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2021 NFL Power Rankings: The Dead Zone (Part One)

Teams 32-17 as we wait until the waves break into training camp.

Houston Texans v Tennessee Titans Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Traditional power rankings overreact to one HUGE WIN and one sad (!) loss. Rarely do they take in account the entire season. To give a more accurate representation of what’s going on, and where these teams currently stand, I will not equivocate or give into the yank of heartstrings the NFL season brings week to week.

Instead of living with such a short memory and being so myopic, here’s where the NFL stands entering training camps, as we all float along the section of the ocean where the algae is so thick that nothing can grow at all. This list also includes each team’s free agent additions, player departures, and 2021 NFL Draft classes. We will see you again week one.

THE WORST

32. Houston Texans—Record: 4-12. Point Differential: -80 (26). DVOA: -12.5% (24). Cap Space $10,048,679. Previously 32nd.

Additions: Tae Davis (LB), Ryan Izzo (TE), Desmond King (CB), Cole Toner (OL), Cameron Johnston (P), Ryan Finley (QB), Donte Moncreif (WR), Justin McCray (OL), Joe Thomas (LB), Andre Roberts (WR), Terrance Brooks (S), Chris Moore (WR), Alex Erickson (WR), Kamu Grugier-Hill (LB), Kevin Pierre-Louis (LB), Terrance Mitchell (CB), Mark Ingram (RB), Maliek Collins (DL), Marcus Cannon (OL), Shaq Lawson (EDGE), Phillip Lindsay (RB), Tyrod Taylor (QB), Derek Rivers (DE), Christian Kirksey (LB), Hardy Nickerson Jr. (LB), Tremon Smith (CB), Justin Britt (C), Tavierre Thomas (CB), Jordan Steckler (OL), Paul Quessenberry (TE), Vincent Taylor (DT), Jordan Jenkins (OLB), Chris Conley (WR), Jaleel Johnson (DT), Lane Taylor (OL), Demarcus Walker (DE), Neville Hewitt (LB), Jeff Driskel (QB), Taywan Taylor (WR).

Departures: J.J. Watt (DE), Carlos Watkins (DL), Will Fuller (WR), Benardrick McKinney (LB), Brennan Scarlett (EDGE), Cullen Gillaspia (FB), Darren Fells (TE), Zach Fulton (OL), Jon Weeks (LS), Brian Anger (P), chad Hansen (WR), P.J. Hall (DT).

Draft Picks: Round 3: No. 67 Davis Mills, QB (Stanford) Round 3: No. 89 (from Browns via Panthers) Nico Collins, WR (Michigan) Round 5: No. 147 Brevin Jordan, TE (Miami) Round 5: No. 170 Garret Wallow, LB (TCU) Round 6: No. 195 (from Cowboys through Patriots) Roy Lopez, DT (Arizona).

To summarize, the Texans fired Bill O’Brien after an 0-4 start, finished 4-12 despite Deshaun Watson playing at a top five level, told Watson they’d work with him to hire a head coach and general manager, disengaged from this promise to hire New England sycophant and Jack Easterby prayer buddy Nick Caserio )daddy loves you lots), said star quarterback requested a trade, they failed to hire one of the top coaching candidates in favor of signing David Culley (who was only interviewed by the Texans for a head coaching job and is here to keep spirits mirthful as the Texans drown the next two seasons), kept Tim Kelly (who thinks he needs to run the ball more), hire Lovie Smith to run his archaic defense, Watson was accused of sexual assault by 22 women, Caserio added three actual football players during free agency despite turning over the entire roster, they restructured multiple contracts to create more cap space to sign players like Rex Burkhead (which will limit their future cap space;) traded up in the 2021 NFL Draft multiple times even though they lacked draft capital, selected a possible backup quarterback with their first selection (thus turning Watson and DeAndre Hopkins into Davis Mills and Nico Collins), and are stuck carrying Watson on the roster until the end of the 2021 season so they can trade him ahead of the 2022 offseason.

Cool. Got it?

The Texans are going to be atrocious. Those excited for Caserio’s super exciting moves won’t be watching come Week Seven. They will return in March once we start talking about which quarterback the Texans should select. Save your one-possession record analysis. It was ignored last summer to fit the narrative you desire.

Being a fan is a brutal thing. If the Texans are a part of your personality, if you identify yourself as a Texans fan, if the way you feel is tied to the team’s performance, find some other avenue for this. Build a birdhouse. 3x5 your way to a 250 pound bench press. Stop being a Texan and start being a Jungian. It’s the only way you are going to get through the next two years.

31.) Detroit Lions—Record: 5-11. Point Differential: -142 (30). DVOA: -15.7% (27). Cap Space $22,229,715. Previously 31st.

Additions: Jared Goff (QB), Tyrell Williams (WR), Michael Brockers (DL), Breshad Perriman (WR), Josh Hill (TE), Charles Harris (EDGE), Randy Bullock (K), Jamaal Williams (RB), Shaun Dion-Hamilton (LB), Kalif Raymond (WR), Quinton Dunbar (CB), Corn Elder (CB), Tim Boyle (QB), Alex Anzalone (LB), Darren Fells (TE).

