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Post-Draft NFL Lineup Rankings

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Week 17 Rankings
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Patrick Daugherty breaks down all of Week 17's top plays

With free agency and the NFL draft behind us, starting lineups around the league are mostly set pending training camp position battles and a handful of third-wave veteran signings. Here is a glance at each team's projected first-string offense and defense, ranked in order of quality.

* = Offseason Addition.

1. Seattle Seahawks

QB: Russell Wilson
RB: Marshawn Lynch
WR: Percy Harvin*
WR: Sidney Rice
WR: Golden Tate
TE: Zach Miller
LT: Russell Okung
LG: James Carpenter
C: Max Unger
RG: J.R. Sweezy
RT: Breno Giacomini

Offensive Overview: The Seahawks return every starter from an offense that ranked third in the NFL in rushing and got better by the week in the passing game with then-rookie Wilson at the controls. Across the final 13 contests, Wilson went 212-of-330 (64.2 percent) passing for 2,875 yards (8.71 YPA), 24 touchdowns, and five interceptions. He added five rushing scores. Harvin is football's most dynamic inside-the-numbers receiver. In three-wide packages, Harvin will man the slot with Tate at X receiver and Rice at Z. Coached up by offensive line mastermind Tom Cable, the Seahawks' front five lacks flash but is a meat-and-potatoes group. The Seahawks also boast excellent offensive skill-player depth with Robert Turbin and rookie Christine Michael behind Lynch. Doug Baldwin would be a strong third receiver on many NFL teams. He's Seattle's No. 4.

RE: Cliff Avril*
LE: Red Bryant
DT: Brandon Mebane
DT: Michael Bennett*
MLB: Bobby Wagner
SLB: K.J. Wright
WLB: Malcolm Smith
LCB: Richard Sherman
RCB: Brandon Browner
FS: Earl Thomas
SS: Kam Chancellor

Defensive Overview: The 2012 Seahawks played top-four defense in yards allowed and surrendered the fewest points in the league. The only notable losses were free agents Leroy Hill and Alan Branch, and "Leo" end Chris Clemons due to a torn ACL. Branch is just a guy and no one has signed Hill, which says plenty. While Clemons could be a factor by midseason, explosive edge-rusher addition Avril may render him irrelevant by then. Avril, Bennett, and fifth-round steal Jesse Williams can more than plug the up-front holes. The Seahawks will again field a stingy run defense, and their pass rush looks better on paper than it ever has during Pete Carroll's tenure.

2. San Francisco 49ers

QB: Colin Kaepernick
RB: Frank Gore
FB: Bruce Miller
WR: Michael Crabtree
WR: Anquan Boldin*
TE: Vernon Davis
LT: Joe Staley
LG: Mike Iupati
C: Jonathan Goodwin
RG: Alex Boone
RT: Anthony Davis

Offensive Overview: Kaepernick enters his first full season as San Francisco's starter after ripping off 19 all-purpose touchdowns while completing 169-of-272 throws (62.1 percent) for 2,406 yards (8.84 YPA) and a 14:4 TD-to-INT ratio across ten 2012 starts. Cannon-armed with plus downfield accuracy and game-breaking run skills, Kaepernick's future looks starry bright. You could argue he's every bit the long-term prospect Robert Griffin III is, with healthier knees. Gore is aging, but the 49ers back him up with the best backfield depth in the NFL. Crabtree, Boldin, Davis, and second-round tight end Vance McDonald form a good-not-great pass-catching corps that could really use a vertical field stretcher. 2012 first-round pick A.J. Jenkins can be the answer if he shows up ready to work. All five starters return on arguably the league's best offensive line. San Francisco mauls opponents in the trenches. They are the most physical team in football.

RE: Justin Smith
LE: Ray McDonald
NT: Glenn Dorsey*
ILB: Patrick Willis
ILB: Navorro Bowman
OLB: Aldon Smith
OLB: Ahmad Brooks
LCB: Carlos Rogers
RCB: Tarell Brown
FS: Eric Reid*
SS: Donte Whitner

Defensive Overview: Just like on the offensive line, physicality reigns supreme on San Francisco's defense. It's why Reid was such a good fit. While he lacks man-coverage skills and isn't the most fluid mover, the 49ers aren't going to ask Reid to cover one-on-one. They will use him like Dashon Goldson, patrolling the center-field deep half and as a blow-up box defender. The 2012 49ers were stout against the run and they will remain so even after losing Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean-Francois, who were both comically overpaid in free agency. Cornerback is one area in which this defense underwhelms, though Nnamdi Asomugha, Chris Culliver, and Perrish Cox will put heat on Brown and Rogers. The Niners are filthy rich with pass rush. Behind Aldon Smith and Brooks, coordinator Vic Fango can now trot out Parys Haralson, Tank Carradine, and Corey Lemonier.

3. Denver Broncos

QB: Peyton Manning
RB: Montee Ball*
WR: Demaryius Thomas
WR: Eric Decker
WR: Wes Welker*
TE: Joel Dreessen
LT: Ryan Clady
LG: Zane Beadles
C: J.D. Walton
RG: Louis Vasquez*
RT: Orlando Franklin

Offensive Overview: With the additions of Ball and Welker, the Broncos boast arguably the premier skill-position corps in the league. This unit won't have much trouble moving the ball. Denver also returns all five offensive line starters, although Chris Kuper is coming off a severe injury and may not make the 53-man roster. He's been replaced by big-ticket free agent Vasquez. Pass-catching tight end might be the Broncos' lone weakness, though Jacob Tamme is still around and promising Virgil Green is now entering his third NFL season. Dreessen is easily the best blocker and will play the most snaps. Under new coordinator Adam Gase, Denver will be even more of a hurry-up team, firing off offensive snaps and lighting up the weekly box scores.

LE: Derek Wolfe
RE: Robert Ayers
DT: Terrance Knighton*
DT: Sylvester Williams*
MLB: Nate Irving
WLB: Wesley Woodyard
SLB: Von Miller
LCB: Champ Bailey
RCB: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie*
FS: Rahim Moore
SS: Mike Adams

Defensive Overview: The Broncos ranked No. 2 in the NFL in total 2012 defense. Their lone high-impact departure was right end Elvis Dumervil, whose 11 sacks and six forced fumbles aren't easily replaced. VP of Player Personnel John Elway still attacked need positions with run-plugging 26-year-old nose tackle Knighton and first-rounder Williams to play three technique. In Denver's sub-packages, I'd expect to see Miller on one of the ends with Ayers or Shaun Phillips opposite him and Wolfe next to Williams, rushing from the interior. Lingering question marks are middle linebacker and free safety, where Moore is returning from a brutal playoff performance. There's still every reason to believe Denver can field a top 5-8 defense again, even if it slips a bit.

4. Green Bay Packers

QB: Aaron Rodgers
RB: Eddie Lacy*
WR: Jordy Nelson
WR: Randall Cobb
WR: James Jones
TE: Jermichael Finley
LT: Bryan Bulaga
LG: Josh Sitton
C: Evan Dietrich-Smith
RG: T.J. Lang
RT: Derek Sherrod

Offensive Overview: There was never any doubt Green Bay would field a high-octane 2013 passing offense, but their new emphasis on balance was a draft-weekend theme. Lacy was stolen late in the second round, before GM Ted Thompson traded up for Johnathan Franklin in the fourth. If you recall, the Packers insisted on a run-game commitment last season, even if they didn't have the horses to pull it off. Cedric Benson got hurt, Alex Green and James Starks could not cut it, and DuJuan Harris is internally viewed as a change-of-pace scatback. If Lacy and Franklin pan out as expected, Green Bay will be able to put away opponents in fourth quarters while sporting a Thunder & Lightning backfield element. It can add a new dimension to this unit. The up-front changes are designed to improve Rodgers' blindside protection and the Packers' weak-side rushing attack, both of which were major 2011-2012 problems with Marshall Newhouse at left tackle. Bulaga has replaced him, while Sitton and Lang have swapped guard positions. Right tackle will be wide open between Sherrod, David Bakhtiari, Newhouse, and Don Barclay.

RE: Datone Jones*
LE: B.J. Raji
NT: Ryan Pickett
ILB: Desmond Bishop
ILB: A.J. Hawk
OLB: Clay Matthews
OLB: Nick Perry
LCB: Casey Hayward
RCB: Tramon Williams
FS: M.D. Jennings
SS: Morgan Burnett

Defensive Overview: Draft-weekend trade rumors surrounding Bishop were surprising. Beyond All-Pro Matthews, Bishop is arguably the best player on Green Bay's defense when healthy, and his return should provide a major lift. The Packers would be better off moving on from Hawk if they're so keen on starting Brad Jones. Since their Super Bowl win three years ago, the Packers' defense has been a liability, and I'm not convinced talent is the culprit. It certainly shouldn't be with Perry and Bishop back healthy, Hayward having quietly emerged as a top-shelf NFL cornerback, and stud first-rounder Jones added to the defensive line. In all likelihood, 2013 will be coordinator Dom Capers' final season in Green Bay if he doesn't turn his defense around.

