2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 11

Welcome to the NFL’s new normal. Top teams are upset on a weekly basis, Hall of Fame quarterbacks crumble against mediocre defenses, and no one has any idea who is good and who is bad. In a word, the NFL has achieved parity. Every week, chaos is bound to wash over the NFL, sending a shockwave through these power rankings.

Just a quick recap, the Eagles coasted past the Broncos, who beat the Cowboys last week. Meanwhile, the Cowboys shelled the Falcons, who topped the Saints a week ago. Two weeks ago, the Saints beat the Buccaneers, who have now lost two straight after a truly stunning defeat in D.C. Add in the new-look Rams falling flat against the previously downtrodden 49ers and you have a pretty clear picture of the mess that is the NFL right now. Even the teams that are 8-2 have some pretty clear question marks.

With all of that in mind, here is my best attempt at ranking the league’s teams.

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1. Green Bay Packers: 8-2 (Last Week: 1)
Won 17-0 vs. Seattle
Defense wins championships and it seems like the Packers defense is rounding into form. Russell Wilson was clearly shaking off some rust, but he had never been shutout before Sunday. Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers made his return to the field and didn’t look great. He had no touchdowns and an interceptions. A.J. Dillon plunged in for a pair of short-yardage touchdown runs to seal an important victory. Even with Aaron Jones set to miss a week or two, the Packers should be in good shape to keep winning with a strong defense and reliable run game.

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2. Tennessee Titans: 8-2 (Last Week: 4)
Won 23-21 vs. New Orleans
Is Tennessee really the second-best team in the league? Honestly, I don’t know. They sit at 8-2, but these two wins without Derrick Henry have been anything but convincing. The Titans got a bit of help from the refs with a questionable roughing the passer call and the Saints nearly tied the game in the closing minutes. In the end, the defense made a few big plays when the game was on the line. Mike Vrabel has built a gritty team. It doesn’t have to be pretty if they just keep winning.

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3. Dallas Cowboys: 7-2 (Last Week: 6)
Won 43-3 vs. Atlanta
Talk about bouncing back. Dallas put a horrendous offensive performance in its rearview mirror with a thrashing of Atlanta. The Cowboys led 7-3 at the end of the first quarter, then outscored the Falcons 29-0 in the second quarter to put the game to bed. Dak Prescott played efficiently and the defense played lights out, holding Atlanta to just 214 yards of offense and forcing three turnovers. As of right now, the loss against Denver looks like an anomaly, but they can’t afford too many more duds like that.

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4. Arizona Cardinals: 8-2 (Last Week: 2)
Lost 34-10 vs. Carolina
There is only so much magic the Cardinals can work with a depleted offense. The combination of Colt McCoy and Chris Streveler totaled 143 passing yards to go with an interception and four sacks. Defensively, the Cardinals had no answer for Christian McCaffrey, who finished with 161 yards of offense. This is one that you can probably just throw out when evaluating Arizona, but the offensive line still struggled against an elite defense. That is a red flag.

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5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6-3 (Last Week: 3)
Lost 29-19 at Washington
Tampa Bay fell flat once again, this time coming off their bye week. Tom Brady played his worst game of the season and the Buccaneers defense got pushed around all afternoon. While Brady’s two first-quarter interceptions made life difficult, the bigger issue was definitely the defense’s inability to get off the field. Washington held the ball for 39 minutes of game play, leaving the Bucs with very little opportunity to get into a rhythm. Tampa’s 47 plays were easily the fewest they have run all season. Bruce Arians has some serious work to do in order get this club back on track.

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6. New England Patriots: 6-4 (Last Week: 8)
Won 45-7 vs. Cleveland
Oh no. The Patriots are back. Maybe not to the high-flying days of Tom Brady leading the league’s No. 1 offense, but this New England side is starting to resemble those early 2000s teams that won three Super Bowls in a four-year span. I’m not saying the Pats are going to win a title this year, but smashing the Browns definitely underlines this team’s potential. I know they have lost four games this season, but three of those four came by six points or fewer. With four straight wins, Bill Belichick has this team trending in the right direction.

7. Los Angeles Rams: 7-3 (Last Week: 5)
Lost 31-10 at San Francisco
You can take the quarterback out of Detroit, but you can’t take the Detroit out of the quarterback. Matt Stafford continues to come up well short in big moments for the Rams. For the second straight week, Los Angeles got whipped in primetime as their big offseason acquisition floundered. This week though, he might have an excuse. His receivers could not catch anything on Monday night. Stafford’s second interception went right through the hands of Tyler Higbee. Without any semblance of a running game and a defense that could not stop a nosebleed, much less Elijah Mitchell, L.A. looked completely overmatched. Sean McVay has a lot of questions to answer on the other side of their bye week.

