2012 NFL Power Rankings: OTA Edition
By Alex Wiederspiel
Organized Team Activities are in full flux. The off-season is over. Mini camps and OTA’s are under way and Training Camps will start at the end of July. So let’s get our power rankings underway, because the rosters you are seeing now probably won’t change much before the pre-season.
One more item of importance. This is a new season. 2011 is over. 2012 has begun. We’ll open up the power rankings based mostly on talent and how much I like the team as a whole, which means the Giants won’t be the number one team. Just because you finish the season as the number one team doesn’t mean you start the next year as the number one team.
1. San Francisco 49ers
There may not be a deeper or more balanced team then the San Francisco 49ers. With one of the brightest head coaches and overall coaching staffs in the league, San Francisco’s 2011 was no fluke. This going to remain a force to be reckoned with and will be even better in 2012. On defense, the 49ers 3-4 defense is extremely deep on the back end. Even with letting Shawntae Spencer go, the Niners will benefit from the return of Carlos Rogers and the growth of young corners Tarrell Brown and the promising Chris Culliver. If San Fran gets the type of contribution from Perrish Cox that he’s capable of he may be starting at some point. With Whitner and Goldson both returning at safety, the Niners stacked and deep linebacking corps. and it’s most valuable defensive player Justin Smith still going full steam ahead it seems that the Niners defense is set to have another outstanding season frustrating the opposition. Aldon Smith is likely to take on a bigger role, though the Niners will still try to keep him fresh for pass rushing situations.
On offense, the Niners flirted heavily with Peyton Manning, but eventually brought back Alex Smith after an outstanding run in the playoffs. They’ve surrounded him with new talent this off-season adding Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, A.J. Jenkins, and LaMichael James. Even with Smith’s physical limitations he’s still good enough to succeed with this type of talent around him. With the additions of Moss and Manningham in particular teams will be unable to double team Vernon Davis in spread formations. There are a few question marks in San Francisco on the right side of their offensive line, but Anthony Davis could very well answer those questions this season. In the running game, the Niners are about five deep at running back, and I wouldn’t expect all five of Frank Gore, LaMichael James, Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs, and Anthony Dixon to make the roster. Dixon is the first man out, and then probably Jacobs. If Gore flounders, the Niners will be able to find effective play from Kendall Hunter in between the tackles and using James as a decoy and special teams weapon. But with this much depth it’s unlikely the Niners will overwork Gore to the point that he struggles. Everything is set up nicely for a San Francisco Super Bowl run.
2. Green Bay Packers
Though Derek Sherrod’s absence should be a concern for the Packers they are still the well-oiled machine that produced the most efficient and explosive offense in football last season. The Packers are exceptionally deep at wide receiver again and drafted well. Pairing Nick Perry with Clay Matthews could be a Shawne Merriman-Shaun Phillips scenario that the Chargers were able to boast during their best years. In the secondary Green Bay will no longer have the services of Nick Collins after releasing him a few months ago, but still boast a very deep group of defensive backs. The biggest question mark will be whether Sam Shields can perform if Woodson or Williams were to get hurt again. You can expect Green Bay to make another run at home field advantage in the playoffs and a Super Bowl run.
This will be a running theme in these power rankings. The NFC has the elite teams, is the deeper conference, and is all-around better then the AFC.
3. New Orleans Saints
If it weren’t for bountygate, the Saints might be ahead of Green Bay. Despite not having Sean Payton or Jonathan Vilma for a year, the Saints were aggressive in free agency. They replaced Carl Nicks with the second best guard on the market in Ben Grubbs. They added big blue chip free agents in Broderick Bunkley and Curtis Lofton and a nice role player in David Hawthorne who is a well-rounded though unspectacular linebacker. Once Drew Brees signs a new contract, New Orleans will field a deadly arsenal of weapons on both sides of the ball yet again. The biggest concern in New Orleans is centered around their secondary. Though New Orleans does a nice job limiting big plays, they struggled to force turnovers last year and need to increase their red zone efficiency. Bountygate or not, this a team to be reckoned with. To me, New Orleans is the last of the elite teams.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
Though there was a fair amount of turnover in Pittsburgh this off-season it was for the better. Many of the departed players were aging and became a detriment to have on the field last season. Pittsburgh drafted exceptionally well and grabbed three players in the first four rounds who I had ranked in my top 40 prospects. The offensive line is almost completely revamped now. If Willie Colon can stay healthy, the Steelers line will have a nice mix of strength, athleticism, technique, and mauling ability. On Opening Day the starters, from left to right, should be Mike Adams (R), Willie Colon, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro (R), and Marcus Gilbert. You want to talk about a commitment to the trenches? In the last three years four of those five players were drafted in the first two rounds. Pouncey and DeCastro were both first round picks in 2010 and 2012 while Gilbert and Adams were both second round picks in 2011 and 2012 respectively. I like the addition of Todd Haley as the offensive coordinator. The firey Haley will still pound the football in a two back system while also maintaining tenets of the Bruce Arians shotgun attack. On defense, the Steelers will eventually get a healthy Casey Hampton back, but in the mean time rookie Alameda Ta’amu could find some success. Though it’s a hard role to play early in your career, Ta’amu is the prototypical nose tackle at 6’3” 348 pounds and very stout at the point of attack. The secondary will be a question mark, but youngster Keenan Lewis is being seriously hyped up in camp, and the Steelers won’t need an elite secondary as long as they’re able to get after quarterbacks. With plenty of rookie contributions as well from linebacker Sean Spence and possibly even some gadget plays for speedster Chris Rainey the Steelers have the basis for success and the wrinkles to cause problems on both sides of the ball.
