The 2011 NFL draft was certainly a high point during a dreadful and depressing offseason made so thanks to the NFL lockout.
As the lockout was lifted for just a day or so, the NFL draft took place, and teams built for the future—as free agency has yet to even start.
There were plenty of teams that drafted very well, some teams that did just fine, and surprisingly, not too many teams that completely flunked the draft.
As teams made positive strides into the future, how do they all match up against each other?
Here are my post-draft NFL power rankings—hope you all enjoy, and be sure to leave some feedback!
The Carolina Panthers may have selected the player with the most upside out of all prospects in the draft, but Cam Newton isn't going to jump into play as an NFL superstar.
Newton is going to need to take some time to develop until the Panthers can make any positive strides towards a winning record.
Also, not to mention, first-year head coach Ron Rivera definitely has his plate full with a roster filled with subpar talent, and his offensive and defensive systems yet to be installed.
In my opinion, the Washington Redskins had one of the worst classes out of the 2011 draft.
The Redskins made several trades as they kept trading back deeper into the draft. At one point, I was convinced that the Redskins wanted to own all of the seventh-round draft picks—that's how much they were falling back.
The 'Skins have a lot of holes to fill, and have a huge concern at quarterback—and until Mike Shanahan finds a quarterback he likes, the Washington Redskins will be one of the worst teams in football.
The Arizona Cardinals definitely snagged two potential studs during the draft in Patrick Peterson and Ryan Williams. However, they're still nowhere in the realm of making a playoff apperance.
Like Washington, the Cardinals must find a solid quarterback to rely on; until then, they're just a bad football team.
The Denver Broncos passing on Marcell Dareus may have cost them their near future as linebacker Von Miller isn't your typical 4-3 kind of guy—he's best fit for a 3-4 defense.
Besides their awful defense, the team still needs to settle their quarterback controversy between Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow—and in my opinion, as of right now, neither quarterback can lead the Broncos to a winning record.
The 2011 season wont be a pretty one for the Seattle Seahawks led by Pete Carroll.
The Seahawks may have had the worst draft as they selected a definite reach in James Carpenter during the first round of the draft—he was projected to be a mid- to late second-round draft choice.
Not to mention, the Seahawks, like many teams, have a huge question mark at the quarterback position: Will Matt Hasselbeck be there next season? Who knows?
The Cleveland Browns are definitely moving in the right direction entering 2011.
The Browns have found their quarterback and running back of the future and have a solid up-and-coming young defense.
However, young quarterback Colt McCoy has no one to throw to.
Cleveland definitely has potential, but they're not ready to win quite yet.
I absolutely love what the Buffalo Bills are doing—Marcell Dareus is a great addition to their 3-4 defensive system and Aaron Williams is an extremely versatile defensive back who has the potential to turn into an No. 1 cornerback.
The Bills were in a lot of close games last season, but fell short in the majority of them—but expect the Bills to only get better as they enter free agency to fill their team's holes.
The Cincinnati Bengals are in the middle of a major transition and rebuilding process as they step away from the Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco era and enter the Andy Dalton and A.J. Green era.
Dalton and Green will definitely need some time to develop, so consider the Bengals to be entering a year of development in 2011.
The 2011 Oakland Raiders won't be much different from the 2010 Oakland Raiders—they're just an average team.
The Raiders were the only team to not have a first-round selection the 2011 NFL draft, which in a way, hurt them.
Don't get me wrong, the Raiders are definitely on the right track for success, but it's going to take some time—especially with new head coach Hue Jackson.
The Jacksonville Jaguars made it clear that they're on the verge of rebuilding their football team with the selection of quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
Any team being led by David Garrard shouldn't be considered a deep playoff team. So, until Gabbert steps onto the field, just mark down the Jags as an average team.
The San Francisco 49ers' first selection, Aldon Smith, was definitely a shocking one, as many projected Smith as a mid-first-round player. Either way, I'm sure that Smith will be a productive player as a 49er.
The 49ers have a solid football team under new head coach Jim Harbaugh, it's just a matter of finding the right quarterback: Alex Smith or Colin Kaepernick.
The Miami Dolphins are definitely a solid football team, but until they solidify their quarterback position, they won't be making the playoffs anytime soon.
Chad Henne is definitely the wrong fit in Miami. I strongly believe the Dolphins failed miserably after they missed drafting a quarterback.
It's a real shame that the St. Louis Rams couldn't draft A.J. Green or Julio Jones, as they'd be perfect fits for quarterback Sam Bradford.
Bradford now has a new offensive coordinator in Josh McDaniels. I can imagine that McDaniels will definitely affect Bradford's development in 2011 in a very positive way.
The Minnesota Vikings are just one player away from making a real run for the NFC title game: a quarterback.
The Vikings have invested in rookie quarterback Christian Ponder, and if he works out in Minnesota, expect the Vikings to be a major force coming out of the NFC North.