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8. Buffalo Bills: 6-3 (Last Week: 9)
Won 45-17 at New York
Buffalo clearly did not dwell on its stunning Week 9 loss to the Jaguars. The Bills jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. They led 38-3 heading into the fourth quarter. Josh Allen played well and got plenty of help from the ground game. Four different players recorded a rushing touchdown in this one. Similarly, four different defensive players intercepted Mike White in a dominant performance. Buffalo clearly showed that its floor is very low, but this was a good reminder that they also have a very high ceiling.

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9. Kansas City Chiefs: 6-4 (Last Week: 14)
Won 41-14 at Las Vegas
It is important not to overreact after just one game on the heels of about a month of lackluster play, but we saw the Patrick Mahomes of old on Sunday night. He shredded the Raiders secondary for 406 yards and five touchdowns in a resurgent performance. What’s more, Kansas City ran the ball enough to keep Las Vegas honest. The Chiefs averaged just 3.8 yards per carry, so there is room for improvement, but this was a good sign of things to come. Kansas City cannot afford a let down though with Dallas up next.

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10. Baltimore Ravens: 6-3 (Last Week: 7)
Lost 22-10 at Miami
Goodness this was ugly. Miami bottled up Lamar Jackson as the offense spun its wheels all night long. The Ravens could not adjust to the consistent pressure Brian Flores sent throughout the game. Defensively, Baltimore held Jacoby Brissett in check, but gave up way too many big plays in big moments. With the Browns losing and the Steelers tying this week, this would have been a huge opportunity for the Ravens to build some separation in the division. Instead, Baltimore must rethink its offensive approach against blitz-heavy defenses.

11. Los Angeles Chargers: 5-4 (Last Week: 10)
Lost 27-20 vs. Minnesota
Reminder: the Chargers are a young team and there are going to be some growing pains. Justin Herbert turned in an uneven performance, with a touchdown, an interception and just 195 yards passing. Defensively, Kirk Cousins generally had his way with the secondary and Minnesota chewed up clock on the ground. This loss does not undo wins over the Chiefs or Browns, but Los Angeles is clearly not a true Super Bowl contender yet.

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12. New Orleans Saints: 5-4 (Last Week: 11)
Lost 23-21 at Tennessee
Question time. Why is Trevor Siemian starting for the Saints? Taysom Hill went 3-1 as a spot starter for New Orleans when Drew Brees got hurt, in ahead of Jameis Winston. Now, Hill is back to his gadget player role, despite receiving a monster extension this offseason. I understand it was primarily for salary cap purposes, but it still makes me wonder what has changed since last year. Considering this loss came by two points on the road against a good team while the Saints were missing their best player, the sky is not falling. However, after two straight losses, it is fair to wonder if a change at quarterback is necessary.

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13. Pittsburgh Steelers: 5-3-1 (Last Week: 12)
Tied 16-16 vs. Detroit
If nothing else, we learned that Mason Rudolph is not the Steelers quarterback of the future. He managed a meager 4.8 yards per attempt and finished with a QBR of 36.7. There is plenty of blame to go around though, as Pittsburgh coughed up two fumbles in overtime to halt two potential game-winning drives. Meanwhile, the defense gave up 229 yards rushing. All the way around, it is a wonder the Steelers did not lose this game. They desperately need Ben Roethlisberger back in Week 11.

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14. Indianapolis Colts: 5-5 (Last Week: 17)
Won 23-17 vs. Jacksonville
Perhaps we should just chalk this up to divisional games being difficult. However, the Colts did not play well and let the Jaguars hang around way too long in this one. Carson Wentz was pedestrian at best and no one other than Jonathan Taylor really produced much. If not for a special teams touchdown early in this game on a blocked punt, there is a good chance Indianapolis loses this game. Like I said, divisional games are wonky and often lead to unexpected results. Hopefully, the Colts can raise their play because a visit to Buffalo is up next.

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15. Minnesota Vikings: 4-5 (Last Week: 19)
Won 27-20 at Los Angeles
At long last, Minnesota built a late lead and hung onto it. Kirk Cousins aired it out and Dalvin Cook put in a ton of work. The defense deserves a ton of credit for making life difficult on Justin Herbert, sacking him twice and intercepting him. Controlling the clock on offense and limiting big plays on defense is a winning formula for this side.

