That makes 53.
No, I'm not talking about roster size here -- we're months away from franchises having to whittle active participants down to that number. This past weekend marked the 53rd annual college marketplace since the AFL and NFL combined the process. Prior to 1967, professional football's prospect gold rush was the Wild West, with two leagues separately vying for players' services outside of the public eye. Now it's streamlined corporate event meets oversized 32-frat party, with wall-to-wall media coverage across America.
With this fresh influx of talent into each organization, figuring out the league hierarchy gets tricky. Yet, I've endeavored to do just that below. Try to remember that, despite the sea of draft grades and hype, most of these players won't contribute much this year.
None of that is meant to disparage what was an intriguing three-day watch. The 2019 NFL Draft provided plenty of intrigue, with a bevy of first-round surprises and an unprecedented trading frenzy, as the weekend included an NFL-record 40 draft-day deals. One of those transactions, of course, saw a top-10 pick from just last year already landing in a new spot. Classy move on that video, Josh. Speaking of video ...
Yep. Mayock says it on TV, everyone's on board. Mayock actually executes it in the draft, everyone's on the warpath.
I don't think anyone realizes the madness of the salary cap era. On-point tweetage. Enjoy Bill's work, btw.
Let the dissension commence!
Previous rank:*No. 2*
The Saints ... are ... the ... top ... team ... in ... the ... league. Let that sink in, because it ain't changin'. Well, for now. I'm aware that New Orleans didn't own a first-round pick, but that didn't matter. Since the last time out for these Power Rankings, New Orleans added tight end Jared Cook, whom the Patriots reportedly wanted to "replace" Gronk. All of the newly minted rookies in the NFL represent a collective unknown; meanwhile, this New Orleans roster is top-shelf. By the way, the Saints still produced a quality draft haul despite the lack of picks, starting with the real McCoy at center.
Previous rank: No. 1
The Patriots surprised more than a few folks by tabbing N'Keal Harry to be their big wideout outside with the No. 32 overall pick. Call him the Josh Gordon placeholder for now. The need was real, as is the Arizona State star's talent. No matter how well this 2019 class turns out, New England was bound for a downswing with the exit of Rob Gronkowski. Speculating about draft picks is super fun, but expecting any of these kids at this point to find their way into Gronk's area code as a player will put you in the funny farm.
Championship pick: Joejuan Williams (No. 45 overall), a player cut from the Otis Smith mold -- he of the 2001 Pats team. Lots of big receivers in this draft. Huge corner here.
Previous rank:*No. 3*
Like the Saints, the Rams were devoid of a first-round pick. Waaaah! This group is ready to return to the Super Bowl, with a little luck. All eyes will be on running back Todd Gurley and his workload come August. Methinks Cooper Kupp's torn ACL last November was downplayed -- or flat overlooked -- in terms of the effect it had on Los Angeles's season and the 2019 ceiling. Facing the likes of Kupp, Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks in practice will only help the game of the Rams' first pick, safety Taylor Rapp. Rapp = a steal late in the second round.
Previous rank:*No. 4*
All that talk about the Chargers using a high pick to find Philip Rivers' replacement at quarterback ended up getting stuck out in the rain with all those fans in Nashville on Thursday night. What LAC did do was bolster the middle of the defense by drafting Jerry Tillery from Notre Dame (No. 28 overall), though the Bolts had to overlook the shoulder surgery he underwent prior to the draft. He just has to be ready for camp -- actually, he just has to make more plays than the Chargers' DTs did in their playoff loss to the Patriots in Foxborough. Tillery was an avid watcher of C-SPAN whilst in middle school, so perhaps he can convince everyone his new squad blew out the Patriots in the postseason as an alternative fact.
Previous rank:*No. 5*
The Colts are pulling the slow-play routine, with Chris Ballard evolving into the Keith Sweat of GMs. Trading out of the first round reflected the patient approach of this franchise, while acquiring additional picks in the process represented yet more of the kind of pragmatism that pushed Indy -- unexpectedly, mind you -- to the playoffs last season. Then the Colts added a dash of 90-to-nothing speed, drafting wideout Parris Campbell late in the second round (No. 59 overall). You couldn't catch that dude with a '95 Supra. Heard plenty of sports radio talk extolling the virtues of the Colts' newest wide receiver.
