LSE's NFL Power Rankings 2019

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LSE's NFL Power Rankings 2019
Published at 5/8/2019 1:04:16 PM

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Outside of the right side of the offensive line, the Bolts have the most loaded roster in the NFL. I think them grabbing Nasir Adderley in the second round was one of the best picks in the draft (he'll be an excellent center-fielder alongside instant superstar Derwin James) and Jerry Tillery has a high ceiling and filled a need in the first. Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, and Hunter Henry make up a dangerous receiving corps, while Melvin Gordon is one of the top backs in football. Contributors like deep threat Travis Benjamin, scat back Austin Ekeler, and powerful runner Justin Jackson offer intriguing options. On defense, the top-end pass rush tandem of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram will booked Tillery, with the hard-hitting Denzel Perryman behind them. The secondary is the NFL's best in my opinion, with Casey Heyward and Desmond King alongside the aforementioned safety duo. All in all, the Chargers have a legitimate shot at grabbing the AFC's top seed as long as they can stay ahead of the Chiefs in their division, and Philip Rivers may be looking at his first Super Bowl surrounded by the best overall supporting talent of his career.

2 LA


Todd Gurley's health is everything. With the superstar running back on the field, the Rams deserve the #2 spot due to a nigh-unstoppable offense and a developing and likely improved D (under-the-radar picks I like: David Long and Greg Gaines. Nice gets for LA). Without Gurley, the Rams suffer from a lack of flexibility on offense and can't get going as quickly. The third-round selection of Darrell Henderson as a hedge to Gurley, though, may improve the Rams' chances without the 2017 Offensive Player of the Year. This team isn't all Gurley's though, Jared Goff launching rainbows to Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp remains very fun to watch, especially in Sean McVay's offense. On defense, the NFL's best player, Aaron Donald, got some help, with veteran linebacker Clay Matthews coming in to help out the front seven. Dante Fowler was resigned and looks to continue reviving his career with LA. Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib will hopefully have a better second year with the Rams than the first, and John Johnson III is a baller. Eric Weddle gives savvy veteran leadership on the back end. This is a very talented roster, and should push for a repeat Super Bowl berth in 2019.



Is Drew Brees showing some (albeit minor) early signs of decline? Probably, yes. With Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, and a bevy of young and veteran playmakers alike scattered about the roster, does it really matter? No. Brees still has his trademark accuracy and smarts, and the Saints are still very capable of lighting teams on fire like they did for the bulk of 2018. He'll also be protected excellently behind an offensive line with 4 legitimate Pro Bowl-level players and a young stud (more on him later). I like the D too, and especially the secondary whose young studs should have a breakout year. Cameron Jordan is one of the NFL's best all-around defensive ends, while Sheldon Rankins can build on his breakout 2018. Marcus Davenport is yet to really make his mark, but the second-year pro has all the physical ability in the world. Marshon Lattimore and Marcus Williams are an enviable young duo in the back end, and what if Eli Apple works out in the Big Easy? Loved trading up for Erik McCoy - New Orleans is good at pushing its problems into the future to grab their guys, and McCoy is a people mover who fills the void left by Max Unger's retirement.



Dallas is one of the teams I'm higher on than most, but they're fresh off a run to the NFC Divisional Round (where they ran into an Aaron Donald-sized wall) and a season where they absolutely shut down the volatile Saints. Trysten Hill was an interesting selection, but DT is one of their few holes on a stellar defense and he has plenty of potential. And it really is a stellar defense, full of young, elite, highly drafted players - lockdown corner Byron Jones, analytics darling Leighton Vander Esch, and the speedy Jaylon Smith, to name a few. DeMarcus Lawrence is one of the premier pass-rushers in the league, and he was just paid like it. The offense really just runs through Ezekiel Elliott, but how much of a bad thing is that? I can see Dak Prescott's development being a concern, but I think he could have quite the year in 2019 (with a full season from Amari Cooper, mind you). Michael Gallup is a guy I like in 2019, and could be a late-round fantasy value. Jason Witten's return as a player-coach will be invaluable to this team's young offense as well. If all else fails, Travis Frederick will return alongside Zack Martin and Tyron Smith (there's three All-Pros for you) to the league's best healthy O-line. Plenty to like about America's Team this year.