Departures: Desmond Trufant (CB), Everson Griffen (EDGE), Jesse James (TE), Chase Daniel (QB), Danny Shelton (DT), Matt Prater (K), Adrian Peterson (RB), Mohamed Sanu (WR), Oday Aboushi (OL), Justin Coleman (CB), Reggie Ragland (LB), Kenny Golladay (WR), Marvin Jones (WR), Jamal Agnew (CB), Jarrad Davis (LB), Matthew Stafford (QB), Duron Harmon (S), Darryl Roberts (CB), Kerryon Johnson (RB).

Draft Picks: Round 1: No. 7 Penei Sewell, OT (Oregon), Round 2: No. 41 Levi Onwuzurike, DT (Washington) Round 3: No. 72 Alim McNeill, DT (North Carolina State) Round 3: No. 101 (from Rams) Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB (Syracuse) Round 4: No. 112 Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR (USC) Round 4: No. 113 (from Panthers through Browns) Derrick Barnes, LB (Purdue) Round 7: No. 257 Jermar Jefferson, RB (Oregon State).

If David Culley loves nachos, than Dan Campbell loves scolding you in between bouts of gnashing teeth into your mother’s enchiladas while she keeps her goddamn mouth shut. Chiseled chin, beaver tail goattee, he’s the stepfather you never wished you had, and now he’s the Mike Vrabel leader of men prototype coach in Detroit.

Campbell is everything Matt Patricia wasn’t. He isn’t a rock scientist, he won’t belittle reporters, he takes care of himself, he actually played the game, and dammit, I’d bite my tongue off and feed it to my snapping turtle for him.

Even if the optics are rejuvinating in Detroit, the team itself is going to be bad. Just like Houston, they’re going to give up 31 points a game while trying to run the ball a lot. Their offensive line is the best part of the team, and it will be fun seeing Jared Goff not get to play in a Fisher-Price offense, while wondering how the hell he got where he is. Sorry Jared, there isn’t a Hollister at the malls in this city. At least the soured milk has finally been tossed out.

30.) Philadelphia Eagles—Record: 4-11-1. Point Differential: -84 (27). DVOA: -18.8% (28). Cap Space $4,828,123. Previously 29th.

Additions: Anthony Harris (S), Andrew Adams (S), Joe Flacco (QB), Eric Wilson (LB), Kerryon Johnson (RB), Jordan Howard (RB), Ryan Kerrigan (EDGE).

Departures: Jalen Mills (S), Duke Riley (LB), DeSean Jackson (WR), Jonathan Ford (S), Cameron Johnston (P), Malik Jackson (DL), Jason Peters (OL), Nickell Robey-Coleman (CB), Vinny Curry (DL), Nate Gerry (OLB), Carson Wentz (QB), Marquise Goodwin (WR).

Draft Picks: Round 1: No. 10 (from Cowboys) DeVonta Smith, WR (Alabama) Round 2: No. 37 Landon Dickerson, C (Alabama) Round 3: No. 73 Milton Williams, DT (Louisiana Tech) Round 4: No. 123 (from Dolphins) Zech McPhearson, CB (Texas Tech) Round 5: No. 150 Kenneth Gainwell, RB (Memphis) Round 6: No. 189 Marlon Tuipulotu, DT (USC) Round 6: No. 191 (from Broncos via Panthers) Tarron Jackson, DE (Coastal Carolina) Round 6: No. 224 JaCoby Stevens, S (LSU) Round 7: No. 234 Patrick Johnson, DE (Tulane).

This team was dragged down by Carson Wentz last season. He was the least valuable player in football, turning every sack into a fumble, and making a dozen dumbfounding decisions a game. He fueded with Doug Pederson, who, according to my sources, told him this isn’t your team, we don’t need you, we won one without you, leading to Wentz sitting out the rest of the season.

Although they had terrible injury luck last season—their backup offensive linemen were even hurt, turning third stringers into consistent starters—their defensive line is old, they’ll rely once again on their older and injured offensive line, the skill talent is weak, the secondary and linebacker groups are awful, and they have the newest cool and hot head coach to satiate their Frank Reich lust. As good as their fronts could be, these players don’t score points.

29.) New York Jets—Record: 2-14. Point Differential: -214 (32). DVOA: -30.5% (32). Cap Space $24,967,069. Previously 29th.

Additions: Carl Lawson (EDGE), Corey Davis (WR), Sheldon Rankins (DL), Justin Hardee (CB), Keelan Cole (WR), Jarrad Davis (LB), Dan Feeney (C), LaMarcus Joyner (S), Tyler Kroft (TE), Tevin Coleman (RB), Vinny Curry (EDGE), Morgan Moses (T).

Departures: Jordan Jenkins (OLB), Breshad Perriman (WR), Tarell Basham (OLB), Pat Elflein (OL), Brian Poole (CB), Neville Hewitt (LB), Patrick Onwuasor (LB), Joe Flacco (QB), Frank Gore (RB), Frankie Luvu (LB), Sam Darnold (QB), Tarell Basham (EDGE).

