Undrafted – The Network

Power Rankings 1.0 – Part 2

Following on from Part 1 which you can find here we look at the second 16 teams and where they land on our far to early power rankings.

As always, I expect everyone out there will have an opinion and want to tell me how wrong I am, let’s have a discussion. let me know what you agree with and what you don’t

Swiftly onwards…

17. New England Patriots

So yes, the elephant in the room is the QB situation. I am fairly outspoken in my belief that Cam is done. Like, properly done. He was awful last year and you won’t convince me it’ll be any different this year. The more I watch and listen to, the more I think that Mac Jones actually has a shot at success here. He has what no other successor to Brady had, Draft Capital. He won’t be hidden away on Practice Squads for years, he will be thrown into the fire at some point soon.

QB aside the Patriots are not nearly the ‘mess’ that they were last year. They have returning players, front and centre being Dont’a Hightower who sat out last year due to Covid and Kyle Van Nooy, back from the Dolphins. They also went crazy in Free Agency. Players such as Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith and Matt Judon will be immediate starters who should raise the level of the Patriots game. Wide Receiver is still an uninspiring group, even after the signings of Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne.

The real proof will be how the team gels. As a team who has often been greater than the sum of it’s parts (not counting Tom Brady) it is squarely on Belichick to improve on last year’s losing season. Will they finish higher than 3rd in their division? No. That said they will be a stronger team this year.

18. Washington Football Team

The Redskins are another team who I feel are a QB away from taking that next big step forwards. Ron Rivera lead them to the playoffs last year, albeit with a losing record, and they should make it again this year. The NFC East is still a weak division and the WFT have a lot of good young players primed to take advantage of this.

Antonio Gibson, Terry McLaurin and newly signed Curtis Samuel are a solid skill core. They have lucked into a good starting TE in Logan Thomas and this is a team that will score points. Fitzpatrick is limited as a QB but has enough left to play well enough. The Defence has the fantastic front four all back form last year and a young secondary which pflew under the radar last year. This year players such as Kamren Curl and Jeremy Reaves will become more well known names.

Jamin Davis, their first round draftee was someone I thought would go in the second but lets see if Washington saw something in him that I didn’t which warranted such a high selection. William Jackson III is a good pick up in Free Agency and solidifies the corner spot opposite Kendall Fuller.

19. New York Giants

The team who will push Washington the furthest is the blue half of New York. Saquon Barkley returning is a huge boost for them as he brings an x-factor now many do. The addition of Kenny Golladay adds another level to their passing game and now it really is on Daniel Jones to show exactly what he is made of. On a personal level I am also super excited to see what Kadarius Toney brings to this team. If they use him in the same vein as Deebo Samuel I think he could be special.

On Defence snagging Azeez Ojulari in the second round due to a health scare (which turned out to be nothing) was another great piece of drafting. The Giants need to find a way to get sacks from all over the field. Last year they relied too much on Leonard Williams. If everything comes together there is no reason that they cannot win the division but I think player for player the WFT just have the edge.

The Defence improved greatly last year and there is no reason this cannot continue this year. If everything goes as hoped for Big Blue then a playoff position is not out of reach.

20. New Orleans Saints

What an uninspiring Draft that was for the Saints! They drafted Payton Turner about 2 rounds too early and made no other selection that really registered any impact with me. Of course players will emerge and I’ll eat these words in the future, for now though…meh.

Couple that with the loss of Drew Brees and it will be a different kind of season for the Saints. I think we see Jameis Winston start for them Week 1. Taysom Hill will get game time for sure but from a skill level, Winston has the edge there. If either of them can perform above average then with the toys around them, this team will win games. Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas can make anybody look better.

A player I am excited about this year is Adam Trautman. He comes from a small school but last year showed elite blocking skills and now has a clear path to TE1 due to the release of both Jarred Cook and Josh Hill. If you want a late round fantasy sleeper, you’re welcome.

The playoffs this year should be achievable but give it a year of two and they will be looking over their shoulders at the Panthers and Falcons coming up behind them.

21. Denver Broncos

This all changes if Aaron Rodgers or Deshaun Watson signs (and can play). There is no other team in existence that needs a QB improvement more than Denver. The offensive weapons deserve to be in the playoffs. Jeudy and Sutton make a fantastic outside 1, 2 punch and Javonte Williams is going to be a beast in the league for a few years at least. Noah Fant at TE is also under appreciated but a far above average player at his position.