Kansas City was one offsides penalty away from a Super Bowl berth (and, given how the Rams played in February, a likely win). That being said, the Chiefs didn't necessarily get worse, it's just that other high-level teams got even better. Frank Clark is a better player than Dee Ford, let's face it, and can help their depleted secondary. Chris Jones is wildly underrated. Tyrann Mathieu was a great get in free agency, while Kendall Fuller should be moved to the slot to maximize his production. Some intriguing young corner options in KC this year, as well. On the other side of the ball, the running back carousel actually worked down the stretch for the Chiefs, but they don't have a dominant runner in the building. Meanwhile, the wideouts aren't incredible, but Sammy Watkins is talented and showed flashes while Demarcus Robinson is fast. Travis Kelce is an elite tight end in every sense of the term. Tyreek Hill could potentially be a huge (small, at least in stature) loss for the Chiefs, but [over]drafting Mecole Hardman in the second round could mitigate some of that damage. He's no Cheetah, though. I like KC at 5 for now, but MVPat Mahomes may have something to say about not being #1 this year. The kid's special - as crazy as it sounds, his season may not be unsustainable.



The Patriots lost some pieces, but they're fresh off another Super Bowl victory and can't be counted out to win it all again. I do like several things they've done in the offseason. Austin Sefarian-Jenkins isn't even in the same realm as Gronk was, but once upon a time he was seen as a potential star and could unlock that potential under Josh McDaniels. Isaiah Wynn should slide into the LT spot and mitigate the damage from Trent Brown's departure. Also, I absolutely loved their draft - N'Keal Harry was my single favorite player in the class and his upside is tremendous, JoeJuan Williams will be a valuable chess piece for certain matchups, and Chase Winovich is a highly productive and athletic third-round steal. I'd say that the Pats had one of the top 3 drafts in the league, and of course they still have the greatest quarterback of all time. The defense has a deep, deep cornerback group, headed by All-Pro Stephon Gilmore. The McCourty brothers are playmakers in that secondary too. The linebackers aren't exceptional, but second-year pro Ja'Whaun James showed potential before getting injured. I'm worried about their pass rush, especially after losing Trey Flowers, but Bill Belichick can scheme tons of coverages with this defensive back group. On offense, Brady can throw to Harry and Sefarian-Jenkins (and an aging but still reliable Julian Edelman) while being helped by the best running game of his Patriots tenure. With Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris, and Brandon Bolden in town, New England has a very deep running back rotation. The Pats will be just fine.



Andrew Luck returned from a devastating injury and put together a career year, taking the Colts 9-1 down the stretch of 2018 while he was at it. With the addition of guys like Devin Funchess (who can be a red-zone weapon) and Parris Campbell (a guy I liked as a much earlier draftee than where they took him) for Luck to toss the rock to, this Colts offense should be fierce. Also, a quietly good defense got even better, picking up the tough-as-nails corner Rock Ya-Sin in the draft and savvy veteran pass-rusher Justin Houston in free agency. Big fan of the O-line as well, led by generational talent Quenton Nelson and several other rock-solid starters. I can certainly see the Colts making it all the way this year, and they look poised to win a dogfight of a division whose other teams' weaknesses may give way to Indy's all-around good play.



The league's stingiest defense retains all of its starters except for the excellent Adrian Amos, but former Pro Bowler Haha Clinton-Dix should fill that role adequately. On the other side of the ball, Mitch Trubisky will look to continue along the Jared Goff development curve and get even better, surrounded by new toys like third-rounder David Montgomery (who's an NFL-ready back if I ever saw one) and UDFA Emanuel Hall (an explosive downfield threat who probably should've been drafted, perhaps as high as the late 3rd or 4th round). Tarik Cohen should continue his special-teams superstardom, and Khalil Mack is Khalil Mack. The biggest difference between Chicago and the teams above it on this list? All the others have a player who has kicked at least one NFL kick in their career on the roster. Yikes. (update: the Bears just traded for Raiders kicker Eddie Piniero to shore up their special teams. No rank change as of now).



I'm only gonna say this once, so listen carefully: Baker Mayfield is poised to enter his prime as one of the best young quarterbacks the NFL has ever seen. Yes, the former Sooner is that good, after breaking the NFL rookie record for TD passes while getting the ROTY award stolen from him. With OBJ in town, Mayfield should have no problem hitting 35? 40? touchdown passes. Maybe more. On the defensive side of the ball, the #1 overall pick BEFORE Mayfield, Myles Garrett, is terrorizing quarterbacks left and right, and now he gets to play alongside Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson. Funny enough, the Richardson pickup hasn't been talked about much, but it was a great move. Another great move: trading up for DBU's (ahem, LSU's) star CB prospect Greedy Williams to play alongside the excellent Denzel Ward. Williams never should've been close to the Browns' first pick (a second-rounder), and he could be one of the steals of the draft. Hue Jackson was right, this is one of the greatest turnarounds in sports history. Only thing is, he's now coaching for the rival (if you can call it a rivalry in 2019) Bengals. Sorry, Hue.