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16. Cleveland Browns 5-5 (Last Week: 13)
Lost 45-7 at New England
What to make of the Browns? On the heels of a blowout win against Cincinnati, Cleveland drove right down the field for an opening-drive touchdown. Then, the Browns surrendered 45 unanswered points as Baker Mayfield struggled mightily before exiting with a knee injury. D’Ernest Johnson did his best to carry the load, racking up 157 yards of offense, but Cleveland looked lifeless on both sides of the ball. The sign of a great team is consistency, which goes a long way towards explaining the Browns’ 5-5 record. This team cannot string together performances right now.

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17. Cincinnati Bengals: 5-4 (Last Week: 16)
Bye Week
It was a good week for the Bengals. The Ravens, Browns and Steelers all did not win. Now Cincinnati needs to take advantage. Joe Burrow and company have flashed the potential to be one of the best teams in the AFC, but are coming off back-to-back losses to the Jets and Browns. With a bye week to regroup, the Bengals now have a chance to prove they are a legitimate playoff team and not just another middle-of-the-road side.

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18. Las Vegas Raiders: 5-4 (Last Week: 15)
Lost 41-14 vs. Kansas City
It seems like the on-going circus around the Raiders has finally caught up with them on the field. First, Jon Gruden was fired (technically, he resigned, but let’s read between the lines) for some horrible emails containing racist, homophobic and misogynistic language. Then, Henry Ruggs was arrested after killing someone while driving drunk, going 156 miles per hour with a loaded gun in the car. Most recently, Damon Arnette was released following a series of social media posts containing death threats while he brandished firearms. And that was all before they went into a rivalry game with the Chiefs. Needless to say, Las Vegas fell flat. Patrick Mahomes pulled apart the Raiders secondary and the offense did not score after halftime. Rich Bisaccia has a tough task ahead of him.

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19. Philadelphia Eagles: 4-6 (Last Week: 22)
Won 30-13 at Denver
Philadelphia put together a complete game as it ran all over Denver’s defense. The Eagles racked up 214 yards on 40 carries and got stronger as the game went on. With the game tied at 10 midway through the second quarter, Philly outscored Denver 20-3 the rest of the way. Given how much chaos has occurred in the NFL this season, the Eagles are just one game back of a playoff spot. They will face another wildcard contender in Week 11 as the Saints come to town.

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20. San Francisco 49ers: 4-5 (Last Week: 25)
Won 31-10 vs. Los Angeles
Kyle Shanahan clearly has Sean McVay’s number. San Francisco has notched five straight wins over Los Angeles, with Monday’s being the most impressive, and perhaps important, yet. The 49ers ran the ball 44 times to amass a time of possession of over 39 minutes. Meanwhile, Matthew Stafford never looked comfortable and the Rams could not hold onto the ball. Two early interceptions, including a pick-six, coupled with an 11-minute scoring drive set the tone for the game. L.A. never recovered. San Francisco will have a chance to build on this win in Jacksonville.

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21. Carolina Panthers: 5-5 (Last Week: 24)
Won 34-10 at Arizona
Even though he did not start, there is no doubt Cam Newton provided a huge emotional boost for the Panthers. Super Cam scored on his first two offensive snaps in his return to Carolina. The defense certainly benefited from facing Colt McCoy instead of Kyler Murray, but still impressed nonetheless. The Panthers tallied four total sacks and only allowed 169 yards of offense. It was the type of stifling performance that makes you think that Carolina could be a real problem down the stretch if Newton can get into form and provide some kind of stability on offense.

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22. Denver Broncos: 5-5 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 30-13 vs. Philadelphia
Denver followed up an impressive road win over the Cowboys with a lopsided home loss to the Eagles. Make it make sense. The biggest difference was the run game. After allowing just 78 yards to Dallas, Philadelphia rumbled for 214 yards on the ground. After falling behind, the Broncos could not continue to run consistently, which is where they found a decent amount of success earlier in the game. Still at .500 and only a game back in the AFC West, Denver is in the mix, but results like this make it hard to believe in the long-term potential.

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23. New York Giants: 3-6 (Last Week: 21)
Bye Week
This was a tough week for the Giants. Not because of anything they did. Hopefully, they finally got healthy. Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Kenny Golladay and more have missed enough time already. No, unfortunately, every other team in the NFC East won, which pushes New York back into the divisional basement. Joe Judge and Daniel Jones have a lot to prove in the second half of the season.

