2017 NFL Power Rankings: Post-NFL Draft edition
Now that the draft has come and gone we take an early look at how teams stack up in this early version of the 2017 NFL Power Rankings
With the NFL Draft now in the books, we can look at how each team stacks up in our 2017 NFL power rankings. Sure it’s early, but now that free agency has gone as well as all the rookies finding a home, we now have a great sense for how each team’s roster will shake out. There’s obviously unknown quantities that have to factor in, something like the next Dak Prescott or his other-position equivalent emerging. But we have enough knowledge to make an assessment.
Of course, we all know teams like the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots will be good. Those two faced off in a great Super Bowl 51 battle, which saw the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history. It also produced the first ever overtime in the big game as the Patriots finished off their remarkable comeback to win their fifth Lombardi Trophy.
The next question is, who made up some ground on them? The Cleveland Browns had a huge number of draft picks — including three in the first round — as they tried to find a way to rebound from a 1-15 season. The San Francisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars also had some busy offseasons as they reloaded their rosters, but was it enough to move up in the rankings?
Let’s find out as we delve into the post-NFL draft edition of the 2017 NFL power rankings
32. New York Jets (32)
This is shaping out to be the worst team in the NFL. The New York Jets drafted a talented safety sixth-overall in LSU’s Jamaal Adams, but they really needed a quarterback. With both Patrick Mahomes II and Deshaun Watson available, they missed a shot.
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They have veteran Josh McCown at quarterback but he’s often injured. That could lead to them having to turn to Christian Hackenberg, a 2016 second-round pick, but he reportedly was so underwhelming that the team wouldn’t even let him play last year when no one was doing any good. They may be able to select whoever they want in the 2018 draft as a consolation prize.
31. Chicago Bears (30)
The Chicago Bears made one of the worst moves in the entire draft by surrendering a couple third round picks and a fourth rounder to move up one pick. They then took North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who the 49ers reportedly didn’t even have on their radar. The move was so bad that poor Trubisky got booed at a Chicago Bulls game as he was trying to become a part of his new city.
They now head into the year with an unproven Trubisky behind a less-than-superb Mike Glennon who, by the way, is making $15 million as a huge free agent signing. Glennon is unhappy about them getting Trubisky, the fans are unhappy about the second overall pick. Rough times are ahead in Chicago.
30. Los Angeles Rams (25)
Going 0-7 with 2016 first-overall pick Jared Goff starting doesn’t bode well for the future of the Los Angeles Rams. What does is moving on from arguably the most overrated coach in NFL history, Jeff Fisher.
Fisher has a career losing record, but because former Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair got hot and carried Fisher to a few winning seasons people thought he was good. He isn’t. And after several years in a row of awful football, the Rams moved on. They won’t move up the rankings yet, though, especially after not having a first-rounder thanks to the Goff trade.
29. Cleveland Browns (31)
It was pretty well known that the quarterback class wasn’t great this season, but the Cleveland Browns still messed up by not getting a good one. They had three picks in the first round and ended up with a defensive end in Myles Garrett, a guy without a position in Jabrill Peppers and a tight end in David Njoku.
They ended the weekend with the only quarterback selection being Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer. That means their best quarterback on the roster right now is a toss up between Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler. Maybe next season, Browns fans.
28. San Francisco 49ers (29)
This team deserves a medal. They flat-out owned the Chicago Bears in this draft. After getting three picks to drop down one spot they got the guy they wanted anyway in Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas. To make things even better, they were reportedly going to go with linebacker Reuben Foster third overall if Chicago took Thomas — which they believed was the case — but still got him with the 31st overall pick.
Things are headed in the right direction for new head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch, but it may not be enough just yet. They inherited a terrible roster, so it will take time to get it all squared away. So far though, things are looking good.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (23)
Every offseason the Jacksonville Jaguars are a team to watch. They sign big name players and they make splashy draft picks. Then they stink it up and win about three games.
This season could be different as they drafted LSU running back Leonard Fournette fourth overall and also fired head coach Gus Bradley. However, they still made some odd moves like overpaying for an aged defensive end in Calais Campbell and picking up quarterback Blake Bortles option despite him being wildly inconsistent.
Overall it’s hard to believe in this team because every year they’re supposed to be better, and they aren’t.
26. Los Angeles Chargers (28)
Quarterback Philip Rivers throws for a lot of yards. The Los Angeles Chargers defense allows a lot of yards to be thrown. The result is usually a losing record, but instead of focusing on defense the Chargers decided to get Rivers an offensive weapon in Clemson’s Mike Williams.
