Our power rankings roll on with the teams ranked 27-23.
27. Oakland Raiders
The NFL world watched Oakland with a close eye this offseason.
Oakland had over $70 million in cap space to complement four draft picks in the top 35.
The team had a chance to improve the roster and quickly go from a rebuilding squad to a contender.
However, they did not capitalize enough on their opportunity.
Mike Mayock had an underwhelming offseason in his first year. To start things out, they traded for star receiver Antonio Brown from Pittsburgh by giving up a third- and fifth-round pick.
While at face value, this seems like they got a steal, Brown has ruined his reputation by being loud on social media and was a distraction in Pittsburgh’s locker room.
In addition to trading for Brown, the team signed former Patriots offensive tackle Trent Brown. They also signed former Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner.
Finally, they signed Tyrell Williams, a former receiver for the Chargers, and Vontaze Burfict, the headache linebacker from Cincinnati.
Overall, they spent a lot of their money on big personalities, but if it pans out, they found four elite level starters on the roster.
The draft was interesting for Mayock. They had three first round picks this year; their pick at four, Chicago’s pick at 24, and Dallas’ pick at 27.
At fourth overall, they selected Clelin Ferrell, a defensive end out of Clemson. Ferrell projects to be an elite pass rusher, with powerful hands and length. While Ferrell was a reach, he is a great football player with high character and a bright future.
At 24, they took Josh Jacobs, a running back from Alabama. Jacobs has excellent potential to play all three downs and doesn’t have much tread on his legs. Jacobs will be an instant starter on the roster.
Finally, at 27, they selected Johnathan Abram, a stud safety out of Mississippi State. Abram is a thumper, with above average speed. He will bring a tempo to that defense, something they desperately needed.
They filled out the roster by selecting Trayvon Mullen, Maxx Crosby, Isaiah Johnson, and Foster Moreau, who all can help day-one, while also growing into potential starters.
Overall, Oakland had a solid draft, filling a lot of needs.
It seems it’s boom-or-bust in Oakland at this point, If they can keep the locker room together, they have the potential to grow, but they have to figure out that chemistry before winning games.
26. Washington Redskins
Washington was dealt a tough hand. With Alex Smith getting hurt last year, they failed to meet expectations. The Redskins were screwed with injuries last year, and are stuck in NFL purgatory right now. This offseason was interesting to see the direction they would go, but they kept Jay Gruden, their coach, and are giving him one more year.
Washington has been pretty quiet this free agency, minus one giant move on the first day of the offseason. Washington signed Landon Collins, a stud safety from the Giants. Collins is a proven safety, only 25, and will instantly bring thump to that defense, which is needed after cutting D.J. Swearinger. Besides that, they signed Tony Bergstrom, who should bring some depth.
Washington possibly had the best draft of anyone. After reports they could trade up for quarterback Dwyane Haskins, they ended up being lucky as they stayed at No. 15 and landed on Haskins. I am a major fan of Haskins, who could be a potentially elite quarterback in a few years.
Washington already landed a great player, but then traded up for Montez Sweat at pick 26. Sweat has his concerns, such as getting kicked off Michigan State as a sophomore, and a potential heart condition, but if he is locked in, he has the length and athletic traits to be an elite edge rusher almost instantly. Washington filled out the roster by drafting Terry McLaurin, a receiver from Ohio State, Bryce Love, a running back from Stanford, and some depth pieces. Overall, Washington found a lot of good players who all could be key contributors soon.
Washington has a good start on a rebuild. Next year, they need a new coach, but already have a great foundation for a rebuild going forward.
25. Denver Broncos
Denver lacked direction last year and fired Vance Joseph for his failures. They brought in Vic Fangio, a former defensive coordinator from Chicago, to head the defense. Fangio brings an intensity to revive the winning culture of Denver.
In free agency, they made the major move to go get quarterback Joe Flacco. Flacco is a Super Bowl-winner but has had problems staying healthy and has been inconsistent over the years. They brought in two corners, Kareem Jackson and Bryce Callahan. Jackson comes from Houston, and can play safety and corner; plus, he has years of experience. Callahan comes with Fangio and will be an instant starter at slot corner. They also signed Ja’Wuan James, a tackle from Miami, to help solidify their right tackle position, which they have struggled to solidify for years.
Denver had a great draft. First, they traded down from pick 10 to 20 and acquired a second-round pick and a 2020 third-rounder from Pittsburgh in the process. At 20, they took Noah Fant, a tight end from Iowa. Fant is an amazing athlete who can get vertical quickly. This suits Joe Flacco, who loves throwing deep to his tight ends. Fant might not be a great blocker but is a matchup nightmare to anyone who wants to defend him. They also selected Dalton Risner, an offensive lineman from Kansas State, and Drew Lock, a quarterback, in the second round. Lock is a project, but has elite arm talent and experience, and can grow into a franchise quarterback. They selected Dre’Mont Jones, a defensive lineman, who can help Bradley Chubb and Von Miller from the interior.
Denver didn’t sign the best players but had an elite draft, and I can see Denver being much higher.
It all depends on the play of Joe Flacco.
24. Carolina Panthers
Carolina had a tough job this offseason. Their quarterback, Cam Newton, had to have surgery for his shoulder issues. Carolina started 6-2 last year but went 1-7 the rest of the year. Carolina needed to decide a direction; win now or retool for the future.
Their moves suggest they are transitioning. While signing veterans such as Bruce Irvin, a linebacker, and Matt Paradis, a star center from Denver, they stayed conservative. Carolina didn’t have much cap space and had to say goodbye to long-time star linebacker Thomas Davis.
Carolina drafted Brian Burns at No. 16. Burns is a speedy pass rusher who is similar to Dee Ford thanks to his explosion. He may be raw, but has the athletic profile to be a stud. They also selected Greg Little, a tackle from Ole Miss, and Will Grier, a quarterback from West Virginia. Grier is insurance in case Cam Newton can’t play immediately, but also could be their future.
Carolina is stuck in purgatory right now, and no one knows what they are doing. With their franchise quarterback hurt, don’t expect much from the roster this year, and potentially hear rumors that Ron Rivera is done as head coach.
23. Detroit Lions
Detroit is becoming the new Patriots. With coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn coming from New England, they are trying to rebuild their team like the Patriots. Their offseason shows that philosophy.
Quinn signed Trey Flowers to a big deal. Flowers was a key contributor on the defensive line in New England and won multiple Super Bowls. Flowers is young, with the ceiling to get much better. Flowers can play anywhere on the defensive line, which is key in Matt Patricia’s defensive scheme. They also brought in Danny Amendola, another ex-Patriot, to give Matthew Stafford a slot receiver to target.
Detroit selected T.J. Hockenson at pick eight; a tight end from Iowa again. Hockenson isn’t like Fant; he isn’t a freak athlete and doesn’t have a bigger body. Hockenson does have elite hands, though, and he is only getting better. Hockenson fits the athletic profile of Rob Gronkowski, and Hockenson could grow into that type of player.
They mainly selected depth guys with the rest of their draft, but they clearly are building up that roster. If Stafford bounces back, don’t be shocked to see them rise higher. The defensive line they have built is elite, and they are building the culture to start winning soon.