2014 NFL Power Rankings (Top 10) Post Draft and Free-Agency
Here are my current power rankings of the Top 10 teams in the NFL. Rankings have shifted some after the draft and free agency opened up. Kansas City could easily be at 8, 9 or 10 on this list. I just didn’t like what they did this offseason, free-agency and the draft. They lost so many key players in the trenches to the open market. Left tackle Branden Albert signed a 5-year/$47million deal with the Dolphins, and right tackle Geoff Schwartz went to the Giants for a 4-year/$16.8million deal. Two more key players went to the Falcons, guard Jon Asamoah and defensive end Tyson Jackson. They also lost Dexter McCluster to the Titans. I didn’t like their draft pick in Dee Ford either. De’Anthony Thomas was drafted a little early also.
1. Seattle Seahawks
2013 Team Record: (13-3)
Strengths: It’s no secret what Seattle’s bread and butter is. Seattle ranks first in points allowed, net yards allowed, interceptions and turnover differential. The average QB rating for the Seahawks opponent is (64.7). That’s 10.2 less points than any team. The Seahawks gave up 458 less net yards than any NFL team. They basically could have played 18 games and still given up less yards than any team. And it’s scary to know Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are locked down through 2017. Seattle didn’t need to fill any holes in the draft, they just needed to add depth. They traded out of the first round and nabbed WR Paul Richardson Colorado with the 45th overall pick. Some Seahawk fans were also happy with the selection of the WR out of Alabama Kevin Norwood in the 4th round. The Seahawks signed nine undrafted rookie free agents, including former University of Washington QB Keith Price. The Seahawks have a great chance to win multiple Super Bowls this decade.
Weaknesses: Guessing from the way they drafted, Seattle thought they needed to add depth at WR. Seattle was 26th in passing yards last season. But that’s not really a knock on them, you don’t have to throw the ball as much when you’re winning, and when you run the ball like they do. They lost CB Brandon Browner, DE Chris Clemons, WR Sidney Rice and WR Golden Tate. I know some Seattle fans are sad to see those players go but they just couldn’t re-sign everyone. Browner wasn’t the same player last year so he won’t be as missed. And Chris Clemons aging body didn’t seem to have a great regular season despite his playoff performances.
2. Denver Broncos
2013 Record: (13-3)
Strengths: The Broncos coudn’t be any more different than the Seahawks. They have built their franchise into an offensive machine. Many people speculated how the move to the Broncos would fit Manning. I’d say the move has worked well so far. They had 641 more net yards than any team in the NFL last season. Denver averaged a staggering 37.9 points a game ,and 457.3 yards of offense per game. But they didn’t get to the Super Bowl by just replying on Peyton. They have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Their front 7 on defense is solid, allowing the 8th fewest rushing yards in the league last season. Danny Trevathan, Terrance Knighton and Von Miller will be a force in the middle for Denver this season. Adding Demarcus Ware in free agency will help strengthen the pash rush.
Weaknesses: The Broncos secondary has been exploited the past 2 seasons in the playoffs. It was painful to see Champ Bailey in coverage last season. They were ranked 29th in passing yards allowed last season. Denver made that pretty clear by spending their first round pick on cornerback Bradley Roby. The Broncos made 2 solid moves in the secondary through free agency, acquiring SS T.J. Ward and CB Aqib Talib. After losing Eric Decker to the Jets in free agency, they signed former Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders, who I thought had a pretty good season in 2013. They also re-signed Andre Caldwell. The Bronos also have high hopes for second round pick Cody Lattimore, a WR out of Indiana who is currently recovering from a broken foot. Denver will look to split time between running backs Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman with the departure of Knowshon Moreno to the Dolphins.