Previous rank:*No. 7*
"All the Right Moves" is both the name of a middling Tom Cruise football movie from 1983 and the correct label for what the 2017 NFL champs are doing. Philadelphia hit the ground running in the first round by leapfrogging the Texans (picking at No. 23) into the 22nd overall spot to ensure they'd land Jason Peters' eventual replacement, Andre Dillard, who will eventually look out for Carson Wentz's blind side. Other draft banter: Still appreciate the trade for running back Jordan Howard, even with Doug Pederson's squad adding a quality Penn State back ( Miles Sanders) in the second round (No. 53 overall). Anyone else feel like the Eagles are winning at life?
Previous rank:*No. 8*
After some wheelin' and dealin' with the Patriots, the Bears tabbed David Montgomery (No. 73 overall) to join the mix after Jordan Howard's exit. My colleague Daniel Jeremiah saw Montgomery as the second-best running back in the draft. Ultimately, Montgomery should be a more appropriate fit for Matt Nagy's offensive style than Howard was. The moment was so special that former Chicago center Olin Kreutz donned a Hawaiian shirt to mark the occasion. You'll find plenty of critics who've downgraded the running back position so much that they would automatically pan the Montgomery pick. Your friendly writer is not one of them.
Previous rank:*No. 6*
The story of the draft in Chiefsville unfortunately has little to do with the team's actual draft. With a prosecutor re-opening an investigation into child abuse involving receiver Tyreek Hill, Kansas City acquired an absolute speedster in Georgia receiver Mecole Hardman (No. 56 overall), who doubles up as instant offense in the return game. This guy is a sterling example of the notion of "football speed" -- he ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, but in game action, it looks more like he's got 4.03 speed. One question a lot of people have been asking: Why trade Dee Ford away and then acquire Frank Clark? I will say that the latter player is more consistent. Still, odd times in K.C., all the way around. Hope CB/S Juan Thornhill (No. 63 overall) pans out, because the secondary has only been panned the last two years. Versatile player.
Previous rank:*No. 11*
The Cowboys required just one piece to put together the premier defense in the league: a big, talented defensive tackle. They found that guy, with a dash of quickness, in Trysten Hill (No. 58 overall) out of Central Florida. If he develops, it will only serve to maximize the abilities of Tank Lawrence and Robert Quinn on the edges, while minimizing the bustiness of 2017 first-rounder Taco Charlton (4.0 career sacks). The last Dallas defensive tackle to impact the game from a four-man front was La'Roi Glover, dating back to the Bill Parcells days. If the kids in the Dallas secondary take the next step this year, look out. Dak Prescott and the offense might only have to put 16 points on the board to win. OK, you're right, I'm being too friendly to the Cowboys ... Make it 17.
Previous rank:*No. 9*
Quiet draft for an organization that made the most noise, by far, during free agency. Cleveland's first selection (CB Greedy Williams) didn't come until the draft was 45 picks deep. The difference between the Browns' draft haul this year and those of the last 20 years is that these rookies won't have to step in and play right away. This is not a talent-empty group hoping to find light at the end of a 6-10 tunnel. The Browns are strong enough to reach six wins by midseason. Don't freak out about the slight drop, as this year in Cleveland is not about the draft.