5. New England Patriots

QB: Tom Brady
RB: Stevan Ridley
WR: Danny Amendola*
WR: Aaron Dobson*
TE: Rob Gronkowski
TE: Aaron Hernandez
LT: Nate Solder
LG: Logan Mankins
C: Ryan Wendell
RG: Marcus Cannon
RT: Sebastian Vollmer

Offensive Overview: Virtually unstoppable offense is still carrying New England's roster ranking. Even if the wide receiver corps isn't upper echelon, the running game, tight end duo, and quarterback atone for deficiencies out wide. The Patriots' offensive line is the best in the business with pass-protection extraordinaire Vollmer returning and Cannon likely to unseat Dan Connolly at right guard. Assuming his health cooperates, Amendola may prove an upgrade on Wes Welker with superior hands, big-play ability, and diversity in his routes. Whereas Welker has dropped 9.4 percent of his targets since 2010, Amendola has dropped just 3.7 percent. X receiver will come down to a hard fought training camp battle. Sure-handed rookie Dobson, TCU speedster Josh Boyce, and free-agent pickup Donald Jones will all get extended looks. If none of them pans out, incumbent X Brandon Lloyd remains available in free agency and figures to stay there into July.

RE: Chandler Jones
LE: Rob Ninkovich
DT: Vince Wilfork
DT: Kyle Love
MLB: Brandon Spikes
WLB: Jerod Mayo
SLB: Dont'a Hightower
LCB: Aqib Talib
RCB: Alfonzo Dennard
FS: Devin McCourty
SS: Adrian Wilson*

Defensive Overview: The Pats traded out of the 29th pick and came away with some solid prospects, improving the bottom third of their roster and special teams. The most disappointing aspect of their draft was a failure to secure any surefire first-season contributors. Dobson has a chance on offense, but 'tweener outside rusher Jamie Collins looks like a longshot for immediate impact. The Patriots return 11 starters from last year's No. 25 defense, which isn't necessarily a good thing. Bill Belichick should think long and hard about ponying up for free agent John Abraham.

6. Baltimore Ravens

QB: Joe Flacco
RB: Ray Rice
WR: Torrey Smith
WR: Jacoby Jones
TE: Dennis Pitta

TE: Ed Dickson
LT: Bryant McKinnie
LG: Kelechi Osemele
C: Gino Gradkowski
RG: Marshal Yanda
RT: Michael Oher

Offensive Overview: Flacco's stats over Baltimore's final eight games: 138-of-231 passing (60 percent) for 1,919 yards (8.31 YPA), 18 touchdowns, and two picks. Spread across 16, that's a Brady-like 32:4 TD-to-INT ratio. It's no coincidence those numbers coincided with ex-playcaller Cam Cameron's firing. The Ravens are banking -- literally -- on $120.6-million man Flacco taking off in his first full season under new coordinator Jim Caldwell. Flacco is complemented by one of the league's premier 1-2 punch backfields in Rice-Bernard Pierce. Pitta will assume a larger pass-catching role with Anquan Boldin gone to San Francisco. With McKinnie back, Osemele drops down to left guard, where he has long-term All-Pro potential. The lone remaining concern is No. 2 receiver. The Ravens will audition Jones, Tandon Doss, Aaron Mellette, and Tommy Streeter, and if none of them is up to the task, GM Ozzie Newsome usually has something up his sleeve.

LE: Chris Canty*
RE: Arthur Jones
NT: Haloti Ngata
ILB: Jameel McClain
ILB: Arthur Brown*
OLB: Terrell Suggs
OLB: Elvis Dumervil*
LCB: Lardarius Webb
RCB: Jimmy Smith
FS: Michael Huff*
SS: Matt Elam*

Defensive Overview: The early-offseason departures of Cary Williams, Paul Kruger, Ed Reed, and Dannell Ellerbe were grossly overblown. Newsome has upgrades lined up on Kruger (Dumervil) and Williams (Webb), and the Huff-Elam safety combo can be every bit as effective as Reed-Bernard Pollard. Reed isn't the game-changing free safety he once was, and Elam gives coordinator Dean Pees more options than Pollard due to superior coverage skills, particularly in the slot. Ray Lewis' presence may be missed, but the same can't be said for his on-field performance. He retired at the right time. In Dumervil and Suggs, Baltimore will trot out its finest edge-rush tandem since Suggs was bookended by Adalius Thomas. Opposing offensive lines will struggle mightily to move Canty, Jones, and Ngata in the running game. In Webb, Baltimore gets its top cover man back. There's every reason to think this defense will be better than last year's 17th-ranked unit, probably by a lot.

7. Washington Redskins

QB: Robert Griffin III
RB: Alfred Morris
FB: Darrel Young
WR: Pierre Garcon
WR: Josh Morgan
TE: Fred Davis
LT: Trent Williams
LG: Kory Lichtensteiger
C: Will Montgomery
RG: Chris Chester
RT: Tyler Polumbus

Offensive Overview: Assuming Griffin's right knee is play-ready by Week 1 -- and this ranking assumes that -- Washington returns 11-of-11 starters from the NFL's No. 5 offense. The Skins were a bit offensively passive in the draft, adding only undersized situational tight end Jordan Reed and two rookie tailbacks who'll vie for roster spots. The biggest lifts on this side of the ball should come from Garcon and Davis, who both return from debilitating injuries. Garcon plays X receiver in the Shanahans' offense, manned by Andre Johnson under Kyle in Houston and Brandon Marshall, Rod Smith, and Javon Walker on Mike's Denver teams. It is the most critical position in the Shanny passing attack, and Garcon was highly productive when he played last season. Camp battles will take place at Z receiver between Morgan and 2012 disappointment Leonard Hankerson, right tackle between Polumbus and Tom Compton, and No. 2 running back.

RE: Stephen Bowen
LE: Jarvis Jenkins
NT: Barry Cofield
ILB: London Fletcher
ILB: Perry Riley
OLB: Brian Orakpo
OLB: Ryan Kerrigan
LCB: DeAngelo Hall
RCB: Josh Wilson
FS: Phillip Thomas*
SS: Brandon Meriweather

Defensive Overview: Washington played top-five run defense in 2012, but got shredded by the pass after losing edge-rushing linchpin Orakpo to his second left pectoral tear in as many seasons. Only the Saints and Bucs allowed more passing yards, and only the Eagles coughed up more TD passes. Orakpo's return provides a huge boost, giving Washington two legit double-digit sack threats, playing across from Kerrigan. While great pass rush can mask secondary flaws, the Skins still have one of the shakiest back fours in football. As a starting tandem, Hall and Wilson are below average. A rookie (Thomas or Bacarri Rambo) will likely end up starting at free safety, and Meriweather is coming off a torn ACL. Second-round pick David Amerson, who was burned relentlessly for vertical touchdown bombs in the ACC last season, is penciled in at nickel back.

8. Chicago Bears

QB: Jay Cutler
RB: Matt Forte
WR: Brandon Marshall
WR: Alshon Jeffery
WR: Earl Bennett
TE: Martellus Bennett*
LT: Jermon Bushrod*
LG: Kyle Long*
C: Roberto Garza
RG: Gabe Carimi
RT: J'Marcus Webb

Offensive Overview: Chicago is gearing up to play pass-first offense under rookie coach Marc Trestman, and approached the offseason accordingly. Although not an elite tackle, Bushrod finally gives the Bears credibility on Cutler's blindside, while 6-foot-6, 313-pound first-rounder Long is a dancing bear at left guard. The other three line positions should be up for grabs between the trio penciled in here, guard Matt Slauson, swingmen Eben Britton and James Brown, and tackle Jonathan Scott. The line remains suspect, but should still be the best of Cutler's Bears career. His weaponry certainly is. Marshall is an All-Pro in the thick of his prime. Bennett is arguably the most underrated all-around tight end in football and will be a difference maker both as a blocker and red-zone threat. 2012 second-round pick Jeffery is a wildcard with big upside if Trestman can instill in Cutler a willingness to work through his progressions. That'll be a big deal for the Bears.

