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PEMBROKE, NC 28372

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Contact the Pine Needle Office:

Phone: 910-521-6204

Email: pineneedle@uncp.edu 

NFL Power Rankings: Post Draft

The 2019 NFL draft has come and gone, every team has received draft grades from many media outlets and onlookers and while some teams improved immensely and addressed their top needs in the draft, there are others that barely moved the needle or hardly had to. Here are the power rankings of each team 1-32 following the draft:
1. New England Patriots:
     They came into the draft tied for the most pick with 12 and a lot of holes to fill on both sides of the ball. Head Coach Bill Belichick and his staff did a masterful job over the weekend job as the reigning Superbowl Champions restocked and reloaded as they shift into a more run-heavy team in the twilight years of Tom Brady’s illustrious career at the spry age of 41 going on 42 come August.
2. New Orleans Saints:
 
   They were an egregious non-call away from facing off with the Patriots in the Superbowl and will be looking to step on the throats of every team they face this season so that they can take the game out of the official’s hands in 2019. They will replace retired Pro Bowler Max Unger with second-round steal Eric McCoy of Texas A&M and will field one of the best offensive lines again this year come fall. 
3. Los Angeles Rams:
     They were the beneficiaries of that horrible example of officiating but wound up falling to the Patriots in the Superbowl. They drafted for the future and for depth with an already loaded and star-studded roster. The picked up the successors to Pro Bowlers Andrew Whitworth and Eric Weddle in Weddle with Washington safety Taylor Rapp and Oklahoma tackle Bobby Evans, and selected home run threat Darrell Henderson Memphis to back up All-Pro running back Todd Gurley.
4. Indianapolis Colts:
 
