Now that the 2017 NFL Draft is in the rear view window we can look towards the next season and how each team projects. This is the perfect time for the latest installment of our Reverse Power Rankings. Unlike most Power Rankings we do it with an NFL Draft twist. Listed below is an early projection at the 2018 NFL Draft Order projecting how each team will fare based off of free agency and the draft.
1. New York Jets
While the Jets have made some moves to their secondary which should help the defense improve, the offense is still a mess. Where it was the offensive line that was ignored or the fact that Josh McNown has never repeated his Chicago magic, the Jets could be in for a free fall this upcoming season.
2. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have really upgraded their talent at several positions, but with such a depleted roster they have so much more room to go. The team will be better but it will not show on the field. Expect growing pains in Kyle Shanahan’s first season as a coach.
3. Cleveland Browns
With arguably the best draft class out of the entire NFL along with some good free agent signings along the offensive line the Browns should be an improved team. However most of their talent is young and the quarterback position is still a work in progress. This team is trending up, but it’s baby steps for now.
4. Los Angeles Rams
Combine a questions about Jared Goff, a young first year head coach and some offensive line issues and the Rams could be in for another long season. If the defense can make a quick transition to the 3-4 and Todd Gurley returns to form they have a chance.
5. Chicago Bears
With a draft that was for the future the Bears are hoping they can stay healthy and that Mike Glennon can give them more stability than Jay Cutler had provided. But by spending the second overall pick on Trubisky it’s only a matter of time before he plays and that likely means struggles.
6. Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati played poorly last year and that was before they had a mass exodus of their offensive line. Their draft was spent adding weapons to help out Andy Dalton, but if they can’t protect him then it won’t matter.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
We have been here before with the Jaguars after they had a good draft and free agency haul. The defense will be legit, but the real question will be whether the additions of Leonard Fournette and Cam Robinson are enough to spark a run game and take pressure off of Blake Bortels.
8. Minnesota Vikings
It was as stunning fall after last year’s hot start but the Vikings need to find their mojo again. The Vikings added some weapons on offense and were aggressive fixing the offensive line but did they do enough to prevent a top 10 finish?
9. Los Angeles Chargers
Talent has not always been the problem for the Chargers as injuries have derailed their season far too often. While they focused on improving the offensive line and giving Phillip Rivers another weapon, at what point can we trust them?
10. Washington Redskins
Former General Manager Scott McCloughn built the Redskins into a playoff contender immediately but with his ouster and uncertainty about Kirk Cousins this team may be full of drama. With a good division and big questions, it could lead the Redskins to not meet their previous expectations.
11. Buffalo Bills
The Bills won’t be bad in Sean McDermott’s first year but expect some growing pains. The defense is going away from the blitz happy Rex Ryan unit to McDermott’s athletic zone based scheme.
12. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens bounced back last season and almost made it back to the playoffs. However, they greatly benefitted from beating up on weak teams and only beat two teams with a winning record. Baltimore had another strong draft, but questions still remain along the offensive line as they lost two starters and at receiver where they stood pat. The defense will be better, but the offense could take a step back.
13. Philadelphia Eagles
I’m a big fan of what the Eagles have done building around Carson Wentz, but the team just feels like they’re behind the Giants and Cowboys and playing in a tough division along with growing pains of a young team could cause them to sit right in the middle of the NFL standings.
14. Carolina Panthers
On paper the Panthers look like they should rebound and get back into playoff contention. But that all depends on the offensive line producing and the young corners taking the next step. They should be better, but not quite where they were two years ago.
15. New York Giants
Prior to last year’s eleven-win season the Giants have been toiling around in mediocrity. Was last year’s success a product of a new coaching staff or just everything coming together? The bulk of the team returns but the biggest question was their offensive line and only Chargers cast off DJ Fluker was added. Could that come back to haunt them?
16. New Orleans Saints
The 2017 season will be no different than the past couple as the Saints defense will dictate whether they are a playoff team or just a tough out. The secondary should be improved with the additions of Marshon Lattimore and Marcus Williams but the pass rush wasn’t addressed till the middle rounds. New Orleans is counting on FAU’s Trey Hendrickson and Al-Quadin Muhammad to be instant impact players. That’s a lot for a prospect stepping up in competition and another who didn’t’ play in 2016.