10 CAR


Forgive me for being a homer, but I legitimately think Carolina will be a contender this year, and not just because they never seem to have a similar record for 2 years in a row. Cam Newton is the most physically gifted quarterback in the NFL and was having a career (passing) year until an injury derailed his production. If he's healthy, and running the ball like he has for his whole career, he's gonna be a force to be reckoned with. Meanwhile, Christian McCaffrey somehow wasn't a Pro Bowler last year, and looks to have another standout season, while D.J. Moore is insanely fun to watch and could grow into the Panthers' next Steve Smith. The addition of Brian Burns through the draft is a good one, too; he's a versatile playmaker with upside in the stratosphere of Von Miller (yes, seriously). Not too bad for the 16th overall pick. Carolina's secondary looks to bounce back from last year, with underrated lockdown cover man James Bradberry and the talented Donte Jackson leading the way. I think the arrow is pointing up for the Panthers this year.

11 MIN


Minnesota's defense, especially if they bounce back from last year, is better than most of those above it on this list. They also have one of the best offensive supporting casts in the league. Despite all that, I trust every single QB on one of the top 10 teams more than I trust Kirk Cousins. Also, the offensive line that was often plowed over in 2018 looks to improve this year with 1st rounder Garrett Bradbury at the pivot. I'm a fan of the Irv Smith Jr. pick in Round 2 - he's explosive. Not a fan of the Alexander Mattison pick in Round 3, as I wouldn't have minded a defensive tackle, slot receiver, or even another O-lineman there. Either way, I think Minnesota ends its brief playoff hiatus in 2019.

12 BUF


Ok, ok, hear me out. I'll start on defense, where the Bills quietly have one of the NFL's best units. Getting Ed Oliver at #9 was the perfect draft scenario for Buffalo, as he now anchors the defensive line for a unit that also features Tremaine Edmunds and Tre'Davious White, among other young stud contributors. The continued development of Josh Allen will help on offense, as will the additions of the speedy John Brown and the reliable Cole Beasley via free agency. Allen is (surprisingly) one of the most dangerous dual threat QBs in the league, or at least he could be. Once he completely unlocks the potential of that cannon of a right arm, the Bills will be in good hands in all three phases of the ball. Stephen Hauschka, anyone? One more thing: third-rounder Devin Singletary may never be a workhorse back, but man is he a fun player. If the Bills rotate him in with the most veteran of veteran RB duos (LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore), they could reap the benefits early and often.

13 HOU


Houston's woeful offensive line and ineffective secondary held them back last year, and I expect them to do the same in 2019. The Texans reached for an offensive tackle in round 1 with Tytus Howard, and then again in round 2 with Max Scharping (I liked the Lonnie Johnson Jr. pick, though). They were *this* close to snatching Andre Dillard. Regardless, Howard had better live up to his athletic potential, or Houston will be praying for nothing but Deshaun Watson-to-Deandre Hopkins magic to take them to the playoffs. The pass rush is still fierce, but if Houston is to return to the postseason and make a deeper run than last season's disappointing Wild Card game, they're gonna need some more help on offense and some better players on the back end of their defense. Side note: would've liked to see a running back taken before the 7th round. Lamar Miller is a solid contributor but not a true #1 in today's NFL, and Cullen Giaspilla and 2017 5th rounder D'Onta Foreman aren't gonna cut it.

14 SEA


With the losses of Frank Clark and (likely) Doug Baldwin, I'm not certain Seattle makes a postseason run (or wins more than 8 games) in 2019. Clark is an upper-level pass squarely in his prime, and Baldwin's impact has forever been understated. I'm gonna love me some Russell Wilson deep shots to Tyler Lockett second-rounder D.K. Metcalf, though - the Ole Miss product is an athletic freak who's a steal at 64. Chris Carson and the underutilized Rashaad Penny can do plenty of damage on the ground. On defense Jarran Reed quietly produced double-digit sacks last year, Shaquill Griffin is trending upwards, and Bobby Wagner is one of the best linebackers in the game. L.J. Collier wasn't that much of a reach in the late first as he has multiple aspects to his game. That being said, I think the Seahawks' depth woes and lack of stars at some key positions will ultimately be their downfall.