Draft Picks: Round 1: No. 2 Zach Wilson, QB (BYU) Round 1: No. 14 (from Vikings) Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL (USC) Round 2: No. 34 Elijah Moore, WR (Ole Miss) Round 4: No. 107 Michael Carter, RB (UNC) Round 5: No. 146 Jamien Sherwood, S (Auburn) Round 5: No. 154 (from Giants) Michael Carter II, S (Duke) Round 5: No. 175 (from Chiefs) Jason Pinnock, CB (Pittsburgh) Round 6: No. 186 Hamsah Nasirildeen, S (Florida State) Round 6: No. 200 (from Raiders) Brandin Echols, CB (Kentucky) Round 6: No. 207 (from Steelers via Dolphins via Chiefs) Jonathan Marshall, DT (Arkansas).

The Jets are trying to replicate what happened in San Fransisco. They hired Mike LaFleur to be the offensive coordinator to run a balanced, midzone, play action attack—if you ignore the right side of the offensive line you may feel good about this. Robert Saleh is bringing his cover three-cover four rarely blitz defense over, putting a lot of pressure on C.J. Mosely, who hasn’t played in two seasons, but he just might have the front four rush and safety play to pull it off.

Wilson is a bizarre fit for New York. It just feels off. The city, the offense, the team, all that racket. A lot of his throws, even though they were perfectly placed, were pretty open, and it will be interesting to see how quickly he adjusts from BYU to the AFC East. The best thing he has going for him in a structured offense is his play action ability and how well he plays in the pistol.

I just have a bad feeling about this.

28.) Atlanta Falcons—Record: 4-12. Point Differential: -18 (18). DVOA: -4.2% (17). Cap Space $929,851. Previously 21st.

Additions: Mike Davis (RB), Erik Harris (S), Barkevious Mingo (LB), Brandon Copeland (OLB), Cordarelle Patterson (WR), Duron Harmon (S), Josh Andrews (C), Fabian Moreau (CB).

Departures: Keanu Neal (S), Charles Harris (EDGE), Justin McCray (OL), Alex Mack (C), Ricardo Allen (S), Todd Gurley (RB), James Carpenter (G), Allen Bailey (DE), Brian Hill (RB), Darqueze Dennard (CB), Laquon Treadwell (WR), Domantae Kazee (S), Ito Smith (RB), Julio Jones (WR).

Draft Picks: Round 1: No. 4 Kyle Pitts, TE (Florida) Round 2: No. 40 (from Broncos) S Richie Grant (Central Florida) Round 3: No. 68 Jalen Mayfield, OT (Michigan) Round 4: No. 108: Darren Hall, CB (SDSU) Round 4: No. 114 (from Broncos) Drew Dalman, C (Stanford) Round 5: No. 148 Ta’Quon Graham, DT (Texas) Round 5: No. 182 Adetokunbo Ogundeji, DE (Notre Dame) Round 5: No. 183 Avery Williams, CB (Boise State) Round 6: No. 187 Frank Darby, WR (Arizona State).

In my past life, I was was cajoled by Arthur Smith’s first season in Atlanta. The midzone, the offensive line talent already in stow, how well Matt Ryan has played in a similar offense before, the wide receiver combination and tight end talent they had. Then he started texting me too early in the morning already, and was always trying to make weekend plans on a Tuesday, and I was just suffocated by all of it.

The Julio Jones trade was acquiensence, allowing their star player a chance to compete, signifying about where Atlanta thinks their team is. The defense is relatively the same, green and maladorous. Although I think this offense could be in the upper half this season, everything else is stale because of their current cap situation, which wasn’t made any better by the dumbfounding Matt Ryan restrucutre.

Although I’ve cooled off, I still can’t wait to see what Smith will do with this rushing attack, Ryan in a more play action heavy offense, how Mike Smith looks carrying an entire offense, and the hijinks Smith has in store for Kyle Pitts, who is my favorite offensive rookie for this season. If you thought Jonnu Smith toss plays were fun, you haven’t seen anything yet.

27.) Cincinnati Bengals—Record: 4-11-1. Point Differential: -113 (28). DVOA: -24.7% (30). Cap Space $23,470,950. Previously 26th.

Additions: Trey Hendrickson (EDGE), Mike Hilton (CB), Chidobe Awuzie (CB), Riley Reiff (OT), Larry Ogunjobi (DL), Eli Apple (CB), Ricardo Allen (S).

Departures: A.J. Green (WR), Randy Bullock (K), Cethan Carter (TE), John Ross (WR), Carl Lawson (EDGE), B.J. Finney (C), William Jackson (CB), Geno Atkins (DL), Bobby Hart (OT), Alex Erickson (WR), Josh Bynes (LB), Leshaun Sims (CB), Christian Covington (DL), Mike Daniels (DT), Giovani Bernard (RB), Mackensie Alexander (CB), Shawn Williams (S).