5. New England Patriots
New England was very busy this off-season trying to create some depth on both sides of the ball. The offense is still star studded and led by one of the best the game has ever seen, but I have a few concerns about the offensive line. Sebastian Vollmer’s health, Brian Waters age, Dan Koppen’s ageand health are the big three. While the Patriots running backs have shown some promise, they are all very wet behind the ears. On defense, let’s face it, the group is just awful. The Pats are likely moving back to a 3-4 this season and haven’t really figured out who is going to play the five-tech role in the defense. Both end spots are up for grabs while Wilfork mans the middle. At linebacker the Patriots are deep, but again they lack pass rushers. Chandler Jones is strictly a defensive end. He’s nowhere near athletic enough to play linebacker, and even if he becomes a good pass rusher I suspect he’ll never become a three dimensional linebacker because of that lack of balance and athleticism he has. If I were New England I’d tack some weight onto Jones frame and try to turn him into a Richard Seymour pass rushing five-tech. In the secondary the Pats need a big improvement from Devin McCourty in 2012 and a healthy Ras-I Dowling to find success. If the Pats offense weren’t as good as it was, New England would be far lower on this list.
6. Baltimore Ravens
This has to be the year for Joe Flacco to really take the next step. He needs to become a more cerebral quarterback and it needs to happen now. Baltimore is very deep along the offensive line after drafting Kelechi Osemele and Gino Gradkowski both in the first four rounds. If the Ravens can get the Ray Rice contract situation dealt with then he and Bernard Pierce could provide a dangerous tandem at running back for a mammoth sized offensive line. On defense, though losing Terrell Suggs will hurt the pass rush, if Terrence Cody can really take the next step this season then the combination of Cody and Ngata should be able to free up linebackers anyway. Courtney Upshaw will immediately assume Jarrett Johnson’s old role, hopefully with some more pass rushing skill though (I doubt it). In the meantime, the Ravens need to see if Sergio Kindle and Paul Kruger can provide the speed the defense needs to get after quarterbacks. On the back end the Ravens are still very effective, but how effective they’ll be if the pass rush suffers from no Terrell Suggs this year I don’t know. This is a well-coached and well-run organization that should be fine getting back to the playoffs, but I don’t think they’re real Super Bowl contenders.
7. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles did a nice job addressing the issues that plagued them last season, even though Juan Castillo is still running the defense, he should be much better in year two. Even if he’s never a genius defensive coordinator experience certainly helps. Adding Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, and DeMeco Ryans was big. Cox and Kendricks could contribute immediately, and Ryans fills a giant need for a run-stopping linebacker. Though his coverage ability has fallen off, the further removed he gets from his season ending 2010 injury the better he’ll become. While much of Philadelphia’s success requires on health for a team that’s not very deep (the Jason Peters injury hurts), they are deep in the place that counts. Mike Kafka is running away with the back-up quarterback job and has always been a favorite of mine thanks to his ability to move the pocket. Though I wasn’t a huge fan of moving Asante Samuel after Nnamdi Asomugha’s struggles and the lack of health at safety last year the Eagles back end should be okay considering how good their pass rush can be. The Eagles are built in a similar manner to the 2000’s Colts. If they can get an early lead it’s hard to come back as they pin their deep pass rushers ears back. If Philadelphia’s ability to stop the run improves like I think it will with Cox, Kendricks, and Ryans the Eagles should be a playoff team, and maybe even NFC East division winners.