15 PHI


In all likelihood, Doug Pederson's Eagles will find some way to sneak into the playoffs and make a magical run for the third year in a row. On paper, though, I'm not sure how this Eagles team stacks up to those of the past 2 seasons. Andre Dillard was a great choice in the first round, but he'll sit behind Jason Peters and won't contribute right away. I'm a big fan of J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, but I feel that he's an Alshon Jeffery replacement for later down the line. The secondary worries me, even with Ronald Darby returning, and they don't have the depth that they used to at linebacker or on the d-line. Jordan Hicks in an underrated loss, as is Michael Bennett. Carson Wentz is uber-talented, and the Eagles have the coaching staff to win late in the season, but I think the NFC is too talented for them to make another run this year.

16 BAL


All right, Ravens fans, I'm not knocking the team down because of Lamar Jackson. I hope and believe that he can become an NFL-caliber passer as well as a runner. With a beaten-up RGIII and a freshly drafted Trace McSorley in the QB room, though, that may not be this year amid the Ravens' probable option-loaded offense. Not sure about the Marquise Brown fit - I'll have to see if Baltimore uses their first-rounder as a catch-and-run specialist in the short passing game or as a true deep threat (you guess which one would be better for the Ravens at this point). The Justice Hill pick was fun as a home-run hitter to complement Mark Ingram. On the other side of the ball, the Ravens' ferocious D lost a lot of its ferocity with the losses of Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley, Za'Darius Smith, and Eric Weddle. Phew. You can't just replace a future Hall of Famer, two perennial Pro Bowlers, and an ascending young star very easily. I think Baltimore declines a little bit on both sides of the ball and ultimately doesn't play in January.

17 JAC


The Jaguars' offseason was highlighted by the acquisition of Napoleon Dyna- er, Nick Foles. The Super Bowl LII MVP is one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL... if you ask him to play in a 5 game stretch and he isn't injured. I like Foles, but I'm intrigued to see what happens in a 16-game season, especially with the talent the veteran has around him. Leonard Fournette? Sure. Now name me a Jaguars pass-catcher with a 900+ yard season (hint: there isn't one).The defense should return to form in 2019, with Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, Myles Jack, and Telvin Smith among the star-studded ranks. Another name to consider: 2018 first-rounder Taven Bryan, who should have a greater role after Malik Jackson's departure.

18 PIT


Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown's impact can be understated - the loss of the Killer B's top weapons handicaps this Steelers offense. It remains to be seen whether or not JuJu Smith-Schuster can be a #1 receiver, James Washington is still very inconsistent, and third-rounder Diontae Johnson is not Antonio Brown 2.0, regardless of stature, college pedigree, or play style similarities. The move up for Devin Bush was necessary due to the difference in talent between this class's top 2 linebackers and the rest, and Pittsburgh didn't give up too much to get him. Justin Layne was a steal in the third round and might start his rookie year. With all that said, the Steelers can't rely on an aging Ben Roethlisberger and a good offensive line to carry their entire offense full of young, unproven skill players, and the defense offers perhaps more hope than last year, but in a competitive division may not be enough.

19 GBP


Davante Adams is a top-5 receiver in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers is a great quarterback, and I love the offensive line and Aaron Jones. Elgton Jenkins can solidify the line by starting at center, guard, or tackle and was a great pickup in the 2nd. Jace Sternberger was another one in the 3rd. The defense got better through free agency and the draft, with young studs Za'Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Adrian Amos joining first-rounders Rashan Gary and Darnell Savage Jr. (more on them later). I wouldn't be surprised if Green Bay outperforms this ranking. But there are so many other good teams in the NFL, and I don't think Aaron Rodgers has been playing to his standard the past 2 seasons when healthy. The defense is a tad weak at inside linebacker and the interior defensive line, and can every new addition live up to expectations? Aside from Adams, every skill-position weapon for Rodgers is either a rapidly declining Jimmy Graham or a very young and inexperienced mid-to-late round pick. Gary is going to play WAY out of position at outside linebacker (he might even be better at 3-technique), and Savage is a combine warrior who made everybody look back at his "great" tape. There's plenty of potential for the Packers to either boom or bust, but in a highly competitive NFC North (and NFC overall), I'd take the latter.

