NFL Power Rankings: Analyzing How Every Team Stacks Up Heading Into OTAs
There's a clear power structure in the NFL these days. On one extreme, you have perennial playoff contenders like the San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots, and on the other reside dismal franchises like the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders.
Now that the draft is in the rear-view mirror and teams have had a chance to work out their new rookies it's time for each team to focus on OTA's and minicamps.
This is a time for coaches to install new wrinkles (or new playbooks, for teams with new coaching staffs) on both sides of the ball, for new players to get acclimated to their new teammates and for the rookies to impress the vets.
It's also the time of year when many fans believe their team has a chance to get to the Super Bowl, no matter what happened the year before.
Unfortunately, not every team has a chance.
Heading into OTAs, this is how the league stacks up in terms of talent across the board on every roster.
1. San Francisco 49ers
The only weaknesses on San Francisco's roster heading into the draft were at safety and on the defensive line, where depth was an issue. Trent Baalke drafted Eric Reid, who will step into the starting lineup to play free safety, and drafted a couple of dynamic pass-rushers and an interior lineman.
Now there isn't a single weakness on this roster.
2. Seattle Seahawks
Nobody wanted to face Seattle toward the end of last year, and this team got better in the offseason. Percy Harvin will be an explosive playmaker for Russell Wilson, and Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett give Pete Carroll's defense some much-needed depth on the defensive line.
3. Denver Broncos
Wes Welker will give Peyton Manning and his offense an incredible lift this year. His ability to get open underneath will give Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas more room to operate outside, and Montee Ball will provide balance as a runner.
The addition of defensive tackle Terrance Knighton will shore up the middle of the team's defense, as will rookie Sylvester Williams.
4. New England Patriots
It doesn't matter who lines up as a receiver—Tom Brady will be superb. Jamie Collins will be a phenomenal pass-rusher for the team's defense, and Aaron Dobson will shock some people with a big year as a rookie receiver.
5. Green Bay Packers
Datone Jones will solidify the Packers front seven. He's a dynamic 3-4 defensive end who will make teams choose to double him or Clay Matthews, and there isn't a right answer to that problem. On the other side of the ball, Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin will provide Aaron Rodgers with the balanced attack he's been lacking—a scary thought for opposing defenses.
6. Atlanta Falcons
Moving up to grab Desmond Trufant was a brilliant decision by Thomas Dimitroff. Trufant has shutdown abilities on the corner, and he'll step in as a nickel back at the least to start the season. On the other side, Steven Jackson will give Matt Ryan better production as a runner than he received from Michael Turner last year, and Atlanta's offense will be tough to stop in 2013.
7. Houston Texans
DeAndre Hopkins will immediately step into the starting lineup and make a big impact. According to Tania Ganguli of the Houston Chronicle, he's already impressed the team's coaching staff. Ed Reed will provide a huge boost to the team's secondary, but if he should fail to stay healthy, D.J. Swearinger has the talent to fill the void.
8. Cincinnati Bengals
Andy Dalton will be in heaven once he starts working with Tyler Eifert, and the addition of Giovani Bernard to the team's running game will be felt early and often. Mike Zimmer's defense will be stronger than ever, too, with the additions of safety Shawn Williams and defensive end Margus Hunt.
9. Baltimore Ravens
Count me among those who were concerned about Baltimore getting back to the playoffs in 2013 after losing so many key players to free agency (and retirement, Ray Lewis). That said, Ozzie Newsome did a phenomenal job filling needs via the draft and free agency. Arthur Brown and Matt Elam will be excellent as rookies playing in place of Lewis and Reed.
10. Chicago Bears
Will Marc Trestman be able to turn Jay Cutler into an All-Pro? Will D.J. Williams or Jon Bostic play well enough to replace Brian Urlacher?
Should both of these questions be answered with positive results, Chicago will be a dangerous team in the playoffs. Otherwise, Chicago could be set up for another disappointing finish in 2013.
11. Minnesota Vikings
It's easy for me to understand why Vikings fans are so excited about the upcoming season. All three first-round picks (Sharrif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes and Cordarrelle Patterson) are capable of turning into superstars in the NFL.
That said, Christian Ponder is a huge question mark. If he can't get the job done and lead the Vikings to the playoffs Rick Spielman will be looking at drafting another quarterback next season.
12. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts did a fantastic job of retooling their offensive line in free agency and the draft. Darrius Heyward-Bey will be a big weapon for Andrew Luck downfield, and Coby Fleener will have a breakout season. The biggest question surrounding this team is whether or not its defense can improve enough to win a playoff game against another top AFC team.
