Feb 5, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerbackRichard Sherman
(center) at Super Bowl XLVIII victory parade on 4th Avenue. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
10. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals are kept alive by their defense — despite having a pro-bowl receiver in A.J. Green — so it only makes sense to keep adding talent to that side of the ball. They basically replaced Michael Johnson though the draft, but this team will only go as far as Andy Dalton will take them. The question is, how far is that?
9. Chicago Bears
I am still a believer that the the Bears are much better than the product they put on the field last year. The defense lost all of its heart, but they attempted to shore that up in free agency by re-signing the players they had to and added young players to come in and join the core. Will Sutton could possibly be the steal of the draft if he is able to return to the level he displayed in 2012 for ASU, when he was one of the most dominant defensive players in the nation.
8. Indianapolis Colts
I was tempted to drop the Colts further on account that they sacrificed their first round selection to take a gamble on Trent Richardson, but while the long-term jury is still out on that decision, it didn’t look pretty. They didn’t really get any worse, so here they stay, about where they should be. They still have Andrew Luck and upside is high.
7. Green Bay Packers
The Packers were lucky to make the playoffs last year, but it showed how much the team needs Aaron Rodgers to succeed. They drafted a premier safety to fill a hole and add some great talent to the secondary. Additionally, the Pack nabbed Davante Adams in the late 2nd round, who I had with a low first round/high second round grade.
6. Arizona Cardinals
The Cards did a fantastic job in getting great value for their picks this year. They added an underrated talent in Deone Bucannon who can become one of the premier safeties in the league with seasoning. They had four picks within the top 100 and made the most of them, while also drafting a young QB to sit behind Carson Palmer. Let’s face it, he is going to have to hang up the cleats eventually.
5. San Francisco 49ers
The Niners got mixed draft reviews from me. I expected them to fill some holes on offense, but even though they did not add an elite WR talent, they don’t need one. The Niners are as stout defensively as any team in the league and that will keep them in any game. The problem with the 49ers is that the teams that are able to beat them just so happen to be in the same division, so unless the Cardinals and Seahawks suddenly return to Earth, the niners have a ceiling.
4. New Orleans Saints
Brandin Cooks is the perfect player to add to one of the best offenses in the NFL, and while they did not do much in the draft, they added some real impact players to the defense through free agency to bolster an already budding defensive unit. Drew Brees is a top 4 quarterback in the NFL and is a major reason why the Saints are as good as they are, in addition to brilliant head coaching from Sean Payton.
3. New England Patriots
Who cares if they drafted a quarterback in the second round that won’t play for a few years, or even that they didn’t do much to greatly improve this offseason. They still have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, right? Okay, then they remain one of the upper-echelon teams in the league. Their receiving corps doesn’t boast household names, but Aaron Dobson is an emerging stud. Their defense held it own last season and they signed the best cornerback in the league this offseason in Revis.
2. Denver Broncos
I couldn’t muster the courage to place the Broncos in the #1 spot, no matter how much they improved in the offseason. Not after getting thoroughly embarrassed and blown out in Super Bowl XLVII. Obviously they are the top contender behind Seattle following major defensive upgrades to go with one of the all-time greatest offenses they fielded last season. Peyton Manning can’t play forever, but until he stops, this team will be contender.
1. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks did not get much better, if at all, during this offseason process, but they still have one of the most loaded rosters in the NFL and you know what they say: “Defense wins championships”. They proved this point in their Super Bowl wins just a few months ago when they trampled the Denver Broncos. They did all this with a lackluster outside talents because they relied so heavily on their great run game. Will the Super Bowl curse strike again? I doubt it, this team is way too talented to not make the playoffs.