Williams will help, that’s for sure. He’s tall, strong and has a huge catch radius. However, he’s struggled with health issues which can also be said about the entire Chargers roster outside of Rivers. On top of that they play in an incredibly tough division. This won’t be a fun first year in L.A.
25. Arizona Cardinals (17)
In the 2017 draft the Arizona Cardinals made some smart picks, but it doesn’t translate into a nice spot in these NFL power rankings. The reason for that is they addressed linebacker in Round 1 with Haasan Riddick and safety in Round 2 with Budda Baker. What they didn’t do is get a young quarterback.
Veteran Carson Palmer just didn’t look like himself last season, and the offense as a whole struggled. It doesn’t seem likely that becoming a year older will suddenly help Palmer improve. The good news is they could draft high enough next season to get a franchise guy early on.
24. Minnesota Vikings (18)
Things have changed recently for the Minnesota Vikings. Gone is franchise leading rusher Adrian Peterson and soon too could be quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who did not receive fifth-year on his rookie contract after missing all of 2016 with a knee injury.
Making such a hasty decision is a mistake. The team needs to see wether or not Bridgewater can recover because their only other option is mediocrity. Their starter in 2016 was Sam Bradford who has zero winning seasons to his name. Even last season when the Vikings went 8-8, Bradford was just 7-8 as the starter. For all the talk of his incredibly high completion percentage people have ignored that he specializes in check downs and screen passes. He’s not a winner and as long as he’s in a Vikings helmet they won’t be either.
23. Cincinnati Bengals (27)
While everyone ripped the Cincinnati Bengals for drafting the controversial running back Joe Mixon, should we really have been shocked? The Bengals take more chances on players with criminal history than any other team and they did it once again with Mixon.
Eventually, putting that many questionable characters in one locker room will have a bad impact. The Bengals don’t look to be improving too much from a bad 2016.
22. Buffalo Bills (26)
New head coach Sean McDermott was happy to find a way to keep quarterback Tyrod Taylor in town. He’s not an elite quarterback, but he gives them a chance to win and is much better than any alternative. Outside of him though the roster is questionable.
They did make some progress with a pretty solid draft which includes Tre’Davious White — the corner from LSU and the exciting receiver Zay Jones out of East Carolina. Still, it feels like they’re too far away from being a contender.
21. Philadelphia Eagles (15)
Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz had a rocky rookie season. He started out looking like the real deal, then slowly turned into an inaccurate passer. He was given some help this offseason when the team signed former Chicago receiver Alshon Jeffery, but their picks in the draft were centered around improving the defense.
They made some nice choices like Tennessee’s Derek Barnett, but the best player could be Washington cornerback Sidney Jones. After tearing his Achilles at his pro day, Jones could miss the entire 2017 season, but could be a huge plus for this team down the road. They just need to see Wentz take that next step in his development.
20. Detroit Lions (12)
Here’s a team that got incredibly lucky in 2016. They were a playoff team but only because of the heroics of quarterback Matthew Stafford, who led eight game-winning drives. That’s not the right kind of formula for sustainable success.
Their draft was also uninspiring as they may have reached for linebacker Jarrad Davis in the first, and his teammate at Florida — cornerback Teez Tabor — took quite the fall after posting some awful 40-yard dash times. Hopefully for Detroit they pan out, but don’t expect them to win all the close ones again.
19. Indianapolis Colts (24)
You can’t blame the Indianapolis Colts for taking safety Malik Hooker in Round 1. He was a far better player than where he got selected and will help their defense. The problem is they are so bad up front and didn’t do enough to help there.
The Colts are a finesse team that could stand to add a strong run stuffer, but failed to do so this offseason. They also are weak at running back and waited until the fourth round to address that spot as well. With Tennessee, Jacksonville and Houston having better luck this offseason, it could be a rough 2017 for Indy.
18. New Orleans Saints (19)
Three-straight 7-9 finishes have the New Orleans Saints on edge. They need a shot in the arm, and someone decided signing running back Adrian Peterson could be that shot. Sadly, 32-year-old running backs who run for 1.9 yards per carry in four games while struggling with health seldom get better with age. This signing made no sense.
They still could have gotten better though with the underrated move for Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara. He was explosive when given the chance for the Vols and can be a home run threat for the Saints. On top of that, they got a potential shut down corner in Marshon Lattimore, so maybe they can make some ground in the NFC South.