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24. Atlanta Falcons: 4-5 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 43-3 at Dallas
Last week, I said that Matt Ryan was putting together a Jekyll and Hyde type season. He turned it up a notch in Week 10. After an impressive win over the Saints in which he had 343 yards and a pair of touchdowns, Ryan went 9-for-21 passing for 121 yards and two interceptions. He was pulled late in the third quarter with the team trailing by 40. Atlanta is still just a half game back of the Panthers for the NFC’s final wildcard spot at the moment, but it is hard to think of this group as a playoff team.

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25. Seattle Seahawks: 3-6 (Last Week: 23)
Lost 17-0 at Green Bay
So, Russell Wilson didn’t exactly fix the offense. The veteran quarterback struggled mightily, finishing 20-of-40 throwing for 161 yards and two interceptions. He simply did not look sharp, nor did he have much time to throw. Green Bay hit him five times, including three sacks. On the bright side, the defense limited Aaron Rodgers and kept Seattle in the game until late on. Unfortunately, things will not get much easier with the Cardinals up next.

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26. Miami Dolphins: 3-7 (Last Week: 28)
Won 22-10 vs. Baltimore
Don’t look now, but the Dolphins are on a win streak. Brian Flores blitzed the hell out of Lamar Jackson, mostly from his secondary, holding the former MVP in check. In fact, this has to go down as one of the most impressive defensive performances of his tenure. However, questions must be asked of Flores’ handling of his quarterbacks. Tua Tagovailoa was deemed injured and unable to start the game. Yet, he was active as a backup. Jacoby Brissett exited with an injury, thrusting Tagovailoa into the game. Brissett never returned despite being cleared to play. So if Tagovailoa was too hurt to start, why was he left in when Brissett was able to come back? Miami’s quarterback situation continues to be an enigma.

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27. Washington: 3-6 (Last Week: 29)
Won 29-19 vs. Tampa Bay
Add the Washington Football Team to the list of teams that act as kryptonite to Tom Brady. Washington intercepted the future Hall of Famer twice in the first quarter to build an early lead. However, the real key was a 10-plus minute touchdown drive in the fourth quarter to put the game away. Washington remained committed to the run despite only managing 2.8 yards per carry. Now, Ron Rivera must prepare for an emotional reunion with his former team in Cam Newton’s first home game since returning to the Panthers.

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28. Chicago Bears: 3-6 (Last Week: 26)
Bye Week
Maybe a week off will allow Matt Nagy and Bill Lazor to finally build an offense that suits Justin Fields’ skill set. The rookie quarterback has had the typical ups and downs that come with the transition to the NFL. However, the Bears have been unable to unlock their best offensive player in Allen Robinson and often leave Fields in tough situations. Chicago’s defense is usually good enough to win games. If the offense can find a bit more consistency, the Bears could be a factor down the stretch.

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29. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-7 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 23-17 vs. Indianapolis
Jacksonville nearly followed up one upset with another. Trevor Lawrence was strip-sacked after making it into Colts territory on the team’s final drive, ending hopes of another massive win, but there are some positives to take away. The defense seems to have taken a much-needed step forward. Carson Wentz did not find much success through the air, but ultimately, the Jaguars could not slow down Jonathan Taylor. Now, if Urban Meyer could find a way to help Lawrence develop, Jacksonville would be in a good place.

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30. New York Jets: 2-7 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 45-17 vs. Buffalo
It is ridiculous to think about, but how warm is Robert Saleh’s seat getting right now? New York’s defense has been almost unprecedentedly bad, allowing 417 yards per game and just shy of 33 points per game, both the worst marks in the league. Saleh was formerly the defensive coordinator for the 49ers, so this was supposed to be his forte. I don’t expect the Jets to fire him after just one season, but it would be good for the unit to show progress in the second half of the year.

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31. Houston Texans: 1-7 (Last Week: 31)
Bye Week
Houston largely sat out the trade deadline and now sits at 1-7. An extra week to get Tyrod Taylor back to full health likely bodes well for the offense. With very little expectation and already having won a game to avoid the dreaded winless season, there really does not seem to be much to play for in Houston.

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32. Detroit Lions: 0-8-1 (Last Week: 32)
Tied 16-16 at Pittsburgh
This might be the most Lions way to break a 12-game losing streak: an ugly tie in a game where Detroit probably should have won, but couldn’t quite get over the hump. Jared Goff is clearly not the quarterback of the future, but with a mediocre quarterback class coming up, how the Lions address the position will be interesting. Dan Campbell has this team competing hard, but at some point, that is not going to be enough any more.

