. A couple of months ago, I thought the Steelers could go the distance. I won't discount that possibility, but they definitely deserve to move down in these rankings.
Minnesota Vikings (11-5) - Previously: 8.
The Vikings did a tremendous job this offseason, signing Alex Boone and drafting a couple of great value picks in Laquon Treadwell and Mackensie Alexander. I could see Minnesota winning the Super Bowl. Some may question Teddy Bridgewater because of his stats, but he didn't have to do all that much last year. The Vikings have an amazing defense and a great running game, and they kind of remind me of last year's Broncos when Brock Osweiler was under center.
Cincinnati Bengals (12-4) - Previously: 7.
Roger Goodell should give out awards to each team after the draft. Cincinnati would win the NFL Draft Troll Award, for their unbelievable troll job of the Steelers. Hey, you know the saying: If you can't beat 'em, take their draft picks.
In all seriousness, I do like what the Bengals did this year. If someone injects Andy Dalton's shoulder with some steroids, I can see them winning the Super Bowl.
Green Bay Packers (10-6) - Previously: 5.
The Packers had a middling draft, but I'm sure their fans are relieved that they might actually have a solid backup tackle just in case injuries arise again. There's also another added benefit to drafting a lineman, as it could help to have another big guy around to police Eddie Lacy. If Lacy tries to sneak cheeseburgers and "China food" into his locker again, the extra lineman can help sniff it out and eat it himself. Bold prediction: Lacy will stay super skinny this season.
Seattle Seahawks (10-6) - Previously: 3.
I loved Seattle's draft - until the team took a player who retired for a career in interior design in the seventh round! What was that about? Did Pete Carroll really need to re-style his living room? I guess it doesn't help to have someone around who can do that for free, but geez, you'd think Seattle would sign him as a UDFA.
All kidding aside, I am worried about Russell Wilson's well being. Germain Ifedi was a nice addition, but the two tackle spots are still major weak points.
Carolina Panthers (15-1) - Previously: 2.
The Panthers lost Josh Norman, so that'll hurt, but they added to their defensive line in the first round of the draft, and I'm sure one of the three cornerbacks they selected will pan out.
By the way, one of the commenters below declared that I am a Panthers fan because I've insulted them the least, or something. Really? After my lengthy rants about how stupid Cam Newton's dabbing is? I'm willing to bet that all the kids he and his teammates gave footballs to are ready to turn on him. Now a year older, they may realize what's cool and what's not, and I'm willing to bet that they're thinking, "Eww, Cam's dabbing? What a dork! That's like so 2015!"
Arizona Cardinals (13-3) - Previously: 1.
If adding Evan Mathis, Chandler Jones and Tyvon Branch wasn't enough, the Cardinals also obtained a top-10 talent in Robert Nkemdiche in the 2016 NFL Draft. Arizona is the team to beat right now - as long as Carson Palmer can stay healthy.
If I were the Cardinals, I'd seriously think about placing Palmer in plastic bubble wrap until the playoffs begin. His health is the key to all of this, so that might actually be a great idea - if I do say so myself.