3. San Francisco 49ers
2013 Team Record: (12-4)
Strengths: San Francisco was 5th in total net yards allowed last season. They have aruably the best linebacker core in the league. Rookie Eric Reid showed flashes of becoming a special player at safety, and San Fran defended the pass well in 2013, ranking 7th in passing yards allowed. The Niners drafted safety Jimmie Ward out of Northern Illinois in the first round to replace Donte Whitner who went to Cleveland. Harbaugh says he will have Ward play nickel back and eventually move to starting free safety in 2015 to replace Antoine Bethea, which would ultimately shift Reid to strong safety. They were ranked 4th overall in 2013 in rushing yards allowed, and gave up the 3rd fewest points in the NFL. On the offensive end, the Niners had a top 10 ranked offensive line last season. They spent a 3rd round pick on C Marcus Martin out of USC to battle Daniel Kilgore for the starting role. Jonathan Goodwin has dominated the center position for them for 3 years, but he is still a free-agent. Because RB Frank Gore and RB Kendall Hunter are in the final year of their contract plus Lattimore’s injury, the Niners made some trades in the second round to nab RB Carlos Hyde out of Ohio State.
Weaknesses: It’s hard to believe a top 3 team in the NFL isn’t the top team in their own division. Once thought to be evenly matched, the Niners are now lying in the shadow of the Seahawks. It’s hard to find major differences on paper between the two teams. But the Niners must find a way to take down Seattle. They need to stay healthy, turn their draft picks into key replacements and hope NaVorro Bowman can recover from his gruesome knee injury. Michael Wilhoite is the early favorite to start for him until he can return around mid-season. The Niners spent a 3rd round pick on ILB Chris Borland out of Wisconsin, and a 5th round pick on OLB Aaron Lynch out of South Florida to help add depth to the linebacker core early on. They also needed to add depth at WR, they drafted Bruce Ellington out of South Carolina. He is a small guy at 5’9 197lbs., but he is the speedy type wide-out they needed. He could see time at returning kicks or punts, or both. The 49ers drafted a total of 3 cornerbacks also to replenish the secondary with young talent.
2013 Team Record: (12-4)
Strengths: I just didn’t see the usual sneaky, somewhat flashy picks New England usually comes up with during the draft. The only one was Dominque Easley, a 6-2 288lb. defensive tackle out of Florida, who is a top 10 talent if he can stay healthy. He has torn his ACL in both knees, but recieved a clean bill of health by doctors during the combine. The Pats could have traded out of their pick, which they have done plenty of times before, but they drafted Easley in fear that Seattle would draft him at 32. They passed on players like Marqise Lee and Teddy Bridgewater so hopefully it will pay off. Easley will help add to a solid front 7 which includes Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones and Vince Wilfork. I thought the Patroits wanted to add another talented tight end to the mix, and were gonna take Jace Amaro out of Texas Tech but they went defense. New England made the no-brainer move of re-signing free agent Julian Edlelman who is coming off the best season of his career.
Weaknesses: The RB commitee needed depth with Blount going to Pittsburgh and they got that by New England drafting RB James White out of Wisconsin. White had a solid season last year with 221 carries 1,444 yards 12 TD’s 6.5 avg. At 5″9 204 lbs., he won’t overwhelm NFL defenses. Also, with his small hands and short arms, he may struggle in pass protection. But he has only fumbled twice in his 700+ career carries at Wisconsin. And we are all aware of Steven Ridley’s struggles to hold on to the football. I thought the Patroits wanted to add another talented tight end to the mix, and were gonna take Jace Amaro out of Texas Tech but they went defense. If Gronk gets hurt, which he will, they will have nobody at tight end. The Pats have been active with their secondary during free agency. They brought in Darrelle Revis, Patrick Chung and Brandon Browner to help replace the hole left by Aqib Talib. Talib was a huge part of the Patriots success on defense during the playoffs.
5. Green Bay Packers
2013 Record: (8-7-1)
Strengths: Green Bay was riddled with injuries to big name players in 2013. If they can make it through preseason injury free I think the Packers are gonna have a nice season. Let’s first talk about what they did in the draft. They know defending Kaepernick will be one of the biggest challenges to overcome if they want to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. They drafted safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round. I think this was the perfect fit and was a steal to get at No. 21 overall. Green Bay took WR Devante Adams out of Fresno State in the second round. I think Adams was another solid pick. The particular people who thought QB Derek Carr should have gone even as high as No. 1 are surely familiar with this guy. I was very impressed with his play from what I’ve seen. Adams holds records for single-season and career TD’s (38) as well as the school mark for career receptions (233). I think it might take Adams a second to adjust to an offense like Green Bay’s but I think he can be molded into a solid 3rd WR. But as much as we can talk about what Rodgers is gonna do through the air, the Packers finally established the run game last season. They finished 7th in rushing yards in 2013, 20th in 2012, and 27th in 2011. Eddie Lacy is a big reason for the improvement. Packers got him for a steal at 61st overall in the 2013 draft.
