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Pre Draft Power Rankings

With free agency basically over and on the cusp of the draft, it is time to look at power rankings and how each team is shaping up for the coming season.

Ezra Shaw

All the major free agency moves should now be behind us, with only minor 'depth' players remaining available. The draft is fast approaching and GMs and coaches look to put the final polish on their 2014 rosters. We will begin our season of power rankings by establishing a base line from last year.

1. Seattle Seahawks
2. Denver Broncos
3. San Francisco 49ers
4. New England Patriots
5. Carolina Panthers
6. New Orleans Saints
7. Indianapolis Colts.
8. San Diego Chargers
9. Cincinnati Bengals
10. Kansas City Chiefs
11. Philadelphia Eagles
12. Green Bay Packers
13. Arizona Cardinals
14. Miami Dolphins
15. New York Jets
16. Baltimore Ravens
17. Dallas Cowboys
18. Pittsburgh Steelers
19. Chicago Bears
20. St Louis Rams
21. New York Giants
22. Tennessee Titans
23. Detroit Lions
24. Buffalo Bills
25. Minnesota Vikings
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
27. Atlanta Falcons
28. Oakland Raiders
29. Cleveland Browns
30. Jacksonville Jaguars
31. Washington Redskins
32. Houston Texans

Ok. That was simple enough, just copy and paste the end of year rankings. Base line established. Now, let's get real and more importantly current. Much has been written about overpaid/over-hyped free agency acquisitions. What hasn't been written about so much is the loss of talent that teams experience via free agency, especially championship caliber teams. A contender that plays deep into the post season, suddenly loses six key players to six other teams. Much like pouring a packet of powdered Gatorade into a lake. Parity achieved.

Free agency is a double edged sword and in conjunction with the salary cap, is a critical part of every teams seasonal planning. Stopping the loss of talent and gaining from other teams around the league all while maintaining a financial cushion can make or break a champion. Our current rankings have this as our primary criteria with draft position secondary.

1. San Francisco 49ers

The only real loss of note, for the 49ers was S. Donte Whitner. He was swiftly replaced by Antoine Bethea. With two picks in the second round and three in the third, San Fransisco is very well positioned in the draft.

2. Denver

Denver wasted no time - nor spared any expense - in plotting revenge for their embarrassing Super Bowl outing. T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib, DeMarcus Ware and Emmanuel Sanders make for some serious upgrades, especially on defense.

3. New England Patriots

Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner come in to replace the free agency loss of Aqib Talib. Not much else of note here, excepting that with the loss of Dane Fletcher and Brandon Spikes, the Patriots are a bit thin at linebacker.

4. Seattle Seahawks

Perhaps 'gutted' is too strong of a word, but with the loss of WR Golden Tate, DT Clinton McDonald, S Chris Maragos, OT Breno Giacomini, CB Brandon Browner, CB Walter Thurmond, OL Paul McQuistan, DE Chris Clemons, DT Red Bryant and being very poorly positioned in the draft, the Seattle Seahawks drop to slot 4.

5. New Orleans Saints

The Saints have done well in free agency, focusing on their secondary for the most part. Safety Jairus Byrd being the standout. Their draft selections are pretty normal. With an already well balanced team, expect them to go pure BPA in the draft.

6. Arizona Cardinals

Arizona spent most of its available cap space improving their offensive line with the likes of Jared Veldheer and Ted Larsen. The only real loss has been Karlos Dansby. A well balanced team overall and decently positioned in the draft, they come in at number 6.

7. Indianapolis Colts.

With a huge amount of cap space, the Colts were not shy about spending some of it. Most notable was the signing of CB Vontae Davis, DT/DE Arthur Jones and the resigning of K Adam Vinatieri. They are not well positioned in the draft however, with no first round or fourth round pick.

8. San Diego Chargers

No earth-shattering kabooms here. Barring whatever happens in the draft, the Chargers are looking like the exact same team as last year.

9. Philadelphia Eagles

The release of DeSean Jackson aside, not a lot of note here with the Eagles. They are generally balanced as a team with no glaring holes. In keeping with that, that have mediocre positioning in the draft.

10. Carolina Panthers

One really has to wonder just who Cam Newton is going to be throwing to next season. Swapping Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Domenik Hixon and Ted Ginn for Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant and Ed Dickson has one shaking their head. The Panthers are not very well positioned in the draft.

11. St Louis Rams

With Gregg Williams assuming command of the defensive unit and the talent at his disposal, expect the Rams to make serious gains on that side of the ball. With twelve picks in the draft, two in the first thirteen, St. Louis is in an enviable position to both plug the few remaining gaps and add depth across the roster.

12. Kansas City Chiefs

The Chief's offensive line took a big hit with the loss of Brandon Albert, Geoff Schwarz and Jon Asamoah. They picked up Jeff Linkenbach. With no second round pick, they have a poor position in the coming draft.

13. Green Bay Packers

Picking up DE Julius Peppers was a good move, but not enough to boost this rather woeful defensive unit much. On offense the Packers lost C Evan Dietrich-Smith and WR James Jones. The Packers are well equipped for the draft with two third round and two fifth round selections.

