Ranking All 32 NFL Rosters (Part Two: 24-17)

Ranking All 32 NFL Rosters

Welcome to part two of Last Word on Pro Football’s ranking of all 32 NFL rosters. To see teams ranked 32-25, click here. For a brief explanation of the process and reasoning behind these rankings, please refer to part one of the series.

Let’s jump right in.

Ranking All 32 NFL Rosters (Part Two: 24-17)

24. New England Patriots

This ranking is arbitrary. It really does not matter. The Patriots are still going to win football games. As long as Bill Belichick is still the head coach and Tom Brady is the quarterback, this will be the case.

Now onto their spot in my rankings. This roster is old and is not built for the future. Belichick shipped away heir apparent Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers at the beginning of the 2017 season. Now, it would appear as though rookie Danny Etling would be the next in line should Brady retire.

This idea of an heir apparent is not only a problem at the quarterback position. The team needs to get younger all over the place. There are really only two positions which are set up for long-term success: running backs and defensive line. Regarding the defensive line, the unit is young and full of talent. They have just one problem. They can’t stay healthy. If the unit can avoid the injury bug, there is no reason that they can’t develop into a special group. Then the running backs. James White has been a pleasant surprise for this offense and the team has added second-round pick Sony Michel to the mix. These two have the ability to hold the position for years to come.

23. Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks have been one of the more successful teams in the NFL over the past 10 years. A big reason for that success has been quarterback Russell Wilson. This brings me to my first point. Wilson is due for a contract extension at the end of 2019. For all intents and purposes, the Seahawks appear to be completely ready to make Wilson the highest paid quarterback in the NFL when that time comes. However, some insurance would be nice.

Wilson has been one of the more physical and also, beaten up quarterbacks since his arrival in Seattle. There is no backup plan. The team’s current backup quarterback is Austin Davis. If Wilson goes down, which is likely to happen at some point, I am not sure that Davis can carry this team. Another way of ensuring Wilson’s health would be by improving the offensive line. Year after year it seems as though Seattle refuses to address the lack of talent in this group. I fully expect this offensive line to rank in the bottom of the NFL once again.

The defense is still going to be this team’s staple if Kam Chancellor plays. This team is very different if he plays and that is going to be a big “if” leading into the 2018 season. After suffering a severe neck injury in 2017, Chancellor (and the Seahawks) have strongly hinted towards his retirement. Recently though, Chancellor has stated that he is going to do everything he can to play in 2018, so I guess we will have to wait and see.

Overall, this roster is due for a turnover. I am in the belief that the team entered the rebuild stage this off-season after shipping several mainstay veterans out of Seattle. But, they did add a couple of nice young pieces this off-season to hopefully begin easing into that transition.

22. Dallas Cowboys

To me, the Cowboys are one of the most intriguing teams in football. Injuries decimated a 2017 team that appeared to be destined for a Super Bowl run. The team still boasts the best offensive line and arguably the best running back in the league.

The offense struggled passing the football last year, finishing the season ranked 26th in the NFL. They didn’t do much this off-season to make me believe that this is going to change. The team cut their number one receiver, lost a future Hall of Famer, and didn’t do much to really compensate for these losses. Now, Dez Bryant was on the decline, it seems, and his release seemed inevitable. Jason Witten sprung his retirement upon the team following day one of the NFL draft, throwing the Cowboys into scramble mode.

The defense is still going to be very strong in the front seven. The defensive line is deep and talented and the linebackers are fast and instinctual. The back-end of this defense may be another question mark though. I am yet a believer that the Cowboys young cornerbacks (Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis) can sustain success in their sophomore seasons. Byron Jones is a good free ranging safety that can help to mask some of the deficiencies in the secondary, but he won’t be able to do it alone.

21. Denver Broncos

I would like to say that general manager John Elway has rebounded from his early blunders as the team’s man-in-charge. Overall, the Hall of Fame quarterback has done a fair job with the roster in Denver. It remains to be seen if he will ever be able to remove the stain of Paxton Lynch from this organization. But as of now, he is making strides in the right direction.