On Defence, the secondary is to die for. Retaining Justin Simmons was huge, so was bringing in Kyle Fuller…and drafting Patrick Surtain II. Kareem Jackson and Ronald Derby round out a stacked back end. Up front Chubb and Miller will keep doing their thing and I really like the drafting of Baron Browning, LB out of Ohio State.

In a division where you have to try to beat Mahomes on the reg a fair aim is second place. If the Broncos had a top tier QB I honestly think they would be able to run the Chiefs close, not to mention the Chargers. As it is, Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater will take them to a third place finish and will miss the playoffs. It’s such a shame!

22. Carolina Panthers

From a team stuck to a team on the up. I really like the signing of Darnold. When he came out of college he looked great. He was then put into an awful position with a HC who seemed determined not to do anything to help him. The Jets loss is the Panthers game. Darnold walks into a team with skill position players aplenty. They have arguably the best Running Back in the league in Christian McCaffrey and their top 3 receivers are great.

DJ Moore is coming into his own more and more and I have high hopes for Terrace Marshall Jr. Robbie Anderson has come out off his shell since his Jets days and the pre-existing relationship with Darnold will only help the new QB hit the ground running.

The Defence is a young one but last year it showed real signs of promise. Jeremy Chinn was more than anyone expected him to be in his rookie season, ending up 2nd in the DROTY Rankings. Adding Jaycee Horn as an immediate starter will only further solidify that secondary. I also don’t hate the addition of AJ Bouye for some veteran depth.

This year may be a year too soon for the Panthers to step into the playoff picture but the future is bright. Even more so when you consider how the rest of their division looks. The Saints are going to regress, the Falcons are having their own difficulties and Brady won’t last forever. A good long term plan could see the Panthers own this division in 3-4 years time. I would be very surprised if the Panthers don’t finish the season much higher than 22.

23. Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys showed last year exactly why they ended up investing so much in Dak. With him to start the season they looked great offensively. Without him? Well, turgid is probably being nice. Players like Zeke rely heavily on the threat Dak poses through the air to open up space to run. This season I am expecting a healthy motivated Dak to return and to have a damn good go at claiming the division title after last years shambles.

The biggest problem the Cowboys have is their Defence. If I am being honest I still think the secondary is a huge weakness here. It is for this reason that I have the Cowboys 3rd in their division. There have been improvements made in the drafting of Micah Parsons, who may well be an All-Pro calibre LB. Alone though he won’t be able to do it all. Trevon Diggs came on last year and I think if he can keep that up then there is light at the end of the secondary tunnel. Still though Cowboys fans, cross those fingers hard!

The Cowboys have an A+ Offense but a D- Defence and for this reason they’re going to struggle to get past 8 or 9 wins at most this year. The playoffs are probably a step too far this year although with some upgrades to the Defence it could happen. That said be positive Cowboys fans, a couple of players will make all the difference and who knows what 2022 will bring.

24. Cincinnati Bengals

I am going to try not to start every one of the team reviews by saying it all relies on the QB. But, it does all rely on the QB here. The Bengals have quietly constructed a rather good offense and the addition of Ja’Marr Chase only furthers that. Joe Mixon is primed to explode this year and I expect him to have an enormous workload. The big question here, aside from Burrow’s recovery, is the O line.

If you listen to half of the Bengals fans Chase was the dream selection, the other half say passing up on Penei Sewell was a decision that could haunt this team for years to come. Personally I thought they could get away with it as they were picking so early in the second round. When they decided to trade back in the 2nd I groaned. In the 9 spots that they dropped the top 3 remaining Tackles went, you cant convince me that Jackson Carmen had the same grade as the others. Ah well…

The new faces on Defence on paper could help improve it however players like Awuzie were not retained by their previous teams for a reason. Trey Hendrickson could easily be a very expensive flash in the pan. Von Bell and Jesse Bates present a good spine but in the AFC North you need to stop the run to have any hope (unless its the Steelers) and I am not sure that the Bengals will be able to. I could be wrong, Ogunjobi and Reader may well do just that but I don’t see much contain on the edges if I am honest.

Oh, and Joe Burrow needs to be 100% for this team to have any chance. But that’s obvious.

25. Chicago Bears

This team was beige paint for me. That was until they Drafted Justin Fields. What may be the best Draft move made by the Bears in years may well be enough to save Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy’s jobs. I loved the Draft for this team. Teven Jenkins is a beast and will grow alongside Fields for years to come. Bears fans will have to put up with Dalton for a few games but come Week 5 Fields will ascend to his throne. I’m super high on him…..can you tell?

