Power rankings. They are, for 21st century sports fans, a fact of life. Recently though, there's this new expansion of power rankings into new forms, rankings not of teams as they are. Rather teams as they could be or portions of teams.
(prepare yourself for the worst line ever...)
Well these aren't your dad's power rankings.
Today, Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders & ESPN released his power rankings of the portion of teams' rosters made up of players under the age of 25 (insider...boo.). The Rams led the list.
Thanks in large part to the Robert Griffin III trade, the Rams have stockpiled young talent in recent drafts. Zac Stacy and Tre Mason are a young running back duo worth watching this year. Greg Robinson, the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft, will likely start his career at left guard. Tavon Austin, Chris Givens and Stedman Bailey have all flashed potential at wide receiver, but need to improve. The secondary is filled with young starters (not even counting 25-year-old Janoris Jenkins), but the name to watch out for this year is safety T.J. McDonald, who could become a star in Gregg Williams' system.
The real reason behind what powered the Rams to the top here: there may not be a better front seven in the league. Alec Ogletree impressed as a rookie linebacker last season. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald (Pittsburgh) is this year's first-round pick, and he should provide even more pass-rushing ability to a line that's loaded with Chris Long, Michael Brockers and of course Robert Quinn. It was really Quinn's All-Pro season with 19 sacks that edged St. Louis to the top. There are several players with great potential here, but Quinn's the one to actually have started building a track record. If more Rams can follow his lead, then this team will compete in the tough NFC West.
His points are all rational, but it's kind of odd for the Rams to be #1 in anything right now.
We haven't had a winning season since 2003. We haven't made the playoffs since 2004. To be top a list of all 32 NFL teams (for something positive) is kind of hard to accept. In the end though, who else is in the discussion?
Buffalo, who came in at #2, certainly warrants a place in the top tier here with guys like Marcell Dareus, Kiko Alonso, Cordy Glenn and a pair of WRs in Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods all under 25. Indianapolis' duo of Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton alone get them in my top tier, sitting at #4 in Kacsmar's rankings. You could make an argument for Arizona as well, with Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu on defense and Michel Floyd (who led the team in receiving yards) on the other side of the ball. Jonathan Cooper's injury might have made this group look even better than the 6th spot Kacsmar had them in.
It's not a huge referendum on the state of the team. It's not anything that we can point to as an exhibition of the Rams' improvement or as progress toward making the postseason.
It's a list. Of something not bad. For something as insignificant as this...I'd rather be on top of it than anywhere else.