If the recent NBA offseason has taught us anything, it’s that the NFL offseason can be a bit of a snooze fest (outside of the NFL Draft, of course). Once early free agency and the NFL Draft have passed, only minor transactions are common for months leading into regular season play.
The nice part about that dead period is extra time to dissect each team’s offseason moves, vision and projected depth chart. While each and every team shows promise in the offseason, many teams still remain unproven.
I’ll be looking at and ranking the rosters throughout the NFL based on on-field talent throughout a four part series. There are a lot of factors that go into winning football games, but depth of talent will generally be the top indicator.
The following teams are the bottom ¼ of the league when it comes to talent on their roster:
32. Arizona Cardinals
After a dreadful 3-13 season, new head coach Kliff Kingsbury has breathed new life into the Cardinals franchise. They targeted electric offense talent in the NFL Draft, drafting quarterback Kyler Murray and receivers Andy Isabella, KeeSean Johnson and Hakeem Butler. While that group will grow alongside Christian Kirk and running back David Johnson, they’ll be relying far too much on unproven offensive talent this season. The holes on the offensive line and at tight end don’t help matters either.
Defensively, Arizona took a few steps forward with their draft picks. I expect Byron Murphy, Zach Allen and Deionte Thompson to be contributors on a defense highlighted by cornerback Patrick Peterson and Chandler Jones, but how will those rookies immediately translate? There is talent throughout the defense, but they need to mesh together better than they did last season.
31. New York Giants
The Giants have just 8 wins over the past two seasons, and proceeded to trade their best player in the offseason. While Saquon Barkley is a legit stud and they have nice pass-catching weapons in Evan Engram, Golden Tate and Sterling Shepherd, they’re lacking in other areas. The offensive line has some promise, but will need to come together better this season. Eli Manning and his mini-me is an uninspiring quarterback room.
On the defensive line, New York will be relying heavily on young and unproven talent in B.J. Hill, Dexter Lawrence and Lorenzo Carter. Their linebacking core fails to move the needle, and their secondary lacks depth. Jabrill Peppers will help mask the loss of Landon Collins, but their cornerbacks have a lot to prove.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bruce Arians will get more out of this roster than he should, but I don’t see a realistic path to the playoffs for the Bucs. They’re held back by quarterback Jameis Winston, and if Ronald Jones doesn’t progress, their backfield won’t be much better. Ali Marpet is one of the best guards in football, but I’m not sold on the rest of their offensive line.
On defense, the Bucs secondary is a work in progress, and they might never get the most out of recent draft picks Vernon Hargraves and M.J. Stewart. Devin White and Ndamukong Suh will help with losses of Kwon Alexander and Gerald McCoy, but they’re lacking a pass rush outside of Jason Pierre-Paul. If Vita Vea doesn’t take a step forward this season, he’ll be teetering on a busted pick.
29. Miami Dolphins
Despite a strong offseason to this point, new head coach Brian Flores had inherited a disaster. While the Dolphins have built a sense of direction, there are question marks all throughout the offense. That includes the quarterback Josh Rosen, a draft day acquisition. Their wide receiver room has a lot of young players with some promise, but only Kenny Stills have proven capable of being a starter. Laremy Tunsil is a stud left tackle, but the rest of their offensive line are seemingly replacement-level talents. The same could be said for running backs Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage.
First round pick Christian Wilkins will provide a boost on the defensive line to an uninspiring unit. Their linebacker group is well built, and their secondary has elite players to work with in Xavier Howard and Minkah Fitzpatrick, but they need to be better up front.
28. Cincinnati Bengals
New head coach Zac Taylor has his work cut out for him, as Cincinnati’s roster is middling in quite a few areas. Their offensive line took a hit when it lost rookie Jonah Williams for the season, lining up Bobby Hart to start on an already mediocre unit. Their tight end group is uninspiring, as is quarterback Andy Dalton. Taylor will have to work his magic in order for the Bengals to really produce on the offensive side.
We’ll see if young linebackers Malik Jefferson and Germaine Pratt can provide a much needed boost to the front-7, but even then I’m not entirely sold on the Bengals defensive line outside of Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap. The secondary has the potential to be strong, highlighted by Williams Jackson III, but they need better play in front of them.
27. Denver Broncos
Joe Flacco, the projecting starting quarterback, is a below average starter throughout the league. That can be fine if the surrounding talent is strong, but Denver’s is just decent. Emmanuel Sanders isn’t getting any younger, and while their young wide receivers are promising, we’ll see how their re-tooled offensive line fits together.
Denver has long had a talented defense, and head coach Vic Fangio should cover up some small problems on that side. However, they’ve quietly dwindled in talent in the front 7 outside of Von Miller, Derek Wolfe and Bradley Chubb. Bringing back Chris Harris Jr. is an obvious boost to their secondary, but they were below average against the pass last season despite 26.5 combined sacks from Miller and Chubb.
26. Detroit Lions
I wanted to like the Lions roster more than I did, but I just have questions about their depth in too many areas. How much will Detroit be able to get out of their wide receivers not named Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, and how does their right side of the offensive line hold up? Quarterback Matthew Stafford is a proven veteran with some tools to work with in the form of tight end T.J. Hockenson and running back Kerryon Johnson, but he can only lift a mostly average unit so high.
The addition of Trey Flowers will help the defensive line, but I’m still not convinced about the Lions ability to get after the quarterback. It’s possible that their athleticism at linebacker helps mask some of those issues, but Detroit will need their young defensive backs to step in and produce right away to become a complete defensive unit.
25. New York Jets
The Jets were obvious “buyers” during free agency and drafted the best player in the class in Quinnen Williams, which has helped their roster improve from near the bottom of the league. Suddenly, their defensive line could be one of the best in the league with Q next to Leonard Williams and Henry Anderson. C.J. Mosley will provide a massive boost to an otherwise below average linebacker group. Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye have proven to be a good young safety duo, but can the Jets develop depth at cornerback?
I expect Sam Darnold to take a step forward this year, and he’ll be aided by the Jets talented wide receivers and new running back Le’Veon Bell. However, their offensive line doesn’t move the needle at all, which caps the potential on the entire offense.