17. Indianapolis Colts
What Chris Ballard has done in his short time with the Colts has been clear in getting the defense to get bigger and more physical. They could make another run at the AFC South, but the defense may be another year and another blue chipper away from taking that next step.
18. Denver Broncos
Improving the offensive line was a crucial move for the Broncos as the offense fell apart last year when Trevor Siemian was forced to throw the ball more than wanted to. That being said the Broncos will need either Siemian or Paxton Lynch to take the next step because the defense will only take them so far.
19. Detroit Lions
The Lions were cruising last year heading into the playoffs but a finger injury to Matthew Stafford really derailed the offense and made for a quick exit from the playoffs. Detroit has continued to invest in their offensive line but outside of a few signings there it’s hard to think this team got better. Expect the Lions to be good, but they could be on the outside looking into the playoffs.
20. Houston Texans
After two straight division championships the Texans will have to earn their third as the Titans and Colts are right on their heels. No longer will the Texans be able to win on defense alone and that could change if Deshaun Watson can cash in on the potential that had the Texans trade up to 12 to get him. Could Watson be this year’s Dak Prescott and be a rookie jump start to help a team make a playoff run?
21. Miami Dolphins
Last year the Dolphins made the playoffs behind a strong running game. Overall the team got better on both sides of the ball and if Ryan Tannehill can stay healthy they should be even better. It also helps the Dolphins that besides the Patriots should be weak again.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay was a team on the rise last year and every move this year makes them even better. Whether it was Desean Jackson, OJ Howard or Chris Baker this team continue to get better and should be force in the NFC South for years to come.
23. Arizona Cardinals
After a disastrous 2016 the Cardinals went all in this past offseason to make another playoff run. The defense should be loaded again and if Carson Palmer can get back to form there is no reason they won’t be back into the playoffs. It also doesn’t hurt playing the Rams and 49ers twice each.
24. Tennessee Titans
Behind a strong defense and a good running game the Titans were on the fringe of making the playoffs last year. Tennessee spent the draft adding weapons on the outside along with reinforcing the defense. Houston’s reign on the AFC South could be coming to an end in 2017.
25. Green Bay Packers
Nothing changes with the Packers as they have an incredible strong team with one of the elite quarterbacks in the league. While the depth along their offensive line took a hit they addressed their two biggest weaknesses at running back and cornerback. Green Bay should be one of the Super Bowl contenders.
26. Pittsburgh Steelers
The biggest thing for the Steelers is they really didn’t lose anybody from a team that won their division and made it a game away from the Super Bowl. They continued to add pieces to the defense while getting back Martavious Bryant would be a cherry on top.
27. Dallas Cowboys
Dallas made a huge jump last year behind the play of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. However, their inexperience and issues on defense caught up on the Cowboys as they made an early exit from the playoffs. Another year of seasoning should help Dak, but it’s their pass defense that will decide if they improve on last year’s success.
28. Kansas City Chiefs
With a loaded roster the Chiefs decided to go potential in the 2017 NFL Draft rather than finding a few missing pieces to help them take that next step. You can do that with their roster, but come January it will be interesting to see fi they could have used another interior defensive lineman or cornerback.
29. Seattle Seahawks
It was a relatively quiet offseason for the Seahawks who added a few role players and continued to draft upside players who fit their culture. Seattle well be a Super Bowl once again but they need their patch work offensive line to continue to develop if they want to make it back to the big game.
30. Oakland Raiders
What could have been if Derek Carr had not broken his hand and the Raiders had to trot out rookie Connor Cook in the playoffs. With the offense in tact the Raiders continued to build up their defense in hopes of making a run at their first Super Bowl since 2002.
31. Atlanta Falcons
it’s not hard to believe the Falcons will be right back into the Super Bowl. They retain their entire offense while adding more speed and weapons to their defense. The real key will be how new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian can keep this offense performing at a high level.
32. New England Patriots
Nothing changes as the Patriots always enter the year as one of the true Super Bowl contenders. Not to mention they were active this offseason upgrading their edge pass rush and adding another tight end. Even with just four draft picks the Patriots knocked each of them out of the park. It’s scary that the Patriots got even better after winning a Super Bowl.