RE: Julius Peppers
LE: Corey Wootton
DT: Henry Melton
DT: Stephen Paea
MLB: Jon Bostic*
WLB: Lance Briggs
SLB: D.J. Williams*
RCB: Charles Tillman
LCB: Tim Jennings
FS: Chris Conte
SS: Major Wright

Defensive Overview: Like Ray Lewis in Baltimore, Brian Urlacher's departure may hurt in the leadership department but will be addition by subtraction on the field. Playing on two balky knees, Urlacher was nothing short of a stiff in 2012, getting feasted on by opponents particularly in pass coverage. It was time to turn the page. The Bears will keep their Cover-2 base intact under new coordinator Mel Tucker and are armed with ample talent to equal last year's top-five finish on defense. They'll definitely be faster to the ball at the second level. In the nickel, Paea will leave the field in favor of a four-man front consisting of Peppers, up-and-comer Wootton, three-technique Melton, and 2012 first-round pick Shea McClellin. They'll be in the hunt to lead the NFL in sacks.


9. Atlanta Falcons

QB: Matt Ryan
RB: Steven Jackson*
FB: Bradie Ewing
WR: Julio Jones
WR: Roddy White
TE: Tony Gonzalez
LT: Sam Baker
LG: Justin Blalock
C: Peter Konz
RG: Garrett Reynolds
RT: Lamar Holmes

Offensive Overview: An in-flux line will be Atlanta's biggest question mark entering camp. The skill-player corps is truly elite as Ryan and Jones return from career-best years while ageless White and Gonzalez enter their age-32 and 37 seasons still playing at very high levels. Although Jackson's yards-per-carry averages and touchdown totals were largely pedestrian in recent years with the Rams, he's never played in an offense as high powered as this. S-Jax adds physicality and burst to a Falcons backfield that lacked the latter entirely in 2012. It's no surprise predecessor Michael Turner has generated zero free-agent interest. To say he was running on fumes would be generous. Line play is a potential roadblock, but if the Falcons get even serviceable run and pass blocking their offense can be as good as any. They can now beat defenses in a variety of ways.

RE: Osi Umenyiora*
LE: Kroy Biermann
DT: Jonathan Babineaux
DT: Corey Peters
MLB: Akeem Dent
WLB: Sean Weatherspoon
SLB: Stephen Nicholas
LCB: Asante Samuel
RCB: Desmond Trufant*
FS: Thomas DeCoud
SS: William Moore

Defensive Overview: The 2012 Falcons ranked eighth in offense and 24th in defense. The former has improved but the latter could continue to be Atlanta's Achilles' heel. Umenyiora was a worthwhile addition, but represents a pass-rush downgrade from outgoing John Abraham. If Abraham is willing, GM Thomas Dimitroff would be smart to strongly consider begging him back to book end Osi. The rest of the Falcons' front seven is mediocre, and will rely on Mike Nolan's scheming to put pressure on quarterbacks. Samuel is still going strong at age 32 and Atlanta's safety play is among the finest in football, but they're putting an awful lot on Trufant's plate. As a right cornerback in the NFC South, he will regularly draw Vincent Jackson, Steve Smith, and Marques Colston in pass coverage. Samuel never moves off his left corner island.

10. Indianapolis Colts

QB: Andrew Luck
RB: Vick Ballard
WR: Reggie Wayne
WR: T.Y. Hilton
TE: Dwayne Allen
TE: Coby Fleener
LT: Anthony Castonzo
LG: Hugh Thornton*
C: Samson Satele
RG: Donald Thomas*
RT: Gosder Cherilus*

Offensive Overview: GM Ryan Grigson attacked Luck's line in free agency and the draft, continuing to assemble one of the NFL's top young offenses. At 6-foot-3, 320 with 34-inch arms, Thornton is a plug-and-play left guard out of Illinois. Thomas and Cherilus shore up a right side that regrettably trotted out Mike McGlynn, Jeff Linkenbach, and Winston Justice last season. It's a good sign for Indy's long-term outlook that Grigson showed such urgency to upgrade after identifying those liabilities. Under new coordinator Pep Hamilton, the Colts will play West Coast offense with regular two-tight end packages. Hilton will be the field stretcher while Wayne relies on crisp route running to get open on the first and second levels. Luck is a lock to be more efficient in terms of completion rate and passer rating in Hamilton's system. The Colts' offensive weak spot is still tailback, where Ballard can get what's blocked and pass protect but does not create on his own.

LE: Cory Redding
RE: Ricky Jean-Francois*
NT: Josh Chapman
ILB: Jerrell Freeman
ILB: Kavell Conner
OLB: Robert Mathis
OLB: Bjoern Werner*
RCB: Vontae Davis
LCB: Greg Toler*
FS: Antoine Bethea
SS: LaRon Landry*

Defensive Overview: Defense was the Colts' 2012 downfall, ranking 26th in yards allowed and 29th versus the run. Most memorably -- and most embarrassingly -- Indy was shredded for 232 yards and three touchdowns by Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight on 35 carries (6.63 YPC) in a Week 6 loss to the lowly Jets. Greene is now a backup in Tennessee, while McKnight is a third- or fourth-stringer in New York. Grigson upgraded his defense's physicality by signing Landry and Jean-Francois, and a competitive bookend for Davis in underrated Toler. Big things are expected of 2012 fifth-round pick Josh Chapman, an early-round talent who fell in the draft due to college injuries. He's healthy now. Although not quite elite, Chuck Pagano's pass rush should improve with first-rounder Werner playing opposite Mathis, and Erik Walden working in as a rotational rusher. This defense is not going to be great, but should be quite a bit better than last year's.

11. New York Giants

QB: Eli Manning
RB: David Wilson
FB: Henry Hynoski
WR: Hakeem Nicks
WR: Victor Cruz
TE: Brandon Myers*
LT: Will Beatty
LG: Justin Pugh*
C: David Baas
RG: Chris Snee
RT: James Brewer

Offensive Overview: It's also possible first-rounder Pugh winds up at right tackle with Kevin Boothe at left guard. The starters will be sorted out in camp, but New York's offensive line looks deeper than it's ever been during coach Tom Coughlin's tenure. Understandably so due to his explosive and physical running ability, the Giants are putting great faith in 2012 first-rounder Wilson to be their new bellcow back, letting Ahmad Bradshaw wallow in free agency and adding only seventh-round flier Michael Cox in the draft. While Wilson upgrades New York's big-play potential, Nicks' scoped left knee and Cruz's contract stalemate are the two biggest concerns for this offense. Cruz is likely to cave, but the G-Men need a healthy Nicks to execute Kevin Gilbride's vertical passing attack. As Gilbride's X-iso receiver, Nicks is the most critical player in the system.

LE: Justin Tuck
RE: Jason Pierre-Paul
DT: Linval Joseph
DT: Cullen Jenkins*
MLB: Mark Herzlich
WLB: Jacquian Williams
SLB: Keith Rivers
LCB: Corey Webster
RCB: Prince Amukamara
FS: Stevie Brown
SS: Antrel Rolle

Defensive Overview: Giants coordinator Perry Fewell is lucky to still have a job after his unit's ranking plummeted to 31st in 2012, ahead of only the historically porous Saints. The G-Men ranked sixth in total defense the year before. In fairness to Fewell, many veteran starters fell off a cliff simultaneously. Unfortunately for Fewell as it pertains to 2013, the Giants are counting on several (Tuck, Webster, Mathias Kiwanuka) for bounce-back years. Draft picks used on second-round tackle Johnathan Hankins and third-round end Damontre Moore infuse talented youth onto the second-team defense, but the first string appears no better than above average on paper. All three linebacker positions are concerning. Left and slot cornerback should be open to competition.

12. Houston Texans

QB: Matt Schaub
RB: Arian Foster
FB: Greg Jones*
WR: Andre Johnson
WR: DeAndre Hopkins*
TE: Owen Daniels
LT: Duane Brown
LG: Wade Smith
C: Chris Myers
RG: Ben Jones
RT: Derek Newton

Offensive Overview: The offensive skill-player corps looks solidified with Hopkins added at Z receiver. The Texans still have major question marks on the right side of their line, where run blocking was a serious 2012 problem. Newton is recovering from patellar tendon surgery, and third-rounder Brennan Williams would almost certainly be stretched as a rookie starter. Although Houston has stockpiled competent depth in Ben Tate and UDFA steals Cierre Wood and Ray Graham, Foster's mounting workloads are an increasing concern. No NFL player has touched the ball more over the past three seasons. That's going to catch up to Foster at some point, probably sooner rather than later. Schaub is 32 years old and showing signs of decline. Johnson isn't, but he's 32 too with a closing window. All in all, this is a middling to slightly above-average offense.

