2011 NFL Preview: Power Ranking the 2010 NFL Playoff Teams Post-Draft
The 2011 NFL draft has come and gone, and the top selections have been analyzed to death.
Instead of power ranking every team in the NFL, let's take a look at last year's twelve playoff teams and rank them in relation to one another.
Some teams, like the Falcons, made bold moves and got the players they wanted, sacrificing extra picks in 2011 as well as future draft picks.
Other teams, like the Patriots, seemed content with quantity over quality (to a degree—not knocking New England's draft), and added a good number of players who can help the cause in 2011.
For the sake of making life easier, we say that all impending free agents are still with their teams for now, and the power rankings are based on all of the free agents being with the team (however unrealistic, it helps the list's simplicity).
Now, here are the NFL's 2010 playoff teams power ranked post-draft.
12. Seattle Seahawks
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Going into the draft, it was widely accepted that the Seahawks were the weakest team in the playoffs last season.
At 7-9, the team found its way into the playoffs due to an awfully bad NFC West division.
Pete Carroll and his crew did a good job drafting quality linemen early on, and had a reasonably good draft altogether, but nothing this team did elevated them above any 2010 playoff team.
The Seahawks are on the rise, but still shouldn't be mentioned in the same category as the other teams on this list.
11. Indianapolis Colts
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Before compiling the list, I figured the Colts would be a safe bet to be in the middle of the list—I was wrong.
The Colts have no business being ahead of any other teams here, as their defense is becoming older and older while their offense does, too.
Peyton Manning and the Colts almost let the Jaguars slip into the playoffs, and showed that they aren't the ridiculously strong team they once were.
I hate to say it, but the Colts are looking like a shell of their former self, and one offensive lineman in the first round doesn't change that.
10. New York Jets
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I'm not totally sure what to make of the Jets; in this list we have to assume that all free agents will return, but even then I'm not seeing the Jets being a team deserving of a high spot on the list.
The Jets really don't get much from quarterback Mark Sanchez other than good game management, and it's hard to say how the Jets will run the ball with guys like LaDanian Tomlinson getting up there in age.
With Rex Ryan drawing up the defense, the Jets are still a force to be reckoned with, but they may be forced to plug in guys like Sione Pouha at nose tackle again with Kenrick Ellis facing 20 years in prison.
The Jets don't have an elite pass-rusher, either, and look to be lacking the ability to get past the Patriots in the divisional race.
9. Kansas City Chiefs
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Certainly, the Chiefs had needs going into the draft, but by picking Jonathan Baldwin at number 26, Kansas City may have put themselves right back into playoff contention for 2011.
Matt Cassel is growing as a franchise quarterback for the 2010 AFC West champions, and giving the young passer yet another weapon to throw to can only help him along in his development.
Cassel, along with Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Thomas Jones, Tony Moeaki and now Baldwin, will lead the Chiefs into 2011 with offensive explosiveness.
The team has flied under the radar for too long, and 2011 may be the year that they prove how legitimate they are.
8. Chicago Bears
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The Bears are another team where, past the defensive aspect of it, I struggle to see what separates them.
With playmakers like Julius Peppers, Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher, among others, on defense, the Bears can never be counted out, but they don't inspire much on offense or in pass coverage.
The Bears improved slightly by drafting Gabe Carimi to shore up an offensive line that can only be described as a disaster.
Chicago still lacks a No. 1 wideout, which keeps them at eight, but a more explosive Bears offense would move them up the list.
7. Philadelphia Eagles
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The Eagles had some distinct needs to address in the draft and the team just didn't get it done.
Philadelphia still lacks size in the secondary, as well as a playmaker at outside linebacker, and the team stands to potentially lose Quentin Mikell in free agency.
Offensively, the Eagles are a machine, but questions linger about whether or not Michael Vick will be able to play a full season with his head-first playing style.
It's hard to grade the Eagles down too much, but the team didn't have a convincing enough draft to inspire much in the way of a higher ranking on the list.
6. New England Patriots
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As usual, Bill Belichick worked the draft to his liking and acquired his guys with the picks he traded for.
Don't forget, this is a team that had the league's best record in 2010, but the Patriots get downgraded for a lack of a true pass-rush.
Sure, Belichick got Ras-I Dowling to play corner alongside Devin McCourty, but his other draftees seem to be projects (Nate Solder, Ryan Mallett) or players with no immediately apparent fit (Shane Vereen).
The Patriots should make the playoffs again in 2011, but the team seemed too content to stay where they were while other teams improved.
5. Baltimore Ravens
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No doubt, the Ravens are aging on defense, but drafting Jimmy Smith will go a long way in improving the team short- and long-term.
Smith is a corner with size, speed and playmaking ability, and will be a good fit in the Raven secondary that needed a No. 1 cornerback with whom to identify.
The other Smith the Ravens drafted, wide receiver Torrey Smith, brings the Ravens a vertical threat who will allow Anquan Boldin to take his game to the next level.
The Ravens look a lot stronger going into 2011, with their biggest needs shored up, and look for the team to make another big run or two before new names take over defensively.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
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They may not be a top three team, but the Steelers remain as the top team in the AFC with great quarterback play, a tough running game, growing receivers, and an impenetrable defense.
Pittsburgh drafted Cameron Heyward in the first round, giving them yet another dangerous pass rusher, and Dick LeBeau looks to come out with guns blazing in 2011 after so much success in 2010.
The Steelers are a dangerous team, yet again, and look to only have a weakness along the offensive line, as they showed in the playoffs.
The team will have a tough time keeping Roethlisberger upright in 2011, but aside from that, look for the Steelers to dominate yet again.
T-2. Atlanta Falcons
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There is a tie for second place on the list.
The Falcons made a surprisingly bold move, mortgaging much of their draft this year and next year to get Julio Jones.
Should Atlanta be correct in its convictions that Jones is the player to put them over the top (which he very well may be), the team will be a dangerous force to be reckoned with.
This team was the No. 1 seed in the NFC last year, and with a new toy for Matt Ryan to throw the ball to, look for the Dirty Birds to take the next step in 2011.
T-2. New Orleans Saints
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The New Orleans Saints are tied with the Atlanta Falcons near the top of the list, which will make for some very interesting competition in the 2011 NFC South.
The Saints made a very under-the-radar move earlier on this offseason, acquiring behemoth defensive tackle Shaun Rogers.
The Saints were aggressive in the draft, too, getting two first rounders in Cameron Jordan and Mark Ingram.
The Saints will be dominant on the defensive line in 2011, and look for the team to improve on a nice 2010 season with all of their acquisitions.
1. Green Bay Packers
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The Packers are still the best team in the NFL, without a doubt.
Whatever minimal needs the team had after a Super Bowl run were filled, and Ted Thompson did a good job in the draft by getting offensive tackle Derek Sherrod in the first round.
With their second pick, the rich got richer, as the Packers got a great kick returner and true vertical threat in Kentucky wideout Randall Cobb.
The Packers rightfully won the Super Bowl, and go into 2011 as strong as ever with Ryan Grant, Jermichael Finley and Nick Barnett all set to return.