As August comes to an end, football is only just beginning. Week 1 kicks off on Thursday September 6th with the Philadelphia Eagles hoping to snatch a victory at home against the Atlanta Falcons. Before Week 1 begins, there’s some things we need to address like who are going to be the best rookies this year, what are the Week 1 power rankings, and my personal Super Bowl prediction.
One of the most important things to watch in sports has always been power rankings. Power rankings are an unofficial ranking of the 32 NFL teams from the best to the worst, usually having a comment about the team and why they are at the ranking they’re at. I will also be talking about the rookies/players on each team to watch out for.
Each rookie that went to the NFL Combine was granted a prospect grade. A prospect grade is a number that infers how the rookie will do in his NFL career. The numbers are meaningless after the season starts, but it helps the teams figure out what to expect from these players. The prospect grade scale is as shown:
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro-Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become an instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
NO GRADE Likely needs time in a developmental league
POWER RANKINGS + ROOKIE TO WATCH:
32. Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins are in a huge rebuilding phase after trading away Jarvis Landry. All that’s left of their offense is an injury-prone Ryan Tannehill and Kenyan Drake who still has a lot to learn in the NFL. One thing we are excited to see from the Dolphins is Minkah Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick tore up college offenses during his 3 year period at Alabama. He had 9 interceptions during that time, 6 came from his sophomore year. Not only is he a huge threat to receivers, but also is a great run-stopper at the Safety position. Fitzpatrick also blew up at the NFL Combine earning a 6.19 draft rating.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are just not a good team plain and simple. Their only good player is Mike Evans and he can’t even perform to his fullest because of his quarterback. Don’t get me wrong, Jameis Winston is an amazing quarterback, but the Tampa Bay offensive line is weak and can’t protect him enough. His O-Line makes him look bad. Tampa Bay’s rookie is Vita Vea and he will easily be the best defensive rookie to come out of this draft. Vea was dominant at Washington as an incredible rushing defensive tackle. He earned a 6.50 prospect grade which I would say suits him. Vita Vea is going to run the Buccaneers defense.
30. Buffalo Bills
As of September 3rd Nathan Peterman is the starting quarterback for week 1. As we saw last year, Peterman just isn’t starting quarterback material. He can’t run an offense like Josh Allen can and that’s why I believe the Bills will be one of the worst teams in the league till Allen starts. Adding to that, Josh Allen will easily be the best rookie not only on this team but in the league as well, but only if he starts. Josh Allen got a 5.90 rating which means he has a chance to become a starter, but I strongly believe that if he starts, the offensive production will come.
29.New York Jets
The Jets are starting to become a decent team. They still have a lot to work on, but there is a lot of talent in their young players like Sam Darnold, Robby Anderson, and Jamal Adams. The Jets are not going to be good this year, but towards the end of the year I can see them starting to become a top-5 team. There is a possible chance at a playoff run for this team, but as of right now, it’s not very hopeful. Sam Darnold will easily be the best rookie quarterback this year and he is a Jets player to watch out for. Sam Darnold earned a 7.00 prospect rating and I personally believe that he should be closer to a 7.15-7.25 rating. He’s a great quarterback and if his O-Line stays strong, he will be dominant in the future.
28. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals are a team filled with a bunch of veterans and not too many young stars. All their best players are older and starting to come down in their careers. The Bengals are in the very early stages of rebuilding and will not be good. They are probably looking to lose plenty of games in order to get a good draft pick, so that’s why they are so low on the list. Jessie Bates is the rookie to watch out for this year. He was drafted 54th overall as a safety from Wake Forest and he was granted a 5.84 prospect grade. I personally believe he deserves a grade between 6.15-6.30 because he was just so dominant in college with 100 total tackles and 2 TDs as a freshman. He played 13 games that year and also had 5 interceptions. As a safety, those are impressive numbers to have under your belt. Watch out for Jessie Bates when your team is playing the Bengals.
27. Arizona Cardinals
With Carson Palmer retired, the Arizona Cardinals are handing their offense over to newly drafted quarterback Josh Rosen. Don’t get me wrong, Rosen is an incredible quarterback, but there is a reason he fell to the 10th overall pick rather than going top 5 like he was supposed to. The Cardinals couldn’t get any production with Palmer and I don’t expect them to have any offensive production with Josh Rosen running the offense either. He is a great quarterback, but for him and his team to do well this year, they’re are going to need to make bigger improvements to their O-Line and wide receiver core. Christian Kirk is going to be my rookie to watch on this team. If he starts, he will be a dominant threat as WR2 behind Larry Fitzgerald. He’s fast (4.47 40-yard dash) and he’s got very good hands. Any ball that comes his way is getting caught. He’s also a dominant punt/kick returner and will be one of the best in the league because of his speed and elusiveness. Although Josh Rosen will be good next year, he will fuel Christian Kirk’s production.
26. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have such a high potential to be good, but they just keep getting injured. Andrew Luck is a great quarterback, but all the injuries have turned him into a very mediocre player. Marlon Mack is also recovering from a hamstring injury that might hinder his playing abilities this year. The Colts can do good this year, but it’s a longshot and I just don’t see them being as good as they could be due to injuries. Quenton Nelson is the rookie to watch out for on this team. Nelson is easily already one of the best offensive linemen in the league and he hasn’t even played a regular season game. His pass and rush blocking skills are incredible and I surely see him as a future Hall Of Fame player. His prospect rating was 7.34, but I believe he should be placed at a 7.70-7.80 range.
25. Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are still struggling on finding out who on their team is worth the starting position and that’s what has them so low. The Detroit Lions are a team of average players with one or two stars who aren’t that amazing. Golden Tate and Matthew Stafford are incredibly good players, but they aren’t top tier in comparison to the whole league. Kerryon Johnson is the Lions rookie to watch out for. He was drafted as a running back from Auburn at the 43rd pick. He will most likely become their starting running back sometime this year, but he still has to pass up LeGarrette Blount and Ameer Abdullah.
24. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders are finally accepting their fate that all their players cost too much and traded away Khalil Mack to the Bears. Derek Carr isn’t a good quarterback. He is overrated and shouldn’t be start. Amari Cooper is the Raiders only hope for the Raiders and that’s not much. The rookie to watch out for is P.J Hall. He is a defensive tackle from Sam Houston St. and was their only decent draft pick of the draft. The Raiders drafted Kolten Miller, an offensive tackle in the first round, but he deserved to be a 3rd or 4th round pick. If I had the choice, I would say there is no Raiders rookie to watch out for, but for now, P.J Hall is your man to keep an eye on.
23. Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks are losing players left and right this offseason. They traded away Paul Richardson Jr. to Washington, Richard Sherman to the 49ers, Thomas Rawls to the Jets, released Eddie Lacy, and lost Kam Chancellor to retirement. The Seahawks are done making the playoffs every year and are starting to look towards rebuilding. With not a lot of their big start left, the Seahawks are hoping their new lineup can get them somewhere. I would deem Chris Carson a “rookie”, due to his inexperience from last year (missing most of last season due to injuries). In that regard, Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny are your “rookies” to watch this year. If Carson can bounce back this year from those injuries he will dominate the Seahawks backfield. If not, Rashaad Penny will be the one to dominate the backfield for the 2018 season. Both these young talented players can produce, but it all depends on which one shows up for week 1.
22. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens are starting to become a better team after drafting some players over the past couple of years as well as smart trading. As long as Joe Flacco starts for the Ravens, they will be terrible. I have a lot of hope in Lamar Jackson and that’s why he is my rookie to watch. He fell back far in the draft (32nd pick) because many NFL GM’s believed he’d be a better wide receiver than quarterback, but he declined the offer. The Ravens were the only team that were willing to draft him and play him as a quarterback and I believe that it will pay off for the Ravens. The Ravens have a good chance at becoming a great team, but not until Lamar Jackson starts.
21. New York Giants
All the Giants have in Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley. If Barkley can put the team on his back and take the offense from Eli Manning, then the Giants have a chance at the playoff, but with Odell’s new contract extension, that won’t happen. Obviously, Saquon Barkley is the best player in the draft and is for certain a future Hall Of Fame player, no doubt. He received a 7.45 prospect rating, but I think he deserves a rating in the 8.00-8.50 range. If he stays healthy, all opposing defenses should be scared for Barkley.
20. Washington Redskins
The Washington Redskins were going to be a pretty good team, but Darrius Juice tore his ACL. Alex Smith is also way too old to play and just cannot keep playing anymore. Now the Redskins are looking to Adrian Peterson who is also too old to play at this point and is most likely making this his retirement season. Although Darrius Juice is out for the season, he is the only player that deserves to be the rookie to watch out for. Watch out for his name next year when he starts terrorizing defensive backs.
19. Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos have an actual chance to be good this year because of their new quarterback in Case Keenum. Keenum is starting to become older and his playing abilities are on a decline. If he can come out and play like he did last year, the Broncos will be a great team, but the second he falls off, so do the Broncos. The rookies to look out for are easily Courtland Sutton and Royce Freeman. Both of these players are up to big things, especially Courtland Sutton. Sutton is going to blow up and possibly even take over Demaryius Thomas at the WR2 position. I have Royce Freeman on the list because if the Broncos have enough faith in him he can become a great player, but he’s going to have to watch out for Devontae Booker who is also a great young running back.