17. Washington Redskins (11)
One of the biggest surprises had to be Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen lasting to pick 17. The Washington Redskins had to be thrilled with that as they got a top-10 talent past the midway point. They also got a potential first-rounder in the third as UCLA corner Fabian Moreau was available then due to a pectoral injury.
Of course his availability had to do with a pectoral injury which he sustained during his pro day. He shouldn’t miss the whole season though, and can be as a big a steal as Allen.
16. Carolina Panthers (20)
After adding a few offensive linemen in free agency, the Carolina Panthers should already be a better team this season than they were in 2016. Quarterback Cam Newton struggled to stay upright and healthy thanks to the bad line, so maybe these additions can make a huge difference.
They also need to hope that reports of wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin ballooning up to 280 pounds are false. He’s an incredible receiver, but if conditioning becomes an issue that could hurt. The pick of Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey will be a plus too. It’s time to move on from Jonathan Stewart, and the former Heisman candidate helps them do just that.
15. Tennessee Titans (10)
The Tennessee Titans shocked a lot of people when they went with Corey Davis at No. 5 overall. Most expected them to add Clemson receiver Mike Williams, but the Titans believed Davis is more well-rounded.
They could very well be right as he was impressive during his time at Western Michigan. They also had a second pick in the opening round, which they used on USC cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, who could also be a huge weapon on special teams. Should quarterback Marcus Mariota take his next step in his progression, the Titans may find themselves in contention for the AFC South.
14. Baltimore Ravens (22)
Their first-round pick was good in Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey. A player of his caliber will be important in a division that has wide receivers Antonio Brown and A.J. Green. It may not have been their best pick though.
In the second, they picked up Houston outside linebacker Tyus Bowser. The edge rusher was effective and tested very well at the combine. Some believed he could have gone in the first round, but somehow he was sitting there at pick 47. They also still have star quarterback Joe Flacco and a 1,000-yard receiver in Mike Wallace. This team can be dangerous.
13. Denver Broncos (16)
What can help the Denver Broncos more than anything would be a big leap from quarterback Paxton Lynch. While he was the backup to Trevor Siemian last season, Lynch is a first-round pick and has much more upside than Siemian.
This isn’t to say the starter from 2016 is a bad option, but getting a guy who is more mobile and has a stronger arm in Lynch could go a long way. No matter what, these guys are contenders based on their defense alone. Linebacker Von Miller is the heart and soul of the Broncos and is the reason they’re so feared.
12. Miami Dolphins (14)
Defensive end Charles Harris is loved by a lot of people, but really there’s a lot of projection with him as he had just one year where he really put it all together. He also has just one move — the spin — to free himself up from defenders.
Even picking him with better options available doesn’t hurt Miami too much. They have a good quarterback in Ryan Tannehill and a great running back in Jay Ajayi. They made the playoffs in 2016 after a bad start, but an injury to Tannehill hurt their chances of making any noise.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8)
One team that really had a good draft was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tight end O.J. Howard out of Alabama was the best at his position, and probably should have been gone by pick 19. Second round selection Justin Evans, the safety from Texas A&M, is a hard hitter that can help the defense immensely.
Then in the third, they got Kendell Beckwith, a run-stuffing linebacker from LSU. This is a team that came really close to the postseason last year, and could very well get over the hump in 2017 should these guys play to their potential.
10. Houston Texans (21)
It’s about time they git a quarterback. The Houston Texans gave the Cleveland Browns a pretty hefty package to move all the way up to No. 12 to get Deshaun Watson from Clemson. This was after giving the same Browns franchise a second-round pick to take on quarterback Brock Osweiler’s contract.
The good news, though, is Osweiler is gone, and they have a guy who shines in the big stage in Watson. Despite being the third guy selected at the position, look for Watson to be the best quarterback selected as he’s enough to push Houston into the contender category.
9. Green Bay Packers (6)
The Green Bay Packers could draft some middle school kids and you would have to just bet on them to be good. It’s what they do, no matter what. This offseason they picked up tight end Martellus Bennett, then got a talented cornerback in Kevin King out of Washington. The 6-3 corner should help the Packers on defense about as much as Bennett helps them on offense.
Of course, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers under center this offense is always spectacular. If they can get the defense back up to par, this team will climb up the top five incredibly fast.
8. Seattle Seahawks (13)
What is with the Seattle Seahawks not wanting to fix their offensive line. This unit has been atrocious for years and each and every draft they just drop out of the first round rather than getting themselves a legitimate blocker. Even with guard Forrest Lamp available this season, they again dropped down.