   General Manager Chris Ballard continues to slay the draft as Indy’s knight in shining armor with the way he recognized and capitalized on the value of this year’s class. Led by Comeback Player of the Year in quarterback Andrew Luck and a pair of All-Pro rookies, they returned to the postseason for the first time three years and finished as arguably the hottest teams in the league down the stretch. Ballard was able to pick up players at a great value on day two of the draft that will start and make significant contributions on both sides of the ball. Those players included Temple corner Rock Ya-Sin, TCU pass rusher Ben Banogu, Ohio State receiver Paris Campbell and Stanford linebacker Bobby Okereke. 
5. Los Angeles Chargers:
     They are viewed as the most balanced team in the league who possess a top 10 offense and top 10 defense. With all of their stars on offense under contract for the foreseeable future, they used their first two selections on defenders that will come in and start from day one. First-round pick Jeffery Tillery of Notre Dame will get great pressure up the middle from his defensive tackle spot and second-round selection Nassir Adderley of Delaware will pair well with last year’s All-Pro rookie safety Derwin James in the backend at free safety. 
6. Kansas City Chiefs:
     They were a neutral zone infraction away from reaching the Superbowl and since their defense cost them an opportunity to play for a championship and have been among the basement dwellers in the league for years, they addressed it early in the draft. After trading out of the first round they selected versatile Virginia safety Juan Thornhill with their second pick in round two and drafted underrated defensive tackle from Western Illinois Khalen Saunders in the third round. With their first second-round pick they took Georgia receiver/returner Mecole Hardman to possibly replace speedster Tyreek Hill who is facing possible discipline with a looming legal case still under investigation.  
7. Baltimore Ravens:
     After an offseason with so much turnover on both sides of the ball that saw franchise legends and fan favorites depart in free agency, first-year General Manager Eric DeCosta did a terrific job addressing their top needs and filling those left by those departures. Their first five picks will be immediate contributors and compete for starting jobs as the team looks to build around promising second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson to carry the momentum of their strong second-half finish to last season. They used their first-round pick on Oklahoma receiver Marquise Brown, their two third rounders on Louisiana Tech edge rusher Jaylon Ferguson and Notre Dame receiver Miles Boykin, and their first two fourth-round picks on Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill and Oklahoma guard Ben Powers.
8. Philadelphia Eagles:
     With Nick Foles officially out of town and out of the picture, Carson Wentz will be the main man at the quarterback position for the Eagles going forward. In the draft, they used their first three picks to provide him with weapon and protection for the future. In the first round, they selected Andre Dillard of Washington State to be the incumbent to Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters. Even though they traded for Jordan Howard this offseason, they selected Penn State running back Miles Sanders in the second round to be their future featured back and they picked up a big-bodied receiver with an identical skill set to veteran Alshon Jeffery.
9. Chicago Bears:
     They were a chip shot field goal away from advancing past the defending Superbowl champion Eagles in the divisional round of the playoffs last season after making the playoffs and winning the NFC North for the first time in nearly a decade. They didn’t have a whole lot of draft capital to spend but they did select a pair of skill position players in the middle rounds to add some more weapons to third-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to utilize. They didn’t pick until the third round on day three where they selected well-rounded running back David Montgomery of Iowa State and in the fourth, they took possession receiver Riley Ridley of Georgia.
10. Cleveland Browns:
     They have come a long way from going 0-16 in 2017 and their hot finish to last season coupled with seismic additions on both sides of the ball via trades and free agency over the last two years can’t be overlooked. However, rosters on paper and Las Vegas oddsmakers don’t win games in the fall or championships in the postseason so anointing them as favorites to make it to the Superbowl, win their division or even make the playoffs for the first time in nearly two decades is a bit premature. Let’s see if their pieces mesh well together and if they can at least make it to .500 at 8-8 before they can be considered among the AFC elite. They did add some more pieces to their young and hungry defense in the draft when they selected LSU corner Greedy Williams in the second round and Alabama linebacker Mack Wilson in the fifth. Both will help improve their pass defense that ranked 25th in the league in 2018.  
11. Dallas Cowboys:
     Their roster is already choked full of young talent and while the other teams in the division are receiving more applause in their case of the Redskins and criticism in the case of the Giants, the picked up some players that work in the trenches that add more depth to their pass rush as well as their pass protection. They didn’t have a first-round pick since they traded for Amari Cooper midway last season, so their first selection came in the second round when they took Trysten Hill of UCF. In the third, they picked up Penn State guard Connor McGovern and on day three they picked up a pair of defensive ends that will complement recently acquired Robert Quin and newly resigned Demarcus Lawrence with Joe Jackson of Miami in the fifth and Jalen Jelks of Oregon in the seventh. 
12. Minnesota Vikings:
     They used the majority of their picks to provide Kirk Cousins with more offensive weapons at his disposal as well as improve their offensive line which was inconsistent in both running the ball and pass protection last season. They landed the top center prospect in the first round when they took Garrett Bradberry of NC State and upgraded at tight in the second round with Alabama’s Irv Smith Jr. They took Boise State running back Alex Mattison in the third round to pair with Dalvin Cook and select Oklahoma’s Dru Samia to further beef up their interior in the fourth round.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers:
     Last season they came up just short of punching their playoff ticket for the first time since finishing 8-8 in 2013 and will be looking to prove that the new look Browns shouldn’t be the odds-on favorite to finish atop the AFC North in 2019. In the draft, they addressed their biggest needs on both sides of the ball with their first four picks. They traded up in the first round to select Michigan linebacker Devin Bush to replace the injured Ryan Shazier. In the third round, they selected Toledo receiver Diontae Johnson and Michigan State corner Justin Layne and in the fourth, they took Kentucky running back Benny Snell Jr. Johnson will help Juju Smith-Schuster replace the production of Antonio Brown and Snell Jr. will help James Connor offset the loss of Le’Veon Bell.  
14. Seattle Seahawks:
 
   While some experts believe that they reached with some of their picks when there were higher rated players still on the board that they passed over, but they believe that the players they picked fit their system. They picked a pair of defensive backs in an effort to build an all-new Legion of Boom with the section of Utah Marquise Blair in the second Ugo Amadi of Oregon in the fourth. With No.1 receiver Doug Baldwin’s health and career in question, they selected physical specimen D.K. Metcalf in the second and West Virginia’s Gary Jennings in the fourth. In the first round, they selected TCU defensive end, L.J. Collier, to replace the recently traded Frank Clark. 
15. Green Bay Packers:
     They added some great pieces on both offense and defense with their talented draft haul, most of which will receive significant playing time as rookies. In the first round, they continued their defensive theme from free agency and used there two picks on Michigan edge rusher Rashan Gary and traded up for Maryland safety Darnell Savage. On day two, they picked up their starting center in Elgton Jenkins of Mississippi State and Texas A&M tight end Jace Sternberger. Their building around Aaron Rodgers on offense and investing on giving him a defense that will be able to pull their weight and get him the ball back.
16. Tennessee Titans:
 