8. New York Giants
People like to forget when a team struggles if they’re able to go on a magical run like the Giants did. And while the Giants injury-plagued run was impressive I am seriously concerned about Eli Manning’s ability to replicate last season unless Will Beatty takes the next step and Hakeem Nicks’ foot injury does not linger. The Giants also lack a legitimate answer at tight end and defensively are still very thin in the back seven. That being said, after Jason Pierre-Paul’s outstanding 2011 and the Giants continued depth on the defensive line there can be no doubt that this team will compete. This team only went 9-7 last year, and next season they’ll face a loaded AFC North and NFC South divisions while also being forced to travel to San Francisco and face Green Bay again. All this on top of a difficult NFC East schedule? The Giants may be a good team, but good teams miss the playoffs all the time, and the Giants could easily miss them in 2012. Again though, this should show you how deep the NFC is.
9. Chicago Bears
I’ve never been a big fan of the Bears, but Lovie Smith continued to win with limited talent, and now the Bears are really moving in the right direction. Though I still question their offensive line, Mike Tice has done a great job getting the most out of a unit limited in talent. Jeremy Bates is coordinating the Bears passing attack and bringing in Brandon Marshall and drafting Alshon Jeffery show me that the Bears are finally ready to give Cutler the real talent he needs to succeed. Defensively, the Bears added Shea McCellin to an already great rushing defense. Urlacher and Briggs continue to clean up in the running game, though age may soon catch up with them. The Bears biggest weakness is in the secondary, but they do have a nice mix of young talent and veteran leadership. As long as Cutler and Forte are healthy we know the Bears have a formula for success. They brought in Jason Campbell to back-up Cutler just in case he gets hurt again–and Campbell is a very efficient, high quality back-up. This team is just two years removed from an NFC Championship appearance. Don’t be surprised if they wind up back there again. When Cutler’s on top of his game he’s one of the most lethal quarterbacks in football, and if Jeremy Bates finds the right formula it’ll make the Bears a serious dark horse in the NFC race.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
That’s right. The team that finished the season on a ten game losing streak is in my top ten. How could they not be after the off-season Tampa Bay has had? There’s an old expression–you are only as strong as you’re weakest link. Well the Bucs weeded out those weak links and replaced them with the two best free agents on the market–Carl Nicks and Vincent Jackson. Then the Bucs were able to outbid Detroit for Eric Wright who had an outstanding bounce back season in 2011 from a ball skill perspective (4 INT’s and 17 PD’s), but he needs a lot of work in coverage. It’ll help being across from Aqib Talib and getting help from converted free safety Ronde Barber over the top. Add in Mark Barron at strong safety, which is perfect for him, and the Greg Schiano no-nonsense, all accountability style of coaching and you have to think that the Buccaneers may have had the best off-season in the league. Watch out for second round pick Lavonte David. He has a great shot at winning defensive rookie of the year. Tampa Bay isn’t guaranteed to be a playoff team, but Josh Freeman has a lot more talent around him and won’t have to press as much as he did last year. The Bucs are dangerous–and anyone who takes this team lightly will regret it.
11. Detroit Lions
The latest incidents with the Lions regarding Nick Fairley’s second arrest of the month and Titus Young’s essential banishment from the team facility for hitting Louis Delmas has me wondering exactly how little character the Lions as an organization have. I’m starting to wonder if Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson club seals during the off-season. That being said, the Detroit offense should be very explosive again this year, though you must hope that Riley Reiff gets into the line-up sooner rather then later to keep Stafford healthy. Detroit’s got a very good, and very deep front seven, but again their secondary is going to be an issue. The defense allowed over 400 yards of offense in five of their last six games (including 500+ against the Matt Flynn led Packers and over 600 against New Orleans). The Lions rushing defense allowed 5 yards per carry last season, a number that must go down. They can’t live so dangerously again in 2012.