Previous rank:*No. 10*
Since the last time the Power Rankings hit the interwebs, Russell Wilson*hit the jackpot.* Call it a wonderful move for the future of the franchise and a terrifying move for the remainder of that sterling Seahawks 2013-14 nucleus. Enter the trade of Frank Clark, a 25-year-old defensive end they were going to have to otherwise pay to keep around long term. (Please find a way to get Bobby Wagner compensated.) As for the financial constraints, thems the breaks when you pay one quarterback such a big piece of your salary-cap pizza. The extra toppings might start with first-round pass rusher L.J. Collier (No. 29 overall). Holy crap, was his tape good. He was blowing past dudes in the Senior Bowl -- other future high draft picks, mind you -- like he was Grant Wistrom ... uh ... like he was Michael Bennett, and the offensive linemen were any of the tackles this Seahawks team has employed over the years. Loved the pick. Love TCU players. More love: Wilson moon balls to D.K. Metcalf. Look out. And WR Gary Jennings (Round 4, No. 120) puts a feather in his helmet before every game because of a bird incident two years ago (although it has nothing to do with parking under a tree).
Previous rank:*No. 13*
The Vikings bulked up their offensive front with Garrett Bradbury (No. 18 overall) in the first round, then swung around in the second to take tight end Irv Smith (No. 50 overall). Ask any fan in Minnesota what they want this summer around training camp time, and they'll tell you: "An ice-cold beer." Then they might mention blocking help. Bradbury comes highly recommended for the middle of that line, while Smith's handiwork up front should assist what has been an on-again, off-again, off-again running game. Still think Minnesota can be a playoff team, but Bradbury must step in and play like a vet opening week.
Previous rank:*No. 15*
Those boys in Baltimore knocked the draft out of the park. The first few picks in the GM's first swing at this deal should make waves immediately in the AFC North. First-round receiver Marquise Brown's speed will be untenable for defenses who must hesitate against the league's heaviest RPO offense. Miles Boykin out of Notre Dame (the 93rd overall pick) injects even more speed into an offense that now has it in spades -- and at 6-foot-4, he couldn't be any more opposite than the 5-9 Brown in terms of catch radius. OK, let's go to the Ravens' earlier third-round pick, Jaylon Ferguson. Baltimore simply had to secure pass-rushing help in this draft with the departures of Za'Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs in free agency. Ferguson could have gone in the first round. More on Brown: I think he buckled me into a roller coaster at Magic Mountain a few years ago when he spent a season at College of the Canyons, where he first made a name for himself. And while we're on the name front, "Hollywood" is not this speedster's original nickname. It was "Jet Fuel." Second opinion: That latter nickname is way better.
Previous rank:*No. 14*
The Titans hold their ranking from the post-free agency exercise. Call it a balance struck between the team's solid draft class and a first-round pick who is not yet ready to be a star on the field. If DT Jeffery Simmons eventually pans out, then Tennessee plucking him at 19th overall was a stealthy bargain. The Titans' offense will fully welcome No. 51 overall pick A.J. Brown's talents -- last season, the Air Raid in Nashville amounted to a few hang gliders floating around in concentric circles. Third-rounder Nate Davis (No. 82 overall) could start early on the offensive line for Mike Vrabel.
Previous rank:*No. 12*
So the Texans missed out on Andre Dillard and selected Tytus Howard (No. 23 overall) one pick later. Tytus sounds more like a centurion from Roman times than the guy who could prevent Houston from having to bus its battered quarterback to Jacksonville for football again, but hopefully the move works out for Bill O'Brien and Co. This Jadeveon Clowney*trade jazz* doesn't sound like the optimal company move, but whatever. Drafting Lonnie Johnson (No. 54 overall) should keep the Bobs at bay, though. The plus-sized CB should contribute immediately.
Previous rank:*No. 17*
How good will be the Packers be in 2019? Much depends on whether or not the young receivers they drafted last year turn out, because, in a surprising development, they turned their nose up on the legion of mock drafters who thought they were in play for a wideout. Potential Game 1 starters from this year's crop of rookies: OG Elgton Jenkins (No. 44 overall), S Darnell Savage (No. 21). Not cheesy pick: TE Jace Sternberger out of Texas A&M, a third-rounder (No. 75) who was the team's fourth pick. NFL.com draft expert Bucky Brooks placed Sternberger in his top five tight ends by the end of the pre-draft process (batting cleanup behind T.J. Hockenson, Noah Fant and Irv Smith Jr.).