Weaknesses: Green Bay was ranked 25th in Team Defense last season (yards allowed). Both the rush and pass defense struggled they gave up nearly 27 points a game. they didn’t record a single interception by a safety the entire season. That is hard to do. I always believe the defense suffers when a big name quarterback goes down with a long term injury. The Cowboys defense fell apart when Romo broke his collar bone for one example. But they won’t have that excuse this season. Clayton Matthews missing 5 games to injury didn’t help either. Obviously the injury bug seems to be the Packers achilles heel. B.J. Raji and Julius Peppers look to put pressure on the QB this season to help improve upon those rankings. The Packers were one of many teams who instantly had to fill a hole on their line throught the draft. Center Evan Dietrich- Smith went to the Bucs this offseason so they drafted Ohio St. Buckeye Corey Linsley. Corey was the team captain, and a state champion discus thrower and shotput champion and all-american. So we’ll have to keep an eye on the middle of that offensive line as the season goes on. James Jones decided he didn’t like touchdowns by signing with the Raiders this offseason. Hard to believe what his numbers are gonna look like. They are hoping Adams can replace Jones, which I think he can, but that could take longer than expected.
6. New Orleans Saints
2013 Record: (11-5)
Strengths: The Saints didn’t have to address anything major during free agency or the NFL draft. I think they needed to find another weapon for Brees considering Lance Moore signed with Pittsburgh this offseason. New Orleans was also looking to add depth to the offensive line and secondary, specifically cornerback. Just like Green Bay, I think the Saints couldn’t have made better selections for themselves in Rounds 1 and 2. Two teams moved up in the first round to draft a wideout. Buffalo to get Sammy Watkins, which was horrible considering how much they gave up and how bad they need to build, and the Saints to get Brandin Cooks, which was a perfect pick. Cooks led the NCAA in 32 receptions of 20+ yards. That sounds like a good fit for Drew and the Saints playbook. They drafted Stanley Jean-Baptiste with their second round pick, a CB out of Nebraska. I like the idea of drafting a 6″3 CB in order to keep up with all the tall athletic NFL wideouts there are. I think he has a tremendous of upside and potential. Some scouts say he doesn’t have the talent level of what a second round corner should have so we’ll have to see. I’m a big fan of Jarius Byrd. If he plays up to his potential, hopefully he will for $54 Million, I think the Saints made a great signing. He’s a physical safety that can cause a lot of turnovers.
Weaknesses: With Malcom Jenkins, Will Smith and Roman Harper leaving, and Champ Bailey arriving, the Sains will have a different look on defense this season. The secondary is the issue on the defense, not the front 7. The Saints had the 4th most sacks in the NFL last season (44). They ranked 25th in team interceptions and 23rd in pass deflections. They like to have 3 safeties on the field, so even after signing Byrd, some fans weren’t suprised when they spent a 6th round pick on a safety. They drafted Vinnie Sunseri out of Alabama. Vinnie is from a football family where his dad is currently the defensive ends coach at Florida State. The knock on him is that he tore his ACL late in the season so he might not be able to make a quick impact his rookie season. He has a big resume with a lot of achievements and can be a nice special teams player. I just think Rob Ryan is gonna have his hands full. Champ Bailey looked horrible in the playoffs last season. Saints fans better just hope Byrd doesn’t get lazy after getting a big pay day.