Like a majority of the league right now, the Broncos are going to rely on their defense to be competitive in 2018. Quarterback Case Keenum was brought in via free agency to hopefully fix the woes at the position. We will see if he can remain an effective option after playing just one successful half-season in Minnesota. If Keenum doesn’t work out, that will thrust either Lynch or 2017 Mr. Irrelevant, Chad Kelly, into the starting role. However, I still expect this offense to be above average even at their peak. They have added some talent this off-season, but I believe this offense is still a year or two away from scaring opposing defenses.

The real weakness on this side of the ball is on the defensive line. Even that isn’t saying much. Rookie Bradley Chubb will look to partner with Von Miller to terrorize offenses off of the edge. Really, this defense just needs to get a little deeper. Once you get past its front lines, there really isn’t much to be excited about.

20. Houston Texans

There is so much uncertainty surrounding this roster.

Deshaun Watson was on pace for an incredibly successful rookie campaign before his ACL injury. Football fans everywhere are hoping he has made a full recovery and comes back just as strong as before. But, we don’t know. Apparently, the Texans are pretty confident that he will make a successful comeback considering they decided to not address the backup quarterback situation this off-season.

The defense has the potential to be a top-five unit. But, they can’t stay healthy. Stars J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney have struggled with injuries to this point in their careers. I have questions about their secondary. Johnathan Joseph is not getting any younger and Aaron Colvin, a free-agent addition, doesn’t have much experience being a primary corner. Another free-agent addition, Tyrann Mathieu, also has had problems with injuries.

19. Cleveland Browns

19 is actually a little bit lower than where I would have ranked Cleveland had I just done it off of the top of my head. In no way do I think this is a bad roster.

The team is ripe with youth and you would have to imagine, hunger. It seems like every off-season now, Cleveland fans have reason to be excited, just to be let down once the season actually begins. But there’s the real possibility that next season could be different.

For the first time in years, it seems as though this team actually has a plan. They are not just drafting talent just to acquire players. General manager John Dorsey actually has a vision and in my opinion, has done one heck of a job putting his plan into motion.

The Browns were one of the most active teams this past off-season, wheeling and dealing in all avenues of player acquisition. While this team is definitely taking steps in the right direction, they are still a year or two away from being true competitors in this league. However, this team is definitely much improved on paper and it should translate to the football field this fall.

18. Carolina Panthers

Overall, it’s easy to like the Panthers roster. However, there are a few holes worth covering.

Cam Newton is the most physical quarterback in the league. But, the team has failed to invest in a quality backup at the position. It is almost inevitable that Newton will get hurt at some point in the season. With a player of his style, I believe it to be imperative to have a quality backup. The offensive line is going to be doing Cam any favors either. There are also concerns about second-year pro Christian McCaffrey being able to handle the grind of an every-down back.

On the defensive side of the ball, the strength is in the team’s front seven. Led by star middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, this unit should be relatively tough to game plan against. The secondary, however, is another question. The team’s number one corner is James Bradberry and this will be his first season as such. He was serviceable last year and one would have to believe that he will only improve with another NFL off-season under his belt. I really am not a fan of the situation at the safety position with Mike Adams and Colin Jones. Expect teams to pass the ball a lot against this Carolina defense.

17. Detroit Lions

The Lions have long been looking to that “next step” as a football team. That “next step” has to include being relevant in the playoffs and actually competing for a championship.

Unlike most teams in the NFL right now, this team’s strength is it’s offense. Matthew Stafford and his unit can get into a shootout with any team in the league. The team currently has a four-headed monster at running back in LeGarrette Blount, Theo Riddick, Ameer Abdullah, and rookie Kevin Johnson. Johnson might be the most well-rounded out of the group. Detroit may also have the best set of four wide receivers in the league with T.J. Jones, Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, and Kenny Golladay. It is difficult to believe that there are enough touches to go around for all of the Lions weapons.

The key to this team’s success, however, is going to be the defense. There are some pieces to be happy about like second-year cornerback Teez Tabor, second-year pro Jarrad Davis, and veteran corner Darius Slay. Outside of those players, the talent pool is limited and players are either aging, injury prone, and up for a contract with not much depth behind them. If this team can somehow escape injuries for all of 2018, then this defense has the chance to be an above average one to complement their potent offense.

Stay tuned for the rest of the rankings!

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