20 SFO


The 49ers are everybody's favorite "sleeper" team this offseason, but I'm suggesting that they temper expectations. This isn't the Super Bowl roster carried by Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, and a strong defense, and I'm not a Jimmy Garoppolo fan. He's not even as good as that one San Francisco starter who took them to the Super Bowl a few years ago (whose name I will choose not to mention), or at least he hasn't proven that he can be. The Niners can't seem to realize that they should probably play the 3-4 (don't believe me? Solomon Thomas, DeForest Buckner, and Arik Armstead on the line with Dee Ford and Nick Bosa as outside linebackers sounds mighty scary). Speaking of Bosa, he was the best player in the draft and gives San Francisco another boost to their needy pass rush. I also liked Swiss Army Knives Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, respectively. Overall, though, I just don't think the 49ers did enough for their secondary or interior offensive line, and I'm not sure they're built to compete in a loaded conference (and frankly, a loaded NFL. These 49ers might have been a playoff team if they played in the early 2000s).

21 ATL


A slew of injuries and an underperforming defensive line sunk the Falcons last season. With two first round picks (G Chris Lindstrom and T Kaleb McGary) added to the offensive line, Matt Ryan will be on his feet more after taking the eighth-most sacks in the league in 2018. However, trading back into the first for McGary left Atlanta with no picks on Day 2, where one can usually find studs and key contributors. Very little was done to fix their pass-rush, with Grady Jarrett as the only marquee player among underwhelming first-rounders Vic Beasley and Takkarist McKinley. The middle of their defense is set with Jarrett alongside Deion Jones and Keanu Neal returning from injury. As previously mentioned, dge rush remains a problem, as does cornerback, with not much outside of quintessential "league-average starter" Desmond Trufant. Not sure if the running game can produce very well either, with veteran Devonta Freeman coming off an injury and not much proven ability behind him after the departure of the explosive and versatile Tevin Coleman. In a division I expect to return to its previous reputation as very tough, I'm not sure the Falcons are tough enough.

22 TBB


Don't get me wrong - I LOVE the Bruce Arians hire and I'm excited to see what he can do with Jameis Winston and this Bucs offense. I still think they're a year (and a good offseason) away. They need more than should-be-backups Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones II at RB, and could do well by upgrading any O-line position outside of center. A deep threat not named Breshad Perriman would be nice (although Tampa Bay's top 2, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, are among the best pairings in the league). On defense, Devin White will likely be an immediate stud, and Vita Vea will hopefully continue to improve. My question: who's going to start in the secondary? In the defensive backfield, the Bucs boast a multitude of recent second-rounders, old-timer Brent Grimes, first-round disappointment Vernon Hargreaves, and a smattering of unproductive safeties. Sean Bunting is fun, but so would have been Greedy Williams (or Derwin James, if you want to go back that far). Not so sure about that Gerald McCoy situation, either. Despite all that, I do think the Bucs are a lower-tier team who is only 1 or 2 good drafts or free agent sprees away from contending.

23 NYJ


For a second there, it seemed like the Jets' plan on defense was just to throw 11 linebackers on the field and see what happens. All jokes aside, even with the Anthony Barr signing falling through, the Jets had a very strong free agent class headlined by C.J. Mosley and Le'Veon Bell. Mosley can be the leader the Jets need in the middle, relegating Avery Williamson to a #2 role (where he should excel). Bell will accelerate Sam Darnold's development, and help the uber-talented signal-caller grow into a franchise QB. Jamison Crowder is an underrated offensive addition, as is Kelechi Osemele. Not so sure about that line as a whole, or the lack of a true "X" wideout in the offense. On defense, the selection of Quinnen Williams at #3 was quite obvious in my opinion, and third-rounder Jachai Polite should look to bounce back from an abysmal pre-draft process and become the player he was on tape. The Jets may soon have one of the top young front sevens in the NFL, as there doesn't seem to be a position without at least one likely solid starter. Also, Jamal Adams is turning into a star in the back end before our eyes, alongside fellow young safety Marcus Maye. Their biggest weakness, though, is fielding one of the NFL's worst (if not THE worst) cornerback groups in the NFL. Trumaine Johnson doesn't seem to be living up to his ludicrous contract, and there are exactly 0 starters who are even serviceable at best. Brian Poole is probably their second CB, but he would be 4th or 5th on the depth chart on many, many other teams. Combine that with a very young and inexperienced offensive core, and the Jets are probably a couple seasons away from being truly threatening. I like the foundation they laid this offseason, though.

