NFL rosters are all relative, which is something that’s often overlooked when analyzing them. It’s easy to say a team is in “good shape” or “loaded” at a particular position, but the fact is each unit is only as good as it is relative to the league’s other 31 teams.
That might seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised what you can learn and how your opinions are adjusted by actually sitting down and objectively (to the best of your ability) grading and/or ranking each positional unit of all 32 teams. This is a project I’ve done (and kept updated) each of the past several offseasons, which has led to several interesting revelations, including the likely breakouts of teams such as the 2016 Raiders, 2017 Chargers, 2017 Jaguars, 2017 Eagles and 2018 Browns.
Here are position-by-position unit rankings for all 32 teams for the 2020 season, covering the 10 key offensive and defensive positions. At the end, an overall ranking is shown, which is a weighted consensus based on positional importance (being elite at quarterback is obviously more important than being elite at running back, for example). Also included for each position is a brief outlook on the best and shakiest units, as well as one unit on the rise and one lower-ranked but intriguing unit worth keeping a close eye on. Note that these are 2020 rankings, not long-term outlooks.
League MVP? Check. Super Bowl MVP? Check. Highest-paid player in league history? Check. A 99 rating in Madden? Check. You get it. In only two full NFL seasons, Patrick Mahomes has a résumé few quarterbacks manage for a career. He’s the best in the business.
This might seem low for a team with two veteran starters, but the issue here is that we know what we’re getting with Nick Foles and Mitchell Trubisky. And what we’re getting is underwhelming, inconsistent and perhaps poor efficiency. Trubisky struggled to a 6.1 yards per attempt last season and probably will be replaced by Foles, 31, who hasn’t played more than seven games in a season since 2015 and was benched in favor of sixth-round rookie Gardner Minshew II in Jacksonville last season.
There’s no other right answer for this category after Tampa Bay signed six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. Granted he’s now 43 years old and coming off one of his worst seasons, but Brady remains effective and should significantly improve an offense that had to overcome 30 interceptions by Jameis Winston last season (Brady has thrown a combined 29 over the past four seasons).
Drew Lock is one of the biggest X factors in the league this season. Denver’s Vic Fangio-led defense is loaded, and GM John Elway has added a full arsenal of weapons for Lock in his second season. If the 2019 second-round pick proves a capable NFL starter, Denver will cruise to a playoff berth. If not, the Broncos will be looking elsewhere for a QB next offseason.
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