Draft Picks: Round 1: No. 5 Ja’Marr Chase, WR (LSU) Round 2: No. 46 (from Patriots) Jackson Carman, OT (Clemson) Round 3: No. 69 Joseph Ossai, DE (Texas) Round 4: No. 111 Cameron Sample, DE (Tulane) Round 4: No. 122 Tyler Shelvin, DT (LSU) Round 4: No. 139 D’ante Smith, OT (East Carolina) Round 5: No. 149 Evan McPherson, K (Florida) Round 6: No. 190 Trey Hill, C (Georgia) Round 7: No. 202 (from Dolphins through Texans) Chris Evans, RB (Michigan) Round 7: No. 235 (from Lions through Seahawks) Wyatt Hubert, DE (Kansas State).

The Bengals had a great offseason upgrading the defensive side of the ball. Hendrickson has never been seen in the same room as Sam Hubbard, who should have easy paths to the quarterback with D.J. Reader back, and the high dive cannon baller Larry Ogunjobi on the team. Mike Hilton is a NO FEAR shirt brought to life. Allen can play deep middle. And even though Eli Apple didn’t play last season, there’s an enormous difference between him and Leshaun Sims. Ignore the linebacker play. It’s going to be a disaster again.

Their biggest question lies in the passing game. Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd could be one of the ten best groups at the end of this season, but they need Jonah Williams to make the leap, the interior pass protection is funky, and Riley Reid is gray and has bounced around the league. Plus, no one wants to admit it, but Joe Burrow was pretty Alex Smithy last year. Coming off a late season ACL tear he has plenty to prove behind a wonky offensive line. Most importantly, no one knows if Zach Taylor is a good coach or not. I can’t point to anything that says he is, and his record to start his career is 6-25-1. At least he was able to last longer than a Zach Taylor presidency.

I want to love the Bengals more than I currently do.

26.) Carolina PanthersRecord: 5-11. Point Differential: -52 (23). DVOA: -6.7% (21). Cap Space $13,294,206. Previously 18th.

Additions: Pat Elflein (OG), Cameron Erving (OT), Morgan Fox (DT), Hasson Reddick (EDGE), Dan Arnold (TE), David Moore (WR), John Miller (OG), Rashaan Melvin (CB), Denzel Perryman (LB), Sam Darnold (QB), A.J. Bouye (CB), Zach Kerr (DT), Frankie Luvu (LB), Daquan Jones (DL).

Departures: Mike Davis (RB), Chris Manhertz (TE), Michael Palardy (P), Stephen Weatherly (DL), Alex Armah (FB), Zach Kerr (DE), Curtis Samuel (WR), Tyler Larsen (C), Kawaan Short (DL), Russell Okung (OT), Tre Boston (S), Tahir Whitehead (LB), Michael Schofield (OL), Pharoh Cooper (WR), Efe Odaba (DL), Corn Elder (CB), Chris Reed (OG), Teddy Bridgewater (QB).

Draft Picks: Round 1: No. 8 Jaycee Horn, CB (South Carolina) Round 2: No. 59 (from Browns) Terrace Marshall Jr., WR (LSU) Round 3: No. 70 (from Eagles) Brady Christensen, OT (BYU) Round 3: No. 83 (from Bears) Tommy Tremble, TE (Notre Dame) Round 4: No. 113 Chuba Hubbard, RB (Oklahoma State) Round 5: No. 158 Daviyon Nixon, DT (Iowa) Round 5: No. 166 (from Titans) Keith Taylor, CB (Washington) Round 6: No. 204 (from Bears) Shi Smith, WR (South Carolina) Round 6: No. 222 Thomas Fletcher, LS (Alabama), Round 7: No. 232 (from Titans) Phil Hoskins, DT (Kentucky).

Sam Darnold. 90% CRAP. 10% sublime. If Joe Brady can reverse this and get more consistent play from him, and the Panthers defensive potential bears fruit, Carolina can be a fringe playoff team. They were 3-8 in one score games a season ago. They didn’t have Christian McCaffrey for nearly an entire season. They knocked out their draft, and added needed veteran players like Denzel Perryman, Morgan Fox, Dan Arnold, who I always wanted to see play with Sam Darnold, and Hasson Reddick, clumps to cover up the gopher holes in the roster.

I just don’t buy the Darnold thing even with the Adam Gase stink baptized off him. Even in an offense that is well defined for him, I don’t see a dramatic leap in him. The offensive line is the same sort of mess he played in when he was in New York. Get ready for numerous screen passes on the long road to the 40 yard line.

If you care about the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes, Carolina giving up young defensive talent and picks is my best guess for how Watson’s time in Houston comes to an end.

25.) Pittsburgh Steelers—Record: 12-4. Point Differential: +104 (7). DVOA: 16.8% (8). Cap Space $10,391,586. Previously 23rd.

Additions: Joe Haeg (OT), Chris Wormley (DL), Miles Killebrew (S), Tyler Simmons (WR), B.J. Finney (C), Dwayne Haskins (QB), Rashaad Coward (OL), Kalen Ballage (RB), Jarvis Miller (LB), Trai Turner (G).

Departures: Mike Hilton (CB), Matt Feiler (OL), Bud Dupree (EDGE), Steven Nelson (CB), Avery Williamson (LB), Alejandro Villanueva (OT), Cassius Marsh (DL), Cameron Sutton (CB), James Conner (RB), David DeCastro (G).