LE: J.J. Watt
RE: Antonio Smith
NT: Earl Mitchell
ILB: Brian Cushing
ILB: Darryl Sharpton
OLB: Whitney Mercilus
OLB: Brooks Reed
LCB: Johnathan Joseph
RCB: Kareem Jackson
FS: Ed Reed*
SS: Danieal Manning

Defensive Overview: Internally, the Texans fumed when Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome leapfrogged them to select Arthur Brown with the 56th pick. Houston GM Rick Smith settled for third safety D.J. Swearinger at No. 57. Defense remains this club's strong suit with All-World Watt as the anchor, and Pro Bowlers Cushing and Joseph back healthy. The Texans will experience no slippage replacing Connor Barwin with Mercilus and Reed. Overrated and ultimately overpaid, Barwin had generated just three sacks across his previous 21 games. Reed and Manning are going on 35 and 31 respectively, but can form a rangy, ballhawking safety duo assuming Reed's surgically repaired hip cooperates. If not, rookie Swearinger will be forced into a starting role. Sharpton and Mitchell can be serviceable if average starters. This defense lacks glaring liabilities.

13. New Orleans Saints

QB: Drew Brees
RB: Darren Sproles
WR: Marques Colston
WR: Lance Moore
WR: Joe Morgan
TE: Jimmy Graham
LT: Charles Brown
LG: Ben Grubbs
C: Brian De La Puente
RG: Jahri Evans
RT: Zach Strief

Offensive Overview: New Orleans' biggest camp battle will take place at left tackle, where the Saints aren't sold on 2010 second-rounder Brown and rookie Terron Armstead will compete. In the past, the Saints have gotten away with average left tackle play due to Brees' lightning-quick decision making and release. This offense should be as explosive as ever with Sean Payton back from his Bounty Scandal suspension. Perhaps an even bigger plus will be Graham's return at full strength, after ankle and wrist injuries contributed to last year's career-worst 15 drops. Sproles also missed three games with a fluke in-practice hand injury. As Payton intends to pursue offensive balance, the Saints may lean on Mark Ingram more. Ingram quietly racked up 468 yards and four touchdowns on 109 carries (4.29 YPC) over last season's final nine games. Ingram has been a disappointment thus far in his career, but he's not remotely the bust some have portrayed.

LE: Akiem Hicks
RE: Cameron Jordan
NT: Brodrick Bunkley
ILB: Curtis Lofton
ILB: Jonathan Vilma
OLB: Victor Butler*
OLB: Junior Galette
LCB: Jabari Greer
RCB: Keenan Lewis*
FS: Kenny Vaccaro*
SS: Malcolm Jenkins

Defensive Overview: Transitioning from Steve Spagnuolo's 4-3 to Rob Ryan's 3-4, the Saints have jobs to sort out at every defensive level. Jordan and Hicks are probable starters, but not necessarily at the positions they're projected here. Declining Vilma will be pushed hard by two-down thumper David Hawthorne. Will Smith and Martez Wilson will challenge Butler and Galette for rush 'backer snaps. 31-year-old Greer will have nothing handed to him by Ryan, and the safety spots are subject to change. Vaccaro is a good enough cover guy to play slot corner in the nickel, with Jenkins and Roman Harper back deep. The Saints' defense was abominable under Spags, due largely to an inability to pressure quarterbacks. Fixing the pass rush must be Ryan's priority.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

QB: Josh Freeman
RB: Doug Martin
FB: Brian Leonard
WR: Vincent Jackson
WR: Mike Williams
TE: Luke Stocker
LT: Donald Penn
LG: Carl Nicks
C: Jeremy Zuttah
RG: Davin Joseph
RT: Demar Dotson

Offensive Overview: Martin's rookie season was impressive by any measure, but keep in mind he lost road-grader Joseph to a torn left patellar tendon in the preseason and All-Pro Nicks to a year-ending toe injury in Week 7. They're both back healthy now, reenergizing what could be a top-two or three power run game. With a potentially dominant ground attack and receivers who win vertically in V-Jax and Williams, the Buccaneers would rank higher on this list if Freeman's ball placement wasn't so scattershot and his performance so maddeningly inconsistent. He has a tendency lose confidence and tank for long stretches. The Bucs' management and coaching staff have acknowledged their long-term concerns with Freeman by letting him enter a contract year without an extension and drafting big-armed NC State passer Mike Glennon with the No. 73 pick. If Tampa Bay is going to take a step forward offensively, it will have to be because of Freeman.

RE: Adrian Clayborn
LE: Da'Quan Bowers
DT: Gerald McCoy
DT: Akeem Spence*
MLB: Mason Foster
WLB: Lavonte David
SLB: Jonathan Casillas*
LCB: Darrelle Revis*
RCB: Eric Wright
FS: Dashon Goldson*
SS: Mark Barron

Defensive Overview: I went through every NFL roster and offseason addition and concluded the Bucs have the most improved defense in football. The Revis acquisition will mask a suspect front four because of the Island Factor, where Revis covers No. 1 receivers one-on-one while Wright, Johnthan Banks, or Leonard Johnson -- whoever wins the right corner job -- draws opposing No. 2s with constant safety help. This will result in increased sacks, give coordinator Bill Sheridan more blitz options, and decrease enemy quarterbacks' efficiency. The Buccaneers aren't quite elite yet -- question marks abound at defensive end, nose tackle, strong-side linebacker, and the other cornerback position -- but Revis alone can morph this defense from bad to quite good.

15. Minnesota Vikings

QB: Christian Ponder
RB: Adrian Peterson
FB: Jerome Felton
WR: Greg Jennings*
WR: Cordarrelle Patterson*
TE: Kyle Rudolph
LT: Matt Kalil
LG: Charlie Johnson
C: John Sullivan
RG: Brandon Fusco
RT: Phil Loadholt

Offensive Overview: Patterson won't be handed the X receiver job, but I penciled in the rookie because it would be a major disappointment if he didn't wind up playing more snaps than incumbent Jerome Simpson. Peterson, Felton, Jennings, Rudolph, Kalil, Sullivan, and Loadholt are all quality to elite NFL starters and the calling cards of Minnesota's offense. In order for the Vikings to crack the top 10-12, they'll need Ponder to join that group. With all five offensive line starters back and gobs of talent added to the receiver corps, Ponder's supporting cast isn't an excuse. Another concern is Minnesota's shaky depth. They're a Ponder injury from starting Matt Cassel, and a Peterson injury from Toby Gerhart. Either would be a crippling blow to this unit.

RE: Jared Allen
LE: Brian Robison
DT: Kevin Williams
DT: Sharrif Floyd*
MLB: Erin Henderson
SLB: Chad Greenway
WLB: Gerald Hodges*
LCB: Chris Cook
RCB: Xavier Rhodes*
FS: Harrison Smith
SS: Jamarca Sanford

Defensive Overview: The additions of Floyd and DE Lawrence Jackson give Minnesota impressive up-front depth and rotation possibilities that could keep the starters fresh and make all of the members more effective. The Vikings boast one of the NFL's top front fours. Floyd is written in as a starter here, but he and Williams actually play the same three-technique position. Letroy Guion may continue to start on the nose, but I anticipate Floyd and Williams playing the most snaps. The big camp battle will take place at middle linebacker, where Henderson is preparing to play but may give way to Audie Cole if Cole has a big August. The Vikings look imposing on the backend. Cook (6'2/212) and Rhodes (6'2/210) are massive, long-armed cornerbacks, and neither is speed deficient. As a rookie, Smith flashed upside to emerge as one of the better safeties in the league.

16. Pittsburgh Steelers

QB: Ben Roethlisberger
RB: Le'Veon Bell*
WR: Antonio Brown
WR: Emmanuel Sanders
WR: Jerricho Cotchery
TE: Heath Miller
LT: Marcus Gilbert
LG: Ramon Foster
C: Maurkice Pouncey
RG: David DeCastro
RT: Mike Adams

Offensive Overview: The pass-catching lineup here is conservatively projected. There's every chance speedster rookie Markus Wheaton unseats aging veteran Cotchery at third receiver, adding a spark to Big Ben's weaponry. Todd Haley's offense is famously easy for newcomers to learn, so Wheaton could catch on fast. Miller is unlikely to be season-ready coming off multiple knee ligament tears. His backups include David Paulson, ex-fullback David Johnson, and blocker Matt Spaeth. So the Steelers are likely to open the year without a receiving threat at tight end. Although Bell's run talent is average, he is excellent in the passing game as both a blocker and checkdown receiver. He'll upgrade on Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman. A sleeper for 100-plus catches, Brown will likely be the featured player in Haley's pass-first, completion-friendly attack. The line looks young and talented but inexperienced. Gilbert is playing left tackle for the first time. DeCastro is coming off an injury-plagued rookie year. Adams was highly inconsistent in 2012.