   This is a make or break year for quarterback Marcus Mariota now that the team has given the No.2 overall pick of the 2015 draft an offensive line that can pave the way in the run game as well as pass protect and spent a lot of high draft capital to surround him with dynamic weapons. They likely won’t reap the benefits of their first-round pick Jeffery Simmons of Mississippi State in his rookie year because of a torn ACL he suffered while training in February, the versatile defensive linemen is a top 10 talent who could prove to be the steal of the draft years from now after a fully recovers and makes a name for himself.  
17. Houston Texans:
     With the reemergence of the Colts, who continue to build up their roster through the draft, the Texans may be losing their recent stranglehold on the AFC South. While every team in the division has gotten better, they have not been resting on their laurels. They picked up a pair of bookend tackles in the first two days of the draft to improve the offensive line that allowed the most sacks in the league last season. In the first round, they selected Alabama State tackle Tytus Howard and in the second they took Northern Illinois tackle Max Scharping.
18. Jacksonville Jaguars:
     They are just one year removed from an AFC championship appearance where they were knocking on the door of making their first Superbowl in franchise history with Blake Bortles at the helm. Now they have the MVP of the title game they would’ve made if they had not surrendered the lead to the Patriots late in the conference championship game in Nick Foles. They picked up some key pieces in the draft to address their top needs. In the first round, they got a top-five talent in Josh Allen of Kentucky to rush the passer, in the second round they got a top 10 talent in Jawaan Taylor of Florida to play right tackle and in the third, they got Foles a dynamic pass-catching tight end in Josh Oliver of San Jose State.
19. Denver Broncos:
     With all of the offseason hype surrounding the potential and the moves that the other three teams in the division have had in the free agency and the draft, the Broncos could sneak up on and shock a lot of people in 2019. They traded for a former Super Bowl MVP in Joe Flacco and had a really good draft haul that included an athletically gifted tight end out Iowa in Noah Fant in the first round, a versatile offensive lineman in K-State’s Dalton Risner and Flacco’s heir apparent out of Missouri in Dew Lock in the second.
20. Oakland Raiders:
     They’ve made the biggest splashes in both free agency and the draft and their roster have been completely overhauled from the end of last season until now. While they are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball now, the same hype caution on the Browns is applicable to the Raiders as well. Their draft haul featured a lot of players that not only possess an immense amount of talent but also tremendous amounts of character which is something Head Coach Jon Gruden and first-year General Manager Mike Mayock covet as they reshape the team.  
21. Detroit Lions:
     They're hoping that their draft class will help them reassert themselves as contenders not only in their own division but also in the conference for the playoffs after a year hiatus. They used their first-round pick on a tight end for the second time in five years but this time they selected the best all-around player at the position in TJ Hockenson of Iowa. They used their next four picks to improve on defense by taking Hawaii linebacker Jahlani Tavai in the second, Boston College Will Harris in the third, Clemson defensive end Austin Bryant in the fourth and Penn State cornerback Amani Oruwariye in fifth.  
22. San Francisco 49ers:
     They were one of the more popular picks last offseason to make some noise in 2018 before their franchise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a torn ACL early in the season and crushed their promising hopes. They made some big splashes on defense in free agency and used their first-round pick on Ohio State’s Nick Bosa who many had as the top-rated players on their board. On day two they picked up a pair of versatile pass catchers for Jimmy G in South Carolina receiver Deebo Samuel in the second and Baylor receiver/running back Jalen Hurd in then third. 
23. Buffalo Bills:
     They are a young and up and coming team that will be competitive in a lot more games than people and their opponents have given them credit for since the regular season schedule was released. With their first two picks in last weeks draft, they picked up a pair of big boys in the trenches on both offense and defense. In the first round they had Houston’s Ed Oliver fall to them in the top 10 and in the second round they selected guard/tackle Cody Ford of Oklahoma who many believed is a first-round talent. We’ll see if second-year quarterback Josh Allen will take a bigger leap in his sophomore season after showing flashes as a rookie. 
24. Atlanta Falcons:
 
