Yesterday, ESPN released their NFL Future Power Rankings (Insider), which are projected power rankings for the 2015 season. They used a formula based on five key categories: roster, quarterback, draft, front office and coaching.
This list needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt. No one even knows what will happen next season, let alone three years from now, but this list shows which teams seem to be the best set up for the future.
Most of the rankings seemed to make sense but there were some question marks, and a major one being, why are the St. Louis Rams ranked so low? ESPN ranked the Rams 24th in 2015. Huh?
Let me say that again ... twenty ... four. These are the Rams that just hired a proven coach in Jeff Fisher, have a few really nice young players to build around and have 4 first round picks in the next two drafts, and ESPN obviously thinks nothing of them.
Why they are wrong after the jump.
Here's ESPN's rankings.
Using the same criteria that ESPN did (current roster, coaching, quarterback, front office, and draft) I find that the Rams seem to be a team that should rank very high on this list.
Let's start with the current roster. I agree that this is not a very talented group, but they are young and there are some really good building blocks in place. Chris Long is well on his way to becoming an elite defensive player. James Laurnaitis is a great young leader and every thing you look for in a MLB. Sam Bradford has all the talent to be an elite QB, but we'll get into that more later. Cortland Finnegan is one of the most underrated players in the NFL and he is still relatively young at 28.
The Rams also brought in many young players with great potential like Michael Brockers, Janoris Jenkins, Rodger Saffold, Brain Quick, and Robert Quinn that with the next topic, coaching, should all develop into fine players.
Jeff Fisher is a proven commodity and he will get the most out of his players as he did in Tennessee. The Rams also brought in some great position coaches (highlighted by Paul Boudreau, Ray Sherman and Chuck Cecil) who will be able to develop all the young players on St. Louis' roster.
Another route that will lead the Rams to a turnaround is the draft. With the Robert Griffen III trade, the Rams now have 4 first round picks in the next two drafts. No other team is in as good as a position the Rams are in with the draft.
The fact that ESPN seemed to overlook this fact is highly questionable. Maybe the experts have no faith that the Rams can draft well given their recent draft history, but this is a new Rams front office and to predict their future success or failure based on the failures of previous regimes is unfair and ignorant.
This is a front office that will largely be influenced by Jeff Fisher, but Fisher has a very good draft record with the Titans, where he also had much control.
The Rams new GM Les Snead also has a very good draft record with the Falcons, where he helped to rebuild a team after the Michael Vick era was abruptly ended. Snead organized the biggest trade in Rams' history within weeks of the job and it's nearly impossible to imagine the combination of Fisher and Snead messing up 4 first round draft picks.
Last, the most important reason that the Rams will be a contender for years to come is Sam Bradford. Jeff Fisher decided to come to St. Louis in large part because of the presence of Sam Bradford. He believes that Bradford is "one of the best QB in the league. He just hasn't had the chance to prove it."
Sam has all the talent you could ask for in a QB. He is athletic, he had a good arm and he has tremendous accuracy. Did he struggle last season? Without a doubt, but any QB would have struggled in that situation. Let's not forget that Sam was the rookie of the year. He has shown that he can be successful in this league.
The new system will have a focus of protecting Sam, which will increase his confidence. Also the addition of Brain Quick and Chris Givens gives him better weapons. With 4 first round picks the next two draft, the Rams will add even more weapons for Sam and he will improve.
In the end, if the Rams are the 24th best team in 2015 like ESPN, it should go down as one of the biggest failures in NFL history. It's nearly impossible for this team not to become a top 15 team in 3 years. Everything is in their advantage.
They have on of the NFL's best coaches.
They have a young QB with great talent that will improve.
4 FIRST ROUND PICKS NEXT TWO DRAFTS!!
St. Louis will not have one of the worst teams in 2015. They will have one of the best.