12. Tennessee Titans
This ranking is contingent upon the Titans stop babying Jake Locker and let him loose. Locker looked very good in his limited action last year and the Titans offense moved a lot better with him as quarterback. With one of the deepest receiving corps. in football with the return of Kenny Britt and the arrival of Kendall Wright, the Titans will look to become more wide open this year and open things up for the running game. Two excellent book end tackles and the free agent signing of Steve Hutchinson could give Tennessee the help they need to get back to the playoffs. There are question marks on offense, but with the mobile Locker extending plays with his feet and playing with more talent then he ever could have dreamed of while at Washington, they could be the most dangerous offense in football. Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, Damian Williams, Jared Cook Jr., and Chris Johnson are amazing weapons for any young quarterback. A healthy and motivated Britt is the type of dynamic split-end that can dominate games. Nate Washington showed he can be a valuable weapon in between the 20’s and Damian Williams provides a good Steve Smith (the former Giant, not Panther) possession receiver. Jared Cook Jr. is an explosive tight end with Vernon Davis potential and if Chris Johnson is back to full conditioning this off-season get ready for one of the best offenses you’ve seen in a long time. On defense, the Titans are expecting Kamerion Wimbley and Jurrell Casey to free up room for former first round pick Derrick Morgan to finally emerge as a big-time pass rusher. The Titans linebackers are young and athletic, though the secondary is going to be a question mark. There are big expectations for 2010 4th round pick Alteraun Verner as he replaces Cortland Finnegan. This team is going to be dangerous in 2012 if they live up to potential.
13. Houston Texans
God really must hate the Houston Texans. If there was ever a year for the Texans it was 2011. They were the most talented, the most balanced, and the only team that had enough of everything to truly challenge an NFC team. So why are they so low in 2012? Age. The offense is starting to age. By November they’ll have six starters over 30, and they’re all pretty important to the passing game. The Texans have a dynamic running game, but their age has started to show in the injuries and slow recovery time of Andre Johnson. Matt Schaub comes in playing with a double edged sword. Coming off another season-ending injury, Schaub’s durability has become a question again now over 30 and suffering his third extended injury with the Texans in five years. On defense, the Texans moved experience vets Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans, which were both good decisions for the long-term, but Houston will now be relying on a combination of Bradie James and Darryl Sharpton to replace Ryans and still lack a true nose tackle. The Texans defense struggled with interior runs, and that will likely continue again this season. In the secondary it seems foolish to hope Kareem Jackson will ever become anything more then an average corner. Houston is still plenty talented, but their window is closing thanks to injuries, age, and years of underachieving (and being stuck in a division with the Manning-led Colts).
14. Denver Broncos
Speaking of Peyton Manning, the Broncos aren’t exactly flawless either. As great as Manning is, we still have no idea what type of contribution to expect from him. The Broncos also didn’t address their inconsistent offensive line. Despite promising right tackle Orlando Franklin, Ryan Clady has continued to regress at left tackle while J.D. Walton and Zane Beadles have struggled in the interior. On defense, the Broncos surprisingly let Broderick Bunkley walk and are expecting Kevin Vickerson, Ty Warren, and rookie Derek Wolfe to man the middle. In the secondary, I am concerned about Champ Bailey’s ability to continue playing at such a high level. While I liked the Jack Del Rio hire at defensive coordinator, there is no guarantee he can get the same out of this defense that Dennis Allen got–especially after letting Bunkley and Marcus Thomas walk. Good thing Denver plays in what has become the worst division in football.
15. New York Jets
The Jets are fortunate to play a very weak schedule in 2012. There are question marks littered throughout the team in very important places. Even though I firmly believe that Mark Sanchez is going to take a big step forward in 2012 and that the Tebow package will be very effective, I am definitely concerned about New York’s lack of playmaking ability on offense if Shonn Greene doesn’t find his explosiveness from 2009. On defense, the Jets have a ton of questions in the pass rushing department, but are hoping a strong defensive line that’s very deep will be able to make up for it’s lack luster linebacker play. Calvin Pace has really fallen off and Bryan Thomas can’t be expected to contribute in a starter’s role, but if the Jets scheme it right they can get a big season from Aaron Maybin thanks to the addition of Quinton Coples. In the secondary, the Jets are playing with fire at safety with the aging Yeremiah Bell and the oft-injured LaRon Landry. The Jets have great potential on both sides of the ball, but 2012 is going to need to be the best coaching job that Rex Ryan has ever done.
16. San Diego Chargers
I thought the Chargers had a really strong off-season an draft, but they failed to address a glaring weakness at right tackle. They made the right call in moving on from Marcus McNeill and re-signing Jared Gaither, but the Chargers offense requires strong book-end tackle play. There is no depth at the position and both players in Gaither and Clarey are very inconsistent. On defense, the Chargers have a very deep linebacking corps. thanks to the additions of Jarrett Johnson (FA) and Melvin Ingram (18th overall pick). Plus I loved the additions of Brandon Taylor (3rd round pick) at safety and Le’Ron McClain at fullback (FA). Still, San Diego seems to hang by a thread again if they can’t got the proper tackle play they need to make the offense function. The Chargers need to figure out a way to limit the big plays they gave up last year. That will be the goal of new defensive coordinator John Pagano.