14. Cincinnati Bengals

The loss of Michael Johnson and Anthony Collins, both to the Buccaneers, has to hurt. With two late compensatory picks (one 6th round, one 7th round), they are better off than average and should be able to plug the few holes that they have.

15. New York Jets

The signing of Eric Decker brings a shiny new weapon for quarterback Geno Smith. However, there are still many gaps to fill, especially on the offensive line. Like the Rams, they also have twelve picks. Unlike the Rams, they will will have to address needs before depth.

16. Baltimore Ravens

Picking up WR Steve Smith is the only notable acquisition. The Ravens spent more time on retaining the talent they have, yet still lost DL Arthur Jones, OT Michael Oher, CB Corey Graham and SS James Ihedigbo. Baltimore is well positioned in the draft with eight picks, overall.

17. Dallas Cowboys

Starting off will only $2,000,000 in available cap space, the Cowboys did the best they could, releasing DeMarcus Ware and then signing Henry Melton to an incentive laden contract. Overall, these maneuvers likely make no significant impact. Dallas is well poised in the draft and own the seventh round with six picks.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers have been very dynamic, if not aggressive in free agency, signing seven new players and resigning three more of their own. With nine picks in the draft, they are well positioned.

19. Chicago Bears

Da Bears have been very busy boys indeed, with an emphasis on their defensive line, signing Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston. A pairing that should bear fruit. Chicago has signed players all over the roster, but the focus has been squarely on defense. It is hard to imagine this strategy gelling on the field, but they do have seven picks in the draft to flesh it out.

20. Houston Texans

Losing one DE and two DT tackles in free agency, one does has to question the strength of the Texans defense. Jerrell Powe has been brought in so far, but depth at least, is questionable. Quarterback is the lone position haunting the Texans though. Superbly positioned in the draft as they are, Houston can address these issues.

21. Detroit Lions

In contrast to this years trend, the Lions have focused on the offense, adding WR Golden Tate and resigning TE Brandon Pettigrew. S  James Ihedigbo is a solid pick up on defense. Detroit has superb positioning in the draft with six picks within the first four rounds.

22. Tennessee Titans

The Titans have been quite aggressive in free agency with several substantial pick ups and one notable loss in Alterraun Verner. RT Michael Oher and WR Dexter McCluster are notable offensive acquisitions. Tennessee has only six picks in the draft, but they are all highly placed within their respective rounds.

23. Buffalo Bills

Yet another team that addressed defense first in free agency, adding ILB Brandon Spikes and CB Corey Graham. Unfortunately for the Bills, they could not match New Orleans offer to S Jarius Byrd. They have only six selections in the draft, but all are in the top ten of each round.

24. Atlanta Falcons

After a dismal year in 2013, the Falcons became a laser beam to fix what went wrong. Two signings on offense and two on defense to boost specific weakness' and 10 well placed picks in the draft make Atlanta a team to keep an eye on.

25. Minnesota Vikings

Picking up a trio of defensive tackles, Minnesota is another defensive minded team this year. Their eight picks in the draft are well positioned, but this is another team haunted by the quarterback question.

26. Miami Dolphins

Excepting the monster contract awarded to LT Brandon Albert, not a lot of real news here. They have solid if not exciting draft stock.

27. New York Giants

For all intents and purposes, the Giants have taken a flamethrower to their roster. Their huge amounts of moves in free agency smack of desperation and an (most likely to fail), attempt to buy a championship. They are well positioned in the draft.

28. Cleveland Browns

The Browns have taken a balanced approach to free agency. Their top two signing were defensive acquisitions in  S Donte Whitner and ILB Karlos Dansby, but after that spent some serious money on offense with the likes of RB Ben Tate, TE Jim Dray and LT Paul McQuistan. Full disclosure- The Cleveland Browns are being ranked by a different criteria. With the talent they have and their stellar positioning in the draft, we should be talking about a contender, instead of spot 28. This writer however, can not get over the impression that the Browns front office is holding this team back.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars

Investing heavily in free agency, the Jaguars concentrated on defense, signing three defensive ends, including Chris Clemons. Guard Zane Beadles is a noteworthy addition on offense. Jacksonville is superbly positioned in the draft.

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay let loose with the blank checks this year in free agency. Defensive end Michael Johnson, LT Anthony Collins, CB Alterraun Verner and QB Josh McCown to name just a few. Excepting Darrelle Revis, their losses have been negligible. They have only standard positioning in the draft.

31. Washington Redskins

Another mover and shaker in free agency. The addition of DeSean Jackson tops the list as a new weapon for RGIII. Beyond that though, the Redskins spread the wealth on both sides of the ball, picking up G Shaun Lauvao and DT Jason Hatcher amongst others. They lack a first round pick again this year, but are otherwise decently set in the coming draft.

32. Oakland Raiders

No one was set better than Oakland, salary cap wise. That has changed as the Raiders inked numerous lucrative deals. They have signed nearly an entire new team, with an emphasis on defense, signing four defensive lineman alone. On offense, they have added WR James Jones, G Austen Howard and LT Donald Penn. They have solid draft stock.


*Note- The season is only just now coming to life and as always, this year will have it's share of surprises. Power houses will fall and pipsqueaks will rise. Who will be at the top of this list come January 2015?