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2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 10

I give up. I have no idea what to do with these rankings. Week 9 turned the NFL’s hierarchy on its head with a slew of upsets. Many of the things we thought we could count on fell apart. Matt Stafford reverted to Detroit form against a Derek Henry-less Tennessee squad. Meanwhile, Dak Prescott returned only for Dallas’ offense to bottom out against a Denver side that just traded away Von Miller. To top it all off, it turns out Jacksonville had the better Josh Allen on Sunday as they shocked Buffalo.

Which team is the best in the NFL right now? I don’t know if there is a clear cut answer to that question. Green Bay lost without Aaron Rodgers, but it also beat previously undefeated Arizona the week before. Speaking of the Cardinals, they cruised by the 49ers without Kyler Murry or DeAndre Hopkins. Perhaps you could say the Buccaneers, but they just lost to a team led by Trevor Seimian in Week 8. Those Saints turned around and lost at home to the Falcons this week. Maybe it is the Titans, fresh off a win over the Rams. However, they could not really move the ball much, finishing with 194 yards of offense. Most of their scoring was led by the defense, which does not feel sustainable.

All of this is to say, I don’t know right now. I cannot remember a time where the league has felt so wide open. There are no elite teams in the NFL and the list of true contenders feels both very long and very short at the same time. Anyway, here is my best guess at how everyone stacks.

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1. Green Bay Packers: 7-2 (Last Week: 3)
Lost 13-7 at Kansas City
Let’s start with something potentially controversial. I’m actually not talking about Aaron Rodgers here. That shouldn’t be controversial. He lied. Plain and simple. He also should be adhering to league protocols. No, the controversy is about moving a Packers team coming off a loss to No. 1 in the rankings. I look at it this way. Green Bay lost by six points in a game where Mason Crosby missed a field goal and another blocked. Jordan Love also made his first career start and looked nothing short of terrible. If the Packers defense can play at that level and get Rodgers back under center, this team is going to be just fine and looks to be the best in the league.

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2. Arizona Cardinals: 8-1 (Last Week: 4)
Won 31-17 at San Francisco
Kliff Kingsbury deserves credit here. Without Kyler Murray or DeAndre Hopkins, the Cardinals went on the road for a divisional game and won comfortably. Colt McCoy played great while the ground game picked up 163 yards. Defensively, Arizona limited San Francisco to just 39 yards rushing and forced three turnovers. This team is deeper than I think people realize and definitely deserve contender status. There is a reason the Cardinals are the only one-loss team in the league.

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3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6-2 (Last Week: 5)
Bye Week
I toyed with moving the Buccaneers down. Their two losses this season came against the Rams and Saints, who flopped as home favorites in Week 8. New Orleans simply seems to have this team’s number. I don’t think anyone should be too worried about this team’s long term outlook. The amount of talent they have on both sides of the ball is close to unrivaled. A week off should give Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown a chance to get healthy, which will only make this offense more potent down the stretch.

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4. Tennessee Titans: 7-2 (Last Week: 8)
Won 28-16 at Los Angeles
Who could’ve seen this coming? I certainly did not. With Derrick Henry out, it was the defense who stepped up, intercepting Matt Stafford twice, including a pick-six from Kevin Byard. The other interception gave Ryan Tannehill the ball inside the five yard line. Perhaps even more significant, the five sacks the Titans racked up set a new season high. If the Titans can consistently generate a consistent pass rush, it will take a lot of pressure off the offense. Life without Henry was a bit rough running the ball, as Tennessee averaged 2.7 yards per carry. It will take some time for them to adjust.

5. Los Angeles Rams: 7-2 (Last Week: 1)
Lost 28-16 vs. Tennessee
Goodness, that was ugly. Apparently, taking Matthew Stafford out of the Motor City did not eliminate those horrific outings from his repertoire. Stafford posted a 17.6 Total QBR complete with a pair of interceptions and five sacks. Los Angeles did not find the end zone until the game was well out of reach in the fourth quarter. Given how well the Rams have played up to this point this year, I don’t think this is anything to panic about, but a good reminder that Stafford is capable of tanking the team’s game plan when he is out of sync.

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6. Dallas Cowboys: 6-2 (Last Week: 2)
Lost 30-16 vs. Denver
Do we start the quarterback controversy conversation in Dallas? I’m joking obviously, but Dak Prescott did have an abysmal day against the Broncos. He didn’t get much help from his receivers, with drops from just about everyone on the field. However, it was clear Prescott was having an off day. The defense was not at its best either, giving up a host of big plays to Teddy Bridgewater in the passing game. Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon also combined for 191 yards on the ground. This is one where it might be best to just burn the film and move on.