17. Dallas Cowboys
Dallas did a nice job filling all of their needs going into the year and while a healthy Dallas team will be dangerous I still think that the secondary has a couple of glaring question marks that only playing time will be able to answer. A tough schedule won’t help matters either for a Dallas team that faces the AFC North and NFC South in addition to it’s own deep division. They’ll also face a resurgent Bears team and be forced to travel to Seattle–one of the most difficult places to play in the NFL.
18. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons are moving in the wrong direction. Matt Ryan was outstanding in the second half of 2011, but he’ll need to play that way in all of 2012 to help Atlanta get back to the playoffs. In one of the deepest divisions in football, Atlanta will be relying on a running game that’s lost it’s explosiveness as Michael Turner continues to lose speed and a defense with a seriously compromised pass rush if 34 year old John Abraham loses a step. The Falcons run defense has struggled in the middle and the team did nothing to address that–even letting Curtis Lofton walk to division rival New Orleans. The Falcons also let Kelvin Hayden walk, but made a great choice in bringing Asante Samuel in. I don’t buy that Matt Ryan will be able to keep up the strong play from the second half of 2011–especially not with Dirk Koetter calling the plays. Koetter doesn’t offer much difference then Mike Mularkey did, though this will be the most talented offense Koetter has worked with in the NFL. Still, a patchy pass blocking line is another cause for concern.
19. Seattle Seahawks
This is one of the most strangely built teams in football. Big, oversized corners, comprised mostly of possession receivers, a zone blocking team that features a power running back, and good ol’ Pete Carroll calling the shots with a 330 pound converted nose tackle playing left end. Yeah, Seattle’s weird. I like the acquisitions of Jason Jones and Barrett Ruud and even though he won’t contribute immediately Bruce Irvin is a nice fit in Carroll’s system. Even though I didn’t agree with the pick, Irvin’s got insane athleticism. With the additions of Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson at quarterback, the Seahawks should be good enough to be a competitive team in 2012, but the playoffs might still be a stretch with three cross-country trips in store for the Seahawks.
20. Buffalo Bills
I’m not buying into the hype. The Bills never live up to the preseason standards and it won’t be that much different this year. Ryan Fitzpatrick has failed to yet show he can hold up over the course of an entire season, though he usually toughs out his injuries, it seems to hurt the team more then it helps it. And while Mario Williams has elite ability, he’s had season ending surgery two straight seasons. Mark Anderson may have gotten double digit sacks last year, but on a per-play-basis was not very effective. He got a lot of sacks last season thanks to how often teams were throwing against New England. Shawne Merriman also can’t be counted on having appeared in just 23 games over the last four seasons (14 of which were in one year). I like Buffalo’s linebackers, but the secondary also leaves something to be desired with the raw Stephon Gilmore holding down a starting job. On offense, the line is patchy in places–especially in pass blocking with Kraig Urbik and Andy Levitre. Despite his inconsistency’s Levitre has shown promise with versatility and nastiness. The biggest question of all though still lingers–why is Buffalo always so awful down the stretch?
21. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals defense is still very strong, but there has to be a lot of concern in the secondary. Leon Hall is coming off of major surgery on his Achilles, Nate Clements and Terrence Newman are both on their last legs (Clements was at least respectable last year) and the Bengals offense could still sputter at any moment like it did last year during a 3-6 finish to the season (including a blowout loss in the playoffs). The running game lacks explosiveness with grinder BenJarvus Green-Ellis likely to lead the team in carries. This isn’t a playoff team in the division they play in with the schedule they face.
22. Carolina Panthers
I don’t care who their starting quarterback is, with a defense this bad it’s unlikely that the Panthers are going to be a playoff team anytime soon. They’ll be entertaining, but not likely a playoff team. I question the decision to bring in zero competition for oft-injured Jeff Otah and I am also wondering if the league will figure out Cam Newton in 2012. Too many question marks.
23. Kansas City Chiefs
Despite a team that’s getting healthy, they’re still led by a teddy bear in Romeo Crennel and a quarterback who has never found success without Charlie Weis or Josh McDaniels calling his plays. The Chiefs don’t lack talent, but the back end of their defense is much more dangerous then their line. Dorsey and Tyson Jackson continue to show serious inconsistency, and while there is a load of talent between Dorsey, Jackson, and Dontari Poe that doesn’t mean they’re going to find success.