Draft Picks: Round 1: No. 24 Najee Harris, RB (Alabama) Round 2: No. 55 Pat Freiermuth, TE (Penn State) (Round 3: No. 87 Kendrick Green, C (Illinois) Round 4: No. 128 Dan Moore Jr., OT (Texas A&M) Round 4: No. 140 Buddy Johnson, LB (Texas A&M) Round 5: No. 156 (from Cowboys through Eagles through Dolphins) Isaiahh Loudermilk, DT (Wisconsin) Round 6: No. 216 (from Buccaneers) Quincy Roche, LB (Miami) Round 7: No. 245 (from Dolphins) Tre Norwood, CB (Oklahoma) Round 7: No. 254 (from Ravens) Pressley Harvin III, P (Georgia Tech).

COWARDS.

Mike Tomlin’s 4th and 1 punt, down 12, with the ball at the 46 was the limpest decision of the 2020 NFL postseason. All of it for naught. The top ten defense. Ben Roethlisberger playing point guard and throwing the frisbee 55 times a game. After losing a bye week and stumbling down the stretch, this COWARD fourth down play call put an end to what may very well be the last good Ben Roethlisberger season—who is now eating high protien hot pockets instead of big and bold, watch out.

After losing their entire offensive line, key defensive starters, the only major acquisition the Steelers made was drafting a running back in the first round. The end is near.

THE MEDIOCRE

24.) Las Vegas Raiders—Record: 8-8. Point Differential: -44 (21). DVOA: -6.3% (19). Cap Space $5,246,805. Previously 17th.

Additions: Yannick Ngakoue (DE), Kenyan Drake (RB), Solomon Thomas (EDGE), John Brown (WR), Quinton Jefferson (DT), Matt Dickerson (DE), Nick Martin (C), Karl Joseph (S), Rasul Douglas (DB), Willie Snead (WR), Casey Hayward Jr. (CB).

Departures: Erik Harris (S), Takkarist McKinley (EDGE), Tyrell Williams (WR), Nelson Agholor (WR), Raekwon McMillan (LB), Devontae Booker (RB), Nicholas Morrow (LB), Vic Beasley (EDGE), Sam Young (OT), Gabe Jackson (OG), Rodney Hudson (C), Arden Key (DE), Maurice Hurst (DT), Trent Brown (OT), Jeff Heath (S).

Draft Picks: Round 1: No. 17 Alex Leatherwood, OL (Alabama) Round 2: No. 43 (from 49ers) Trevon Moehrig, S (TCU) Round 3: No. 79 (from Cardinals) Malcolm Koonce, DE (Buffalo) Round 3: No. 80 Divine Deablo, S (Virginia Tech) Round 4: No. 143 (from Vikings via Jets) Tyree Gillespie, S (Missouri) Round 5: No. 167 (from Seahawks) Nate Hobbs, CB (Illinois) Round 7: No. 230 (from Jets via 49ers) Jimmy Morrissey, C (Pittsburgh).

Las Vegas has been plagued by their defense the last two seasons. This offseason they refinanced their offensive line to upgrade their defense, demolishing the bathroom to remodel the master bedroom. Hudson, Jackson, and Brown, are all gone. Now they have Ngakoue, and Jefferson.

Remanufacturing positional strengths isn’t an egregious decision. The Raiders could have a competent offensive line if Nick Martin improves with a real position coach, and if Alex Leatherwood mauls right away. Their pass rush has been underwhelming for the last two seasons, and they need Clelin Ferrell to be more of a pass rusher than a volley ball player.

The problem is Derek Carr needs great pass protection to prosper. If he has aeons to throw he is a fringe top ten quarterback.Without it he’s a below average quarterback. The Raiders, even if Leatherwood and Martin work out, still probably won’t have the protection needed, and this is also banking on Richie Icognito playing at a high level at age 39, after missing almost all of last season.

23.) Chicago Bears—Record: 8-8. Point Differential: +2 (15). DVOA: -0.5% (15). Cap Space $1,565,075. Previously 28th.

Additions: Andy Dalton (QB), Jeremiah Attaochu (EDGE), Angelo Blackson (DE), Deon Bush (S), Desmond Trufant (CB), Brent Urban (DL), Elijah Wilkerson (OT), Marquise Goodwin (WR), Damien Williams (RB), Damiere Byrd (WR).

Departures: Barkevious Mingo (LB), Mitchell Trubisky (QB), Buster Skrine (CB), Cordarelle Patterson (WR), Artie Burns (CB), Kyle Fuller (CB), Roy Robertson-Harris (DL), Brent Urban (DL), Rashaad Coward (OG), Charles Leno Jr. (OT).

Draft Picks: Round 1: No. 11 (from Giants) Justin Fields, QB (Ohio State) Round 2: No. 39 (from Panthers) OT Teven Jenkins (Oklahoma State) Round 5: No. 151 (from Panthers) Larry Borom, OT (Missouri) Round 6: No. 217 (from Seahawks) Khalil Herbert, RB (Virginia Tech) Round 6: No. 221 Dazz Newsome, WR (North Carolina) Round 6: No. 228 Thomas Graham Jr., CB (Oregon) Round 7: No. 250 (from Seahawks) Khyiris Tonga, DT (BYU).

