cover32 Packers managing editor, Bobby Burack, will debut a weekly Power Rankings column during the NFL season.
The NFL Draft is now in the books, now that all 32 teams bring in new talent, they turn their focus to the actual games.
While some teams improved through the draft, some did so via free agency. Of course, there are the teams that have digressed.
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While a lot can change from now until the start of the 2017 season, here are the list of teams right now ranked from 1-32.
The Patriots won the Super Bowl without Rob Gronkowski. That alone makes them the top team heading into the season, not to mention, they WON THE OFFSEASON. By trading out of the first round, they acquired a player in Brandin Cooks who will make an immediate impact. They also added Stephon Gillmore and Kony Ealy only to name a few.
The Falcons didn’t lose much in the offseason, but the departure of Kyle Shanahan as the primary play-caller could hurt. The Falcons traded up in the draft to select UCLA’s Takkarist McKinley in the first round, the selection could end up bolstering the defense. The concern here is the mysterious Super Bowl hangover after blowing a 25-point lead to the Patriots. But after all that, Atlanta still has MVP Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and one of the most explosive offenses in the league.
What a year it was for the Dallas Cowboys behind two of the most dominant rookies in recent years. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott may suffer from a sophomore slump, but knowing the mentality of the two, they are just the type to avoid that. If they are to take the next step behind the best offensive line in football, they may just have the best roster in the NFC. They added some defensive pieces in the draft, but their season will be determined on how Dak and Zeke perform.
4. Green Bay Packers
The Packers got hot last year near the end of the regular season, that run took them all the way to the NFC Championship Game. By then, they had run out of gas as their secondary was too beat up to compete. That along with injuries to Jordy Nelson and Devante Adams. The Packers, like always, will be based around Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is the best pure quarterback in the league. With him, they can beat any team, anywhere, anytime. Most experts love their draft getting cornerback Kevin King who can step right in as the top corner on the team.
Having the Giants at fifth may come as a surprise to some, but they actually have one of the best overall teams in the entire league. The Giants defense is as talented as any, and the offense just got better. During free agency, they added a veteran wide receiver, Brandon Marshall, who will bring his toughness and leadership to a locker room that could use it after the issues the receiving core had during an off day in the postseason. But, who doesn’t want to go to Miami during the winter months? In the first round, the Giants drafted a tight end that can be a standout receiver in Evan Engram. Oh, and they beat the rival Cowboys both times last year.
Seattle is one of those teams that are always in the picture. They traded out of the first round, and with their recent draft success, who is to question them? But the team does have a glaring weakness on the offensive line. They added running back Eddie Lacy to the backfield which will help out Russell Wilson in the play-action game. Even with the inconsistencies on the line, the defense will be as good as ever. The locker room is one of the strongest in the NFL… unless Richard Sherman continues his trade remarks.
The Steelers were outmatched in the AFCChampionshipp Games against New England and there is no reason to believe that will change. They drafted T.J. Watt to help improve the defense, but they still are long ways from competing with New England. Although, behind Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown they look to be the next best team in the AFC.
The Raiders looked primed to make a huge playoff run before the season-ending injury to Derek Carr. Carr was the MVP favorite at the time, and very well could be the favorite to win it this year. Every few years, the world gets introduced to a quarterback that will transcend the future, and Carr is that guy. In addition to Khali Mack on the defensive side, the Raiders are a dark horse Super Bowl team. Adding Marshawn Lynch could be a difference maker.
9. Houston Texans
The Texans had one of the best defenses in the league last year, and much of that was without the best defensive player in the league, J.J. Watt. With Watt back to join Clowney, the Texans are certainly a top 10 team in the league. During the draft, they selected quarterback, Deshaun Watson, who may just be the player missing. Watson showed in college his ability to perform under pressure and is already drawing comparisons to Dak Prescott. Houston may be the surprise team of the year, by week 8, they may be in the top 5.
10. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs round out the top 10 but may be the easiest to figure out in the entire league. Their story is simple, really good coach, really good roster, really good balance, okay-quarterback. Which will get them to the playoffs, and that is it.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs used their first round on tight end O.J. Howard, this was one of the few players in the draft that looked to be a ready to make an impact from day 1. Howard will help complete an offense that also added Desean Jackson via free agency. Of course, the rise of Jameis Winston will be the main reason why this team continues to head in the right direction. Look for Winston to make his first ever playoff appearance this year.