- 5/3 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers: O.J. Howard, Chris Godwin complete Jameis Winston’s arsenal
- 5/3 – New Orleans Saints: How Alvin Kamara fits in backfield
- 5/3 – New York Giants: Is team right about not drafting offensive linemen?
- 5/3 – Dallas Cowboys: Is Cooper Rush the future backup quarterback?
- 5/3 – San Francisco 49ers: Grading undrafted free agent signings
That makes no sense and in the end they will be a good team that struggles to keep quarterback Russell Wilson upright. After being sacked more than every quarterback in the league except one, look for Wilson to run for his life again for most of 2017. They will win plenty, but can’t crack the top five until they fix this issue.
7. Kansas City Chiefs (4)
Well, they sure went all out didn’t they? The Kansas City Chiefs mortgaged part of their future to move up for Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes II in this draft. The good news is they showed some understanding that they can’t win it all with Alex Smith as their signal-caller. The bad news is they got a guy who is part of an air-raid offense. Mahomes looks like he can transcend that system, but the odds are not in his favor. Fortunately they’re good enough around him to win even if he’s only average. If they’re right about Mahomes — watch out for the Chiefs.
6. New York Giants (7)
The New York Giants were thinking about the future when they selected Cal quarterback Davis Webb. The rest of their picks, though, felt like stretches. The Giants reached for several players and had it not been for a good roster before the draft they could have fallen out of the top ten.
As it stands, they have a quarterback who can get hot and a defense that can shut out anyone. All they need to do is improve some in the running game and things could be really good for the G-Men.
5. Oakland Raiders (3)
Let’s just get this out of the way first — the move to acquire running back Marshawn Lynch was foolish. An aged running back who sat out a year isn’t the best choice for a featured back, especially when that running back struggled to stay healthy the last time he did play.
Beyond that, the Oakland Raiders are a team on the rise. Cornerback Gareon Conley should help the defense improve and pass rusher Khalil Mack will only get better with another season under his belt. As for offense, quarterback Derek Carr is an MVP candidate who has improved every season since entering the NFL.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (9)
Once again, the Pittsburgh Steelers went for a linebacker in the first round of the NFL draft. They now pair T.J. Watt with Bud Dupree and Ryan Shazier, who were also first-round selections for the Steelers. This is after they let another former first-round pick, Jarvis Jones, leave via free agency this offseason.
They’ve been trying desperately to become a feared defense like they were in the past, and the collection of linebackers they have now gives them a legitimate chance to do just that. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger says he’s thinking of retirement soon, but may not want to after this season.
3. Dallas Cowboys (5)
This is a totally different Dallas Cowboys team than what everyone expected before the 2016 season. First of all, quarterback Tony Romo has been replaced by last season’s NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, Dak Prescott. They also have the defending rushing champion in Ezekiel Elliott.
The changes don’t stop there as Dallas just re-loaded their defense through the draft. After selecting Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton in Round 1, they went corner with the next two picks as they took Colorado’s Chidobe Awuzie and Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis. All in all, they selected seven defensive players with their nine choices and hope to finally have a decent defense to match their offense.
2. Atlanta Falcons (2)
They may have lost in the Super Bowl, but the Atlanta Falcons got a lot better on defense in the draft. That’s a scary prospect because, up until the second half of the championship game, that unit had really turned things around under head coach Dan Quinn.
Now they just added another pass rushing beast in UCLA’s Takkarist McKinley. Couple that with them returning all their stars on offense and the Falcons have to be a favorite in the NFC.
1. New England Patriots (1)
It was a heck of an offseason for the winners of Super Bowl 51. The New England Patriots were able to come back from a huge 28-3 deficit as they shocked the entire world en route to their fifth Lombardi Trophy. Then when the season was over, they got to work.
They made a couple solid moves in trading for defensive end Kony Ealy from the Carolina Panthers and wide receiver Brandin Cooks from the New Orleans Saints. The move for Ealy was brilliant as they got a young and talented pass rusher by surrendering just eight spots in the draft. It was simply a great move by them (and possibly the dumbest ever by the Panthers). The trade for Cooks was a little riskier on their part.
They surrendered a first-round pick for a wideout who is nearing the end of his rookie deal. These are the kinds of players New England usually trades away, rather than trades for. So it should be interesting. Either they’re really high on him, or they just feel like he’s better than anything they could have selected with the 32nd pick in the 2017 NFL Draft and they can use him for a couple seasons before getting themselves even more comp picks down the road when someone else overpays him.
New England did find some value with their few picks including Youngstown defensive end Derek Rivers and Troy offensive tackle Antonio Garcia. This looks to be yet another great year for the Pats.