Welcome back, everyone. Congratulations to the 259 players that heard their names on draft day as well as the countless undrafted free agents that were signed in the days following the draft.
Check out the rankings prior to these ones.
No. 32: Detroit Lions (-1)
Welcome to the cellar, Detroit. 2021 looks as if it will be a rough season. Don’t be surprised if the Lions find themselves with just one or two wins.
No. 31: Houston Texans (-2)
As long as Deshaun Watson is on the roster, the Texans have a chance. However, if he does not play, this team is almost entirely barren of talent. Laremy Tunsil is the only player worth mentioning here. It is ugly in Houston.
No. 30: Jacksonville Jaguars (+2)
Jacksonville had the most draft capital among all 32 teams. In response, they decided to reach on several players early after selecting Trevor Lawrence. Despite securing a transcendent quarterback, the Jaguars did not have a great draft. Ouch.
No. 29: New York Jets (+2)
The Jets, on the other hand, made many good picks after selecting their golden goose in Zach Wilson. Alijah Vera-Tucker is a Day 1 starter at left guard, and Michael Carter should be the No. 1 running back on the roster by the third day of camp. Rome was not built in a day, however.
No. 28: Carolina Panthers (+0)
Justin Fields was in your lap, Panthers fans. Instead, Carolina continued to add to its defense with Jaycee Horn. Horn may be a future All-Pro cornerback, but Carolina enters the season with Sam Darnold under center. Ouch.
No. 27: Cincinnati Bengals (+0)
In the great Chase-Sewell debate, the Bengals took Ja’Marr Chase. The offensive line room did not go untouched, but Jackson Carman was a questionable pick in the second round. He might be Cincinnati’s “guy,” but there were better options available.
No. 26: Philadelphia Eagles (+0)
The Eagles’ 2021 season rests on the shoulders of Jalen Hurts. If Hurts plays well, the Eagles could steal the division. If Hurts struggles, Philadelphia will be glued to the bottom 10 in the power rankings. Either way, there will be fireworks in Philadelphia, so stay tuned.
No. 25: Las Vegas Raiders (-1)
Alex Leatherwood is a good player, but taking him at No. 17 is gross incompetence. In a panic, Las Vegas drafted all of the safeties. Too bad that won’t help the pass rush. Sorry, Las Vegas. At least your stadium is gorgeous.
No. 24: New York Giants (+1)
The Giants are the epitome of the sunken cost fallacy as they continue to pour resources into a ship known as Daniel Jones. Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney are high-profile additions to the offense, but with Jones unable to steer the offense, New York likely misses the playoffs yet again.
No. 23: Atlanta Falcons (+0)
Ah, Atlanta. The offense should be awesome. Points will be scored at a frenzied pace for all 17 games. However, there is a catch. Football involves two sides of the ball. Sure, the Atlanta offense might score 40 points in a given game, but the defense would allow tackling dummies to score points. Expect to see the Falcons littered in highlight reels.
No. 22: Dallas Cowboys (-1)
The Cowboys are the Falcons with a bigger name. They even added Keanu Neal (to play linebacker!) and Dan Quinn for legitimacy. Dallas will be shoved down your throat with more primetime games than some networks, but at least they are entertaining. Sadly, wins are not based on entertainment value; they are based on fielding a competent team.
No. 21: Arizona Cardinals (-3)
Yes, this is a little low for the Cardinals. They are likely to overachieve this bar, but Arizona’s problem is a lack of identity. They are good or solid in a lot of spots, but other than DeAndre Hopkins, nothing is special. Arizona will win games, and they may even make the playoffs, but every team ahead of Arizona has an “it” factor.
No. 20: Chicago Bears (+2)
Chicago made two of the best five picks in the draft, trading up for both Justin Fields and Teven Jenkins. Fields may not start right away (although he probably should), but Jenkins is slated to be the Day 1 left tackle. Chicago will once again have one of the better defenses in the NFL, and Fields adds upside to the offense.
No. 19: Washington Football Team (+0)
Washington might have the best defense in the NFL, but the quarterback holds them back as a team. Washington has a high ceiling, but the inconsistency of Ryan Fitzpatrick could torpedo Washington’s hopes and dreams.
No. 18: Denver Broncos (+2)
Denver is Washington, but with an even worse quarterback. On paper, Denver has one of the best defenses in the NFL with stars on every level and an elite defensive mind in Vic Fangio. The offense, outside of quarterback, is as good as it gets. In terms of the ultra-scientific “how many good players are on this team” test, Denver may be the best team in the NFL. However, quarterback will be such a catastrophe that Denver will likely flirt with the bottom 10 in the power rankings for most of the season. Drew Lock is the single largest self-destruct button in the NFL.
No. 17: Miami Dolphins (-2)
For the fourth team in a row, we have a great defense with a time bomb at the quarterback position. Unlike Washington and Denver, the quarterback has potential. Unlike the Bears, Miami will actually start its best quarterback. Tua Tagovailoa holds the keys to the Dolphins outperforming a fairly modest No. 17 ranking here.
No. 16: New England Patriots (-4)
Author’s note: Yes, the author overreacted to New England’s free agency. He is deeply sorry.
With that said, New England has doubled down with its 2020 offensive strategy. Cam Newton and Mac Jones possess similar skillsets as passers, and the weapons in Foxboro fit this horizontal passing attack. The offensive line and rushing attack will be good, and the defense will be better than the 2020’s version. New England has a real shot at the playoffs.