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7. Baltimore Ravens: 6-2 (Last Week: 11)
Won 34-31 vs. Minnesota
Where in the world would the Ravens be without Justin Tucker and Lamar Jackson? Jackson didn’t have his best game as a passer with two interceptions, but his three passing touchdowns and 120 yards rushing should more than make up for that. Meanwhile, Tucker made his second game-winning kick of the season, this time in overtime. It is really hard to understand how Baltimore did not run away with this, out gaining Minnesota 500 to 318 on offense. Some of that can be accounted for with the Vikings’ 98-yard kick return touchdown, but still, the Ravens had 23 more first downs! A win is most important, but maybe the defense needs to step up a bit.

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8. New England Patriots: 5-4 (Last Week: 12)
Won 24-6 at Carolina
Don’t look now, but the Patriots have won three straight and have early 2000s Patriots vibes. This team has a strong running game and a talented defense leading the way. Mac Jones threw the ball just 18 times, but he really did not need to do much with his defense holding the Panthers to just six points. It would be good to see him take better care of the football following an interception and a lost fumble in this one, but he unquestionably outplayed Sam Darnold. Not hard to do, but still important. New England faces another big matchup with Cleveland up next.

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9. Buffalo Bills: 5-3 (Last Week: 6)
Lost 9-6 at Jacksonville
Clearly, the Manning Cast curse is alive and well. A week after making an appearance on Peyton and Eli’s Monday Night Football watch party, he had one of the worst games of his career in a loss to the hapless Jaguars. It is clear Allen needs some help from his run game. He managed 50 yards with his legs, but the combination of Zack Moss and Devin Singletary accounted for just 22 yards on the ground. This game was all kinds of ugly, but this is not the first time we’ve seen the Bills offense sputter. It is something Sean McDermott and Brian Daboll need to resolve as the year rolls on.

10. Los Angeles Chargers: 5-3 (Last Week: 13)
Won 27-24 at Philadelphia
It one was too close for comfort. As we’ve seen though, making the East Coast road trip is not easy. Just ask the Raiders. Coming out with a win in the most important thing, but it was also really good to see Justin Herbert get back on track. He completed 32-of-38 passes for 356 yards and three total touchdowns. It would be nice to see the defense play a bit better, particularly against the run. That could be the Chargers’ Achilles heel the rest of the way.

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11. New Orleans Saints: 5-3 (Last Week: 7)
Lost 27-25 vs. Atlanta
Will the real New Orleans Saints please stand up? I feel like this is not even the first time I’ve called for this in 2021. New Orleans’ maddening inconsistency struck again on Sunday. One week after frustrating Tom Brady with two late-game interceptions, the Saints surrendered 343 yards and two touchdowns to Matt Ryan. What’s more, the Falcons could not run the ball, so there was no reason not to play the pass. It didn’t matter though as Ryan simply carved up the secondary. Trevor Seimian played fine, but it is fair to wonder if Taysom Hill will take over soon.

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12. Pittsburgh Steelers: 5-3 (Last Week: 17)
Won 29-27 vs. Chicago
Well, it wasn’t without drama, but the Steelers picked up another crucial win in exciting fashion. Chicago’s 65-yard field goal as time expired fell well short, which pushed Pittsburgh back into the AFC North race. Ben Roethlisberger played well and led the game-winning drive when it mattered. There is certainly room for improvement as Najee Harris finished with 2.8 yards per carry and Ray-Ray McCloud fumble on a punt return was returned for a touchdown to shift momentum big time. The Steelers seem to be like cockroaches. You just can’t kill them.

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13. Cleveland Browns 5-4 (Last Week: 15)
Won 41-14 at Cincinnati
Talk about a bounce back. After a string of lackluster offensive performances with Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in and out of the lineup, the Browns exploded for 41 points with help from all three phases of the game. Cleveland turned to the big play with a 70-yard touchdown run, a 60-yard touchdown pass and a 99-yard interception return in the same game. The sustainability of that success will be tested against the Patriots in Week 10, but the Browns’ outlook is much brighter than it was a week ago. Clearly, Odell Beckham Jr.’s services were not missed.

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14. Kansas City Chiefs: 5-4 (Last Week: 16)
Won 13-7 vs. Green Bay
It is hard to believe this is still the same Chiefs offense that averaged nearly 31 points per game over the first six games of the season. In their past three, they have averaged 12. Patrick Mahomes looks a bit lost right now, with no signs of getting back to his previous MVP form. Credit to Steve Spagnoulo for blitzing the hell out of Jordan Love in his first career start, but Kansas City will need more from Mahomes and company on offense in order to make a real playoff run. A pivotal Sunday night matchup with the Raiders is up next.