LE: Ziggy Hood
RE: Brett Keisel
NT: Steve McLendon
ILB: Lawrence Timmons
ILB: Larry Foote
OLB: LaMarr Woodley
OLB: Jarvis Jones*
RCB: Ike Taylor
LCB: Cortez Allen
FS: Ryan Clark
SS: Troy Polamalu

Defensive Overview: Pittsburgh's shortage of proven offensive playmakers is a much bigger concern than Dick LeBeau's defense. Even with the departures of James Harrison, Casey Hampton, and Keenan Lewis, this will be a stout run-defending group that keeps opposing pass games contained. Timmons plays fast and physical in the middle and has developed into the heart and soul of Pittsburgh's front seven. Woodley is coming off a career-worst year, but can combine with Jones to give the Steelers persistent outside-edge rush on par with any 3-4 team in the league. Taylor remains a borderline shutdown corner at age 33 -- just ask A.J. Green -- while Allen can be every bit as good as Lewis on the left side. Safety starters Clark, 33, and Polamalu, 32, are aging, but Pittsburgh can now back them up with impressive rookie Shamarko Thomas.


17. Cincinnati Bengals

QB: Andy Dalton
RB: Giovani Bernard*
WR: A.J. Green
WR: Mohamed Sanu
TE: Jermaine Gresham
TE: Tyler Eifert*
LT: Andrew Whitworth
LG: Clint Boling
C: Kyle Cook
RG: Kevin Zeitler
RT: Andre Smith

Offensive Overview: The additions of Bernard and Eifert and healthy return of Sanu give coordinator Jay Gruden the enticing option of opening up his offense and scheming more aggressive, pass-oriented football. Will he, and does he think modest-armed Dalton is capable of playing that way? Through two seasons, Dalton has largely been utilized as a game manager, and his performance has regressed in back-to-back years as the seasons have progressed. He's not getting better. Look for Gresham to spend more time on the line blocking while Eifert becomes the flex or "move" tight end, creating mismatches in the slot and outside. Green is arguably a top-two receiver in football, and Cincinnati's offensive line is right up there with the best in the league. If the Bengals are ever going to get over the one-and-done playoff hump, though, they'll need more from Dalton. It's also possible Dalton's limited physical talent will continue to hold this club back.

LE: Carlos Dunlap
RE: Michael Johnson
DT: Geno Atkins
DT: Domata Peko
MLB: Rey Maualuga
WLB: Vontaze Burfict
SLB: James Harrison*
RCB: Leon Hall
LCB: Terence Newman*
FS: Taylor Mays
SS: Reggie Nelson

Defensive Overview: Cincinnati's secondary is average and Maualuga is a liability at middle linebacker, but this is a top-ten defense because the front four is ferocious. Atkins is the best three-technique tackle in football. Via the franchise tag, the Bengals are smartly keeping Johnson in another contract year after his breakout 2012 season in the final year of his rookie deal. Peko is a passable nose and Dunlap is talented enough to take over games, if he could ever stay healthy consistently. On passing downs, look for Dunlap or Johnson to kick inside with Harrison dropping to end. Mike Zimmer's defense can bring an enormous amount of pressure, which makes life much easier on Cincinnati's defensive backs. Camp battles will take place at free safety and left corner. Newman will be pushed hard by 2012 first-rounder Dre Kirkpatrick.

18. Miami Dolphins

QB: Ryan Tannehill
RB: Lamar Miller
FB: Jorvorskie Lane
WR: Mike Wallace*
WR: Brian Hartline
TE: Dustin Keller*
LT: Jonathan Martin
LG: Richie Incognito
C: Mike Pouncey
RG: Lance Louis*
RT: Tyson Clabo*

Offensive Overview: The Dolphins did well to upgrade Tannehill's pass-catching corps with weapons like Wallace and Keller who can create separation from defensive backs. Miami did not have that last year. The biggest remaining concern is line play, where at least three positions are unsettled. Martin's rookie-year performance was indicative of a player that should be vying simply to keep his starting job, not sliding from right tackle to his young franchise quarterback's blindside. Louis is coming off a late-season ACL tear. Going on age 32, Clabo is a late-career power blocker the Dolphins will attempt to shoehorn into their zone-blocking scheme. Incognito is another misfit power blocker. Theoretically, the Fins have enough pieces in place to field a somewhat explosive offense. Whether they have opportunities to play in space and Tannehill receives time to throw deep to Wallace will depend on a front five littered with question marks.

LE: Cameron Wake
RE: Dion Jordan*
DT: Paul Soliai
DT: Randy Starks
MLB: Dannell Ellerbe*
WLB: Philip Wheeler*
SLB: Koa Misi
LCB: Brent Grimes*
RCB: Jamar Taylor*
FS: Chris Clemons
SS: Reshad Jones

Defensive Overview: For the past two years, the Dolphins have played stingy run defense while struggling versus the pass. GM Jeff Ireland took steps to fix the latter by trading up to draft versatile edge presence Jordan, picking Taylor in the second round, and signing onetime Falcons top corner Grimes. Jordan needs a lot of technique work as an outside rusher. Taylor faces a huge jump in competition coming from Boise State, and Grimes is trying to come back from an Achilles' tear. Predecessors Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby were excellent run defenders, so the Ellerbe and Wheeler additions did little more than make the team younger at linebacker while pouring guaranteed money onto Miami's future salary cap. Ellerbe is poor in pass coverage. This defense should be a bit better this season, but not by much unless Jordan makes a major rookie-year impact and Grimes rediscovers pre-injury form, which may be a long shot.

19. Kansas City Chiefs

QB: Alex Smith*
RB: Jamaal Charles
WR: Dwayne Bowe
WR: Donnie Avery*
TE: Anthony Fasano*
TE: Travis Kelce*
LT: Branden Albert
LG: Jeff Allen
C: Rodney Hudson
RG: Jon Asamoah
RT: Eric Fisher*

Offensive Overview: After failing to land their desired second-round pick for Albert during the draft, the Chiefs would be smart to hang tight and field a robust 2013 offensive line. Smith has never been effective with sub-par pass protection, and Andy Reid is a pass-first coach. On the whole, this first-team offense looks adequate to good. Bowe is a dangerous short to intermediate threat and legit No. 1 NFL receiver. Avery should be pushed by Dexter McCluster and 2011 first-rounder Jon Baldwin for snaps. Impressive rookie Kelce shouldn't struggle to bypass incumbent Tony Moeaki quickly on the depth chart, earning a permanent place across from Fasano in all two-tight end packages. Charles and Bowe will be the centerpieces of an offense that looks to minimize poor decisions and turnovers. The goal will be efficiency, with some big plays mixed in.

LE: Mike DeVito*
RE: Tyson Jackson
NT: Dontari Poe
ILB: Derrick Johnson
ILB: Akeem Jordan
OLB: Tamba Hali
OLB: Justin Houston
LCB: Brandon Flowers
RCB: Sean Smith*
FS: Kendrick Lewis
SS: Eric Berry

Defensive Overview: The strengths of Kansas City's defense are at outside rusher with Houston and Hali, and now in the back four with Smith and Dunta Robinson added to Flowers and Berry. Under new playcaller Bob Sutton, the Chiefs will play press coverage and be "multiple" with their fronts. Sutton comes from the Rex Ryan coaching tree. While the backend play projects to improve -- probably by a lot -- this unit could be susceptible to the run. Inside linebacker next to Johnson is open to competition between underwhelming ex-Eagle Jordan and fourth-rounder Nico Johnson. DeVito is a lunch-pail run stuffer, but the same can't be said for Jackson or Poe. Poe was a huge project as a rookie and gained lots of valuable experience, but largely struggled. His development will go a long way toward determining whether the Chiefs can contain run games.

20. St. Louis Rams

QB: Sam Bradford
RB: Isaiah Pead
WR: Tavon Austin*
WR: Brian Quick
WR: Chris Givens
TE: Jared Cook*
LT: Jake Long*
LG: Rokevious Watkins
C: Scott Wells
RG: Harvey Dahl
RT: Rodger Saffold

Offensive Overview: Austin is the guy everyone is talking about after the draft, and with good reason. The offseason addition St. Louis people should be really excited about is Cook. I'll have an article on it soon, but I went back and watched each of Cook's 2012 targets and he made Tennessee's bad quarterbacks look good on the regular. He's a better player than I thought. The only real offensive line question mark at this point is left guard, as the Long signing shored up two positions by kicking Saffold to right tackle, upgrading on Barry Richardson. Rams tailback will be one of the most hotly contested camp battles this August. I'm giving the early edge to Pead, with Daryl Richardson and rookie Zac Stacy in the mix. It's put-up or shut-up time for Bradford, who is now surrounded by the best supporting cast and pass protection of his thus-far pedestrian career.