They should have a top ten defense again, but their success is going to be defined by their offense. As good as their defense is, it’s no longer the best one in the league that can carry 17 wretched points. Their team is pretty much the same as last year, except Justin Fields fell in their lap, and QB1 Andy Dalton shouldn’t make it out of traning camp as the starter.

I love Fields. The concern is Jim Nagy runs a quirky late 2000s gimmicky Tumblr offense. There’s motion that runs to nowhere. Everything is horizontal without the speed needed to outrun defenses laterally. The screen game is atrocious. It can be sickening. I wish we could smash a moth into a window and have Zach Wilson and Justin Fields switch places.

22.) Minnesota Vikings—Record: 7-9. Point Differential: -45 (22). DVOA: -6.4% (20). Cap Space $7,458,040. Previously 24th.

Additions: Dalvin Tomilson (DT), Patrick Peterson (CB), Stephen Weatherly (DL), Nick Vigil (LB), Xavier Woods (S), Mackensie Alexander (CB), Mason Cole (OL).

Departures: Riley Reiff (OT), Mike Boone (RB), Kyle Rudolph (TE), Ifeadi Odenigbo (DL), Anthony Harris (S), Jaleel Johnson (DT), Shamar Stephen (DT), Eric Wilson, Hardy Nickerson Jr. (LB), Mike Hughes (CB).

Draft Picks: Round 1: No. 23 (from Seahawks through Jets) Christian Darrisaw, OT (Virginia Tech) Round 3: No. 66 (from Jets) Kellen Mond, QB (Texas A&M) Round 3: No. 78 Chazz Surratt, LB (North Carolina) Round 3: No. 86 (from Seahawks through Jets) Wyatt Davis, G (Ohio State) Round 3: No. 90 (from Ravens) Patrick Jones II, DE (Pittsburgh) Round 4: No. 119 Kene Nwangwu, RB (Iowa State) Round 4: No. 125 (from Bears) Camryn Bynum, CB (California) Round 4: No. 134 (from Bills) Janarius Robinson, DE (Florida State) Round 5: No. 157 Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR (Iowa) Round 5: No. 168 (from Steelers through Ravens): Zach Davidson, TE (Central Missouri) Round 6: No. 199 Jaylen Twyman, DT (Pittsburgh).

Gary Kubiak is such a good father. He played the role of coordinator so his on Klint, who has a beautiful name, could learn everything he can. He retired again, allowing his progeny to take the reigns of this offense. Klint will have a better offensive situation than his father did. The Vikings may actually have a great midzone blocking offensive line this season, that won’t have to rely entirely on Dalvin Cook’s tackle breaking ability.

Mike Zimmer is a warlock. He can turn most secondaries into at least passable. Minnesota’s underwent a transformation as they went from the worst in the league, to competent, and the Vikings defense turned from a turd into a sunflower. It will be interesting to see what Patrick Peterson will do in a cover four-cover seven defense, where he no longer has to do what passed him by, playing man coverage. They also have a nice interior defensive line rotation, and will have Anthony Barr, and Danielle Hunter on the field again.

They have already maxed out what Kirk Cousins can do for them. He’s great without pressure, he can run play action, but he can’t win games on his own for you. We know what the Vikings are with Cousins. We don’t know what they could be with Kellen Mond, especially with what he provides as a runner.

8-8, may become 9-8 this season, with a third wildcard in store for them. I hate what they did to our league.

21.) New York Giants—Record: 6-10. Point Differential: -77 (24). DVOA: -13.8% (25). Cap Space $5,040,201. Previously 25th.

Additions: Kenny Golladay (WR), Adoree’ Jackson (CB), Kyle Rudolph (TE), Devontae Booker (RB), Ifeadi Odenigbo (DL), John Ross (WR), Mike Glennon (QB), Ryan Anderson (OLB), Reggie Ragland (LB), Cullen Gillaspia (FB), Zach Fulton (OG), Danny Shelton (DT), Kelvin Benjamin (WR), Corey Clement (RB).

Departures: Kevin Zeitler (G), Dalvin Tomilson (DT), David Mayo (LB), Golden Tate (WR), Cameron Fleming (T), Colt McCoy (QB), Dion Lewis (RB), Jabaal Sheard (DL), Alfred Morris (RB), Wayne Gallman (RB).

Draft Picks: Round 1: No. 20 (from Bears) Kadarius Toney, WR (Florida) Round 2: No. 50 (from Dolphins) Azeez Ojulari, LB (Georgia) Round 3: No. 71 (from Broncos) Aaron Robinson, CB (Central Florida) Round 4: No. 116 Elerson Smith, LB (Northern Iowa) Round 6: No. 196 Gary Brightwell, RB (Arizona) Round 6: No. 201 (from Cardinals) Rodarius Williams, CB (Oklahoma State).