12. Carolina Panthers
The surprise of the season last year was the collapse of the Panthers. Coming off a year where they only lost one game in the regular season, made the Super Bowl, and had the MVP of the NFL in Cam Newton. The safe bet is the Panthers will be somewhere in between the past two seasons. If that is the case, they will be a very good team. The reason to assume this, they have one of the best defenses in the league and Cam Newton is still very good. By drafting Christian McCaffrey, this may be the best offense Newton has been a part of.
13. Detroit Lions
The Lions were one of the best stories last season when they made it into the playoffs. Most of the season was centered around comebacks engined by Matthew Stafford. Stafford seemed to become the guy who he should have been earlier on. He took the next step after losing Calvin Johnson due to early retirement. The selection of linebacker Jarrad Davis is just the one the Lions needed, Expect the Lions to be a good team with a shot at a wild card again.
14. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts had one of the best drafts under new GM Chris Ballard. The additions of Malik Hooker and Quincy Wilson will automatically improve a pretty bad defense. The health of Andrew Luck remains the biggest question surrounding the Colts. If he is healthy, as seen before, they are a playoff team. If he is not, also seen before, they are not. Either way under the new regime, they are moving in the right direction.
15. Tennessee Titans
Tennessee won nine games last season and can look to build off of that in 2017. The Titans had issues at both receiver and corner heading into the draft, they addressed both. At receiver, they drafted Corey Davis, who can fly. Davis will be a big weapon for Marcus Mariota. As for corner, they drafted USC’s Adoree Jackson, the speedy corner who was one of the best special teams players in the country. The Titans will be right there with the Colts and Texans competing for the AFC South.
16. Denver Broncos
Denver missed the playoffs after winning the Super Bowl the year before, but they were still a good team. Their defense will, again, be one of the best in entire NFL. Of course, Von Miller will be a huge part of that. Denver drafted an offensive tackle, Garett Bolles, to address one of the team’s biggest weaknesses. They made noise late in the draft, by selecting Michigan’s tight end Jake Butt, who may have to miss much of the season after an ACL injury. Denver feels pretty confident in quarterback Paxton Lynch.
17. Cincinnati Bengals
To the surprise of very few, all the buzz around the Bengals draft is the pick of running back, Joe Mixon. This is not the best fit for a young player with some troubles, with the history of legal issues attached to some of the players in the locker room in Cincinnati, notably Adam Jones. The Bengals still have a pretty good roster, with some limitations.
18. Washington Redskins
Washington may have gotten a steal in the fourth round with running back, Samaje Perine. Perine, out of Oklahoma, could be a huge addition and provide quality carries. Anyone that watch college football a season ago, will know their first-round pick, Jonathan Allen. The defensive tackle, out of Alabama, was one of the best players on any field he was on. The Redskins will have a chance at a playoff spot, but with all rumors surrounding Kirk Cousins, chances are they will not.
19. Arizona Cardinals
Drafting Haason Reddick and Budda Baker are two big play-making selections to a Cardinals team that took a huge step back last season. Never count out a Bruce Arians coached team, but this window here may have closed. They still have talent on defense and running back David Johnson is one the best at the position. The Cardinals are a top 20 team, but will not be much improved.
20. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins made the playoffs, but it was short lived by the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Charles Harris will be an impact player from training camp to the end of the season. It was overall a good draft by the Dolphins, getting Vincent Taylor provides good value for their overall draft. Miami is top 20 team, that could be ranked higher.
21. Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota looked like the best team in the league for the first five weeks last year. They bring back a really talented defense. And Mike Zimmer is an excellent coach. They let go of Adrain Peterson and replaced him with Latavius Murray. However, in the second round, they select running back Dalvin Cook. Cook is a really big addition and has a great chance at being one of the top rookies of the year. The issue, here is the offensive line in below average. And if Teddy Bridgewater is not ready to go, Sam Bradford will once again not be the answer to getting the team any further than last season.