13. Washington Redskins
David Amerson, Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo will all have a legitimate chance to start for Washington on defense, and Brandon Jenkins will likely be a key role player rushing the passer. If Robert Griffin III comes back fully healthy and stays healthy, Washington will be in the playoffs again in 2013.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers
Jarvis Jones and Le'Veon Bell were superb pickups for the Steelers, and they'll step into the starting lineup from the first day of training camp. Shamarko Thomas and Markus Wheaton both have a chance to do the same thing, and if Pittsburgh can get a big season out of their rookie class they'll make it back to the postseason after missing out a year ago.
15. New York Giants
Jerry Reese does such a nice job with the draft. Adding Johnathan Hankins and Damontre Moore will pay instant dividends, and Justin Pugh could become a critical player on the team's offensive line. The biggest key for this team will be protecting Eli Manning.
16. Miami Dolphins
There isn't any room for failure this year for Jeff Ireland and the Dolphins. From the bold moves Ireland made in free agency to the move he made in the draft for Dion Jordan, this team is set up to win right now. Should second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill suffer a sophomore slump, however, all of Ireland's efforts could be for naught.
17. St. Louis Rams
After going 4-1-1 in the NFC West last year (the best record in the division), St. Louis is set up be even tougher in 2013. Sam Bradford finally has protection and weapons, and the team's defense will be as athletic and fast as any team in the league.
18. New Orleans Saints
Sean Payton is back, which should give Drew Brees and his offense a huge boost. If Rob Ryan can get his defense up and running smoothly before the midway point of the season, New Orleans could be a huge factor in the playoffs.
19. Dallas Cowboys
Dallas still has big problems on both sides of the ball. Even if Travis Frederick turns out to be an All-Pro center, the offensive line is full of holes. The team's secondary still isn't fixed, either, and unless Tony Romo has a career year it's hard to see Dallas making it into the postseason tournament.
20. Detroit Lions
It's hard to imagine Matthew Stafford having a big season if he's knocked down half the time he drops back to pass. Detroit's offensive line isn't looking good right now, and neither is the team's secondary. It could be another long, long season for the Lions and their fans.
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay will be an interesting team to track throughout the 2013 season. Dashon Goldson and Darrelle Revis will surely help the team defend against the pass, but even with a much-improved secondary, the Buccaneers still don't have any strong pass-rushers. Furthermore, if Josh Freeman doesn't come out guns blazing he might be out of a job by midseason.
22. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are as unpredictable heading into the 2013 season as any team in the league. I won't be shocked to see this team go 4-12, and it won't surprise me to see the team win nine or 10 games. The key will be whether or not Alex Smith can play well enough to secure 20-plus points per game on offense.
23. Carolina Panthers
Carolina's defensive front seven should be really good in 2013 with the additions of Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei. The team's secondary is still suspect, however, and nobody knows whether Cam Newton will continue to be average as a passer or if he'll begin to evolve into an efficient quarterback.
24. San Diego Chargers
D.J. Fluker is an excellent player, but he can't protect Philip Rivers' blind side. A pure right tackle, Fluker was a huge reach at No. 11 overall. And with Rivers still in need of protection in 2013, San Diego will struggle to win half its games.
25. Philadelphia Eagles
By the end of the season, we're either going to be stunned by how well the Eagles played under Chip Kelly or by how much work he has left to do. At this point, nobody knows which it will be, just as nobody knows who will start behind center.
26. Buffalo Bills
Buffalo has the offensive weapons to become a really dangerous team, but EJ Manuel isn't ready to step into the starting lineup and perform well enough to make it happen. Neither is Kevin Kolb or Tarvaris Jackson, meaning Buffalo will flounder again in 2013.
27. Tennessee Titans
Chris Johnson will be facing plenty of eight-man fronts this upcoming season, as Jake Locker isn't accurate or poised enough to make teams think twice about stacking the box. The team's defense is still a work in progress, as well, but Tennessee will be competitive week in and week out.
28. Cleveland Browns
Cleveland's defense will be fun to watch this year under Ray Horton. That said, given the team's situation at quarterback with Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell, many of the team's games this year will likely be low-scoring affairs.
29. Arizona Cardinals
Jonathan Cooper was a phenomenal pickup by the Cardinals, and Carson Palmer should inject some life into the team's anemic offense from a year ago. That said, Arizona's defense will struggle now that Horton is gone to Cleveland.
30. New York Jets
The Jets have some talented players on both sides of the ball. But until the quarterback situation is resolved (for good), Rex Ryan's team will flounder. The defense will likely struggle to come together for the first part of the season, too, which means New York could open up with a big deficit early in the year.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville doesn't have a starting quarterback. Period. Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert would be third-string quarterbacks on some teams, and their inability to play with any consistency will doom the Jaguars to another dismal season.
32. Oakland Raiders
According to Steve Corkran of the San Jose Mercury News, rookie Tyler Wilson has already impressed head coach Dennis Allen. Matt Flynn must be kicking himself right about now.
Seriously, though, the Raiders are still a long, long way away from contending in the NFL.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?