LE: Chris Long
RE: Robert Quinn
DT: Michael Brockers
DT: Kendall Langford
MLB: James Laurinaitis
WLB: Alec Ogletree*
SLB: Jo-Lonn Dunbar
LCB: Janoris Jenkins
RCB: Cortland Finnegan
FS: Darian Stewart
SS: T.J. McDonald*

Defensive Overview: So far, the Rams have turned the compensation they received in the 2012 RG3 trade into Brockers, Jenkins, Isaiah Pead, Rokevious Watkins, Ogletree, Stedman Bailey, and Zac Stacy, and still have Washington's 2014 first-round pick to use. Both sides are winners, but GM Les Snead deserves a hat tip for aggressive maneuvering that's resulted in stockpiled talent. They are building a playoff-caliber roster. Defense remains the Rams' strength with an explosive young front four and improving back seven. Safety still looks like a liability. Stewart has been subpar in previous starting opportunities and McDonald is straight-linish, lacking man-cover skills and plays with inconsistent toughness. He was one of the few Rams draft picks I genuinely didn't like. The organization still hasn't ruled out re-signing free agent Quintin Mikell.

21. Dallas Cowboys

QB: Tony Romo
RB: DeMarco Murray
WR: Dez Bryant
WR: Miles Austin
WR: Dwayne Harris
TE: Jason Witten
LT: Tyron Smith
LG: Nate Livings
C: Travis Frederick*
RG: Mackenzy Bernadeau
RT: Doug Free

Offensive Overview: The Cowboys boast one of the league's top skill-player corps, but their line play remains a significant concern. Center, right guard, and right tackle should all be up for grabs, with Ronald Leary, Phil Costa, Jermey Parnell, and David Arkin pushing Frederick, Bernadeau, and Free in training camp. It's entirely possible -- perhaps even probable -- Dallas will continue to field a below-average to bad offensive line. Third-round pick Terrance Williams and second-rounder Gavin Escobar add quality depth at receiver and tight end, respectively, but the Cowboys are thin at tailback behind injury-prone Murray. I was very unimpressed with Joseph Randle's college tape. He is painfully tight-hipped and straight-linish, and a whiffer in blitz pickup.

RE: DeMarcus Ware
LE: Anthony Spencer
DT: Jay Ratliff
DT: Jason Hatcher
MLB: Sean Lee
WLB: Bruce Carter
SLB: Justin Durant*
LCB: Brandon Carr
RCB: Morris Claiborne
FS: Matt Johnson
SS: Barry Church

Defensive Overview: Offense was the Cowboys' team strength entering in the draft. Their strategy on defense was perplexing considering they're undergoing wholesale scheme change as Monte Kiffin installs a 4-3. Small-school DBs J.J. Wilcox and B.W. Webb offer long-term promise, but are unlikely to make immediate impacts. Dallas' defense didn't get better in the draft. They'll now field the NFL's lightest defensive end tandem while keeping their fingers crossed Hatcher, Ratliff, Lee, and Carter experience no hiccups at new positions. The Cowboys' talent is mediocre and their roster planning seems to lack direction. The arrow is pointing downward on this team.

22. Carolina Panthers

QB: Cam Newton
RB: Jonathan Stewart
FB: Mike Tolbert
WR: Steve Smith
WR: Brandon LaFell
TE: Greg Olsen
LT: Jordan Gross
LG: Amini Silatolu
C: Ryan Kalil
RG: Geoff Hangartner
RT: Byron Bell

Offensive Overview: On "E" in cap space and mostly devoting his draft to defense, rookie GM Dave Gettleman opted to leave his offense largely as is. Instead, Carolina will count on in-house improvement from Newton, a strategy that'll pay off if and only if he turns in a complete season of consistent play. Newton has yet to do so through two NFL seasons, but caught fire after a rough start last year and will look to carry over his sterling finish. Through seven 2012 games, Newton's TD-to-INT ratio stood at 5:8. He accounted for 19 all-purpose touchdowns and just four picks over the final nine games, and his rushing production actually improved as QBs coach Mike Shula helped install a more traditional, I-formation offense, replacing Rob Chudzinski's zone read. Shula is now the offensive coordinator. Question marks like the right side of the line, injury-prone Stewart, and No. 2 receiver won't matter if Cam plays like he's capable for a 16-game schedule.

LE: Charles Johnson
RE: Greg Hardy
DT: Star Lotulelei*
DT: Dwan Edwards
MLB: Luke Kuechly
WLB: Jon Beason
SLB: Thomas Davis
RCB: Josh Norman
LCB: Drayton Florence*
FS: Charles Godfrey
SS: Mike Mitchell*

Defensive Overview: The Panthers have quietly built one of the league's better young defensive front sevens, but their back four is worrisome to be kind. Norman was burned early and often last season and got benched down the stretch in favor of roster fodder Josh Thomas. Florence is a 32-year-old journeyman on his sixth NFL team. He got cut in training camp by the Broncos last year. Mitchell is purely a box safety with nine career starts across four seasons. Lotulelei's addition bolsters the run defense and Carolina can generate pressure in a variety of ways, but there might not be a more poorly assembled secondary in the NFL. In a division of Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Josh Freeman, the pass-coverage shortcomings are a significant concern.

23. Detroit Lions

QB: Matthew Stafford
RB: Reggie Bush*
WR: Calvin Johnson
WR: Nate Burleson
WR: Ryan Broyles
TE: Brandon Pettigrew
LT: Riley Reiff
LG: Rob Sims
C: Dominic Raiola
RG: Larry Warford*
RT: Jason Fox

Offensive Overview: Broyles is penciled in as a three-wide starter despite tearing his right ACL last December, following a left ACL tear during his senior college season. Realistically, the Lions can't count on Broyles as an early-season contributor. The offense would look a lot better if they could. Stafford and Megatron are top-five talents at their respective positions, Sims is a plus left guard, and Bush was a terrific addition to the NFL's pass-heaviest offense, but there are average to suspect starters at each of the other six spots. Raiola is 34 and had to accept a massive pay cut to keep himself on the roster. Although I think he’ll be good, Warford is a third-round rookie. Short armed and an average athlete, Reiff would be better suited to guard. Burleson is going on age 32 coming off of a broken leg. Pettigrew is returning from a brutal season, where he dropped nine passes in 14 games. Entering his fourth season, Fox has never played an offensive snap.

LE: Jason Jones*
RE: Ziggy Ansah*
DT: Ndamukong Suh
DT: Nick Fairley
MLB: Stephen Tulloch
WLB: DeAndre Levy
SLB: Ashlee Palmer
LCB: Chris Houston
RCB: Darius Slay*
FS: Louis Delmas
SS: Glover Quin*

Defensive Overview: GM Martin Mayhew did a respectable job of plugging holes on his defense this offseason, drafting Ansah with the No. 5 pick, signing Quin to upgrade on Amari Spievey, and adding versatile Jones to man left end. Second-round pick Slay will be thrust into a starting role despite tearing a meniscus in his knee at his March Pro Day. (He opted against surgery.) The strength of this defense will be up the middle with Suh and Fairley at defensive tackle, Tulloch behind them, and solid safety play. The Lions will still be vulnerable on the edges because Ansah is so raw, Jones has never been an effective outside rusher, and Houston has always been stretched as a No. 1 corner. On paper, this at best is an average talent collection.


24. Cleveland Browns

QB: Brandon Weeden
RB: Trent Richardson
WR: Josh Gordon
WR: Greg Little
WR: Davone Bess*
TE: Jordan Cameron
LT: Joe Thomas
LG: John Greco
C: Alex Mack
RG: Shawn Lauvao
RT: Mitchell Schwartz

Offensive Overview: The Browns are ranked relatively low here, but they're a quarterback away from being a playoff team. And it certainly isn't out of the question that QB gurus Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner mold big-armed Weeden into a viable short-term fix for their vertical passing attack. The offensive line is a mauling young group that graded out positively in the 2012 ratings of both Pro Football Focus and Football Outsiders. The only front-five starter that may not return is left guard Jason Pinkston, who claims he's medically cleared from last year's blood clot scare and is potently backed up by Greco anyhow. Richardson's 3.56 YPC average is a lock to rise as he moves past last year's double knee surgeries and multiple rib fractures. Long-ball wide receiver Gordon is an ideal fit for what Chud and Norv want to do in the passing game. Little, Bess, and sneaky breakout candidate Cameron complement Gordon as chain movers.