7. Indianapolis Colts
2013 Record: (11-5)
Strengths: The Colts are succesful because they don’t turn the ball over, finsihing with the second best +/- turnover ratio in the AFC. They gave up the fewest fumbles (4) in the NFL, and Luck threw the second lowest amount of interceptions of any QB in the AFC (10). The way the Colts think now a days is how they can protect their invest in Andrew Luck. Whether that is adding depth to the offensive line or adding talent to the WR core. Indy spent a 3rd round pick on wideout Donte Moncrief out of Ole Miss. Donte is considered a raw player who could take time to develop. That would be fine considering Wayne only has a couple years left at best and Hakeem Nicks was only signed to a 1-year deal. Speaking of Hakeem Nicks, the Colts acquired him via free-agency and will make $4 million in 2013. Another smart move was re-signing cornerback Vontae Davis and Ahmad Bradshaw to a 1-year deal worth $855,000. Plus they don’t want to be stuck with Richardson all by himself back there. I think they made another strong move by signing center Phil Costa from the Cowboys. Costa was one of the bright spots on the Cowboys line the past couple seasons.
Weaknesses: Most NFL teams have increased the quality of their roster either through free-agency or the draft. I don’t feel like the Colts are one of these teams. Indianapolis might have had the worst draft day’s of any NFL squad. One reason is they didn’t have an early pick because of the T-Rich trade. The other is they basically didn’t draft anyone that would instantly improve their overall team. They lost Darrius Heyward-Bey and Donald Brown to free-agency on the offensive end. And they lost Antonie Bethea to the 49ers, who signed a 4-year $21 million dollar deal. Other than the offensive line and WR core, they really needed to address how thin the secondary is. They are lacking a great tackler and dominating defender back there. The Colts were ranked 20th in rushing in the NFL last season and I think they have plans to bulk up their run game. It’s kind of hard to find anything wrong with this team. They don’t have many big name players, and they don’t fill up the stat sheet, they just find ways to win games.
8. Philadelphia Eagles
2013 Record: (10-6)
Strengths: The Eagles produced the second most yards on offense in the NFL last season and averaged nearly 27 points a game. It’s no question Philly relies on their offense to win games. They had the No. 1 rushing attack in the league averaging nearly 16 yards a game on the ground more than any NFL team. They don’t just rely on McCoy on the ground, Foles helped put up a Top 10 passing offense (yards) in Philadelphia. On defense, Philly does know how to stop the run, finishing in the Top 10 in rushing yards allowed last season. Chip Kelly and the Eagles were looking to repeat the type of draft they had last year. They turned multiple draft picks into key role players they needed for 2013. Many NFL teams go the popular route and get the best player on the board. That is not Chip Kelly. Kelly loves to draft players from the Pac-10 and his old school. But I think his best picks in this draft were players who didn’t play in the Pac-12. I don’t know if it was the level of competition he faced, but when I saw Jordan Matthews play this season, he was awesome to watch. He is right behind Mike Evans as one of my top WR’s in this draft class. He’s a big physical WR who can get open in the red zone for Nick Foles. Something the smaller and shorter Desean Jackson wasn’t able to do. I have a feeling Philly fans won’t miss Desean like they first initially thought. I think the locker room and team get better after cuttie ties with both Jackson and Vick this offseason.
Weaknesses: The Eagles gave up more passing yards than any team in the NFL last season. And the Cowboys are in the NFL so that’s saying a lot. Philadelphia was ranked at the bottom 5 in the NFC in forced fumbles, interceptions and pass delflections. They needed to address getting help in the secondary and pash rushing department this offseason. Philly did that by drafting 3 defensive lineman. Many Eagles fans thought Marcus Smith was a reach at No. 26 overall. Known to be a 2nd round talent, Smith would have been taken by Seattle with the last pick in the 1st round IMO. The Eagles needed a cornerback very badly and spent the 101st overall pick on Jaylen Watkins, a cornerback out of Florida. Watkins is extremely athletic/fast and will be expected to start this season. They also added safety Malcom Jenkins from the Saints, and drafted safety Ed Reynolds out of Stanford to add depth to a secondary in bad need of it. Two more free-agent signings for the secondary are safety Chris Maragos from Seattle, and cornerback Nolan Carroll from the Dolphins.