18. Tennessee Titans
The Titans acquired Dion Lewis over the off-season and now they have both him and Derek Henry. I really believe Lewis will be a huge helper to this team, but I think the Titans will try to use Henry more this year because he hasn’t played too much in past years. Henry is a great running back and this year is his time to shine. These two running backs might just be the whole offense for them this year. Rashaan Evans is the rookie to watch out for on the Titans. Drafted 22nd overall as an Outside Linebacker from Alabama, he has a lot of impressive highlights under his belt. Watching him play is just far more impressive than reading his stats and I think he could win Defensive Rookie of the Year.
17. Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey are perfect players for each other and they work so well together. McCaffery who is a great receiving running back helps Newton shine because when Newton rolls out of the pocket he’s got McCaffrey as an extra receiver he can surely rely on, which is hard to come by in a running back. There is a possibility of a good playoff run from this team, but if one small injury happens to a starter, they’ll start to fall off. The rookie to watch out for on this team is D.J Moore from Maryland who will fill into this Carolina line-up perfectly. He’s a fast player (4.42 40-yard dash) and can be an amazing WR3 for them.
16. Cleveland Browns
As much as I hate to say it, I have a lot of hope in the 2018 Cleveland Browns. I don’t believe Tyrod Taylor should be the starting quarterback, but it looks like he will be for Week 1. Taylor won’t bring this team to the playoffs, but Baker Mayfield can. The rookie out of Oklahoma can change the Browns into a winning team, but only if he can be respectful on and off the field. Mayfield is a very emotional player, which is good, but he plays with the wrong emotions. He gets way to into the game and starts to be very disrespectful and many of his previous on-the-field actions are highly inappropriate. If he can play respectfully, he will be a superstar.
15. Chicago Bears
The Bears signed Khalil Mack just days before the season starts and he might just single-handedly make the Bears defense one of the best in the league. Roquan Smith, a rookie, will be Khalil Mack’s sidekick all year. Both of them will help the Bears create a shutdown defense that can hopefully pull them into the playoff. Look to the Bears as a playoff contender later in the year.
14. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are coming back from a couple of years of losing records. Now that they have Richard Sherman and Jimmy Garoppolo they will be a very hard team to stop. We already saw what a Jimmy Garoppolo run offense can do towards the end of last season and it was amazing. Mike McGlinchey is the rookie to watch for on the 49ers. An incredible Offensive Linemen that will be certain to protect Garoppolo in the pocket as well as Matt Breida when they run the ball. Expect this 49ers team to be a tough opponent and possibly a playoff contender.
13. Dallas Cowboys
With Ezekiel Elliot not serving a suspension this year, will break out and have an amazing season. Dak Prescott will continue to good and the infamous Offensive Line will continue to reign. Expect a decent playoff run for the Cowboys this year. Leighton Vander Esch is your rookie to watch this year for Dallas. Vander Esch fell way too far back in the draft and is a top-10 rookie by far. He earned a 6.25 prospect rating and will fit well in the Cowboys defense.
12. Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers have one of the most underrated defense in the league. With Joey Bosa on their team, they are incredibly good and not valued enough for their performance. Expect their defense to help them to a strong playoff run. Derwin James is your player to watch on this team. James was drafted as a safety out of Florida State and earned a 6.44 prospect rating. James will be incredible this year and will help the Charger defense greatly.
11. Houston Texans
The return of Deshaun Watson will solely get this team to were they were supposed to be last year. Before Watson got injured in the 2017 season, he was the best quarterback in the league. Now that he’s back, we are hoping to still have that dominant Deshaun Watson on the field. Houston’s earliest pick in the draft was the 68th pick and they chose Justin Reid, a safety from Stanford. He received a 6.06 draft rating and was and absolute monster at Stanford. Expect him to make a huge impact on the Houston defense.
10. Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs are finally putting all their faith into Patrick Mahomes after trading away Alex Smith to the 49ers. With Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt, and a newly added Sammy Watkins to the offense, the Chiefs offense will be close to impossible to stop. The Chiefs earliest pick was the 46th pick so there aren’t many rookies to choose from. Armani Watts, drafted 124th, earned a prospect rating of 5.67. He is a Safety out of Texas A&M and will help Eric Reid in the secondary.
9. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons have always been a dominant team especially with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. Devonta Freeman has been a great player for the past couple years and has really contributed to their success. Expect Freeman as well as Tevin Coleman to be the best running back duo in the league. Calvin Ridley is the rookie to watch on the Falcons. Drafted 26th as a WR from Alabama, Ridley is hands down the best WR in the draft. Earning a prospect grade of 6.40, Ridley will serve as an amazing WR2 for Matt Ryan.
