Skip to main content

Power Rankings

Presented By

NFL Power Rankings: Raiders rise, Giants fall after 2017 draft

Ready to get your post-draft flex on?

Bet you Alex Smith is.

While you might be wondering where your favorite team stacks up heading into the offseason, can't help but wonder how the Chiefs QB situation will shake out. That's one of the many narratives to emanate from the 2017 NFL Draft. (Please ignore that the word "narrative" has been used in yet another sports column.) The move for Patrick Mahomes means Kansas City doesn't move up the pecking order below, as this post-draft accounting is not about who had the best prospect hauls in terms of long-term value, but rather which teams acquired the most players who can play now.

Thus, read the following accordingly. Which are the top-flight squads, as we stand here today? On a neutral field, would the Raiders beat the Cowboys? You get the drill. As always, gimme your thoughts on the league hierarchy: @HarrisonNFL is the place. Without further ado ...

Let the dissension commence!

NOTE: The lineup below reflects changes from our post-free agency Power Rankings.

Loved loved loved the Patriots' draft. Yes, I know they barely drafted anyone. Who cares? They used their picks as capital to acquire more victories. At the end of the day, that is all the draft's about. What use is there in developing players if they don't contribute to success or leave via free agency? New England has the nucleus of a Super Bowl winning team intact. No reason to think too far ahead when the Pats are the best team in the league, the starting quarterback turns 40 in August and a window exists now to win another Lombardi (or two). Thus, no issues here for spending a draft pick to acquire Brandin Cooks ... or Kony Ealy ... or Dwayne Allen ... or Mike Gillislee. All good moves in my book.

Enough with the Super Bowl LI talk. Does anyone piss on "Star Wars" because of "Attack of the Clones" and the really bad choice for Darth Vader's grandkid in "The Force Awakens"? No. Let's quit viewing the Falcons' 2016 campaign negatively just because of the bum ending. Those guys balled out, and this team hasn't gotten any worse. First-round pick Takkarist McKinley and free-agent signees Dontari Poe and Jack Crawford are going to help the front seven. Ditto third-round pick Duke Riley. And don't forget that five rookies made a huge impact last year ( Keanu Neal, Deion Jones, Austin Hooper, De'Vondre Campbell and Brian Poole). The personnel department is on a hot streak. In Hotlanta. You're welcome.

The Marshawn Lynch acquisition is no small deal. Beast Mode might be over 30, but he is playing for love more than the money and adds a much-needed component to this team: the four-minute offense. He will be the Dennis Eckersley for this ball club. Lynch really is the modern-day John Riggins. Two of the best true power backs to ever live (next to Earl Campbell), both of whom dominated in the postseason. Each has his own signature run: Riggins to close out Super Bowl XVII, Lynch to Beastquake the Saints. Both were mildly, wildly, eccentric. And both retired in what was supposed to be their 10th year, only to want to return to the brutality. As for the Raiders' draft? B to A-minus. Loved the Obi Melifonwu choice. The Gareon Conley pick was certainly controversial, and we'll have to see how that plays out.

Interesting draft for the Steelers, who look to return to the AFC Championship Game this year, but partially drafted for next. While T.J. Watt could contribute right away, according to our scout Lance Zierlein, his lack of a powerful base could be problematic ... think about going against power-running teams. The debatable pick came in Round 2, when Pittsburgh took receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Certainly not a terrible pick, but with Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Le'Veon Bell (who will catch 60 balls as a running back) on the roster, Smith-Schuster will be the fourth option -- at best.

Putting the draft aside, the Steelers and the NFL lost a giant with Dan Rooney's passing. The Rooney family in general has stewarded this franchise with the utmost class and humility, something our current world -- at least in the U.S. -- is missing. There's no need for me to remind anyone of the Rooney Rule here, but I would be remiss if I wrote about this without acknowledging the passing of a wonderful human being.

Tough to decide precisely which team should sit here in the Power Rankings. For now, we're going with the Packers, who are better at the quarterback position than the Cowboys and were able to contribute to a lineup that plays NOW, beginning with cornerback Kevin King, an outstanding pick at 33rd overall (he could've gone 10 spots earlier) who could end up starting over Davon House, or at least playing in nickel packages. Expect fellow second-round pick Josh Jones to be getting in on dime packages, as well. Third-round defensive tackle Montravius Adams should play right away, too.

Like the Packers, the Cowboys took care of business for the 2017 season and then some. Knowing they had to have a pass rusher, Dallas nabbed Taco Charlton in the first round. The taco salad came when the Joneses saddled up with Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis and Xavier Woods in the secondary, in that the fortunes of the pass rush can't be separated from those of the secondary. The only disappointment might have been team brass avoiding offensive line, meaning Chaz Green will be the RT next year.

One more note on Taco: Taco Bell is famous. Californians swear by Del Taco. And the Greenville Ave crowd in Big D frequents Taco Cabana at 2 AM when they're three sheets. For my money, give me the bean burritos at Taco Bueno.

Small move down for the Giants, though they did not suffer an off-point draft class. Rather, New York's draft strategy was not as consistent with fortifying the team today as Green Bay's and Dallas'. Case in point: First-round pick Evan Engram should contribute immediately at tight end, but how much is the question. With slot receiver Sterling Shepard (drafted last year) and new signee Brandon Marshall taking their share of targets, Engram might make less of an impact, even accounting for Big Blue's recent blues at TE. Case in point No. 2: Third-round pick Davis Webb, the former Cal QB. An obvious, smart pick for the future, but it doesn't help the product on the field now as much as an offensive lineman would have.

Andy Reid and Co. valued Patrick Mahomes' talent enough to pay a future first-round pick to get him. If the best time to look for a quarterback is when you don't need one, then Kansas City was right to go after the rubber-band-armed Mahomes. On the other hand, that saying presupposes that a talented quarterback falls to a team, not that the team will move up (and pay a pretty penny) to acquire him. In essence, what the Chiefs did was no different than what the Bears did to take Mitchell Trubisky, or what the Texans did to obtain Deshaun Watson. Bad move? Nope. A little strange, given that K.C. is a Super Bowl contender with a decent quarterback already? Hmm. What do you think, #ChiefsKingdom? (@HarrisonNFL)

Better start paying attention to what the Bucs have been doing. Everyone, including your hack writer, is singing the praises of the O.J. Howard pick (even if Tampa simply was enjoying the wonderful luck of having the tight end fall to 19). Second-round pick Justin Evans should help immediately at safety. Spoke with my producer on "Total Access," an avid pirate-ship fan who was not happy GM Jason Licht didn't take a running back ... like Dalvin Cook. Welp, Cook (who went to the Vikings at 41st overall) wasn't going to be there when Tampa came up in the second round (50th overall). Could they have taken, say, Kareem Hunt (86th overall pick to the Chiefs) instead of wide receiver Chris Godwin (No. 84) in the third? Maybe. But remember, rookie running backs who can't pass protect will get the quarterback killed. Jameis Winston is the future of this franchise. Thus, it's Doug, Jacquizz and Chuck for now at RB.

The Seahawks remain in the top 10, although they've been leapfrogged by the pesky Bucs -- a team Seattle lost to last year when Russell Wilson couldn't get a pass off. Six sacks later, Seattle was on the wrong end of a 14-5 score. (Jay Buhner hit three solo HRs, though.) Why is that important? Because as well as GM John Schneider did in the draft -- with solid picks like DE Malik McDowell and S Tedric Thompson -- Seattle didn't scoop up any help at tackle until the 11th hour. Unless Tom Cable can work magic, the swarming around Wilson will continue -- and the Seahawks will get bounced in the playoffs.

The Dolphins' draft went under the radar compared to those of other playoff teams, despite a solid effort from the personnel department. In fact, I didn't address them in the "Best and most worrisome picks," the Odyssey-length manifesto I posted after Day 3 wrapped. First-round pick Charles Harris should be able to play with his hand in the dirt, helping Miami forget the Mario Williams experiment (rather, debacle) and the Dion Jordan pick several years ago. Second-rounder Raekwon McMillan further bolsters the linebacking crew, which suddenly appears to be a strength. Perhaps most important is what my buddy Marc Sessler said to me in the newsroom: "Adam Gase gives that team hope. They were D.O.A. when he got there." Agreed. Don't be surprised if Miami gets a do-over in Pittsburgh after January's playoff defeat.

Call this a display of confidence in the Titans. Even if first-round pick Corey Davis doesn't work out, Tennessee is in position to make a January run. On that note, Davis hasn't been able to work out for Tennessee -- or anyone else -- because of an ankle injury. Thus, he's a small risk with huge talent. One facet of his game he'll have to develop -- something he barely had to fuss over while toasting every dude who thought he could play corner in the MAC -- is blocking. Make no mistake, the Titans will run the rock. TE Jonnu Smith (Round 3) could be a real add in that area, too.

Let's see ... GM Bob Quinn addressed the offensive line with the dual signings of Ricky Wagner and T.J. Lang. The walking-wounded linebacker group? Welcome draft picks Jarrad Davis and Jalen Reeves-Maybin. How about that secondary, the group that allowed opposing passers a 106.5 passer rating? Signed D.J. Hayden, then spent a high pick on Teez Tabor. Not saying I am high on the Lions, but I'm high enough to ride the Loop roller coaster at Cedar Point. Well, tall enough. Anyway, Detroit will be fighting for the NFC North title again.

The Broncos' draft was viable. Signing Jamaal Charles? Admirable. It seems the vast majority of folks in the football world have moved on from the former Kansas City phenom. But do we all have collective amnesia about the all-time leader in yards per carry among running backs with 1,000 or more attempts? His 5.5 career average can't be touched by Adrian Peterson. The beloved Barry Sanders falls a half-yard short (5.0). That robust mark even has the greatest of them all, Jim Brown, looking up at Charles. Yet, after nine years in the league and some knee injuries, people think he's done. We'll see. John Elway will kick the tires on any player who could help the team win. Add in the Ronald Leary signing and the drafting of Garett Bolles, and Denver's run game will provide much better support for whoever the young QB is in 2017.

Feels like the yakety yak about Kirk Cousins is dying down. Well, there was a brief spike during the draft when @RapSheet relayed that the Browns were exploring a potential deal for the Redskins quarterback. Nothing came of that. And here's the simple truth: Washington has a top-10 NFL QB and thus is in contention for the NFC East. But not just because of Cousins. The Zach Brown signing filled a void at ILB. First-rounder Jonathan Allen probably will start Week 1 at LDE. WR Terrelle Pryor is in da house. So, 10-6?

So much was made about the effort to find a quarterback of the future and then ultimately landing Deshaun Watson that the rest of the Texans' draft was obscured. Second-round pick Zach Cunningham might not be a thumper, but he could be an excellent pursuit linebacker. While he was thought to be a WLB in a 4-3, Romeo Crennel's defense is a bit unorthodox, with "DE" Jadeveon Clowney often standing up. Cunningham should play in front of Brennan Scarlett and others. Loved the D'Onta Foreman pick. He will be a nice yin to Lamar Miller's yang. And his story ...

Difficult to surmise who the Cardinals are in May. Are they the contenders we saw two seasons ago who played their worst game in January? Or the middling bunch that couldn't get out of its own way last year? The answer lies somewhere in between, but even after a relatively strong draft, the question is ... If the Cards can't overtake Seattle, will Arizona string enough wins together to grab a wild-card spot? The offense could've used a wideout, but I can't wait to see all-heart safety Budda Baker (Round 2) team with All-Pro Tyrann Mathieu and all-hit Deone Bucannon.

Much props to the city of Philadelphia for the warm, er, enthusiastic reception to the draft. With all the ballyhoo regarding the event landing in the historic city for the first time in decades, few around the country seemed to notice the Eagles' specific draft. This defense is going to be legit. The unit already was legit at home last season, but the additions of defensive end Derek Barnett, cornerback Sidney Jones and cornerback Rasul Douglas must have felt like Christmas gifts (in the city that booed Santa) for DC Jim Schwartz. I know QB Carson Wentz is still the focal point for this organization. Betcha the defense will win the team as many games.

Don't anticipate the old Panthers going 6-10 again. Cam Newton has a freshly repaired shoulder. He also has a shiny new toy in Christian McCaffrey. Jonathan Stewart ain't shiny, but he will be good as new in games where he is not asked to shoulder the full load (with McCaffrey around). Curtis Samuel is like Cobra Commander -- not as cool a figure as Storm Shadow (McCaffrey), but ready to rock 'n' roll out of the second round and into Mike Shula's offense. Third-round pick Daeshon Hall is poised to contribute on the other side of the ball, as are new/old faces Julius Peppers and Captain Munnerlyn. Slowly getting excited about Riverboat Ron's group.

New GM Chris Ballard didn't get cute. The defense contributed to many things last year. Winning wasn't one of them. The Colts finished 30th in total defense. So Ballard got to work, adding Jabaal Sheard and Johnathan Hankins in free agency before taking highly touted safety Malik Hooker in the first round. Adding Quincy Wilson (Round 2) and Tarell Basham (Round 3) furthers the point here. In layman's terms, Andrew Luck won't have to put up 30 points to win games.

A rejiggering of the teams leaves Baltimore as the odd squad out, sliding a few rungs down. The drop is more a reflection of what the Eagles and Colts did in the draft as opposed to what the Ravens didn't do. That said, the criticism for not taking a wideout is fair. Losing Kamar Aiken to free agency and Steve Smith Sr. to retirement leaves the passing game in the hands of Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman. Which means that Danny Woodhead will catch approximately 180 balls. Not all is negative, as 11-22 on these rankings is awfully tight. As was the Chris Wormley pick. He's going to help right away.

Like the Ravens, the Vikings are probably too low on our league rundown. Unfortunately, we can't put a whole gaggle of teams at No. 16 -- there are about 10 that belong there. Seen a lot of chatter about Minnesota's attention to the run game in the draft (SEE: running back Dalvin Cook in Round 2, center Pat Elflein in Round 3). That's been discussed ad nauseam. Meanwhile, fourth-round pick Jaleel Johnson could contribute in the D-line rotation immediately. Another value pick: TE Bucky Hodges in Round 6. The Vikes might not be this low for long.

The Sean Payton-Mickey Loomis partnership has been at the grind for over 10 years now, but not so long that these two can't shift their approach. Look for the Saints to grind more games out in lieu of playing Arena Ball en route to another 7-9 record. Five of their seven picks were used on defense, with a first-round choice spent on offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk and a third-round slot spent on running back Alvin Kamara. The team dropped a little coin on Adrian Peterson, too. This is with Mark Ingram still in-house. No more chuck it 45 times and hope the defense gets one stop per half stuff ...

Already moving these guys up. Receiver Mike Williams (Round 1, No. 7 overall) could make a difference from Day 1, specifically for Philip Rivers. The franchise QB has been throwing to backups, other teams' leftovers and "upside" guys for too long. Tyrell Williams has potential, but Keenan Allen has been hurt and the team has given the Stevie Johnsons of the world too many looks. Going beyond WR, the fact the front office is helping its 35-year-old signal caller by fortifying the line up front (three of Los Angeles' seven picks were used on offensive linemen) was encouraging, too. Am I too encouraged if I say the L.A. Chargers could eke out a wild-card spot if -- if -- they stay healthy? Please stay healthy.

Consider the Bengals' top picks high-risk/high-reward, if not exactly filling team needs. First-round pick John Ross can run faster than sponsors from Fox News. Joe Mixon is arguably as talented as any running back in the draft, but he obviously arrives with his own unique set of issues. The real question worth asking here is, what about the offensive line? Granted, where Cincy picked in the second round (48th overall) was not conducive to getting a top-notch guy, especially after the Chargers took Forrest Lamp 38th overall. But for a group that didn't perform too well last year, losing Pro Bowler Andrew Whitworth and almost-Pro Bowler Kevin Zeitler to free agency calls for some movement on Day 1 or 2, no? Bengals fans?

Thought the Jaguars did well in the draft. More importantly, a change is coming in Jacksonville. It might not come at quarterback, but the Leonard Fournette and Cam Robinson selections signaled a certain reduction in Blake Bortles' pass attempts this year. EVP Tom Coughlin won his first Super Bowl ring as an assistant with a Giants team (under Bill Parcells) that ran the hell out of the ball. Coughlin won his second ring as the head coach of a Big Blue team that ran the hell out of the ball. You get the point.

Timing is a strange thing. It derives from the word "time," which is completely man-made. Our thoughts are comprised of quantum waves, which are not bound by our interpretation of time. Yet, considering we do live in a 24-hour day with weeks and months tabulated, and football teams are run by people, then it is completely in-bounds to say letting GM Doug Whaley go now was odd timing, at best. The argument for firing him at this juncture would be that the draft really finishes the year-long cycle for the personnel department. On the other hand, why not do it on Black Monday, closer to when previous coach Rex Ryan was let go? Why have Whaley be involved in the hiring of new coach Sean McDermott? All that said, the firing wasn't nearly as surprising as the timing. By the way ... I like the Nathan Peterman pick.

They might not have owned a first-round pick, but that didn't stop the Rams from finding Jared Goff a little help, namely tight end Gerald Everett (Round 2) and slot receiver Cooper Kupp (Round 3). L.A. still needs talent outside -- well, excluding what you see walking the Venice boardwalk on a May afternoon. John Johnson out of BC was a nice pick for this group in the third round. New DC Wade Phillips is going to love having a safety who has some corner cover skills, one who can tackle well enough. Too bad offensive line help was not the strength of this draft, because even Vince Ferragamo knows they need it.

Heard GM Ryan Pace on Sirius XM radio Monday discussing his thinking in terms of the whys and hows of moving up to acquire Mitch Trubisky. Pace took a slightly different approach. Instead of providing the usual everyone is trying to find THE guy explanation, Pace mentioned wanting to upgrade the ENTIRE position group, including having a productive quarterback room. Mike Glennon, Mark Sanchez and Mitch Trubisky are all new in Chicago. RE: Tarik Cohen, fourth-round pick, Pace spoke of his time in New Orleans and the issues Saints opponents had matching up with Darren Sproles. There is your friendly rationale for that pick.

Boy, that John Lynch sure is shy, huh? The rookie GM didn't hesitate when it came to pushing his chips to the middle of the table or bluffing. (Did he really have another big offer for that No. 2 pick, Bears fans? Whew boy.) The 49ers made themselves better -- if not today, then in the future. You can't build it all in a day, something Lynch knows better than most, as he sat through three lean seasons with the Bucs as a player before Tony Dungy was hired in 1996. Even with the Hall of Fame coach, Tampa still went 6-10 before becoming a contender. First-round pick Solomon Thomas should be at least one player who contributes right away in San Francisco. Ditto Brian Hoyer -- i.e., I applaud the Niners for not getting QB-panicky.

Strange thing happened in Philly: Myles Garrett, that rare player who was almost universally considered the top talent in the draft, was barely discussed after his selection by the Browns with the first overall pick. He was the Andrew Luck of his year, the Earl Campbell -- the rich man's version of any player. And yet, it was like he was another ho-hum first-round choice. Garrett and the rest of Cleveland's Grade A draft haul (we grade these things, you see; very important) leave much room for optimism among the Brian Sipe faithful. What's more surprising than Garrett barely being celebrated or David Njoku being handed the keys to the tight end position shortly after being drafted? The Browns being up a spot in the Power Rankings.

People are speculating that the Jets have the most talent-resistant roster in the league. Well, this team doesn't resist talent, but it did avoid the quarterback auction going on Thursday night. And for that, the Jets deserve precisely zero criticism. What was the point of taking Bryce Petty in 2015 or rolling the dice on Christian Hackenberg in the second round last year if neither quarterback was going to get the opportunity to play? Draft the best players available, sink or swim with the pups under center and go get 'em next year when you can stockpile even more talent. Now, going S-S-WR-WR was a bit gnarly, but I love the Jamal Adams hire.

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content