It’s Daniel Jones’s last ride. If he doesn’t break out this year with Kenny Golladay and Darius Slayton on the outside, and Evan Engram and Kadarius Toney on the inside, and with Saqoun Barkley healthy with Devontae Booke, one of the best second running backs in the league behind him, then find someone new. Part of his problems last year was Jason Garrett’s offense. It relied more on the short pass, and took away what Jones does best. Unleash enormous heaves to the deep middle parts of the field. Garrett learned from his mistakes a little bit, and finally integrated Engram into the offense, and hopefully the Galladay signing signifies more of it. The sacks have to stop though. If Nate Solder can be the 16th best left tackle, allowing Andrew Thomas to move to right, that would make a significant difference.

20.) Jacksonville Jaguars—Record: 1-15. Point Differential: -186 (31). DVOA: -27.9% (31). Cap Space $39,357,045. Previously 19th.

Additions: Shaquill Griffin (CB), Rayshawn Jenkins (S), Roy Robertson-Harris (DL), Jamal Agnew (CB), Marvin Jones (WR), Chris Manhertz (TE), Carlos Hyde (RB), Jonathan Ford (S), Jihad Ward (S), James O’Shaughnessy (TE), Sidney Jones (CB), Phillip Dorsett (WR), Tyson Alualu (DT), C.J. Beathard (QB), Malcolm Brown (DT), Damien Wilson (LB), Tim Tebow (TE).

Departures: Rashaan Melvin (CB), Chris Conley (WR), Mike Glennon (QB), Keelan Cole (WR), D.J. Hayden (CB), Tyler Eifert (TE), Abry Jones (DT), Al Woods (DT), Kamalei Correa (EDGE), Chris Thompson (RB), Aaron Lynch (EDGE), Dede Westbrook (WR), Tre Herndon (CB), Dakota Allen (LB), Josh Oliver (TE).

Draft Picks: Round 1: No. 1 Trevor Lawrence, QB (Clemson) Round 1: No. 25 (from Rams) Travis Etienne, RB (Clemson) Round 2: No. 33: Tyson Campbell, CB (Georgia) Round 2: No. 45 (from Vikings) Walker Little, OT (Stanford) Round 3: No. 65 Andre Cisco, S (Syracuse) Round 4: No. 106 Jay Tufele, DT (USC) Round 4: No. 121 (from Raiders via 49ers via Rams) Jordan Smith, DE (Alabama-Birmingham) Round 5: No. 145 Luke Farrell, TE (Ohio State) Round 6: No. 208 (from Rams): Jalen Camp, WR (Georgia Tech).

The Jaguars didn’t have the talent level of a 1-15 team last year. They lost some close games. Their run defense fell apart when Myles Jack went down. Gardner Misnhew’s thumb turned into shrapnel. Jake Luton rode the futon, and Mike Glennon stuck his neck out. It was a masterful job of turning the car around and driving into oncoming traffic to end up 1-15, and secure the first overall pick, thanks to some hilarious Jets heroics.

The young talent in tow has expanded to include the next generational quarterback prospect. Lawrence will join a roster that includes the next break out wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr., DJ Chark, Jawaan Taylor, Myles Jack, Josh Allen, K’Lavon Chaisson, and CJ Henderson.

The Jags could be competitive this year. There’s just too many questions on the defense to expect for them to be one of those teams that goes from the bottom to the top.

19.) New England Patriots—Record: 7-9. Point Differential: -27 (19). DVOA: -7.1% (22). Cap Space $16,114,568. Previously 20th.

Additions: Matt Judon (EDGE), Jonnu Smith (TE), Hunter Henry (TE), Jalen Mills (S), Nelson Agholor (WR), Davon Godchaux (NT), Kendrick Bourne (WR), Kyle Van Noy (LB), Henry Anderson (DL), Ted Karras (C), Montravius Adams (DE), Raekwon McMillian (LB), Trent Brown (OT).

Departures: Adam Butler (DT), Joe Thuney (OG), Terrance Brooks (S), Brandon Copeland (OLB), Jason McCourty (S), Rex Burkhead (RB), Jermaine Eluemunor (OT), Brian Hoyer (RB), Damiere Byrd (WR), Julian Edelman (WR), Donte Moncrief (WR), Ryan Izzo (TE), Patrick Chung (S).

Draft Picks: Round 1: No. 15 Mac Jones, QB (Alabama) Round 2: No. 38 (from Bengals) Christian Barmore, DT (Alabama) Round 3: No. 96 Ronnie Perkins, DE (Oklahoma) Round 4: No. 120 (from Cardinals through Texans) Rhamondre Stevenson, RB (Oklahoma) Round 5: No. 177 Cameron McGrone, LB (Michigan) Round 6: No. 188 (from Texans) Joshuah Bledsoe, S (Missouri) Round 6. No. 197 William Sherman, OT (Colorado) Round 7: No. 242 Tre Nixon, WR (Central Florida).

The Patriots morphed from the team that never spends in free agency, to going all in. They added eight starters, the best front seven player available, and have returned to their old haunts, by capturing another great tight end duo in Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. They have the offensive line to return to a power run attack with Cam Newton, and skill positions that attack the middle of the field to create easy throws for rookie quarterback Mac Jones.