24 DEN


With the not-quite-elite Joe Flacco at the helm, I'm not sure how much we can expect from the Denver offense this season. Philip Lindsay and Royce Freeman provide a young 1-2 punch in the backfield and Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton show promise - all part of a really solid 2018 draft for the Broncos skill positions. However, the line isn't quite there, and going after prospects like Noah Fant (after trading down), who is yet to reach his ceiling, and Drew Lock, who has tons of potential that needs to be refined, in this year's draft shows that John Elway knows that the Broncos are a team for tomorrow and not today. Dalton Risner was an awesome pick, though - I like him best at right guard. On the defensive side of the ball, the Mile High City lacks the type of enforcer in the middle that Vic Fangio usually excels at using in his defense, although Von Miller and Bradley Chubb provide a great pass-rushing duo. A depleted secondary and questionable defensive line, along with said lack of high-level linebacker, could ultimately be this unit's demise. The Broncos won't be a contender in 2019, let's face it, and they're several years away from really being able to win it all.

25 TEN


Let's start on defense, where Tennessee retains many starters, including one of the NFL's best free safeties in Kevin Byard, a really solid corner trio in Malcolm Jenkins, Logan Ryan, and Adoree' Jackson, and the great Jurrell Casey. Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry make up an enviable young linebacker duo with free agent signee and ageless wonder Cameron Wake there to provide tutelage. Jeffery Simmons is the type of risk you want to take in the mid-to-late first round, as a top-5 talent whose stock fell due to injury and minor off-field concerns. If he hits, he'll be a steal. Another steal:D'andre Walker, a great get in Round 5. I didn't even mention Kenny Vaccaro, an above-average strong safety. I'm definitely not concerned about the defense. On offense, though, Tennessee is home to the most injury-prone QB due in the NFL in Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill, who both haven't lived up to expectations in the NFL as former first-round picks (and Mariota is entering a make-or-break season). The Titans are a dark horse to draft a first-round quarterback next year, in a great class for the position. Outside of that, Corey Davis is yet to hit his ceiling and the team's other returning wideouts are underwhelming (although A.J. Brown was an excellent value in the middle of Round 2 and should be a stud). Delanie Walker is 34, and Jonnu Smith isn't cutting it. The Titans have a great offensive line when healthy, but that has proven to be an issue especially with Jack Conklin, and their interior was stripped bare this offseason prior to the offseason additions of Rodger Saffold (free agency) and Nate Davis (draft, third round). I don't think Tennessee can keep up with today's high-flying offenses on the (very large) back of Derrick Henry, and ultimately has a disappointing year under Mike Vrabel.

26 OAK


Oakland's draft was the biggest talking point of the offseason, so I'll start with that. Mark my words, Clelin Ferrell was not a reach at #4 and brings exactly the kind of veteran leadership, play, and production that Jon Gruden loves as a rookie. Johnathan Abram can be a Keanu Neal clone if used correctly (and likely renders Karl Joseph obsolete), and Josh Jacobs is a workhorse who looks like an even better pick after Isaiah Crowell's injury. Not sure about the Trayvon Mullen pick over some of the other corners in the draft, but he has a high ceiling and plays smoothly. I think the Raiders aced the draft, especially the first round. What kind of lineup are those rookies being inserted to, though? Ferrell should help a pass rush that had 13 (yes, 13) sacks in 2018, and Abram shores up a secondary that looks a lot better with Lamarcus Joyner in town and Gareon Conley continually improving. Linebacker is a problem for Oakland, though, as is the fact that Arden Key and his entire 1 career sack will likely start across from Ferrell on the defensive line. Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams make this offense a whole lot more fun, but J.J. Nelson and Marcell Ateman are penciled in as the next wideouts, which isn't very inspiring, and they lack a starting-caliber tight end (watch out for fourth-rounder Foster Moreau, though; he's one of my favorite players in the class). The line is porous, especially if Kolton Miller keeps hitting a wall and Trent Brown doesn't live up to his massive contract after switching back to right tackle. Oakland isn't built to contend this year, but their draft gives plenty of confidence (at least to me).