8. Green Bay Packers
With Aaron Rodgers back from his broken collarbone, we are excited to see how well the Packers can do. With Jordy Nelson sent to Oakland, Davante Adams is their new WR1. Adams will be a great guy for Rodgers and I expect the Packers offense to be incredible. Jaire Alexander is my rookie to watch and he is hands down the best CB in the draft. With a prospect rating of 6.03, If Ha-Ha Clinton Dix and Jaire Alexander can run the defense well, the Packers could make for an interesting playoff run.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars are an impressive team and can easily be in the Super Bowl this year. The Super Bowl race this year will consist of two of these next top 7 teams and it will be a tough race. With Leonard Fournette returning for his second NFL season, he is ready to knock things up again. He was incredible last year and will continue to be an offensive threat. Watch out for another breakout season for Fournette. Taven Bryan, DT and D.J Clark are the two rookies to watch out for this year. The Jaguars really needed WR’s this year and they got an amazing one in D.J Clark. The rookie from LSU is incredibly fast (4.34 40-yard dash) and will fit in perfectly with the other Jaguar receivers. Taven Brown is an amazing addition to an amazing defense and will surely be an amazing asset to the already dominant Jacksonville defense.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers
With Le’Veon Bell out for at least the first week due to boycotting his salary the Pittsburgh Steelers are in trouble. They are a great team without him, but near impossible to beat with Bell on the field. Hopefully, Antonio Brown can have another breakout season and Ben Roethlisberger can keep his name off the DL. The rookie to watch on this team is James Washington. He is an incredible WR and exactly what the Steelers are looking for in their WR3 spot. He earned a 5.76 prospect grade and I believe he is in for a great career in Pittsburgh.
5. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams have a beefed up defense which is going to be the reason I feel like they can become a top-3 team this year. With the addition of Aqib Talib as well as Ndamukong Suh, the Rams defense will be unstoppable. Aaron Donald and Nickell Robey-Coleman are going to be close to the best defensive core this year because of Suh and Talib. The addition of Brandon Cooks will also help out their offense immensely. The Rams earliest pick was the 89th overall pick in which they took Joseph Noteboom out of TCU. The Offensive Tackle will greatly help their mediocre offensive line become a top-tier O-Line. Noteboom was granted a 5.75 prospect rating and should be a Rams starter Week 1.
4. Minnesota Vikings
Kirk Cousins is the best quarterback in Minnesota since Brett Favre and Daunte Culpepper. The Vikings have been good the last couple years with very average quarterbacks, so imagine what they can do with an above average quarterback. Dalvin Cook is also back from his ACL injury and he has a chance to prove to be one of the best running backs in the league. If Dalvin Cook bounces back from his ACL injury well, the Vikings will be a huge threat to other opponents all year. The rookie to watch for is Mike Hughes from Central Florida. Hughes is filling a much-needed Cornerback spot for the Vikings and will most likely become a starter Week 1. He earned a prospect rating of 5.96 and will be a valuable asset to the Vikings secondary.
3. New England Patriots
With Julian Edelman out for the first four weeks due to suspension, the Patriots might be in trouble. Chris Hogan is their number 1 receiver until Edelman returns, but Tom Brady can make any WR look good. Expect another incredible playoff run from this forever dominating Patriots team. The rookie to watch for is Isaiah Wynn, an Offensive Tackle out of Georgia. The Patriots are looking to beef up their offensive line and they found Wynn who is perfectly cut out for the job. Wynn will be an amazing help to their lineup and will hopefully keep Tom Brady protected in the pocket.
2. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles have shown us what they can do with Nick Foles running the offense and now we are all wondering how good this team will be with Carson Wentz’s return. With Jay Ajayi now on the squad, the Eagles will actually have faith in their ball carrier and can run the ball efficiently unlike past years. The player to watch for is easily Dallas Goedert, a Tight End out of South Dakota St. Goedert had worked with Wentz when he was at South Dakota St. and the chemistry is still there. Goedert earned a 5.87 prospect rating and I feel that because of his chemistry will Carson Wentz, that number should be way higher. A very smart draft pick for the Eagles and hopefully it’ll improve the Eagles already dominant offense.
1. New Orleans Saints
The Saints will easily be the best team in the league this year, no doubt. Not only do the Saint have incredible starters, but their second string players are starting caliber as well. What makes the Saints so good is the fact that they can beat you with all their starters playing and they can also beat you with only second string players as well. Brees is getting old and if he gets injured we may get a chance to see Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater is recovering from one of the worst injuries in sports history and is still able to play. His willingness to play is going to grant him a starting role for a team, possibly the Saints after Brees retires, but he is well deserving of that starting role. Marcus Davenport was one of the best Defensive Ends in the draft this year and can be easily compared to Khalil Mack. Davenport is an amazing player and will help keep this young Saints defense strong. He earned a 5.99 prospect rating, but I believe he belongs in the 6.5-6.7 range. Davenport is an incredible player and will torment opposing QBs all year.