Previous rank:*No. 16*
Mixed reviews on the Falcons' draft decisions, as not everyone was in like with the selection of Christopher Lindstrom at 14th overall. My colleague -- and the ultimate draftnik -- Lance Zierlein felt the former Boston College guard was a second-rounder. The Falcons then selected offensive tackle Kaleb McGary 31st overall, which should provide some oomph in the ground game. Atlanta has now retooled the O-line so completely that every projected starter up front is a former first-round pick. Wow. That's never happened before in the common-draft era, in case you were wondering (hat tip to Adam Schefter). You weren't? Cool.
Previous rank:*No. 18*
Devin Bush (No. 10 overall) was a phenomenal pick -- or at least he has the potential to be. Third-rounder Diontae Johnson (No. 66) startled the senior producer to NFL Network's "Path to the Draft," who said the show rarely delved into Johnson's tape -- and yet, the Toledo product turned into the second selection of the third round. There were several receivers our Network guys had ranked higher, frankly. Then again, Pittsburgh has, ahem, enjoyed a little success beyond the first round at wide receiver. (Don't bring up Limas Sweed.) Back to Bush: My producer friend loved the maneuver to get a leader for the Steelers' defense. "Some people might think 10th was too high to take him. But when you know a guy you want to be a leader, you gotta go up and get that guy." Agreed. If you haven't seen the congratulations video from Bush's family, it was awesome.
Previous rank:*No. 21*
Sneaky draft for the Jags, who are set to wage war on the rest of the AFC South after a one-year hiatus from competitiveness (at least, we think it was merely a hiatus). Pulling off the double-dip of landing two players carrying first-round grades -- DE Josh Allen (No. 7 overall) and OT Jawaan Taylor (No. 35 overall) -- without having to actually use two first-round picks was, if not sneaky, definitely slick. Boy, if Josh Oliver (No. 69 overall) provides some pop in the air game from the tight end position, then the Jags not only fixed weaknesses, but did it without betraying a classic best player available approach.
Previous rank:*No. 19*
The Lions took hold of the free agency period, giving their roster a pretty stiff jolt to contend in what has become a tight and stout NFC North. Tightening gaps in March means drafting to prevent for future gaps in April. Detroit did gain an instant starter in the process, making the call to the premier tight end in the great college football marketplace, T.J. Hockenson (No. 8 overall). The rest of the calls? Eh, meh, uh ... LB Jahlani Tavai (No. 43) might have been a reach, but S Will Harris should serve to fix up Matt Patricia's secondary. Anyone else notice Patricia's new 'do in the Lions' war room? I think he was wearing one of those UNTUCKit shirts, designed for men who have an untucked lifestyle. It's a new season in Motown.
Previous rank:*No. 20*
Debated long and hard about the 49ers' spot in these rankings, originally placing them above both the Jags and Lions in an early version. The issue in the revision remains the unknowns surrounding Jimmy Garoppolo, who flashed in 2017 but still must prove his status as a franchise quarterback. Making Garoppolo's job easier is the acquisition of two prime prospects outside: second-round pick Deebo Samuel out of South Carolina and third-round pick Jalen Hurd from Baylor. The latter limited Alvin Kamara's touches while at Tennessee before transferring to Waco. Think about that statement -- take your time. Nick Bosa was the headliner of GM John Lynch's draft booty, but all three of these prospects could be contributing factors to San Francisco wins early next season. The Niners are almost certain to climb this league hierarchy.
Previous rank:*No. 22*
Every Raiders fan in the nation, from Las Vegas to Las Colinas and even the outer edges of Nova Scotia, couldn't stop talking about fourth-round tight end Foster Moreau. Sorry, just kidding. Clelin Ferrell was a massive topic of conversation all weekend. Apparently, because Oakland didn't take Kentucky's Josh Allen, Ferrell was a "reach" or a "risk" or flat-out just the wrong player at fourth overall. GM Mike Mayock could give two squirrels' farts about what you think. Football isn't won on the gridiron of graphic mock drafts. You know what does win games? Running the damn football. That's why Josh Jacobs marked the second first-round pick of the Jon Gruden/Mayock marriage. Here's the remarkable aspect of the Jacobs selection: How many times in NFL history has a running back, who started just four games in college, been drafted in the first round? Unreal. No tread wear, man. None.
Previous rank: No. 23
So much banter about how the Jets should've traded down from the third overall pick. But with the Cardinals on the clock first -- less than four months after they hired Kliff Kingsbury -- Kyler Murray was bound to be the first overall pick ... even though he wasn't the top overall prospect in the draft. He was the best choice because the Cards, desirous of a QB1 who fit Kingsbury's system, had the pick. And you can make the case that the 49ers' selection of Nick Bosa was fueled by an open slot on the edge opposite Dee Ford -- and a glut of recent premium picks already manning the interior of the D-line. This kinda made Joey Bosa their no-brainer choice. (Although San Francisco's brain trust did dine with Quinnen Williams during the pre-draft process. Williams chose IHOP. No joke. Perhaps John Lynch is more of a Waffle House guy.) All of which is to say the Jets might have gotten themselves the P1 of the 2019 draft -- as in, THE top player -- at No. 3.
Previous rank:*No. 25*
If Ed Oliver turns out to be half the player Kyle Williams was, the Bills will be in fine shape come August. Oliver was one of those names you heard over and over again prior to the draft, emanating from that scary "can't-miss" section of draft prognostication, which comes with its own submerged warnings. Whether Oliver can miss or not is less of a question at No. 9 overall; the proper query to pose there is, did Buffalo acquire great value? Oliver could have gone earlier. Now, about those toys for Josh Allen ... surprised Buffalo didn't take D.K. Metcalf or A.J. Brown or J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Perhaps Acquiring John Brown and Cole Beasley this offseason was enough? Worth watching: Dawson Knox (No. 96 overall). According to Lance Zierlein, Knox can be dangerous when able to roam the middle of the field. Considering Allen's strength is going vertical, and Buffalo will be going play-action often, this qualifies as a nice fit.
Previous rank:*No. 26*
The Broncos seriously improved their football team early Friday evening. No longer will offensive line be a sore spot for John Elway, as the team added a physical player who can play multiple spots up front in Dalton Risner (No. 41 overall), then swung around to get quarterback help -- otherwise known as Joe Flaccoinsurance -- in Drew Lock with the very next pick in the draft. There were analysts, including scouting emperor Gil Brandt, who felt he was one of the top QBs in the draft. It sounded like Flacco would be irritated if Denver took a quarterback in the draft. Nobody cares if you're mad, bro.
Previous rank:*No. 24*
Did anyone else notice that Carolina avoided taking even one wide receiver in the first two days of the draft? A bit surprising, especially when you ponder the names that were in the 2019 class. Then again, the Panthers did what most of the draft predictors said they would do: With their first two picks, they swiped an edge rusher ( Brian Burns at No. 16 overall) and an offensive tackle ( Greg Little at No. 37) to plug holes. After tabbing Will Grier in Round 3 (No. 100) to be Cam Newton's caddy, the Panthers decided on Christian Miller (No. 115), a linebacker who only started a handful of games at Alabama -- but that isn't exactly a knock when you consider Miller's injury history and the fact that the Crimson Tide are more like a cover band for an NFL playoff team. Miller, the son of former Giants linebacker Corey Miller, put on 44 pounds at Alabama by devouring a bowl of SpaghettiOs every morning. Uh-oh.
Previous rank:*No. 27*
It's one thing to inject premier talent into a roster; it's entirely different to drop three first-round picks on your roster in a single night. Let's put the Daniel Jones/ Eli Manning quarterback docudrama to the side for a moment, as I don't think the selection of Jones at No. 6 overall will actually impact this season all that much right now. New York's defense allowed a river of points to flow to the other teams on the schedule last year. Well, it looks like they dammed it up this year. Doubtful the Giants give up 412 again with the additions of DT Dexter Lawrence (No. 17 overall) and CB Deandre Baker (No. 30 overall). Some in the Twitter gallery might not have liked GM Dave Gettleman moving up to get Baker. OK, but what good is owning draft capital if you aren't gonna use it? Still better than the Redskins, for now.