22. New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees is not get any younger, and the Saints have not gave him the roster support he has needed in recent years. The Saints failed to trade for cornerback Malcom Butler in the offseason, but did trade away Brandin Cooks. The Saints acrtaully made the big news pre-draft signing Adrain Peterson. But AP, is no longer AP. Although, he will not need to be after drafting running back Alvin Kamara, and Mark Ingram is still there, as well. The Saints got good value at 11th overall with Marshon Lattimore.
23. Philadelphia Eagles
Drafting cornerback, Sidney Jones, in the second round may one day turn out to be a success, but he is not expected to play this year. The Eagles struggled on offense a season ago. They did not improve on that side much at all. If Carson Wentz can improve, as will the Eagles. The positive here, however, is the defense will get a player in Derek Barnett who jumps out on all his tape. ESPN’s Mike Greenberg said Barnett might be as good as Myles Garrett.
24. Baltimore Ravens
Never underestimate any decision by a great organization like the Baltimore Ravens run by Ozzie Newsome. The Ravens spent their first two days of the draft focusing on one thing, and one thing only: defense. Selecting Marlon Humphrey brings in a quality corner that should start from day 1. The Ravens offense did not improve much and it is hard to see them more than a .500 team this year.
25. Los Angeles Chargers
Of course, the move to Los Angeles will steal all the headlines here, but they actually had a terrific draft. ESPN’s Mel Kiper said it was the best draft of 2017. Adding Mike Williams will make life much easier on Phillip Rivers, and opening it up for Keenan Allen. Drafting offensive linemen Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney may getting the starting nod as well. Lamp was one of the most talented linemen in the draft. The Charges, however, still look like the worst team in the competitive AFC West.
26. Los Angeles Rams
New head coach, Sean McVay, has a tall task ahead of him as many consider quarterback Jared Goff to not be worth the pick he was a year ago. The Rams did not improve their offensive line at all. Most of this was due to them not having a pick in the first round. Gerald Everett and Cooper Kupp will help out Goff some though.
27. Buffalo Bills
Buffalo just made news by firing Dough Whaley as soon as the draft concluded; however, they did improve in the draft. Drafting Tre’Davious White and Zay Jones will impact both sides of the ball. Sean McDermott biggest challenge will be what he can get out of Tyrod Taylor. Probably not this year, but at some point the selection of quarterback, Nate Peterman may pay off, who according to Todd McShay is “the most pro-ready quarterback in this year’s draft”. Peterman draws comparisons to Kirk Cousins.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville always looks good on paper after the draft, then by go time, they are no good at all. While this may be the case again, Leonard Founette will be a big addition. Tom Coughlin’s presence can not be underestimated. The problem here is Blake Bortles is average at best… at best. The Jaguars will be a bad team once again.
29.San Francisco 49ers
Good times are ahead for San Francisco . New GM John Lynch had a great draft. Probably the best out of any GM in the entire league. Getting both Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster in the first round is still unbelievable. Those two will compete for Defensive Rookie of the Year. The 49er still, however, do not have a quarterback. While they will take a step forward, do not expect them to take too big of a leap without a quarterback.
30. Chicago Bears
The Bears vastly overpaid in a trade with San Fransico to draft Mitchell Trubisky. But if they believe he is the guy, it will be worth it. The problem is the rest of the team is not very good. They will not stress any team out in the film room on either side. With the new remarks by the $45 million dollar man, Mike Glennon, that he feels “cheated on” by the Bears, proves this will be a long hard season in the “Windy City”.
31. Cleveland Browns
Drafting Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers, and David Njoku is a solid day 1 for the Cleveland Browns. While the Browns will end up turning their focus on getting a quarterback next year, they may end up starting a few this season. Drafting DeShone Kizer is a project, and knowing the Browns, they will mess it up and rush him.
32. New York Jets
The Jets do not even have a quarterback on the roster that looks to be worthy of even a backup. They are a complete mess. Drafting Jamal Adams is the only positive for this team. They are the worst team in the league right now.
–– Bobby Burack covers the Green Bay Packers and is the Managing Editor for cover32 Packers. Connect and follow on Twitter @bburack16.