The Defence in Chicago is great. Although it is starting to age there is nothing to say there will be any drop off this year. It is a shame to see players such as Khalil Mack wasted on an average team but his side do their job very well. Roquan Smith is an absolute beast at LB and Akiem Hicks still does his job in the trenches better than 90% of the league.

The issue is that Allen Robinson aside, there is nothing much to get legitimately excited by on the Offence. Darnell Mooney looks like he could be something, this year will tell. It remains to be seen whether David Montgomery can carry over his end of season form to the next. It should be noted he had a super easy run in against teams with poor run defences last year. The team we saw get taken apart by the Saints in the playoffs is what I expect we see again this year. Although if Fields is all I think he can be then who knows..

26. Jacksonville Jaguars

So, Jacksonville has a new saviour and if you listen to the fans, it’s a new era. It may be, there are so many young and new faces on this squad that they are stocked with potential. At this stage however, that is all it is. What this team could be is exciting. Adding Etienne and Lawrence to players such as Shenault and Chark makes for a potentially explosive offence. I have a feeling Lawrence will live up to his billing, he has been too good throughout his life to date not to.

On Defence there are a few questions. Myles Jack and Josh Allen are legitimate blue chip players and Joe Schobert is a tackling machine. They Jags will need them all to play to potential to give the Jags a chance of staying in games. Draftees Tyson Campbell and Andre Cisco could develop into above average layers and the Jags secondary would thank them for doing so.

The Jags will take a year or two to really show what this team can be and with the Colts and Titans in division, top two will be difficult to achieve immediately. If Urban Meyer and co can grow this team properly however they have all the potential to be one of the top 10-15 teams in the next couple of years. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Jags end the season higher than their current ranking.

27. Las Vegas Raiders

Never has an average team been easier to spot. As Alex alluded to on last night’s Podcast, this team reeks of .500 at best. The major issue is drafting. Mike Mayock must like to think he is cleverer than anyone else in the room and that he has to constantly prove it. The Raiders problem is that he isn’t and he hasn’t. Taking Alex Leatherwood in the first round this year is another example of dramatically over-drafting a player. There was a little redemption in the form of Moehrig in the second but that was luck more than judgement.

The offence, lead by Derek Carr, has the potential to score points. Josh Jacobs is a good RB but they really need Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards to develop into the players they hoped that they would. Hunter Renfrow is a good slot guy but that alone won’t make an offence. God only knows what the Raiders were doing allowing Rodney Hudson to leave, immediately weakening the O Line. Jacobs is going to have to work much harder now.

Defence is ugly to look at. Highlights (or lowlights you could say) are easy to find, lead by the struggling Damon Arnette and Clelin Ferrell. Jonathan Abraham has potential but he struggled a lot last year. If he can stay fit and get a run of games then I think there’s player in there. We haven’t seen him yet though. In a division where they have to face Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert as well as a resurgent Denver Broncos (albeit minus a good QB) the Raiders are in a fight not to finish last. Look forward to your 8-9 season Raiders fans, at absolute best.

28. Atlanta Falcons

Another example of a team with an Offence that greatly outweighs their Defence. Matt Ryan and Calvin Ridley, along with Kyle Pitts deserve better than this. I am a huge Ridley fan and with the trade of Julio Jones the young receiver has the chance to show just how good he can be. If he doesn’t finish the season in the top 5 WRs I will be shocked. When the Falcons drafted Pitts I was a little sceptical a I think Fields could have been great for them long term. Now that Julio is out of the building I feel much better about it.

Kyle Pitts could well be the next coming of Calvin Johnson. His size and speed is unheard of at the position and this is a TE we will see like up as a receiver for the majority of his snaps. With Hayden Hurst able to step in as well I expect a large amount of 12 personnel formations this year from what will be a high scoring team.

The reason they will be high scoring is that their defence will be as effective as a wet paper sheet. Not a good ‘Plenty’ sheet, but one of those shit supermarket own brand ones. The Falcons Defence will be worse than one of them. Grady Jarrett and Deion Jones aside it is a mess back there. AJ Terrell was another high draft pick last year who has failed to live up to his billing spectacularly. Richie Grant has potential to come in and earn a lot of playing time early. He was great at UCF and the Falcons hope this form comes with him and transfers quickly.