The quarterback position is the concern. I love Cam, and I’ll be praying for him, but personally, I think it’s over. His arm is mauled, his throwing motion laboarious, and he doesn’t have the accuracy to play the position anymore.Playing quarterback is easy in Alabammer nowadays. They needed to do something to upgrade the position, and Jones just happened to fall to them.

They’re going to have a top ten defense this season. They’ll be a playoff team if they can get average quarterback performance. The position is too much of an unknown to feel anything more than this.

18.) Dallas Cowboys—Record: 6-10. Point Differential: -78 (25). DVOA: -11.1% (23). Cap Space $7,530,393. Previously 22nd.

Additions: Tarell Basham (EDGE), Keanu Neal (S), Carlos Watkins (DL), Brent Urban (DL), Ty Nsekhe (OT), Brian Anger (P), Jeremy Sprinkle (TE), Domantae Kazee (S).

Departures: Blake Bell (TE), Joe Thomas (LB), Greg Senat (OT), Chidobe Awuzie (CB), Andy Dalton (QB), Cameron Erving (OT), Tyrone Crawford (DL), Joe Looney (C), Aldon Smith (EDGE), Xavier Woods (S), Eli Ankou (DT), Antwuan Woods (DL).

Draft Picks: Round 1: No. 12 (from 49ers through Dolphins through Eagles) Micah Parsons, LB (Penn State) Round 2: No. 44 Kelvin Joseph, CB (Kentucky) Round 3: No. 75 Osa Odighuzua, DT (UCLA) Round 3: No. 84 (from Colts through Eagles) Chauncey Golston, DE (Iowa) Round 3: No. 99 Nahshon Wright, CB (Oregon State) Round 4: No. 115 Jabril Cox, LB (North Dakota State, LSU) Round 4: No. 138 Josh Ball, OT (Marshall) Round 5: No. 179 Simi Fehoko, WR (Stanford) Round 6: No. 192 (from Lions) Quinton Bohanna, DT (Kentucky) Round 6: No. 227 Israel Mukuamu, CB (South Carolina) Round 7: No. 238 Matt Farniok, G (Nebraska).

Every summer it’s the Cowboys year. Whether it’s Quincy Carter, or aw shucks Tony Romo, or Dak Prescott returning from a backwards ankle, it’s a yearly tradition that will never end. Let’s do it all over again.

The Cowboys have a ridiculous assortment of skill players. Like the Eagles, they were destroyed by offensive line injuries, and hopefully, in spite of their age, they can put together another healthy season. I love when former head coaches return to a coordinator position gelded, and go back to doing what they do best. The Cowboys don’t have the front four rush, or the safety play to run a competent cover three though. Sorry Dan Quinn. 37-31. 41-35. Dak Prescott is going to have to play at a MVP level for them to make the postseason.

17.) Denver BroncosRecord: 5-11. Point Differential: -123 (29). DVOA: -22.1% (29). Cap Space $27,200,891. Previously 30th.

Additions: Ronald Darby (CB), Mike Boone (RB). Kyle Fuller (CB), Shamar Stephen (DT), Teddy Bridgewater (QB).

Departures: Jurrell Casey (DL), A.J. Bouye (CB), Phillip Lindsay (RB), Jeremiah Attaochu (EDGE), Elijah Wilkerson (OL), Austin Calitro (LB), Jake Butt (TE), Nick Vannett (TE), Demarcus Walker (DE), Ja’Wuan James (OT).

Draft Picks: Round 1: No. 9 Patrick Surtain II, CB (Alabama) Round 2: No. 35 (from Falcons) Javonte Williams, RB (North Carolina) Round 3: No. 98 (from Saints): Quinn Meinerz, G (Wisconsin-Whitewater) Round 3: No. 105 (from Saints) Baron Browning, LB (Ohio State) Round 5: No. 152 Caden Sterns, S (Texas) Round 5: No. 164 (from Bears via Giants) Jamar Johnson, S (Indiana) Round 6: No. 219 (from Falcons) Seth Williams, WR (Auburn) Round 7: No. 237 Kary Vincent Jr., CB (LSU) Round 7: No. 239 (from Giants) Jonathon Cooper, LB (Ohio State) Round 7: No. 253 (from Browns) Marquiss Spencer, DL (Mississippi State).

Denver has the best secondary in the league. They added Fuller, Darby, and Surtain, to pair with Bryce Callahan, and one of the best safety combinations in the league. Vic Fangio may breath out of his mouth, and is always looking perplexed, but he’s one of the best defensive coordinators in the league, who runs a coverage first defense. If Von Miller and Bradley Chubb finally carry out former plans, this is a top five pass defense in waiting.

The problem of course was the quarterback position. Drew Lock ain’t it. There is currently a Broncos fan arguing with another one over Lock becoming a good starting quarterback. That’s a hell no one should have to live through. Thankfully they picked up Teddy Bridgewater for nothing. Bridgewater was fine last season, whose late game struggles, and suprising accuracy issues, led to the Panthers close game problems. Bridgewater is competent at a minimum. And with the fun power run game Denver has, along with an incredible trio of wide receivers who just need someone who can get it close, he should surpass that basic threshold. The AFC West is the best division in football.

Part II will publish later this afternoon.