   Injuries early on derailed their 2018 campaign but they should be back to full strength coming into this season and their revamped offensive line should be a huge part of it. They used both of their first-round picks on offensive linemen as they showed that they are committed to reestablishing that potent running game that was instrumental in their Superbowl run two years ago as well as protecting their franchise quarterback Matt Ryan. With their first pick on opening night, they used it on Boston College guard Chris Lindstrom and traded back into the bottom of the first to take Washington guard/tackle Kaleb McGary. 
25. Washington Redskins:
     They had arguably the best haul of any team in the draft with the way they stayed patience and landed their franchise quarterback in Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins without trading up and were aggressive in trading back into the first round to take the sliding Montez Sweat of Mississippi State. The rest of their draft featured several great value picks and they could become legit contenders in the NFC East as early as 2019.
26. New York Jets:
     While they had a solid or decent draft in the eyes of some experts and pundits, they made several huge splashes in free agency that will be the difference makers more so than rookie class in 2019. Landing All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell and four-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker CJ Mosely are huge additions for their offense and defense from both a talent and leadership standpoint. They used their first two picks on a pair of pass rushers that will be great for them for years to come in Quinnen Williams of Alabama in the first round Jachai Polite of Florida in the third round.
27. Arizona Cardinals:
 
   Right behind the Redskins they may have had the second-best draft weekend of any team in the league by having elite talent and projected starters fall to them at the top of nearly every round. It all started with the selection of Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray at No.1 overall and consensus top-rated corner Byron Murphy of Washington at the top of the second round. With Larry Fitzgerald on committed to play through only this season, they remade and reloaded their receiver core with a trio of pass catchers with different skill sets.
28. Carolina Panthers:
     The health of franchise quarterback Cam Newton is the biggest question mark not only surrounding but will ultimately dictate the fortunes of this team in 2019. New franchise owner David Tepper did not rule out the possibility of sitting Newton earlier this offseason. Their draft haul was solid with the selections of Florida State’s Brian Burns in the first, Ole Miss tackle Greg Little in the second and Alabama’s Christian Miller in the fourth. keep an eye on third-round pick Will Grier who grew up in Charlotte and could be the starter for his hometown team as a rookie if Newton is not ready to go.  
29. Cincinnati Bengals:
     First-year Head Coach Zac Taylor is looking to not only turning around the fortunes on the field for the franchise in terms of wins and losses but also reshape the culture of the team and hopefully have the “Sean McVay effect” that his mentor had with the Los Angeles Rams in his first year. They picked up several talented players in the draft on both sides of the ball that could be immediate playmakers. In the fourth round, they selected N.C. State quarterback Ryan Finely who could usurp Andy Dalton as the team’s starter sooner rather than later depending on how quick he develops.  
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
     Since their defense has ranked among the league’s worst for years, they invested heavily on that side of the ball at all three levels. In the first they took middle linebacker Devin White of LSU, in the second they drafted Central Michigan corner Sean Bunting, in the third they selected Auburn corner Jamel Dean and Kentucky safety Mike Edwards an in the fourth they picked Iowa defensive end, Anthony Nelson. However, the biggest question reaming that will be answered come fall will be if new Head Coach Bruce Arians, who is a renown quarterback whisperer, will be able to salvage former No.1 overall pick of the 2015 draft Jameis Winston in his final year under contract. 
31. New York Giants:
     They made the most controversial pick of the entire draft when they selected Duke quarterback Daniel Jones with their top 10 pick at No.6 overall to be Eli Manning’s heir apparent, but outside of that section, they had a pretty good draft. The used their next five picks to improve their dreadful defense that had holes at every level. They took massive Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence with their second first round pick and traded back into the opening round to pick lockdown corner DeAndre Backer of Georgia. 
32. Miami Dolphins:
     Despite acquiring their franchise quarterback from the Arizona Cardinals in Josh Rosen for the price of peanuts, they still have a lot of holes to fill on both sides of the ball. They did pick up some great foundational pieces in the trenches with their first two picks of Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins in the first round and Wisconsin offensive guard Michael Dieter in the third round

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