NFL Power Rankings Week 16
By James Watkins
The draft order is finally starting to take shape with Cleveland clinching the number 1 overall pick. In honor of the Browns and their many holes, I’ve decided to list each team’s greatest need and a player who could potentially fill that role if selected next April.
- New England Patriots (Last week’s ranking: 1): It’s hard to think of this team having holes, but they do exist, particularly in the secondary. Malcom Butler notwithstanding, the Pats defensive backfield is the least talented section of the roster. If Ohio State corner Denzel Ward is still available at the end of the first, the Patriots should snap him up.
- Minnesota Vikings (2): No matter what, they need offensive line help. OSU’s Billy Price might be an option at the end of round 1, but Orlando Brown out of Oklahoma would shore up the right side with a little coaching.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (5): Say it with me now: the Steelers need a replacement for Mike Mitchell. Alabama’s Ronnie Harrison would be an instant upgrade. Minkah Fitzpatrick might get all the headlines on the Tide’s defense, but Harrison is a great fit for a zone team like Pittsburgh.
- Los Angeles Rams (3): The Rams can complete their defense by selecting a solid corner in the draft. Jaire Alexander from Louisville has a lot of potential to develop into an athletic cover corner, and he has a good chance to slip to the end of the first round with a few higher-profile DBs ahead of him.
- Carolina Panthers (4): With Kelvin Benjamin now traded to Buffalo, the Panthers need someone to compliment Devin Funchess. Cortland Sutton out of SMU might not be as well-known as Calvin Ridley or James Washington, but he’s bigger and just as quick.
- New Orleans Saints (6): I think Malik Jefferson from Texas is one of the more underrated defensive prospects in the draft. I could definitely see a team with a need at linebacker and a late first round pick take a chance on him. The Saints fit the bill.
- Philadelphia Eagles (8): They need a bit more help in the linebacking corps, especially in the pass rush. Boston College’s Harold Landry can play outside backer or off the edge of the line, which would make perfect sense for Philly.
- Baltimore Ravens (11): It’s rare to take a tight end in the first round, but Baltimore needs more pop and physicality in the passing attack. South Carolina’s Hayden Hurst provides both of these attributes in droves.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (7): I’m not super high on James Washington, but I think Jacksonville could use one more speedy receiver to really fill out the passing game.
- Kansas City Chiefs (12): They need a receiver with size to compliment Tyreek Hill. Arden Tate out of Florida State has that kind of size.
- Atlanta Falcons (9): Derwin James is a no-brainer. He might not fall that far, but there aren’t that many teams who are in desperate need of a safety in the first round.
- Seattle Seahawks (15): No team needs more help on the offensive line than Seattle. Tackle is especially pressing, which means Connor Williams from Texas would be a smart pick.
- Los Angeles Chargers (14): The defensive line is stacked with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, but the linebackers need work. Roquan Smith is the best available, so Los Angeles should consider him their main target.
- Buffalo Bills (16): I like Vita Vea from Washington for this squad. Defensive tackles that can play anywhere on the line are hard to come by, and Vea is that kind of versatile talent.
- Tennessee Titans (17): A violent edge rusher could be just the remedy for this milquetoast defense. LSU’s Arden Key will fall out of the top ten due to some off the field concerns, and Tennessee could be there to grab him.
- San Francisco 49ers (23): Equanimeous St. Brown. Yes, that’s his name. You should remember it, because the Notre Dame wideout could turn into Jimmy Garoppolo’s favorite target in a few years.
- Dallas Cowboys (10): Defensive tackle is by far their largest hole, and Clemson’s Christian Wilkins has the size and strength to fill it in a heartbeat.
- Detroit Lions (13): They need Nick Chubb. The most glaring weakness of this team is the lack of physicality on offense. Chubb fixes that immediately.
- We Need a QB, But They’ll All Be Picked Over By the Time We Select: So they’ll take Josh Allen, inside linebacker from Kentucky, not Josh Allen, quarterback from Wyoming.
- Green Bay Packers (18): Cornerback Ken Webster from Ole Miss would be a nice compliment to Kevin King.
- Arizona Cardinals (22): Quarterback is a serious question mark, but there might not be many quality options left for them when they select in the first round. To solve a more manageable problem, they could draft Mike McGlinchey from Notre Dame.
- Oakland Raiders (19): I think Carlton Davis, cornerback from Auburn, is a pretty clean fit here. The Raiders need pass rush help as well, but the real Achilles heel on defense has been the secondary for a while now. Davis is a physical defender who can match-up with the bigger receivers in the AFC West like Keenan Allen or Demaryius Thomas.
- Chicago Bears (24): Mitch Trubisky needs someone to throw to other than his running backs. Alabama’s Calvin Ridley has the kind of game-breaking potential Chicago hasn’t seen at the wideout position in years.
- Cincinnati Bengals (26): The offensive line has played the largest role in where they’ve gone this season, so improvements have to be made. Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson is a wonderful fit here.
- Miami Dolphins (21): I don’t think Saquon Barkley will go as high as many of us think. The teams that need runners before Miami picks all have bigger fish to fry, so he could drop out of the top 10 to the Dolphins. They desperately need more power inside now that Jay Ajayi is gone.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (25): The Bucs have the worst pass rush in the NFL, so taking an edge rusher is the way to go. Bradley Chubb is pretty much a no brainer for Tampa, as the teams currently ahead of them in the draft order have more pressing needs.
- Denver Broncos (27): Unless John Elway comes out of retirement, this team needs a QB. If Darnold, Rosen, and Josh Allen all enter the draft, Allen will most likely still be available. He isn’t quite as sexy of a pick as the others, but he certainly has more upside than any other signal-caller on Denver’s roster.
- New York Jets (28): You’ve heard of Broadway Joe. Well, what about Broadway Baker? The Jets have searched for a quarterback since the early 70s. Mayfield may not be the right size for a prototypical NFL passer, but can he be that much worse than the beefier Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg?
- Houston Texans (29): They don’t have a pick in the first two rounds, so most of the high-end talent will be picked over by the time they select. However, there should still be plenty of quality defensive backs available in the later rounds, such as Iowa’s Joshua Jackson or Florida State’s Tarvarus McFadden.
- New York Giants (30): Josh Rosen stands out for this club. Like Mayfield, he’s the kind of player who enjoys the big lights and the pressure that comes with it, and New York will always provide a home for athletes of that nature. This year cemented the notion that Eli Manning needs to be replaced sooner rather than later.
- Indianapolis Colts (31): Deficiencies on the offensive line and the defense have haunted this club for almost a decade now, so they have to start there. With Andrew Luck returning next season, the priority should be protecting him at all costs. Ohio State center Billy Price would instantly provide stability up front.
32. Cleveland Browns (32): Let’s not mince words. They need a quarterback before anything else. The problem is Sam Darnold might not leave school after a terrible Cotton Bowl performance, and Josh Rosen has already stated he’d rather go to the Giants than play for the Browns. This could open up the door for Wyoming’s Josh Allen or even Baker Mayfield.