27 ARI


Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury could be Jared Goff and Sean McVay or they could be Jamarcus Russell and Lane Kiffin (though that's definitely not fair to the Heisman winner and the brand new head coach). I like the Cardinals' offensive moves in the draft; Andy Isabella is super fast and was highly productive in college, and Hakeem Butler was a coup in the 4th Round with Josh Gordon-type upside. KeeSean Johnson is an intriguing player from the 6th. On the other side of the ball, second-rounder Byron Murphy should start immediately and Zach Allen was awesome value in the third. I actually don't hate this Cards defense, with Chandler Jones anchoring the pass-rush (although it'd be nice to see Haason Reddick be more productive, Patrick Peterson stay in town, and Budda Baker recover from a bit of a sophomore slump. Yeesh). They could conceivably finish in the middle of the pack as far as defense goes. The offense, on the other hand, could be an Air Raid system that sees a bounceback year from David Johnson and more production from Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk (and the rookies), but that's all if the offensive line gives Murray more than a couple seconds to do anything. Therein lies the rub; this is a very, very young offense anchored by one of the league's worst offensive lines, and an unexceptional defense with a couple of underwhelming first-rounders and a superstar looking to get out of town. Uh-oh.

28 WAS


Nailed the draft? Check. Have an excellent young nucleus on the defensive line? Check. Have a very good (when healthy) offensive line and rock-solid running back committee? Check. The problem for the Redskins is that they lack in many areas while they excel in some. For example, Trent Williams, Brandon Scherff, and Morgan Moses anchor a very good line that blocks for... Case Keenum throwing to Josh Doctson and Paul Richardson. Not exactly a high-flying aerial attack. Dwayne Haskins was an awesome pick at 15th overall and will be a great QB in the league, but team brass needs to be patient in his development. Adrian Peterson will continue to run All Day, while Derrius Guice and Chris Thompson are great rotational pieces in that committee I mentioned. Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, and Da'ron Payne make up a young defensive line to be reckoned with, and Montez Sweat (for whom Washington traded back into the first round) has sky-high potential. The secondary is lacking outside of Landon Collins, though, as the underperforming Josh Norman leads a cornerback group that also includes Fabian Moreau and Greg Stroman. Not too inspiring. This team is too young and way too shallow or plain mediocre at several positions (WR, CB, LB, EDGE, FS, TE, to name a few) to be good right now.

29 DET


I'm actually a big fan of the way the Lions' offense is constructed. The big-armed Matthew Stafford gets to throw to a pair of jump-ball virtuosos in Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay, a reliable underneath target in Danny Amendola, and a Swiss Army Knife in T.J. Jones (a nice mix of youth and veteran experience, and a very underrated WR corps if you ask me). #8 overall pick T.J. Hockenson will step in as the starting tight end and, even if he follows the usual rookie learning curve for his position receiving-wise, should be an immediate mauler in the run game. Jesse James serves as an upper-end #2 to Hockenson. All in all, this receiving corps has the chops to be excellent, and open up the ground game for Kerryon Johnson, who hopefully will look like himself after returning from injury. The offensive line is ok at best, which really holds this unit back, but overall it should be in the upper third of NFL offenses by my estimation. On the defensive side, Matt Patricia looks to avoid being the next Belichick coordinator to disappoint as a head coach, and he brought in his former weapon Trey Flowers to do so. Flowers is versatile and can play the run, but without a double-digit sack campaign or a Pro Bowl nod to his name, his contract might be a little too rich for someone who's not a dominant pass-rusher. Darius Slay is a very good cornerback, but he lacks a proven cover man opposite him, as recent signee Justin Coleman fits much better in the slot (look out for 5th-rounder Amani Oruwariye; I had him as an early-second round grade and could push to start right away). Jarrad Davis hasn't been everything they've looked for at linebacker, though he's developing into a solid 2-down player. He's not among the best in the game, though. Second-rounder Jahlani Tavai won't be, either; he's a Patriots-type player whose intangibles may be nice, but his raw physical ability won't be able to match up with what linebackers are supposed to do in today's NFL. I'm not a fan of the defense, personally, and the offense may be held back by certain factors (speaking of, the Lions could also be a dark horse candidate to draft a QB early next year - maybe second or third round). So, #29 feels right for Detroit.