LE: Ahtyba Rubin
RE: Desmond Bryant*
NT: Phil Taylor
ILB: D'Qwell Jackson
ILB: Craig Robertson
OLB: Paul Kruger*
OLB: Barkevious Mingo*
LCB: Joe Haden
RCB: Leon McFadden*
FS: Tashaun Gipson
SS: T.J. Ward

Defensive Overview: Keep in mind Jabaal Sheard isn't even listed here. He's been the Browns' best pass rusher the past two seasons, but seems to be in a state of limbo after the Mingo pick. Under the direction of brilliant new playcaller Ray Horton, Cleveland could boast a high-octane pass-rushing rotation if they don't trade Sheard before the season. The Browns' front seven looks excellent on paper following the additions of Kruger and Calais Campbell clone Bryant, who was perhaps the most underrated defensive signing of the 2013 free-agency period. Cleveland has solid secondary starters in Ward and Haden, but right cornerback and free safety are up for grabs. Old Horton pupil Kerry Rhodes would make a ton of sense in the latter hole.

25. Philadelphia Eagles

QB: Michael Vick
RB: LeSean McCoy
WR: DeSean Jackson
WR: Jeremy Maclin
TE: James Casey*
TE: Zach Ertz*
LT: Jason Peters
LG: Evan Mathis
C: Jason Kelce
RG: Todd Herremans
RT: Lane Johnson*

Offensive Overview: There are reasons to like the Eagles' offensive assembly on paper, but the same could've been said for last year's unit and it finished 29th in points scored. With a healthy line and big-play threats McCoy, D-Jax, and Maclin back in rookie coach Chip Kelly's fast-tempo attack, Philadelphia should not have trouble improving on that ranking. The extent to which they do will be determined by quarterback play. Vick is the favorite, but some Philly beat writers expect it to be Nick Foles. The club also signed old Kelly college pupil Dennis Dixon, and drafted Matt Barkley with the first pick of the fourth round. I suspect Kelly's offense will flash, but struggle for consistency in his first season. Kelly's still in the process of establishing not only what his offense will look like away from Oregon, but the personnel he needs to accomplish his NFL goals.

RE: Fletcher Cox
LE: Cedric Thornton
NT: Isaac Sopoaga*
ILB: DeMeco Ryans
ILB: Mychal Kendricks
OLB: Trent Cole
OLB: Connor Barwin*
LCB: Bradley Fletcher*
RCB: Cary Williams*
FS: Kenny Phillips*
SS: Pat Chung*

Defensive Overview: As indicated by all of the asterisks here, Kelly and GM Howie Roseman have remade Philadelphia's defense. The Eagles will have seven new starters via the draft and free agency if third-round pick Bennie Logan beats out Thornton. Cole is also on the spot coming off a career-worst year and will be pushed hard by Brandon Graham, who finished 2012 with a bang. The strengths of this defense are a deep group of pass rushers, Cox, and the two inside linebackers. Fletcher has plus talent, but couldn't even keep the Rams' nickel corner job last year. Williams was one of the NFL's most oft-burned cornerbacks. Phillips and Chung are rehab projects. Barwin has three sacks over his last 21 games, and Sopoaga is a rotational two-down run stuffer at best. This rebuilt group is likely to struggle in both run and pass defense.

26. Arizona Cardinals

QB: Carson Palmer*
RB: Rashard Mendenhall*
WR: Larry Fitzgerald
WR: Andre Roberts
WR: Michael Floyd
TE: Rob Housler
LT: Levi Brown
LG: Daryn Colledge
C: Lyle Sendlein
RG: Jonathan Cooper*
RT: Bobby Massie

Offensive Overview: The new Cardinals coaching staff has shown a shocking amount of faith in holdover tackles Brown and Massie as the primary means of protection for cement-footed 33-year-old Palmer. While this group looks improved on paper, the line could continue to thwart any attempt by coach Bruce Arians to produce explosive offensive results. Arians' passing game is decidedly vertical and voluminous, which will translate to heavy weekly doses of dropbacks for the least mobile quarterback in football. While the Cardinals should have more success getting the ball to Fitzgerald -- and that in and of itself will mean better offensive performance -- they're also a strong threat to lead the league in sacks absorbed. Hopefully, Palmer can withstand the beating.

LE: Calais Campbell
RE: Darnell Dockett
NT: Dan Williams
ILB: Jasper Brinkley*
ILB: Kevin Minter*
OLB: O'Brien Schofield
OLB: Sam Acho
RCB: Patrick Peterson
LCB: Jerraud Powers*
FS: Yeremiah Bell*
SS: Rashad Johnson

Defensive Overview: The obvious missing piece is defensive linchpin Daryl Washington, an All-Pro caliber inside linebacker on whom the Cardinals can no longer count following a four-game suspension for substance-abuse violations and Friday's arrest for domestic assault. Arizona will trot out two-down banger Brinkley and second-round rookie Minter in Washington's absence, which is a significant blow. Whereas Ray Horton boasted one of the league's top defensive front sevens, new coordinator Todd Bowles will open the season with a short deck. Rush linebacker is another big concern, as Schofield and Acho combined for just eight sacks last season across 25 games. Rookie Alex Okafor is converting from defensive end. The secondary can be serviceable, but this defense has taken a large step back after being the strength of Arizona's 2012 team.

27. Tennessee Titans

QB: Jake Locker
RB: Chris Johnson
WR: Kenny Britt
WR: Kendall Wright
WR: Justin Hunter*
TE: Delanie Walker*
LT: Michael Roos
LG: Andy Levitre*
C: Fernando Velasco
RG: Chance Warmack*
RT: David Stewart

Offensive Overview: Particularly with the two interior line upgrades, the Titans have put together an offense you really want to like. Theoretically, they have explosive playmakers at all three receiver spots and in the backfield. The front five has potential to be one of the NFL's top groups, and Walker is best suited as a sixth lineman because of his plus blocking but stone hands. But rather than offseason moves, the offensive product Tennessee puts on the field in 2013 will be determined by Locker's progress and Johnson's willingness to play hard on a down-to-down basis. Johnson has run when he wants to run for the last two seasons. Locker's erratic accuracy, streakiness, and frenetic pocket management are major red flags on his NFL outlook.

LE: Derrick Morgan
RE: Kamerion Wimbley
DT: Sammie Lee Hill*
DT: Jurrell Casey
MLB: Colin McCarthy
WLB: Zach Brown
SLB: Akeem Ayers
LCB: Jason McCourty
RCB: Alterraun Verner
FS: Michael Griffin
SS: Bernard Pollard*

Defensive Overview: Titans GM Ruston Webster dedicated the top of his draft to Locker's supporting cast before using mid-round picks on press cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson and reserve outside 'backer Zaviar Gooden. The moves bolster Tennessee's depth, but are unlikely to improve significantly a defense that allowed the most points in football last season. Instead, the Titans are counting on Pollard's physicality and Hill's girth to make a difference. It's a longshot. In fantasy leagues, Tennessee's defense will again be one to attack with opposing offensive skill players.

28. New York Jets

QB: Geno Smith*
RB: Chris Ivory*
WR: Santonio Holmes
WR: Stephen Hill
WR: Jeremy Kerley
TE: Jeff Cumberland
LT: D'Brickashaw Ferguson
LG: Willie Colon*
C: Nick Mangold
RG: Brian Winters*
RT: Austin Howard

Offensive Overview: The Jets' ideal 2013 offensive approach -- and one of which Rex Ryan will approve -- would be to resume the ground-and-pound attack while "managing" the quarterback play, which is a virtual certainty for error proneness regardless of the camp battle winner. Rookie GM John Idzik has New York moving in a Seattle-like direction, with Ivory as his Marshawn Lynch, Smith as the hopeful Russell Wilson, and a bit of a rag-tag line that lacks flash but should get the job done. Quietly, Howard was a mauling force in the 2012 run game. Ferguson and Mangold are stalwart Jets, and Colon remains an effective all-around blocker at 30 years old. A decorated former wrestler and 50-game starter at Kent State, Winters is the key to the group. This offense will move the chains if Ivory stays healthy and the run blocking meets its potential.

RE: Muhammad Wilkerson
LE: Sheldon Richardson*
NT: Kenrick Ellis
ILB: David Harris
ILB: Demario Davis
OLB: Antwan Barnes*
OLB: Quinton Coples
RCB: Antonio Cromartie
LCB: Dee Milliner*
FS: Josh Bush
SS: Dawan Landry*

Defensive Overview: Rex Ryan's defense is the Jets' saving grace. If the run game is as potent as I think it can be, New York could sneakily improve on last year's 6-10 record. The Jets finished eighth in 2012 total defense despite 14 missed games from Darrelle Revis, and the lineup has since improved with versatile inside rusher Richardson, new No. 2 cornerback Milliner, and explosive edge presence Barnes joining an already reasonably talented unit. Cromartie excelled in the Revis Island role in 2012, regularly eliminating opposing top receivers. The Jets have fresher legs at inside linebacker, turning the page on 33-year-old Bart Scott in favor of second-year man Davis. Coples' switch from strong-side defensive end to 3-4 rush linebacker should generate storylines in camp. At 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds, there won't be a bigger linebacker in the league.