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15. Las Vegas Raiders: 5-3 (Last Week: 10)
Lost 23-16 at New York
There are too many distractions in Las Vegas. No, not the casino and nightlife kind. The Raiders said goodbye to their second former first-round draft pick in as many weeks as they released Damon Arnette on Monday. When you consider that Mike Mayock has spent his first round picks on Clelin Ferrell, Jonathan Abram, Josh Jacobs, Damon Arnette and Alex Leatherwood, it is a wonder this team has a winning record. Hopefully, this was just a blip as the team continues to navigate a tumultuous season, but things won’t get any easier with the Chiefs visiting in Week 10.

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16. Cincinnati Bengals: 5-4 (Last Week: 9)
Lost 41-16 vs. Cleveland
The NFL is a what have you done for me lately league. While the Bengals win over the Ravens is still impressive, following it up with a blown lead against the Jets and a blowout against the Browns really puts a damper on things. Joe Burrow seems to be pressing and the offensive line is clearly not a strength for this team. On the other side of the ball, Cincinnati gave up way too many big games to be successful. All is not lost, but a reality check after a hot start now has the Bengals needing to respond. This feels like a very good time for a bye week.

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17. Indianapolis Colts: 4-5 (Last Week: 17)
Won 45-30 vs. New York
Don’t let the final scoreline fool you, this one was never in doubt. Indianapolis ran all over the Jets to the tune of 260 yards and three touchdowns. Carson Wentz played great as well. The Colts feel like a solidly middle of the road team. They beat the teams they are supposed to, but lose to the teams they are supposed to as well. We will see if Frank Reich can change the narrative in the second half of the year. Jacksonville is up next coming off a very surprising upset.

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18. Denver Broncos: 5-4 (Last Week: 23)
Won 30-16 at Dallas
This would have gone down as the most improbable result of the weekend if not for the stunner the Jaguars pulled off. The Broncos seemed down and out following a string of offensive struggles and trading away one of the franchises’ most iconic defensive players. Instead, they beat the brakes off the Cowboys for three and a half quarters before finally taking their foot off the gas. Teddy Bridgewater had one of the best performances of his career, airing the ball out nicely and taking care of the football. That Broncos backfield is starting to look like a two-headed monster as well. This definitely changes the team’s outlook moving forward.

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19. Minnesota Vikings: 3-5 (Last Week: 19)
Lost 34-31 at Baltimore
What to make of the Minnesota Vikings. On one hand, this was their fifth loss by seven points or fewer on the season. Those losses are against the Bengals, Cardinals, Browns, Cowboys and Ravens, all of whom have winning records. However, the Vikings also lost to Cooper Rush last week and blew a 14-point lead this time around. Pressure is mounting for Mike Zimmer to get this defense trending in the right direction. It wouldn’t hurt for Kirk Cousins to do a bit more as well.

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20. Atlanta Falcons: 4-4 (Last Week: 25)
Won 27-25 at New Orleans
Matt Ryan continued his Jekyll and Hyde season with a masterclass on Sunday. He has had some rough games, but he is quietly putting together a solid season. What’s more impressive is who his supporting cast is. Atlanta’s starting running back is a gadget player and its receiving corps is full of unproven youngsters and role players. The offensive line is far from a strength either. This win keeps the Falcons in the wild card conversation in the NFC, but the schedule is definitely not the easiest the rest of the way.

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21. New York Giants: 3-6 (Last Week: 26)
Won 23-16 vs. Las Vegas
New York’s defense played well enough to win once again, but this time the offense actually did enough to allow it to happen. The Giants forced three turnovers, including a pick-six and held the Raiders to just one touchdown. Despite the win, the Giants offense still looks like a major work in progress. Daniel Jones passed for just 110 yards and lost a fumble. Thankfully, Devontae Booker carried the load with 21 carries for 99 yards. New York has a week off before a showdown with the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football.

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22. Philadelphia Eagles: 3-6 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 27-24 vs. Los Angeles
Though it was a loss, I think the Eagles offense showed signs of progress against the Chargers. Jalen Hurts was very efficient passing, even if he only did it 17 times. Jordan Howard continued his career renaissance as well with 71 yards and a score. It is far from perfect, but Nick Sirianni is clearly experimenting with what works best for Hurts’ skillset. Unfortunately, the defense still has a long way to go. Justin Herbert picked apart the secondary for 356 yards and two touchdowns. There is a reason most mock drafts have Philadelphia selecting defensive backs.