9. Carolina Panthers
2013 Record: (12-4)
Strengths: Carolina was easily the most improved team in the NFC last season. Much of their success depended on the defensive side of the ball. They had the second best defense in the NFL (yards allowed), and gave up the second fewest amount of points in the league. The Panthers were also Top 5 in the league in interceptions (20). They acquired Jericho Cotchery, Jason Avant and Tiquan Underwood via free-agency. The basically patched together nothing but mediocre crap for Newton to throw at. They also added tight end Ed Dickson from the Ravens. The only pick in the draft I liked by them was their second round pick. Defensive End Kony Ealy out of Missouri. Many scouts and fans could have seen him being drafted as high as mid first round. And I can’t be mad with the Tyler Gaffney pick in the 6th round. They don’t have an overpowering backfield and somebody will need to step up and help spread the field for Newton and the passing game. This team will go as far as Newton and the front 7 can take them. I don’t see them winning 12 games again this season but they will come close.
Weaknesses: I just didn’t think the Panthers had a strong draft. If they didn’t have such a strong season last year they probably wouldn’t be in my top 10. I think it’s fair to say they did nothing to improve their team this offseason. They lost Steve Smith to the Ravens, Ted Ginn Jr. to the Cardinals and Brandon LaFell to the Patriots. I didn’t like their first round pick of Kelvin Benjamin WR out of Florida State. They needed an offensive tackle pretty badly and I can think of at least 5 other WR’s I would have drafted instead of Benjamin. Like Jordan Matthews, Marqise Lee, Davante Adams, Paul Richardson and Allen Robinson. He’s not very fast, poor route runner and struggles at times to seperate himself from the secondary. Speaking of secondary, hey paid a lot of attention to it during the draft and free-agency. Carolina drafted safety Tre Boston out of North Carolina and cornerback Bene Benwikere from San Jose State. They signed a couple of veteran safeties in Roman Harper from the Saints and Thomas DeCoud from the Falcons. They had some key players from the secondary leave in order to make more cash. Safety Mike Mitchell signed a 5yr/$25million contract with the Steelers. The Steelers know Polamalu’s career is all but finished. Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn signed a 3-year/$11.25million contract with the Vikings. I think the offensive line will struggle this season and they will have more holes in the secondary in 2014.
10. Arizona Cardinals
2013 Record: (10-6)
Strengths: The Cardinals are starting to look like a competitive playoff team again and they can’t even get near 2nd place in the division. That’s how insanely competitive the NFC West is. Arizona finished with the 6th best defense in the league (yards allowed), which includes allowing the fewest rushing yads in the NFL. The Cardinals were also tied for 5th in the NFL in interceptions, tied for 2nd in the NFC in forced fumbles (18) and were ranked 5th in the NFC in pass deflections (86). They added a couple people on both sides of the football so far this offseason that could help the team. Arizona inked cornerback Antonio Cromartie to a 1-year deal worth $3.5million. He will need to play better than he did last season if he wants to make a big impact. They also signed offensive tackle Jared Veldheer from the Raiders to a 5-year/$35million deal. They took a chance with Logan Thomas, drafting him in the 4th round. Some fans thought Logan Thomas should have been picked as low as the first round but I don’t agree.
Weaknesses: Some say Deone Bucannon was the worst pick in the first round. That surely can’t sit well with Cadinals fans. They saw their team gain a lot of momentum as the season went on and really wanted to have a solid draft. The Cardinals needed a safety so bad that Bucannon will at least fill a hole. Many scouts had him going mid 2nd round to 3rd round. It was a bit of a reach but only time will tell. Arizona drafted wideout John Brown out of Pitt State about 3 rounds to early. Bruce Ellington was just sitting there and they passed on him, confusing to say the least. They also needed to fill a hole at linebacker that was somehow not addressed. The Cardinals lost WR Andre Roberts to the Redskins who signed for 4-years/$16million. They also lost Karlos Dansby to the Browns, Antoine Cason to the Panthers and Javier Arenas to the Falcons. I see the biggest holes on the Cardinals to be the depth at secondary and linebacker, and WR depth. If they can have someone step up or sign someone through free agency I think the Cardinals should be a competitive team this season.