NFL Power Rankings: Updated Outlook for Each Team After the 2014 Draft

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIMay 11, 2014

Predicting a team's draft haul may be as near impossible of a feat as coming away with a perfect NCAA tournament bracket. Luckily for us, the prediction process is over as of Saturday night.

After 256 prospects found new homes in the NFL—and teams scramble to acquire undrafted free agents—we have a better idea of the shape of each franchise heading into the 2014 season.

This leads us to another round of predictions—power rankings.

Each team improved through the 2014 NFL draft. However, some may have improved more than others. We may not know the full extent of the draft's impact until we are well into the season—or possibly for another couple of years.

But it's never too early to speculate.

Taking into account how each team fared last season, their acquisitions in free agency and respective draft hauls, let's rank each of the NFL's teams heading into the next phase of the offseason.


32. Houston Texans

First things first: The Texans had a great draft—one of the best in the league. Jadeveon Clowney is an athletic freak and is poised to do some major damage alongside J.J. Watt. The troubling fact surrounding Houston is still the quarterback position.

The lack of an efficient signal-caller doomed the team in 2013, and Houston didn't do much to rectify that this offseason. Drafting Tom Savage in the fourth round gave them a quarterback, but he's not poised to be an immediate starter.

The Texans defense should be fierce this season; however, the offense could still hold them back.


31. Jacksonville Jaguars

Like the Texans, the Jaguars had an impressive draft. This team went offense early and often, selecting Blake Bortles in the first round and wide receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson in the second.

A very young offense bodes well for the future; although, the impact may not be felt immediately. Also, going offense so early didn't allow the Jaguars to bolster the defensive side of the ball as much as they would have liked.


30. Cleveland Browns

Here's yet another team with a great draft. Justin Gilbert will form a great duo with Joe Haden, and Johnny Manziel certainly looks the part of an NFL franchise quarterback. Unfortunately, the Browns received some somber news during the draft.

Electrifying wide receiver Josh Gordon may be facing a year-long suspension and Nate Burleson suffered a broken arm. It's difficult to determine Manziel's impact without these weapons on the field. It certainly doesn't make it any easier playing in a very difficult AFC North division.


29. Minnesota Vikings

There seems to be a trend going here. The Vikings were another team with a nice draft haul; however, their success in 2014 will rely on the development of Teddy Bridgewater. Minnesota did a great job shoring up the defensive side of the ball in the draft, but Bridgewater will be the determining factor in how far this team can do this season.


28. Tennessee Titans

Tennessee made some great early selections with offensive tackle Taylor Lewan and running back Bishop Sankey; although, this is another team in quarterback trouble. Jake Locker hasn't lived up to his first-round billing and Zach Mettenberger may not be ready to push him early in the season.


27. Oakland Raiders

The trend continues. Oakland had a great draft—Khalil Mack will be one of the NFL's most dominant defenders. The Raiders grabbed Derek Carr in the second round, but Carr may be best suited to sit and learn behind Matt Schaub in his first season. The quarterback quandary keeps Oakland near the bottom of the list.


26. Buffalo Bills

Moving up to select Sammy Watkins at No. 4 overall was a brilliant move. He'll be a long-term No. 1 receiver for this team and should make an immediate impact. It's the development of EJ Manuel that keeps Buffalo from rising up the list here.

Manuel expressed his excitement of the Watkins' pick on Twitter:

Watkins should play a big role in the quarterback's growth, but until we see some improvement, the Bills stay at No. 26 in the power rankings.


25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay has roughly the same scenario as Buffalo. The team added a great wide receiver in Mike Evans to pair with Vincent Jackson; however, it may be Mike Glennon holding this team back. His development this year will determine if Tampa Bay remains near the bottom of the list or makes a big surge upward.


24. St. Louis Rams

St. Louis had a phenomenal draft. Greg Robinson will do wonders for the offensive line and Aaron Donald will give this team one of the league's most feared defensive fronts.

Bleacher Report's Matt Bowen tweeted his thoughts on the defensive line this season:

Here's the question: Can Sam Bradford stay healthy? This team's success hinges on the quarterback's health, and Bradford's past indicates he won't be able to remain on the field.


23. Washington Redskins

Are the Redskins poised for a bounce-back season? Adding DeSean Jackson will help the offense in a big way, and Jay Gruden's tutelage should do wonders for Robert Griffin III. It's all a matter of how this team puts it all together. Washington remains low on the list right now, but has a chance to make a big splash this season.


22. New York Jets

The additions of Calvin Pryor and Jace Amaro—along with the free-agent signing of Eric Decker—were great for this team. However, the Jets remain hogtied with a bad quarterback scenario and a thin group of cornerbacks. If this team can't pass successfully, or defend against it, a rough year may lie ahead.


21. Detroit Lions

Offensively, this team has no reason to not blow up scoreboards week in and week out. There are so many weapons at Matthew Stafford's disposal after the selection of Eric Ebron in the first round. The problem here remains on defense. Detroit did very little to upgrade a porous secondary via the draft. That could put this team on the losing end of many shootouts this season.


20. Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys suffered greater losses than gains over the offseason. This team lost its entire pass rush and didn't do enough to rectify that problem. After a horrid showing in 2013, this defense may even take another step back this coming season.


19. New York Giants

A great selection of Odell Beckham Jr. in the first round will do wonders for this offense. Paired with Victor Cruz, Eli Manning suddenly has some nice options at his disposal.

ESPN's Trey Wingo tweeted an interesting nugget of information regarding Beckham and his new quarterback:

The offensive line will still be a concern here, though. The Giants did grab center Weston Richburg in the second round, but offensive tackle remains a big weakness.


18. Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins went out and solidified the offensive tackle position early in the draft—even though selecting Ja'Wuan James at No. 19 was a big reach. How well this offensive line plays early in the season will dictate how strong this team will become. Miami is heading in the right direction and could be a team to shoot up this list.


17. Pittsburgh Steelers

As long as Ben Roethlisberger is quarterbacking this team, they have a fighting chance. However, with a shaky offensive line and thin wide receiver corps, Roethlisberger may find himself in some trouble this season. Can Markus Wheaton step up in Emmanuel Sanders' place? Having to ask that question doesn't bode well for this team's aerial attack.


16. Chicago Bears

The Bears made some nice free-agent acquisitions along the defensive line; however, it's the secondary that remains a concern. The team did draft Kyle Fuller, but rookie cornerbacks seldom make huge impacts. The team's remaining corners are a bit long in the tooth and safety still remains a big problem. That's not a good recipe having to face Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford twice each year.


15. San Diego Chargers

San Diego was a surprising team in 2013, making the playoffs and defeating the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round. The team addressed a big need, selecting Jason Verrett in Round 1. He's a smallish corner, so it's tough to determine how much of an impact he'll make during his rookie season. The offensive line continues to be a weakness here which isn't a good thing for a less-than-athletic Philip Rivers.


14. Arizona Cardinals

Adding Deone Bucannon could give this team an elite secondary. Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports tweeted his thoughts on the pick:

Troy Niklas will also give this team a big offensive boost. If the offensive line performs well, and Carson Palmer can keep up his form, this team could certainly be dangerous in 2014.


13. Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore made a great move signing Steve Smith over the offseason. The team then added C.J. Mosley to its linebacker corps. This should be a vastly improved team in 2014. The question here is how well the offensive line can protect Joe Flacco. The quarterback struggled last season and will need to regain his form to get this team back on top of the AFC North.


12. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals have made the playoffs in three consecutive years for the first time in franchise history. Unfortunately, they haven't won a playoff game since 1990. Darqueze Dennard's addition will ensure the defensive side of the ball remains an elite unit. It all depends on if Andy Dalton can finally take the next step as a quarterback in 2014.


11. Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles released DeSean Jackson during the offseason, but made a great move acquiring Darren Sproles. This team looked poised for success following the free-agency period; however, a lackluster draft may have hurt a bit. Still, the Eagles are the team to beat in the NFC East.


10. Atlanta Falcons

Talk about a team that made significant strides this offseason. Jake Matthews will be a stud on Matt Ryan's blind side. Ra'Shede Hageman will solidify a vastly improved defensive line. Julio Jones and Roddy White are now healthy again. This team is poised to make a big leap forward this season.


9. Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs had a rather questionable draft. This team was brilliant during the 2013 regular season but lacked sufficient offensive weapons and was quite shaky in the secondary. Neither of these areas were addressed in the draft. Still, this team is full of talent and should be one of the league's top teams this season.


8. Carolina Panthers

The Panthers still have one of the most dominant defenses in the league—drafting Kony Ealy didn't hurt matters either. The offense remains questionable entering the new season, however. Carolina added Kelvin Benjamin, but without much upside, the passing game could struggle in 2014.

At least Benjamin has size on his side. This tweet from Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports sums it up:

Still, it's hard to count out Cam Newton at quarterback.


7. Indianapolis Colts

Selecting Jack Mewhort in the second round will help Andrew Luck in a big way. Unfortunately, the Colts didn't improve much thereafter in this year's draft. We know T.Y. Hilton will be stellar once again, but will Reggie Wayne be fully recovered this season? If he is, this team will be a powerhouse. If not, they could falter.


6. New England Patriots

The Patriots already have a pretty solid roster; however, the team didn't do much to solidify it through the draft. Dominique Easley is a risky pick, as he's coming off of an ACL injury. Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round was just completely unexpected. Expect this team to be a similar to its 2013 version.


5. Green Bay Packers

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was a perfect pick for the Packers in Round 1 of the draft. He's NFL ready and will make a big impact. Second-rounder Davante Adams will be another nice target for Aaron Rodgers. Depending on how the linebacker corps looks this year, Green Bay could be set for a very nice season.


4. New Orleans Saints

New Orleans had a great draft. Brandin Cooks will lessen the blow of losing Sproles. Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports certainly liked the pick, according to his tweet:

Stanley Jean-Baptiste is a great addition to the secondary—not to mention the free-agency addition of Jairus Byrd. The Saints sure look poised to make a big run in 2014.


3. San Francisco 49ers

Jimmie Ward was a solid first-round addition. He fills a big need and will improve San Francisco's secondary in a big way. Although the Carlos Hyde pick in the second round was slightly confusing, this team now has one scary group of running backs to go along with the dynamic Colin Kaepernick. The only thing potentially holding this team back is a lack of wide receivers.


2. Denver Broncos

What an offseason for Denver. Multiple free-agency additions on the defensive side of the ball—along with the first-round selection of Bradley Roby—will do wonders for this defense. Adding Emmanuel Sanders in free agency and Cody Latimer in the draft's second round keeps plenty of targets around for Peyton Manning. It's scary to think how much this team improved since losing the Super Bowl.


1. Seattle Seahawks

At face value, it appeared as though the Seahawks had a rather poor draft, reaching in a big way for Paul Richardson and Justin Britt. We've all seen Pete Carroll do it before, and it has worked out pretty darn well. This is still the deepest team in the league, and there's no reason to think the Seahawks won't be in the running for another Super Bowl this season.


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