30 CIN


Andy Dalton is entering the "stopgap" portion of his career, and a new coaching staff might tire of him quickly. Nothing will get done with Jeff Driskel as his backup, though, so I'd look for the Bengals to start looking for Dalton's replacement fairly soon (Ryan Finley, anyone?). Dalton, meanwhile, is throwing to a version of A.J. Green whose health has become eternally worrisome, a solid slot man in Tyler Boyd, and... not much else. Perhaps disappointing top-10 drafted speedster John Ross tickles your fancy, or Cody Core and Alex Erickson. Tyler Eifert is another guy who seems to miss more games to injury than he plays at this point, and C.J. Uzomah is raw. The offensive line was horrific last year, and although first-rounder Jonah Williams should start at either tackle spot, the interior remains porous. I love the defensive line, to be fair; Geno Atkins remains elite, Carlos Dunlap is rock-solid, and they have a pair of young edge talents in Sam Hubbard and Carl Lawson (please, get Lawson some snaps as he returns from injury). Renell Wren is a good fourth-round value to substitute for NT Andrew Billings in pass-rush packages. The linebacker corps, though, remains bad, and Germaine Pratt can't fix it all by himself. The secondary, outside of the vastly underrated William Jackson III (seriously, he's very good) and Jessie Bates III, gives up too many big plays. That's why the Bengals were last in pass defense last year, to be fair. And that's one of the reasons they're among the lowest tier of teams in the NFL.

31 NYG


Say what you want about Saquon Barkley - he's among the ranks of Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott, and Christian McCaffrey already and is a generational talent, but Sam Darnold should be in East Rutherford right now (er, the other team in East Rutherford, NJ). Barkley can't carry the team to great heights like a QB could, and Daniel Jones would be the 6th or 7th best quarterback in the class if he had been in the 2018 draft. I think he can be a solid starter, but not much more. Dexter Lawrence was not the right choice at #17 either, not because of Lawrence's talent (which is undeniable) but because of positional value. The core of the Giants-Brown trade ended up being Odell Beckham Jr., possibly the most gifted receiver in the game, for a nose tackle without elite pass-rushing traits. Now, Eli Manning and his merry band of slot receivers won't create a formidable air attack, essentially wasting Barkley's prime. Darn... old (sorry). The defense, meanwhile, lacks any marquee players outside of maybe Janoris Jenkins, with youngsters Dalvin Tomlinson, Lorenzo Carter, and Sam Beal among the best on the squad. "Best" is relative, though. Jabrill Peppers may enjoy a boost in production due to a change of scenery to James Bettcher's defense, but one young safety, first-rounder or not, can't change the fortunes of an entire phase of the game. It just seems like Dave Gettleman doesn't have a plan, or maybe he does and his plan is to wing it. At least Aldrick Rosas is a really good kicker. Sorry, Giants fans.

32 MIA


Where to begin? Perhaps the dearth of offensive line talent that just lost a former first-rounder (although Laremy Tunsil is a very good left tackle, that's about it, unless third-rounder Michael Dieter hits his ceiling early). Perhaps the tight end group whose only notables are second-year pro Mike Gesicki, who had by all means a poor rookie season, and blocking specialist Dwayne Allen. Perhaps the lack of any top receivers, with Kenny Stills being the only one who has ever been a true threat to opposing defenses, and even that's a stretch. Not to mention, the quarterback room consists of an aging and inconsistent Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen, last year's #10 overall pick who was traded away after one campaign for a reason. Add it all together, and you have one messy offense. On defense, disappointing 2017 first-rounder Charles Harris and all 3 of his career sacks bookends a bunch of practice-squad guys. I will say one thing: Christian Wilkins was a top-10 player on my board, and he was an excellent selection for the Dolphins at 13 this year. One interior lineman can't change it all, though, especially when your linebacker corps consists of old-timer Kiko Alonso and lower-upside guys like Jerome Baker and Raekwon McMillan. It's not unrealistic to say that the Dolphins' pass rush will look like the Raiders' from last year. In the secondary, things get a little better, with the talented Minkah Fitzpatrick continually developing and Pro Bowlers Reshad Jones and Xavien Howard holding down the fort. Outside of those three, T.J. McDonald and Bobby McCain are solid contributors, but should never be some of the top players on a defense, which is what they are in Miami. The one shred of hope comes from new blood in the organization, with Chris Grier at GM and Belichick disciples Brian Flores and Chad O'Shea calling plays. That hope might be better placed for the future, though. But who knows? Maybe Miami will find some way to go 8-8, the territory where their record seems to have been since Dan Marino retired. But as of now, especially in a much-improved division, I think the 'Fins are the favorite to pick first overall next April.

Older Published Rankings


NFL Picks - Dec. 1

2022 NFL Mock Draft - Dec. 1

NFL Power Rankings - Nov. 30

Fantasy Football Rankings - Sept. 8


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