If the Defence can tighten up then who knows but at this point it is a season mopping up the bottom of the NFC South for the Falcons. Not even the good signing of Arthur Smith as HC will save them from that.

29. New York Jets

There is a feeling of optimism around Gang Green and for good reason. They have a great young HC and a new Franchise QB to get behind. Zach Wilson at his pro day showed the world what he can do, now to see if he can transfer this to the NFL in live game scenarios. If the Jets have done what some feel and drafted the new Mahomes then this could be the start of a lot of excitement for the green half of New York.

The next sensible thing that they did was to trade up for Alijah Vera-Tucker, easily the best guard in the draft. Alongside Mekhi Becton they should have Wilson’s blindside covered for years. Elijah Moore in the second round was another seemingly great pick, rumour has it he is absolutely tearing it up at OTAs and mini camp.

Defence may be a step behind but with Robert Salah I would imagine we see quick improvements. CJ Moseley is back this year and the Jets will finally be hoping to get something out of the near $20m a year man after 2 years of precisely nothing. Marcus Maye will try his best to hold the rest of the young secondary together alongside him but this is a year to make progress rather than count how many games are won. Work on the Defence over the next year and this team will improve quickly.

30. Philadelphia Eagles

When Carson Wentz was traded everyone said he had the worse end of the situation. I know where I would rather be playing and it isn’t Philadelphia. Last year the Eagles had no weapons as everyone decided the injury table was preferable to the field. DeVonta Smith walks into the WR1 position and will be relied heavily on to perform right away. Dallas Goedert will finally displace a failing Zach Ertz this year and if they can sort out the line, Miles Sanders is a good RB.

The drafting of Landon Dickerson is a good succession plan for the interior of the O line and the fact he won’t have to play immediately allows his knee to fully recover from his ACL tear late last year. Jalen Hurts is an enigma that I have no faith in. I think he is average at best with his arm and whilst he has some legs, they are not the elite level needed to compensate for his poor air game. The Eagles have backed him but I think they will live to regret that decision.

The Eagles Defence is another dumpster fire of a situation that will take a while to remedy. Darius Slay and Anthony Harris offer some experience at the back but will be tasked with holding that secondary together. LB is a real weakness and upfront Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham aren’t getting any younger. In a division where the other 3 teams have made improvements the Eagles are going to lose some ground this year. There is work to do and it starts now.

31. Detroit Lions

Putting aside the fact that the Lions are from Detroit I actually don’t hate their offseason. The Lions are aware they aren’t winning many games this year and so the focus on linemen who will likely last longer than skill position guys bodes well for the future. Getting Sewell was a fluke that they will take all day long. They could have had DeVonta Smith but why waste him on a team where they will never see the best of him. Giving Jared Goff a chance at staying upright makes more sense.

TJ Hockenson is going to have a huge year as Goff’s number 1 target and I think that the rookies Amon-Ra St Brown and Sage Surratt will have big parts to play. DeAndre Swift is a great RB but the Lions will not be able to commit to the run often as they will be chasing pretty much every game.

Defence is not a pretty sight. Michael Brockers is an upgrade on the interior line but the bar was so low it wasn’t hard to do. Missing Aaron Donald alongside him may hinder him slightly as well. Jeff Okudah is legitimately the only starter they have who would probably start on another NFL team as things stand. What this means is a lot of losses but Lions fans remember, this is a big rebuild. Rome wasn’t built in a day. They have made solid first steps.

32. Houston Texans

This was the easiest of teams to place. They have had a torrid last few years watching talent bleed away from the team with nothing much in return. The DeShaun Watson saga roles on and until that is sorted who knows…

What can be assumed fairly safely is that Watson won’t play here again. At least not in Texan blue. This means the Texans march on with Tyrod Taylor or Davis Mills. The problem for Houston fans is that it isn’t just a QB that will hold this team back. I cannot remember seeing such a poor team with so little future Draft stock. There is going to be no easy fix here. The uninspiring hire of David Cully as head coach is an indication that other prospective HC candidates feel the same.

They have some good players, not many but some. Brandin Cooks and Laremy Tunsil must be sat wondering what they did to deserve being stuck on this abomination of a team. Even their signings have been dull. They have signed about 1000 RBs, none of whom would start on any other team. Marcus Cannon may open some holes to run through but the Texans will be so far behind they won’t be running for long.

Things I like about this team…. Justin Reid and Zach Cunningham….and they’re not Detroit.

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