The Tennessee Titans may be one of the biggest surprises in the 2011 NFL season—and it all depends on rookie quarterback Jake Locker.
Locker definitely has the supporting cast in Tennessee; it's just a matter of how fast he can "catch on." Once Locker does start to perform well, the Titans will certainly be a playoff contender.
The Kansas City Chiefs did nothing to improve their football team in the draft.
Kansas City has an elite running game with Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones, and a very solid quarterback in Matt Cassel to go along with a solid defense.
The Chiefs may not make the playoffs in 2011, but they'll definitely be a challenge week in and week out.
The Houston Texans may be one the most improved football teams going into the 2011 season.
The Texans had an amazing draft by selecting J.J. Watt, Brooks Reed and Brandon Harris—all three players are likely starters for Houston next season.
The New York Giants have a solid football team, but I'm not too sure they have what it takes to make it deep into the playoffs in 2011.
The Giants will definitely be a winning team in 2011, but it all rides on quarterback Eli Manning's shoulders, and he's been rather inconsistent over the past two years.
Why is there always so much hype surrounding the Dallas Cowboys every single season? Sure, they have a bunch of talented players, but they need to play as a team.
Also, quarterback Tony Romo isn't what you'd exactly deem an elite quarterback—he's yet to get over that playoff hump.
This is the year that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will make some noise, led by emerging star quarterback Josh Freeman.
I really love the Bucs draft class, as they brought in Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers to finish Tampa Bay's young, up-and-coming defensive line.
The Detroit Lions have all the pieces to the puzzle, it's just a matter of Matthew Stafford staying healthy and leading this team.
If Stafford can play consistently like he's shown he can, and stay healthy, the Lions will be a surprise playoff team in 2011.
The Chicago Bears had everything go right in the regular season last year, but do you really think it will happen again?
Quarterback Jay Cutler threw just 16 interceptions in Mike Martz's newly installed offense, but he has shown signs of inconsistency—the Bears will go as far as Cutler can take them.
The San Diego Chargers may be sleepers entering the 2011 season, as they were the top-ranked offense and defense last season.
First overall pick Corey Liuget will definitely shore up problems along their defensive front—it's just a matter of finding quality production out of their rushing attack to complement Philip Rivers.
Whether you like it or not, I think Julio Jones has "bust" written all over him.
The Atlanta Falcons shipped off five draft picks for Jones, and that is a lot of pressure to place on a rookie wide receiver.
What the Falcons needed were defensive playmakers, which the 2011 draft class was loaded with—they may have a hard time competing against the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers next season.
The New York Jets will remain a force in the AFC, but with just an average draft and so many question marks in key positions entering free agency, the Jets may have fallen back a step or two.
It's just a matter that so many teams had stellar draft classes, when the Jets did just average.
The Baltimore Ravens are built to win now.
Baltimore fell just one game short last season by falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship game, but they'll be back in the hunt in 2011.
The emergence of Michael Vick in 2011 was definitely quite the storyline, as he's finally found his own way as an NFL starting quarterback.
The Philadelphia Eagles had a solid draft this past week, as they brought in offensive guard Danny Watkins, who will likely be an instant stater.
The Eagles offense, led by the dynamic Vick, is one of the most explosive offenses in the league—watch out for the high-flying Eagles.
After Peyton Manning's below-average performance in 2010, is this the end of Peyton Manning? Not a chance in hell.
Manning and the Indianapolis Colts will be back last year after an offseason of bolstering their offensive and defensive lines.
The New Orleans Saints had one of the best first rounds in NFL history as they selected two top-15 prospects in the 20s of the draft.
Defensive end Cameron Jordan and running back Mark Ingram both fell right into the Saints' laps as if they had planned for it.
With the addition of the two young first-year impact players, the Saints will be an much-improved team entering the 2011 season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers definitely added some depth to their roster with draft picks Cameron Heyward and Marcus Gilbert.
But, with both Ike Taylor and William Gay as free agents, rookie cornerback Curtis Brown can only fill one of their holes—and his performance is questionable.
The Pittsburgh Steelers will be one of the teams to beat in the AFC.
But teams like New England, who will only get better with experience, will put up a big challenge against the Steelers.
The New England Patriots will be the team to beat out of the AFC in 2011.
The Patriots had a very solid draft class with picks like Nate Solder, Ras-I Dowling and Shane Vereen.
Solder gives the Patriots a lot of wiggle room in free agency as he's the future replacement for Matt Light at left tackle—so expect the Patriots to pursue a high-caliber wide receiver.
Remember how good the Green Bay Packers were in the playoffs? They did so while having 15 players on injured reserve.
Now assume that most of those 15 players will be returning, along with rookies Derek Sherrod, Randall Cobb, Alex Green and Davon House—the Packers are in for some more success in 2011.
The Packers are the most complete team in football, and they will likely have little to no loss of players via free agency.