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23. Seattle Seahawks: 3-5 (Last Week: 24)
Bye Week
He’s back! Russell Wilson has been cleared to return for Week 10’s showdown with the Packers. It remains to be seen if his opposing counterpart will be Aaron Rodgers or Jordan Love. Either way, the Seahawks should be a much more competitive team with Wilson back in the fold, particularly given that the defense stepped up in his absence. It might have been against the Jaguars, Saints and Steelers, but they stepped up nonetheless. There is basically no margin for error left for Seattle though, especially given how well the Rams and Cardinals are playing. The Seahawks still have a lot of work to do to reach the postseason.

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24. Carolina Panthers: 4-5 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 24-6 vs. New England
Another team struggling through mediocrity, Carolina turned in an absolute dud. The offense in particular continues to struggle. Sam Darnold had another horrid week when facing Bill Belichick, throwing three interceptions, completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes and posting a woeful Total QBR of 3.0. Whether in the draft or free agency, it seems more than likely the Panthers will be looking for another quarterback to compete with Darnold for the starting job next season.

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25. San Francisco 49ers: 3-5 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 31-17 vs. Arizona
Kyle Shanahan is officially on the hot seat. Facing a team missing its starting quarterback and No. 1 receiver, the 49ers gave up 31 points and did not mount much of a challenge. Often championed for his ability to use running backs interchangeably, Shanahan’s offense suddenly cannot run the ball effectively. As a team, San Francisco managed just 39 yards rushing. Given all the defensive talent, there is definitely cause for concern. The 49ers need to turn things around quickly to save their season.

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26. Chicago Bears: 3-6 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 29-27 at Pittsburgh
Dropping the Bears five spots feels harsh given that it was a close loss, but when the Broncos, Falcons and Giants all win, it is hard not to move them down. Justin Fields continues to show signs of improving and the running game once again showed up strong. Unfortunately, it was the defense that could not find a way to slow down Ben Roethlisberger and company. Particularly on the Steelers’ go-ahead drive, the Bears defense looked disjointed and unprepared for a two-minute drill. With hopes of a playoff berth rapidly dwindling, Chicago will no doubt begin to search for a new coach to develop Fields.

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27. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-6 (Last Week: 29)
Won 9-6 vs. Buffalo
At long last, fans in Jacksonville finally got to witness a win. The Jaguars only other win this season came in London. It wasn’t pretty, but the defense turned back the clocks to 2017 with a stellar showing. Josh Allen made Josh Allen’s life a living nightmare. While the defense was dominant, the offense left a lot to be desired. Trevor Lawrence averaged just 4.5 yards per attempt and Jacksonville couldn’t even crack 80 yards rushing. While a win is great, there are still quite a few issues to iron out for this team.

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28. Miami Dolphins: 2-7 (Last Week: 30)
Won 17-9 vs. Houston
Miami spoiled Tyrod Taylor’s return with a strong defensive performance, complete with three interceptions and five sacks. The Dolphins needed the defense to play at that level too, because the offense was struggling. Jacoby Brissett threw two picks in relief of an injured Tua Tagovailoa while the running game mustered a paltry 1.9 yards per carry. It takes a little bit of the pressure off for now, but Miami still has a lot to prove this year.

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29. Washington: 2-6 (Last Week: 27)
Bye Week
Washington feels like a team on the brink. It could either try to rally coming off a bye week to salvage the season and maybe get back into the playoff race or tank the rest of the way with hopes of securing a high draft pick to find a new quarterback. This team has taken a major step backwards in several other areas as well, namely the run game and pass rush. Antonio Gibson is clearly in the midst of a sophomore slump while Chase Young and company have not been able to replicate their heroics from 2020. Those two things do not bode well for an offense already starting a backup quarterback and lacking proven playmakers outside of Terry McLaurin. At least Logan Thomas should be close to returning from injury in Week 10.

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30. New York Jets: 2-6 (Last Week: 28)
Lost 45-30 at Indianapolis
The whole Mike White thing was fun while it lasted. The Western Kentucky product exited with a forearm injury early against the Colts and that seemed to end any chances of the Jets keeping up. The Colts gashed Gang Green’s defense for 260 yards and three scores while Carson Wentz pulled apart the secondary like cotton candy. For a defensive mastermind, Robert Saleh has some questions to answer about how overmatched his defense has been this season. New York is dead last in points allowed per game.

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31. