The dominos fell Thursday, Friday and Saturday ... and the league pecking order jumbled up on Wednesday.
Drama played out in slow motion as we all awaited the announcement of the first pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. Yet, after Baker Mayfield and his Daisy Dukes (SEE: Favre replica draft pic) went there, Day 1 seemed to fly by. With that and the corresponding mayhem on the second day, teams' fortunes this year were seemingly altered. Of course, we will all learn together. Although "winning the draft" doesn't necessarily equate to winning on the filed ... today.
Take, for example, the Cardinals moving up to select Josh Rosen. As I wrote on Saturday, I thought that was a smart move. Yet, chances are Rosen won't play much early this season. Not with Sam Bradford being a former top overall pick himself, healthy and owning an eight-year head start on the rookie. So as you digest my latest Power Rankings below, remember that while a team might have enjoyed a prolific draft haul and grabbed the best players available for the future, those that filled needs for Week 1 profited here.
Best draft-related tweet this weekend:
Best draft of all time:
As for the league some 35 years later, you'll see how all its member clubs stack up below. As per usual, your thoughts are welcome. A few might end up in the "Power Rankings Show" on Wednesday. Send along ... @HarrisonNFL is the welcoming committee.
Let the dissension commence!
PROGRAMMING NOTE: For more in-depth analysis on the updated league pecking order, tune in to NFL Network on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET for a post-draft edition of the "NFL Power Rankings" show. Want to add YOUR voice? Provide your thoughts at the bottom of this page or tweet @HarrisonNFL, and your comments could be featured on air.
NOTE: The arrows in the lineup below reflect changes from our post-free agency Power Rankings.
Ah, who needs to lift a finger in the draft when you're sippin' wine and enjoying some brie? Or a greasy, dripping cheesesteak. Anyone seen the end of "Trading Places"? Well, not only should the Eagles be enjoying their status as the reigning champs, but they didn't need to panic this past weekend. Thought it smart to trade out of the first round and pick up extra picks, because they didn't have a second-rounder (well worth the loss, considering it was partially responsible for bringing Carson Wentz to Philadelphia) heading into the draft. General manager Howie Roseman used the second-rounder acquired in the Day 1 trade (No. 52 overall) to maneuver into the 49th overall spot (via a swap with the Colts), where he nabbed TE Dallas Goedert -- whom Philly can team with Zach Ertz -- one slot before that TE-needy team in Dallas could land him. Also value the pick of CB Avonte Maddox (Round 4, No. 125), who should help when it comes to replacing free-agent departure Patrick Robinson. Can't wait until Philadelphia plays No. 2 below in Week 15.
Too high? No way. The Rams did nothing but make their football team better this offseason. They fortified the defense, a group that steadily improved last season, with the additions of veterans Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters and -- since we last completed this exercise -- Ndamukong Suh. Suh might not have dominated in Miami, but he was far from a bust. Putting him next to Aaron Donald was like parking a 1978 Trans Am with gold trim next to the blue-and-white '69 GTO you've had sitting in your driveway earning Defensive Player of the Year honors. Trade acquisition Brandin Cooks doesn't exactly "replace" Sammy Watkins at receiver. Different players. Doesn't matter. This offense is gonna rake.
Small drop for the Patriots, given the stellar offseason the Rams have enjoyed, which included acquiring Brandin Cooks from New England. The Pats probably feel they'll be fine without Cooks, given the returns of Julian Edelman and the seemingly forgotten Malcolm Mitchell. That said, much applause for Day 3 pick Braxton Berrios (No. 210), who could morph from sixth-round afterthought into someone who's catching a key third-and-6 later this year. The selection of RB Sony Michel (Round 1, No. 31) was almost enough to keep the Patriots at the second spot in the rankings, even with the losses of Nate Solder, Danny Amendola and Cooks. Michel adds a dynamic element close to the ground in Foxborough.
Ignore the tiny fall. The Rams' jump nudged the Patriots and Jags one spot down. Although it's surprising that more league observers aren't talking about Jacksonville eschewing quarterback until the tail end of the sixth round, when Tanner Lee was selected (No. 203). Faith in Blake Bortles is riding high, apparently -- which is fine, provided he can progress off his performance in the playoffs (versus the Steelers and Patriots ... not the Bills). Setting aside the question mark that is always brought up with these guys, the Jaguars enjoyed what looks to be a fine draft haul. With DT Taven Bryan (Round 1, No. 29) now on board, that Jacksonville defensive-line rotation will be able to mix it up with any O-line in the league.
The top 10 is stacked with contenders, which should make 2018 darned fun -- and the Vikings are right in the mix. They helped themselves immensely by drafting Mike Hughes out of Central Florida at No. 31 overall. Key to this draft is how (and how quickly) second-round pick Brian O'Neill (No. 62) pans out. The tackle, who used to be a tight end, must improve his strength enough to handle the Mike Danielses of the world. In mere-mortal-I-used-to-work-at-Circuit-City terms, that's like going from a Bowflex to benching 350 on the reg. Even if he's slow to develop, this Vikings team is ready to win it all now. It will be nice to see Terence Newman in uniform again this year. He's enjoyed a heckuva career, and he's coming back for a 16th season. How many corners can play until they're 39 years old? (He'll turn 40 in September.) That's around the time most of us are buying Mini Coopers because of our mini mid-life crises.
It seemed a bit expensive to pay what the Saints did to move up to No. 14 (including a 2019 first-rounder) and draft Marcus Davenport from Texas-San Antonio. I'm sure Davenport is being asked annoying, persistent questions like, "What do you think of how much New Orleans gave up to go get you?" and "How does it make you feel?" and "How many times did you visit the Alamo?" You know, stuff like that. I didn't downgrade the Saints' class in my draft omnibus Saturday, even though New Orleans mortgaged draft capital to obtain Davenport, because I think GM Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton are making plays to win this year and the next, while Drew Brees is still upright.
Falcons only made themselves better in the draft, with a bit of good fortune landing at their feet. Not sure too many draftniks anticipated receiver
Calvin Ridley falling to Atlanta at No. 26 overall. Maybe wideout wasn't the
Falcons' most major need -- or much of a need at all -- but he did fit the "BPA" model. How imposing does that
Falcons attack look now, with
Matt Ryan at quarterback, running backs
Devonta Freeman and
Tevin Coleman, and
Mohamed Sanu and Ridley outside? Yikes.
History: Twenty years ago, the Vikings had Cris Carter and Jake Reed at wide receiver. Carter was on his way to a Hall of Fame career. Reed was coming off four straight 1,000-yard seasons. So what did they do? They took a dynamic wideout who fell to them at 21. Enjoy.
Small drop for the Steelers, with the trade of receiver Martavis Bryant to the Raiders. Save the nastygrams -- I am totally aware that Pittsburgh grabbed Oklahoma State wideout James Washington in the second round (No. 60 overall). That doesn't mean he'll be Bryant 2.0 this year. We'll see. That's one of the tougher positions at which to make the transition from college to pro football. Thought drafting Washington's quarterback at OSU was smart, but Mason Rudolph (Round 3, No. 76) won't necessarily help the Steelers this year. It will be interesting to see if Marcus Allen reverses field ... wait, wrong Marcus Allen. It will be interesting to see if Marcus Allen (Round 5, No. 148) gets on the field as, essentially, a nickel linebacker this year.
Thought about sliding the Packers up, as the drafting of two top-flight prospects at corner ( Jaire Alexander, Round 1, No. 18; and Josh Jackson, Round 2, No. 45) instantly makes this team better. The issue for Green Bay right now is whether the roster has enough pass-catching talent to go against those CBs in practice. What's behind Davante Adams and the oft-banged up Randall Cobb? Geronimo Allison? Ty Montgomery ... sort of? Another matter at hand is the pass rush, where Clay Matthews returns for Year 10 and, once again, teams with the on-again, off-again Nick Perry. Perry is like Season 3 of the original "Star Trek." One episode would be sweet, with a Romulan commander trying to seduce Spock; the next episode, Abraham Lincoln would make an appearance in space. No, really. You get the point.
Loved the Panthers' draft. While other team hauls were equal, Carolina's freshman class could contribute right away, whether we're talking about WR D.J. Moore (Round 1, No. 24), CB Rashaan Gaulden (Round 3, No. 85) or TE Ian Thomas (Round 4, No. 101). The latter could step in and play right away with Greg Olsen. Pretty awesome to think about for Cam Newton. The instant help on offense is a shot of 5-hour Energy for a pass attack that often lacked much starch in the collar.
The Chargers hit a home run -- er, scored a goal on a corner kick -- with the Derwin James selection in the first round. Who knows why that guy fell all the way to the 17th slot? Edge rusher Uchenna Nwosu (Round 2, No. 48) felt like a need pick as opposed to the BPA. But the Bolts were looking to tighten up their defense up the middle, which is precisely why they took DT Justin Jones in the third (No. 84). The drop here is indicative of Carolina's surge. The Chargers might be hosting a playoff game on the soccer pitch this season.
The Texans' personnel department was probably playing "Magic: The Gathering" or "Duck Hunt" on Thursday, as this group didn't own a first-round pick (think they're still fine with where that draft choice went) or a second-rounder (they are definitely happy what that choice afforded them). Yet, Houston brass managed to make as good a third-round selection as any team with safety Justin Reid (No. 68). He could start right away. Fellow third-round pick Martinas Rankin (No. 80) can play multiple spots on the offensive line, which means he can also contribute almost immediately. Houston should challenge Jacksonville's hold on the AFC South right out of the gate.
Very quietly, the Titans seemed to have garnered themselves a solid draft class, even if it was a bit on the smaller side (four picks). At least, that's the word on the street. They hit defense hard, picking up Alabama 'backer Rashaan Evans on Day 1 (No. 22), then Boston College edge rusher Harold Landry (Round 2, No. 41) on Day 2 and Arizona safety Dane Cruikshank (Round 5, No. 152) on Day 3. I know a Dane. He's the first man I've ever known who wore Oakleys with the string thingie attached. Speaking of Oakleys, this Nashville team shouldn't just look tough, like Eric Church's "Chief" CD cover. Along with the Texans, they should compete with the Jags for the AFC South.
Ozzie Newsome's swan song running personnel for the franchise produced a solid draft. Lamar Jackson was the moneymaker, so to speak, but taking TE Hayden Hurst seven spots ahead of the dynamic quarterback alleviates a team need now. Baltimore managed to draft talented players and fill needs without reaching throughout most of the draft, which is what all teams are aiming to do. If Alex Collins is the real deal at running back, the Ravens will be back in the playoffs. By the way, if you didn't see Baltimore's final pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, watch it here.
Some of the fervor over the
49ers has been reduced to a simmer over the last few weeks. Most of the draft analysts out on the Interwebs -- a group that, at last count, totaled either 17,386 or 17,387 -- did not feel that taking tackle
Mike McGlinchey ninth overall was the right move.
The Reuben Foster situation is a huge concern, as he had been considered a cornerstone of this team's football future. In
Dante Pettis (Round 2, No. 44), the Niners are getting not only a speedy receiver, but a bargain, when you consider the return game.
Maybe he can be Dante Hall? One can dream.
Side note: I went to a ton of Texas Rangers games in 1991. Saw Nolan Ryan pitch. Watched Ruben Sierra jack a few from both sides of the plate. And I witnessed Pettis' dad, Gary, run down fly balls you thought no human being -- much less any center fielder -- could get to. Pretty cool.
As I wrote on Saturday (and yes, I am now going to rip off my own work, kind of like the band "Boston"), nobody cares about the Lions' pick, even when they're on the clock. It's really strange, man. Does anyone realize that Detroit is one of the oldest franchises in the league? The organization has won four championships, although it has admittedly been a minute. Or, a million. Still, the Lions have pieced together 18 wins over the last two years. Success on the field (in both the regular season and the playoffs) could ride on Kerryon Johnson (Round 2, No. 43), who will become the latest Detroit tailback to try to turn around a woeful ground game. "Carry On Wayward Son" was a great Boston song. Wait, that just sounded like them. It was actually Kansas. Glad we covered that ground.
The Chiefs are a strange team to evaluate for 2018. Kansas City fortified many of its leaks in both free agency and the draft. With Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and now Sammy Watkins in town, the offense is more loaded than it was for most of Alex Smith's Chiefs run. The question mark is Smith's successor, Patrick Mahomes, who, for all intents and purposes, is a redshirt freshman. Andy Reid and staff saw him every day in practice. They must think he's ready. The departure of ex-offensive coordinator Matt Nagy could hurt, though. The key to this draft: Whether DT Breeland Speaks (Round 2, No. 46) and NT Derrick Nnadi (Round 3, No. 75) are worth the price the organization paid to get them. Remember, the Chiefs already surrendered a hefty sum to snag Mahomes in last year's draft. Fourth-rounder Armani Watts (No. 124) might start at safety this year.
Overshadowing what many deemed a subpar draft for Seattle was the selection of Shaquem Griffin early in the fifth round (No. 141). The speedy Griffin learned how to be an impact player despite having one hand. You could tell draft analysts didn't want to question whether that would hamper Griffin too much in the pro game. My brief and limited impression of the new Seahawk is that he doesn't need anyone feeling sorry for him or tiptoeing around his circumstances. He was, after all, named American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Another pick I liked: Day 3 find Michael Dickson (Round 5, No. 149), a punter out of Texas. With kickoffs nearly legislated out of the game, winning in the punting game becomes more important. Dickson was a smart choice.
Yuck. That's how the masses outside of Oakland -- though not the silver-and-black faithful -- felt about the Raiders' draft. Odd that Oakland's best pick might have arrived in the fifth round. DT Maurice Hurst (No. 140) was evaluated as a first-round talent, but he's considered a "medical" because, he said, of EKG irregularities. If you've never had an EKG, they attach a bunch of stickers to your body and watch your rhythms. It feels like something straight out of that scene in "The Empire Strikes Back" when Luke is thawed out. Also out of the future: OT Kolton Miller (Round 1, No. 15) being the right pick, and not one pundits point to when Oakland goes 7-9 this season. Look, here's the deal: The Raiders took a lot of draft risks. Was pulling Jon Gruden out of a self-imposed nine-year exile a risk? Isn't pro football itself a risk? Teams aren't building for eight years out. They are building to win over the next three. Gruden is filling his team with vets and high upside for that purpose. And here's the fun part: We'll all find out whether it works together.
The Bills' slow lurch downward since the loss to the Jaguars in the Wild Card Round is not indicative of panic-worthy events. Rather, it's a reflection of how strong the team is right now. So, Bills Mafia, if you loved the Josh Allen choice, don't get angry. Because that pick doesn't do much to help the team in Week 1 of the 2018 season. He has an uphill curve ahead of him, although there are plenty of people who enjoy exaggerating that curve. Allen should be accelerating it. AJ McCarron is also a bit of an unknown, but he has flashed potential. Tremaine Edmunds (Round 1, No. 16) should get on the field rather quickly. By the way: That guy turned 20 on Wednesday. TWENTY. I was driving a Mitsubishi Mighty Max with no power steering and working at Bank One at 20. (Yeah, that place is defunct.)
The Bucs aren't going to be anybody's pushover this season. GM Jason Licht took the additional picks he received from trading with the Bills (so Buffalo could get Josh Allen) to build a soft pillow for Jameis Winston to land on. No, not by drafting offensive linemen. Rather, Licht augmented the support system elsewhere for a quarterback who too often has to do too much, namely by strengthening the defense and adding a running back. Ronald Jones (Round 2, No. 38) should help immediately, especially since it's slightly easier to transition from college to the pros at that position. Licht and Co. hit the secondary hard with M.J. Stewart (Round 2, No. 53) and Carlton Davis (Round 2, No. 63). Vita Vea (Round 1, No. 12) is massive in the middle. He's a tree stump. You can't pull him out of there with a Jeep winch. So if anyone ever tells you Allen is a bust, look at all these great plays he's gonna provide ... in Tampa Bay.
All of the post-draft roar in Dallas right now is about whether the Cowboys were caught off guard by tight end Jason Witten's thoughts about hanging 'em up and heading for the booth, and Why, oh why didn't they make the deal for Earl Thomas? Listening to local sports radio (which is always a tenuous undertaking), it seems that, even if second-round pick Connor Williams (No. 50) starts right away, fans in Big D wanted Thomas. Reportedly, Seattle wasn't buying Dallas' offer of a third-round pick -- they wanted the 2 -- which makes third-round pick Michael Gallup's (No. 81) rookie year at receiver more interesting. Most interesting: Rico Gathers' development in camp and preseason. He's the new TE1 around these parts. Uncle Rico. Memo to David Akers: At least the Cowboys won a Super Bowl at some point.
Redskins went all 1942-ish in this year's draft, attempting to assemble a stronghold against the run and create a running game. First-round pick
Da'Ron Payne (No. 13) was part of the former effort.
Derrius Guice was drafted in the second round (No. 59) to provide the latter. Ditto
Geron Christian (Round 3, No. 74), an offensive lineman out of Louisville. Two rounds later, Washington took another defensive tackle (
Tim Settle, Round 5, No. 163). Then came Alabama linebacker
Shaun Dion Hamilton (Round 6, No. 197). Makes sense, with
Saquon Barkley and the
Eagles' third-ranked running attack all in the NFC East.
Trivia: Why was the Redskins' championship win in 1942 so important to the members of that team? (@HarrisonNFL. Hard to cheat on this one!)
Spoke to a producer at NFL Network who is a Chicago sports honk. Usually, his takes are bad, like, Ryne Sandberg is the greatest second baseman ever and The Bears can win 10 games THIS year ... But I kind of agree with the opinion he gave me the other day: namely, that GM Ryan Pace and crew produced a fine draft haul. "For the first time in years, Bears fans are jazzed after the draft." They should be. Pace hit the defense and passing game hard, especially trading up to acquire WR Anthony Miller (Round 2, No. 51). That guy is going to work his tail off, and even if he's a WR3, he'll be the best third wide receiver Chicago has had since Bobby Engram or Tom Waddle.
Big Blue could be back, sooner rather than later. In terms of winning right away, the Giants had themselves a draft. As penned in my post-draft omnibus on Saturday, the only issue with their rookie class was passing up on a quarterback early. (Developmental QB Kyle Lauletta was a Day 3 pick.) Which was less an indication that Eli Manning will struggle and more a commentary that when teams hit on a quarterback early, they save immense salary-cap capital for years. It's like "Battleship" -- hit your opponent's PT boat on the first try, and you're dancing on his head for hours. Also consider that New York might not be in the position again to snag a promising passer so high for awhile. Still, with the talented group of rookies the Giants grabbed, including Saquon Barkley with the second overall choice, many fans are suggesting that New York could go at least .500 if not contend for a playoff spot, especially in a division that is not so strong (minus the Eagles, of course). On another note: A gaggle of teams could've used G Will Hernandez (Round 2, No. 34).
Another team that enjoyed
a fine draft ... which also explains why the
Broncos did not race up the rankings. Denver joined the
Giants in putting together rookie classes that can bring about more success in 2018. DE
Bradley Chubb (Round 1, No. 5) and WR
Courtland Sutton (Round 2, No. 40) were great picks. What if RB
Royce Freeman (Round 3, No. 71) continues to improve from the injuries he had two years ago? My colleague Chad Reuter suggested as much in his
"War and Peace"-length draft grades piece for NFL.com a few days ago. Tell you what: If
Case Keenum pans out, this group will be duking it out for the AFC West. Taking the
Chargers right now.
Trivia: The Broncos and Chargers have only made the playoffs during the same season three times, which is remarkable, given that they both fired up their respective franchises in 1960. The last two occasions were 2013 and 2004. Which year did the Broncos and Chargers first reach the postseason together, and who was Denver's quarterback that year? (@HarrisonNFL)
All the chatter about the Cardinals' draft weekend centered on Josh Rosen (Round 1, No. 10) and, of course, his attitude. There's a fine line between confidence and arrogance, genuine frustration and petulance and, lastly, passing ability versus quarterbacking ability. Rosen is straddling that line in the public view, but if leadership is at the core of the last trait, then knowing you have to earn respect is surely part of it. Rosen had no reason to be ticked that nine players went before him in the draft. That's ridiculous. Yet, if I were an owner or head coach, I would be glad my future franchise QB was that pissed off. Some folks perform well angry, myself included. Now leave me alone.
Similar to the Lions, nobody seems to care or pay attention to what the Bengals do in the draft. Call it Marvin Lewis fatigue. Or always-bounced-in-the-first-round fatigue. Even if Cincy makes it to the postseason, no one has any confidence that the Bengals will accomplish anything once there, which translates into less interest in their drafts every year. Of course, Cincinnati has stayed home from the playoffs over the last two Januarys, but that could change. Trade acquisition Cordy Glenn and rookie Billy Price (Round 1, No. 21) should bolster the weak spot of the team -- the offensive line -- right away. The front seven got stronger with the addition of DE Sam Hubbard from Ohio State (Round 3, No. 77) and LB Malik Jefferson out of Texas (Round 3, No. 78). And my editor of these here Power Rankings, Gennaro Filice, told me on the cellular phone what a find RB Mark Walton (Round 4, No. 112) was/is. More than anything, Cincy needs the pass-catching triumvirate of A.J. Green, John Ross and Tyler Eifert to stay healthy. Have you been injured in an accident? Call the offices of Green, Ross and Eifert. They understand. They get hurt a lot, too.
Darnoldmania. Now that we got that out of the way, how'd ya feel about the rest of the Jets' draft? Fantastic? Decent? Baggage claim? Fort Hays State doesn't exactly send multiple guys to the pros every year, but the fine university might have provided the Jets with their next Jason Ferguson or, if they're really lucky, Joe Klecko in DT Nathan Shepherd (Round 3, No. 72). Trading for Henry Anderson should also reinforce Todd Bowles' defensive line. Here's the real question: Will the Jets get a player in tight end Chris Herndon (Round 4, No. 107)? Seriously, when's the last time this organization had a tight end who played up to his draft potential? They've busted here more times than Miranda Lambert's been busted cheating. (Sorry; she's just been in my news feed non-stop.) I'm gonna go with Mickey Shuler on the TE query. (Third round, 1978.)
The Dolphins start over with more questions than answers, but certainly much upside to the 2018 season. Back is QB Ryan Tannehill, with a new tight end in second-round pick Mike Gesicki (No. 42). Listening to the NFL channel on Sirius XM Radio in the weeks leading up to the draft, I heard Gesicki's name every day. Will he fare better than Jordan Cameron and Julius Thomas? Minkah Fitzpatrick (Round 1, No. 11) should team with Reshad Jones at some point to form a premier set of safeties. Following Ndamukong Suh's departure, the defense as a whole will have a new feel, especially with the arrival of Robert Quinn from the Rams. Frank Gore might be 55, but he complements Kenyan Drake well. Danny Amendola is now on board. Adam Gase's team has a bit of an uphill journey, but there is a solid nucleus, in theory, here.
You're either on the Baker Mayfield train or not, it seems. Which is fine, but if you didn't like the Brett Favre draft-day replica pic -- complete with giant cordless phone, jorts and a pimp hat in the background -- you're not of this Earth. In case you missed it, Alonzo Highsmith (former Oilers RB Alonzo Highsmith) detailed why Cleveland took Mayfield No. 1 overall against all odds in a rare show of front-office clarity. CB Denzel Ward (No. 4 overall) should start. Guard Austin Corbett (Round 2, No. 33) can, too. Then there's former Georgia standout Nick Chubb (Round 2, No. 35), who could relegate free-agent signee Carlos Hyde to the pine. Put another way: This is a whole new Browns team with an infusion of energy. It's on Hue Jackson now. As for not moving the Browns higher? They need to win.
Trying to write about the Colts without mentioning Andrew Luck is nearly impossible. See? Already failed. GM Chris Ballard and the personnel department deserve much credit for a job well done in Dallas. Quenton Nelson (Round 1, No. 6), by all accounts, was a home-run pick. He will play Day 1 at guard. OLB Darius Leonard (Round 2, No. 36) was a double off the wall. He might be starting before the preseason is over. Not sure where guard Braden Smith (Round 2, No. 37) will play, as Indy is now situated at guard with the underrated Jack Mewhort and Nelson lining up there. But I like where the Colts' heads are at: Protect the man whose name will not be mentioned.
Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.