Pre-Draft 2009 NFL Power Rankings

Written By Bob Cunningham On Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Two weeks before the draft, the NFL is fairly slow at the moment.

I, for one, am all in favor of moving the draft up to the end of March or beginning of April. The time between the combine and the draft is incredible and has fans like you and myself going crazy for a month and a half.

In any event, the draft changes the landscape of a team for years to come. It may change the philosophy of an entire team, or just turn its fortunes with one pick.

But since we're not there yet, let's look at how the teams stack up right now before the draft.

1. Pittsburgh Steelers - Defending champs get this spot almost by default. They haven't made many moves in free agency with their only glaring need coming on the offensive line. While they should have made a go at Stacy Andrews (who signed with the Philadelphia Eagles), they still stand as the default number one team in the league.

2. Tennessee Titans - The Titans seem like a mirror image of the Steelers, so it should come as no surprise that they're a force and major player in the NFL. They have an astounding defense and running offense second to only that of Carolina's in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Chris Johnson and LenDale White may change that this year.

3. New York Giants - The Giants may be higher on the list if it weren't for the Plaxico Burress incident. They lost Derrick Ward, but will replace him with Ahmad Bradshaw and should be just fine. However, the Giants are a totally different offense without Burress and unless they address that, this could wind up being way too high for the G-men.

4. Baltimore Ravens - The Ravens are another team who seem to look just like the Steelers. This really shows twice a year when the two teams play. Strong defense and a capable offense is the identity of the top AFC teams, and the Ravens are no different.

5. Arizona Cardinals - This may be a surprise pick, but on paper they're definitely one the best teams in the league. Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Edge, and Steve Breaston on offense with Karlos Dansby, Darnell Dockett, DRC, and Antrel Rolle on defense, this team is superstar-laden with a shot to get back to the Big Game.

6. Indianapolis Colts - Can't ever count out the Colts, no matter how bad the defense may look. The offense is incredible year after year and always will be as long as Peyton Manning is under center. A year removed from a knee surgery that took away almost seven productive weeks is scary for the rest of the NFL.

7. New England Patriots - This is contingent upon a successful return by Tom Brady, but if that happens this is almost the exact team from 2007 and look just as scary. They will never duplicate '07, but this team is above average on both side of the ball and will find their way back into the playoffs.

8. Philadelphia Eagles - This seems a bit high, but the only teams who seem to be in better shape are the teams listed above. The Eagles return 19 of 22 starters and have a replacement in line for at least two of the three spots. Right tackle and safety are taken care of while left tackle is still undecided. A phenomenal defense returns to help a well-above average offense.

9. San Diego Chargers - With Merriman's return, the defense will return back to its 2007 form rather than the mess they saw last year. The Charger offense is always dangerous with Philip Rivers calling the shots and throwing to guys like Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates, and Chris Chambers. L.T. and Darren Sproles should create a great 1-2 punch for at least one more year.

10. Atlanta Falcons - A surprising team from last year, they won't sneak up on anyone in '09. Matt Ryan still has more to prove including showing he can avoid a sophomore slump and perform when being gameplanned for.
Micheal Turner was the prize of free agency and looks to lead that running game and the team back to the playoffs in the South.

11. Minnesota Vikings - Can Sage Rosenfels get it done with AP & Co.?

12. Miami Dolphins - Teams are ready for the wildcat, can they respond?

13. Carolina Panthers - Is Delhomme the answer at QB? Unfortunately, not anymore.

14. Washington Redskins - Big money in free agency doesn't always mean wins.

15. New York Jets - Could be higher if QB position gets figured out.

16. Dallas Cowboys - Be careful what you wish for, you'll miss T.O. and bad.

17. Houston Texans - Steve Slaton, Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub.

18. New Orleans Saints - An improved defense means bad news for the NFC.

19. Chicago Bears - Jay Cutler is on board, but with no one to throw to.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Leftwhich was a fine pickup, now to defense.

21. Denver Broncos - No QB and no defense is an awful combination.

22. Buffalo Bills - Cowboys' loss is the Bills' gain. Trent Edwards will make strides.

23. Jacksonville Jaguars - Perplexing team. Has the talent, no execution.

24. San Francisco 49ers - Could be a darkhorse team if they find a QB.

25. Green Bay Packers - Defense is a mess. The 3-4 is not the answer.

26. Kansas City Chiefs - Cassel won't be handed job. Will Tony G be around in '09?

27. Seattle Seahawks - Still no defense or running game. Offense can't carry "D."

28. Oakland Raiders - Fan of Tom Cable, Garcia should start and win now.

29. St. Louis Rams - Is Marc Bulger the guy? Must fix the defense for any hope.

30. Cleveland Browns - Two QB's means no QB's. Figure that out and fix the "D."

31. Cincinnati Bengals - Lost one, probably both top receivers. Is Palmer healthy?

32. Detroit Lions - Worst team in the history of the NFL, forget 2009.

This turned out to be a lot more difficult than I first imagined because of the parity the NFL has seen over the past few seasons, especially 2008. There are no clear-cut favorites and lists will looks incredibly different.

That said, I believe this is how the teams shake out taking 2008 into account and any up and downgrades made through free agency.

At least No. 1 and No. 32 shouldn't cause too much of a stir.

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