Dustin Baker’s Post-Draft NFL Power Rankings

Dustin Baker's Post-Draft NFL Power Rankings
Justin Jefferson

Most big-name free agents have new homes with free agency two months in the rearview, and the 2022 NFL Draft is in the books.

The next step is training camps for all teams, and the NFL schedule progressively hits the wire this week.

Below are NFL power rankings, a post-draft edition. If one is curious why the Minnesota Vikings live where they’re at, well, it’s because the fruition of the team playing under new head coach Kevin O’Connell actually has to occur. Right now, it’s just a hopeful honeymoon.

32. Houston Texans

The Texans are trusting the enterprise to Davis Mills, a 3rd-Rounder who was ho-hum during his maiden voyage. This feels like a 1990s NFL solution.

31. Seattle Seahawks

Self-inflicted rebuilding is on the way, and Seattle is biding time for the 2023 NFL Draft. At least we’ll find out once and for all if Drew Lock is a QB1.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars spent a lot of money in free agency, but it was like buying compact discs in 2022. They work, but was the spending practical?

29. Atlanta Falcons

The Mariota Show into Desmond Ridder will be fun, but the Falcons scream 5-12 or so.

28. Chicago Bears

Bears fans arrived at a solution that a slow rebuild is ingenious — an interesting prognosis for a young quarterback on a coveted rookie deal. Fields’ full potential will evidently be on display in 2024 or 2025? Does the Windy City have the patience for that?

27. Carolina Panthers

This team has a wonderful defense with Sam Darnold at quarterback — and Matt Corral waiting to take over. Probably a 6-11 squad.

26. New York Giants

The Giants can climb this list rapidly if Brian Daboll knows what he’s doing. But Daniel Jones and the aforementioned Drew Lock are in the same boat — are they any good?

25. New York Jets

The roster talent is stupendous. But do you trust the Jets to make noise? No, you don’t. Everyone loves New York’s draft, but all of this hype boils down to Zach Wilson’s development. It must happen fast, according to the modern NFL. Otherwise, he’ll be pegged as no good because men like Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow set the bar so high.

24. Detroit Lions

This is a good little football team, suddenly outfitted with WR weapons and solid OL and DL trenches. Raise a glass for Jared Goff?

23. Washington Commanders

Carson Wentz will likely guide this team to 7-10.

22. New Orleans Saints

Dec 25, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports.

Sean Payton doesn’t work here anymore. Nor does Drew Brees. They’ll stay relevant with a 9-8 ceiling.

21. Pittsburgh Steelers

Mike Tomlin won’t allow a losing record, so the Steelers will make the 2022 season interesting as Kenny Pickett develops.

20. Philadelphia Eagles

Like Wilson and the Jets, this all depends on Hurts. He now has a WR corps, so excuses are gone. This is the year when you determine if Hurts is a long-term QB1.

19. Miami Dolphins

Miami will be fun, so long as they don’t waffle on Tua Tagovailoa’s QB1 status. The defense is sturdy, and Tyreek Hill will provide 10+ touchdowns.

18. Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders have ZimmerViking-itis. They’re pretty good but not great. They have a 10-7 ceiling. Josh McDaniel has never actually been good as a head coach. Some just assume he will be this time. That has to play out, though.

17. Indianapolis Colts

This is a magnificent roster. Plain and simple. But the Colts will try to squeeze the prime out of Matt Ryan, which didn’t work with Philip Rivers or Carson Wentz. Why would it work now?

16. Minnesota Vikings

You will find out if Kirk Cousins undergoes a Staffordization under Kevin O’Connell. If he does, the Vikings will reach and make noise in the playoffs. If he’s truly a merchant of mediocre seasons, Minnesota will be done with Cousins very soon.

15. New England Patriots

Quietly, the Patriots defense has been wonderful since Tom Brady left, and nobody cares. That won’t change this year, and Bill will be back in the playoffs.

14. Cleveland Browns

Aug 29, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports.

The new villain. Kevin Stefanski and Deshaun Watson should flourish together, but the price tag is gargantuan. Cleveland is probably 10-7 or 11-6-ish if Watson isn’t suspended.

13. Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens drafted quite well in April, Lamar Jackson needs a bounceback year, and Harbaugh doesn’t miss the playoffs too often. Baltimore will be good again.

12. Arizona Cardinals

Some pundits are low on the Cardinals. Why? Murray is entering his prime, and the defense has playmakers. The Cardinals will put it together this season and not look like imbeciles in the postseason.

11. Tennessee Titans

Another team with ZimmerViking-itis, the Titans play as Zimmer wanted to with the Vikings. But they actually win year in and year out. They won’t win a Super Bowl, but Tennessee will be relevant.

10. San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers are so good and built so well. Innovation, consistency, yadda yadda. The Deebo Samuel fuss is odd, and we don’t know the identity of the QB1. Regardless, they’ll be in the mix. That’s what Shanahan does.

9. Cincinnati Bengals

Sep 12, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports.

Cincinnati will be bitten by the Super Bowl runner-up curse. Folks just can’t see it yet. They fixed the offensive line — what a novel concept — but the AFC is simply too good for the Bengals to re-reach the Super Bowl.

8. Dallas Cowboys

Dallas will be approximately 12-5 and disappointingly lose in the playoffs.

7. Green Bay Packers

Folks still consider this team from Wisconsin as the cream of the crop. Yet, their roster is diminished, and the quarterback is almost 39. They’re not guaranteed to be elite.

6. Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers need to actually make the playoffs soon. It will happen in 2022 — in a robust AFC West. Herbert is fantastic, and the Chargers defense is peppered with talent. Now is the time.

5. Denver Broncos

A Super Bowl dark horse, Russell Wilson changed everything. Absolutely everything. How do the Broncos just waltz into offseasons and find Hall of Fame quarterbacks? It must be nice.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

If Brady doesn’t suddenly look decrepit, they’ll be around in late January. That man is so brilliant, and this roster is too deep. Brady usually wins Super Bowls every other year. We shall see.

3. Kansas City Chiefs

If Mahomes doesn’t get back to the Super Bowl in 2022, folks will wonder if they wrote his GOAT zoo admission pass too soon. We have a tip for the Chiefs. Don’t half-buttocks the thing on defense to start the season.

2. Los Angeles Rams

The mortgagers of the future with draft-capital trades are the NFC standard-bearer until they’re not anymore. Eventually, this enterprise will have a 2008 housing-burst-like reckoning but not quite yet.

1. Buffalo Bills

The Bills have about 5-6 damn good pass rushers, a quarterback who will be MVP soon, Stefon Diggs, and Dalvin Cook’s little brother. If they don’t reach a Super Bowl soon, the new Bills curse will be losing before the Super Bowl.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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