No. 15: Tennessee Titans (-5)
Please open a dictionary. Find the word weird. Glance over a couple of inches, and you will see a Titans logo.
Offensively, Tennessee should regress slightly. While the offense is good, they will not be historically awesome again. However, the defense should creep back to average even after hemorrhaging talent. The 2020 Titans were the worst third-down defense in NFL history. That will not happen again.
With the offense slipping slightly and the defense approaching competence, why do the Titans find themselves at No. 15? Similar to Arizona, Tennessee lacks that extra gear. Sure, Derrick Henry is unbelievably dominant, but when he is stopped (see Wild Card round, 2020), Tennessee throws its arms up in the air and surrenders. Every team above Tennessee either has a competent defense, an elite quarterback, or multiple counter punches when the first punch does not land.
No. 14: Pittsburgh Steelers (+2)
Najee Harris opened Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl window. He will run behind an offensive line that is hilariously overrated (and will become more and more overrated as Harris plows through defenses), but he is a special player. He should run away with Offensive Rookie of the Year, and the Steelers will be dangerous.
No. 13: Seattle Seahawks (+4)
In terms of trump cards, Russell Wilson is a pretty strong one when he is not in his yearly “forgets how to play football and loses the MVP race” rut. The defense is a mixed bag, but the offense should be good enough for the Seahawks to contend for a playoff spot once again.
No. 12: Los Angeles Chargers (+1)
Is this the year Derwin James finally plays?
The Chargers hit two home runs with their first two draft picks: Rashawn Slater and Asante Samuel Jr. Justin Herbert may not be as efficient as he was in 2020, but the rest of the team took a step forward. This may be the year that the Chargers have a competent offensive line.
No. 11: Baltimore Ravens (-4)
Rashod Bateman to Baltimore is among the best schematic fits in the draft. The offense will have its same electricity with Lamar Jackson and company, and the offensive line should be better with Ronnie Stanley returning from injury. This is a yearly question, but the Ravens lost their top two edge rushers, so there is reason to believe Baltimore will slip from its perch among the best defenses in the NFL.
No. 10: New Orleans Saints (-1)
For the sake of humanity, please start Jameis Winston. The Saints have a talented offense, and Winston, talent-wise, is one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. Winston opens the Super Bowl window back up with his highs, but the Saints could crash and burn with his lows.
Also, Ian Book in the fourth round was the single worst pick in the draft. Truly awful.
No. 9: Minnesota Vikings (+5)
In contrast, the Vikings made the single best pick in the draft: Christian Darrisaw. Minnesota now has an offensive triumvirate that no other team in the league has. Minnesota has an elite running back (Dalvin Cook), an elite running scheme, and an elite run-blocking offensive line. They have a good quarterback, good weapons, and plenty of defensive talent. What’s the catch?
It’s Minnesota sports.
No. 8: Indianapolis Colts (+3)
The Colts are an upgraded Broncos team with a quarterback that has been competent in the NFL before. The Colts did lose players such as Denico Autry and Justin Houston, but neither were particularly great in 2020 anyways. Indianapolis added a pair of edge rushers in the draft to replace Autry and Houston, and they even added a left tackle in free agency (Eric Fisher). Fisher may be a painfully average left tackle (who earned a Pro Bowl nod because of the quarterback he was blocking for; not his actual play), but the rest of the offensive line is actually deserving of Pro Bowl consideration.
No. 7: San Francisco 49ers (-3)
Trey Lance should start Week 1. That is all.
No. 6: Cleveland Browns (+2)
Roster-wise, Cleveland is on the same tier as the Buccaneers. Cleveland’s weakness in 2020 was its secondary. In this offseason, the Browns did the equivalent of the prank when you unscrew a salt shaker lid. When your friend starts to put salt on their food, the lid falls off, and the food is overwhelmed with salt. John Johnson, Troy Hill, Grant Delpit (from injury), Greedy Williams (from injury), and Greg Newsome are that salt.
No. 5: Buffalo Bills (+1)
Buffalo’s defense should be better in 2021, so even if Josh Allen is not an MVP-level player again, Buffalo should coast to the AFC East crown. Buffalo will be in play for 15 wins, easily.
No. 4: Green Bay Packers (+1)
Aaron Rodgers will start Week 1 for the Packers. If by some miracle (at least in the eyes of the rest of the NFC North) Rodgers is not starting Week 1, Green Bay will take a nosedive. While the roster is pretty good with Pro Bowl-caliber players sprinkles on every level, Jordan Love is a total unknown. At least a certain Chiefs quarterback played a game as a rookie.
No. 3: Los Angeles Rams (+0)
No wonder the Rams trade their valuable draft picks. Tutu Atwell was a comically bad selection in the second round, but it does not matter because the Rams have that good of a roster. The offense, on paper, might be the best offense in the NFC. Sean McVay and Matthew Stafford together is NSFW, and the auxiliary weapons (Cam Akers, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp) are stars. The defense will take a step back, but Aaron Donald exists still.
No. 2: Kansas City Chiefs (+0)
It seems the Chiefs took any and all offensive line slander personally. Kansas City will open the season with five new starters, including left tackle, left guard, center, and right guard brand new to the Chiefs. As long as Patrick Mahomes is the quarterback of the Chiefs, they will be a mainstay in the top-five of the power rankings.
No. 1: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+0)
As mentioned in March, Tampa Bay brought everyone back. The Buccaneers have the best defensive roster in the NFL, and the offense will be one of the best in the sport again. Equipped with a top-five offense and top-five defense, the Buccaneers are NFC favorites for good reason.
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