29. San Diego Chargers

QB: Philip Rivers
RB: Ryan Mathews
WR: Danario Alexander
WR: Vincent Brown
WR: Keenan Allen*
TE: Antonio Gates
LT: King Dunlap*
LG: Johnnie Troutman
C: Nick Hardwick
RG: Chad Rinehart*
RT: D.J. Fluker*

Offensive Overview: The receiver projection assumes Malcom Floyd will be beat out by a healthy Brown and rookie Allen, which I think is a distinct possibility. Going on 32, Floyd might be a release candidate if his base salary hadn't been fully guaranteed by ex-GM A.J. Smith. San Diego's skill-player corps looks serviceable on paper if you leave aside injury concerns on Brown, Allen, Mathews, and Alexander's five career left knee surgeries. The real worry is the line, where the Bolts are projecting four new starters, none of whom inspire confidence in pass protection. Rivers lacks mobility and his pocket presence has regressed in back-to-back seasons. San Diego will struggle to move the ball offensively if Rivers continues to absorb hits like he did last year.

LE: Kendall Reyes
RE: Corey Liuget
NT: Cam Thomas
ILB: Donald Butler
ILB: Manti Te'o*
OLB: Melvin Ingram
OLB: Jarret Johnson
RCB: Derek Cox*
LCB: Shareece Wright
FS: Eric Weddle
SS: Brandon Taylor

Defensive Overview: The Chargers' defense has a fresh, young look to it. Reyes (second round), Liuget (first), Butler (third), Ingram (first), Wright (third), Te'o (second), and Taylor (third) are all high draft picks working on rookie contracts. San Diego should play fast and hold its own in run defense, but defending the pass could be this unit's downfall. Ingram and Johnson combined for a mere 2.5 sacks across 31 games last season, and ends Liuget and Reyes are the Bolts' only real pass-rush threats until proven otherwise. Weddle and free-agent pickup Cox are strong starters, but Taylor is coming off a December ACL tear and Wright has never started an NFL game. Depth is a big concern at nose tackle, outside linebacker, and throughout the secondary.

30. Buffalo Bills

QB: E.J. Manuel*
RB: C.J. Spiller
WR: Stevie Johnson
WR: Robert Woods*
WR: T.J. Graham
TE: Scott Chandler
LT: Cordy Glenn
LG: Sam Young
C: Eric Wood
RG: Kraig Urbik
RT: Chris Hairston

Offensive Overview: Manuel is penciled in as the starter because first-round quarterbacks rarely sit and watch these days. If Manuel and Kevin Kolb play to a draw in preseason action, tie goes to the rookie. Of course, Manuel is so raw coming out of Florida State that he may not even put up a fight. The Bills will struggle to score points this year whenever they fall out of position to force feed Spiller the rock. Kolb can move an offense if his protection is sound, but Buffalo's front five is shakier with Andy Levitre gone to Nashville. Tight end is a mess with Chandler recovering from ACL surgery, and as good a route runner as Johnson is, he's not a true NFL No. 1 receiver. Woods' game is similar to Johnson's. The player that could give Buffalo the biggest offensive lift is undrafted wideout Da'Rick Rogers. And he's probably a missed meeting away from getting cut.

LE: Mario Williams
RE: Mark Anderson
DT: Marcell Dareus
DT: Kyle Williams
MLB: Kiko Alonso*
WLB: Nigel Bradham
SLB: Manny Lawson*
RCB: Stephon Gilmore
LCB: Leodis McKelvin
FS: Jairus Byrd
SS: Da'Norris Searcy

Defensive Overview: No NFL defense underachieved to a greater extent than Buffalo's in 2012, which makes it difficult to buy what Doug Marrone and Mike Pettine are selling until there are tangible signs of improvement. Not plans regarding defensive approach, not camp reports, not preseason performance, and nothing that the additions of Lawson, Alonso, or Jerry Hughes will fix. Seeing is believing. On paper, there aren't five better front fours than the Bills'. Theoretically, they have promising pieces at linebacker. Gilmore looks like a future shutdown corner, and Byrd is the best free safety in the league. Along with Rex Ryan, Pettine annually turned out top-ten defenses with the Jets. But the Bills ranked 22nd in defense last year and 26th in points allowed. They were 31st against the run. This defense can't be taken seriously until it shows it should be.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars

QB: Blaine Gabbert
RB: Maurice Jones-Drew
FB: Montell Owens
WR: Cecil Shorts
WR: Justin Blackmon
TE: Marcedes Lewis
LT: Eugene Monroe
LG: Will Rackley
C: Brad Meester
RG: Uche Nwaneri
RT: Luke Joeckel*

Offensive Overview: Rookie GM Dave Caldwell's offseason approach was to all but forego free agency and begin rebuilding the Jaguars via the draft. Caldwell's focus wound up being on defense simply because that's how the board fell, but he made Joeckel the No. 2 overall pick to help shore up the pass protection, likely for a quarterback who'll be acquired next year. Jacksonville will struggle to generate ball movement this season, an inevitable fact exacerbated by Blackmon's four-game suspension. Jones-Drew is coming off major foot surgery entering a contract year. If the season goes south quickly, he could be weeded out in favor of potential running back of the future Denard Robinson. The Jags have two strong pass-protecting tackles, Shorts as a No. 1 receiver, Lewis as a middle-of-the-road all-around tight end, and little else.

LE: Jeremy Mincey
RE: Jason Babin
DT: Tyson Alualu
DT: Roy Miller*
MLB: Paul Posluszny
WLB: Russell Allen
SLB: Geno Hayes*
LCB: Marcus Trufant
RCB: Dwayne Gratz*
FS: Dwight Lowery
SS: Johnathan Cyprien*

Defensive Overview: Jacksonville's secondary added intriguing long-term pieces in press-corner Gratz and versatile safety Cyprien, and they will be put to the test early and often because the front four will struggle to generate pressure. Mincey was a colossal bust after signing a $20 million contract last offseason, tallying three sacks across 16 starts. Babin had seven, but is 33 years old and has never been an even competitive run defender. The linebacker corps is one of the NFL's worst. Caldwell and new coach Gus Bradley are in this thing for the long haul, but the short term isn't going to be pretty. Consider it a success if the Jaguars eke out six wins in 2013.

32. Oakland Raiders

QB: Matt Flynn*
RB: Darren McFadden
FB: Marcel Reece
WR: Denarius Moore
WR: Rod Streater
TE: Nick Kasa*
LT: Jared Veldheer
LG: Lucas Nix
C: Stefen Wisniewski
RG: Khalif Barnes
RT: Menelik Watson*

Offensive Overview: West of New York, there isn't an offense in the league that projects as more impotent. The Raiders' offensive centerpiece remains McFadden, who has averaged nearly five missed games per season in his five-year career and finished last season with a paltry 3.27 YPC clip, scoring two touchdowns on 216 carries. The scheme change from a zone to power approach can only help so much if Oakland doesn't get effective blocking, and lone addition Watson isn't a power blocker. Flynn is a game-managing band-aid quarterback at best and liability at worst. I expect rookie Tyler Wilson to make 2013 starts, and possibly Terrelle Pryor as well. Tight end is a quagmire as rookies Kasa and Mychal Rivera compete with uninspiring holdover David Ausberry. Top Raiders passing-game weapon Moore is coming off a disappointing season.

LE: Lamarr Houston
RE: Andre Carter
DT: Vance Walker*
DT: Pat Sims*
MLB: Nick Roach*
WLB: Kevin Burnett*
SLB: Sio Moore*
LCB: D.J. Hayden*
RCB: Tracy Porter*
FS: Usama Young*
SS: Tyvon Branch

Defensive Overview: The Raiders made a handful of worthwhile offseason additions on defense, particularly the Walker and Burnett signings to go with Hayden at No. 12 in the draft. Hayden has a chance to be a legit shutdown corner. The downfall of this defense will be its lack of pass rush. Houston is not an edge rusher, and Carter is 34 years old. Sims is strictly a two-down run stuffer. Walker is a solid all-around defensive tackle, but hardly the second coming of Warren Sapp. Defenses that can't generate pressure in the front four wind up attempting to manufacture pass rush and exposing themselves back deep. This unit is going to get shredded by the pass.

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