Previous rank:*No. 30*
Anytime a franchise can squeeze two or three first-round picks into its draft haul, it can mark a turning of the page -- especially if one of those players is a quarterback, or, uh, Bob Seger. There are plenty of draft critics who are high on Dwayne Haskins (No. 15 overall), the Ohio State product who immediately provides hope on the quarterback front. Case Keenum can be the perfect bridge for the organization -- and the rookie's evolution -- by simply treating every game like it's part of the 2017 Divisional Round. Mentoring and handing over the reins is not necessary; playing to win, and forcing the coaching staff to make Haskins compete, is the ticket.
Previous rank:*No. 28*
Tampa's supposed wants before the draft: CB, D-line, LB and RB. So what did the Bucs do? Acquire the best linebacker in the 2019 draft in Devin White with the fifth overall pick. The corner hole got filled in Round 2 by Sean Bunting, who was Daniel Jeremiah's eighth-best CB prospect. Bunting's size (6-foot, 195 pounds) could be pivotal when he is on the point against large, accomplished receivers like Julio Jones and Michael Thomas in the NFC South. Bruce Arians and the brain trust went corner again in the third round ( Jamel Dean), when there were still a gaggle of running backs with upside on the board. While it would have been nice to see Tampa Bay source some ground-game help at some point in the draft, here's (really) hoping that fifth-round kicker Matt Gay works out. That would make Bucs fans quite happy. Please.
Previous rank:*No. 29*
Quiet draft for the Bengals, who acquired the appropriate talent in the first round to bulk up their prospects in the erstwhile AFC North. You see, no division has morphed more than this one over the last two years. Thus, while pundits mill about with their Cincy projections, they aren't considering that the Steelers are weaker, the Ravens took a huge risk in going with Lamar Jackson full time (what if the rest of the league catches up?) and the Browns are promising, not proven. First-round grab Jonah Williams (No. 11 overall) was one of those rare need/probable-BPA picks. He's not only an upgrade, but upgrades Andy Dalton's upside. Uh, something like that, anyway.
Previous rank:*No. 32*
Say whatever you want about the Cardinals' handling of the Kyler Murray/ Josh Rosen situation, which landed somewhere on the spectrum between it stunk and it really stunk. Arizona was under much scrutiny for bailing on the 10th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft after one year, but there can be no denying the talent GM Steve Keim and his personnel room acquired in the 2019 draft. Byron Murphy (No. 33 overall) could finally balance the field playing opposite all-everything corner Patrick Peterson. Wideout Andy Isabella (No. 62 overall) can fly and, oh, by the way, managed to lead the nation in receiving yards, while Hakeem Butler's 6-foot-5 size and length pitted against smurf corners could be a real boon for Murray ... who will be looking up at him in the huddle. Hey, the Cards are moving up.
Previous rank:*No. 31*
The Dolphins aren't playing around, huh? Christian Wilkins (No. 13 overall) should step in and start from Day 1. On a team undergoing much roster turnover, including the installation of a younger nucleus, Wilkins' character, as much as his talent, will play a role in that locker room. Part of the youth movement was the acquisition of Josh Rosen from the Cardinals in exchange for the 62nd pick. Think about that: This guy went 10th overall last year. Come on. Third-round pick Michael Deiter (No. 78 overall) can do everything, which is why he started double-digit games at left tackle, left guard and center -- he can also show up to fix your cable in the first 20 minutes of that four-hour appointment window. Did you know he and his fellow offensive linemen met at Red Robin every week to discuss issues and take down 19,000 calories? They called it the "Red Robin High Council" ... not to be confused with the Fellowship of the Ring. You're welcome. Miami might not be down here for long.