24. Washington Redskins
I preferred Andrew Luck, but the Skins are a slightly better team then Indy. With the return of Jarvis Jenkins who lost his rookie year to injury Washington’s defensive line is very, very deep. The secondary is loaded with talent, but also inconsistency. Tanard Jackson and Brandon Meriweather have plenty of talent between them, but both lack discipline. On offense the Skins are still full of holes on the offensive line and while they overhauled the receiving corps. they don’t have a true deep threat for RGIII unless Leonard Hankerson takes a big step forward this year.
25. Oakland Raiders
Oakland’s offensive line could be an issue, but there is potential for a dangerous offense. The problem is on defense, where the Raiders just fell apart at the end of 2011. Enter new coach Dennis Allen. If he can get the most out of the talent, like he did in Denver, Oakland could surprise some teams. But they were terrible in the red zone last year and couldn’t stop the run at all. Expecting Ronald Bartell Jr. who missed all of last season with a bad neck injury and the aging Shawntae Spencer to shore up the secondary is nuts.
26. Indianapolis Colts
They are going to be more competitive then people think. I really liked the hirings of Chuck Pagano and Bruce Arians while also bringing in Greg Manusky to coordinate the defense. The Colts have surrounded Andrew Luck with enough talent to at least be respectable in 2012. Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen could be immediately successful while Samson Satele and Winston Justice will help shore up the Colts offensive line, if healthy. The Colts will also need Anthony Costanzo and Ben Iljana to stay healthy this season. If they do, the Colts line will be much, much better in 2012. Defensively this team is moving to a 3-4, and it looks like a nightmarish conversion right now with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis moving to outside linebacker and a very thin front three and secondary.
27. St. Louis Rams
While the Rams have added a lot of offensive line depth, there still has to be a giant concern about the health and ability of tackles Roger Saffold and Jason Smith. The Rams were active in free agency bringing in Scott Wells, Quinn Ojinnaka, Robert Turner, and Barry Richardson to avoid injuries ravaging the line again. They also signed Kendall Langford and Trevor Laws to help shore up the interior line. At corner, the Rams overhauled by signing Cortland Finnegan drafting Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson. There’s more talent, but the same question marks linger. Once again, the Rams are relying heavily on a youthful receiving corps. And don’t even get me started on the hiring of Brian Schottenheimer. It’s one thing to give him a veteran quarterback, but to let him ruin another promising, young quarterback? Until the Rams can answer the initial questions of offensive line health and receiver talent this team will remain irrelevant. The potential is there, but there is also no reason to buy into it in 2012.
28. Minnesota Vikings
Adrian Peterson isn’t 100% yet, I’m still not sold on Christian Ponder, Matt Kalil shouldn’t be starting from day one, the talent in the receiving corps. is still paper thin and the Vikings are still very weak in the secondary. Is anything else necessary?
29. Arizona Cardinals
Despite a strong finish to 2011, the Cardinals still have a ton of question marks at quarterback and along the offensive line while concerns about the health of Beanie Wells remain. On defense, the Arizona rushing defense collapsed at seasons end and the safety corps. is starting to age. With three difficult trips to the east coast, Arizona could really struggle in 2012.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars
I love the defense the Jaguars are building, but there are still some questions in the secondary and in the pass rush. They’ll be great stopping the run again, but what will that matter on a team that has serious issues moving the football? The Jags may have improved the talent in the receiving corps., but Gabbert still sees ghosts in the pocket. His full potential will never be realized until someone knocks the fear out of him.
31. Miami Dolphins
New head coach, new defense, so few weapons on offense that they want to use 4th round running back Lamar Miller in the slot, and a questionable offensive line with struggling guards in Incognito and John Jerry along with a rookie right tackle who is out of place in Jonathan Martin lead to an awful lot of problems in Miami in 2012.
32. Cleveland Browns
The least talented team in the NFL is also the least deep. They’re about one injury on defense away from the group unraveling thanks to Phil Taylor’s torn pectoral muscle. On offense, they’re going to be likely led by a physically limited Colt McCoy or a 28 year old rookie who comes from a spread attack who also doesn’t have a great arm and a history of arm problems. With a few new offensive linemen in the mix and limited receiver talent along with a head coach who hired an offensive coordinator with great play calling experience in Brad Childress who still won’t relinquish play calling duties I am just throwing in the towel on Cleveland ever being good.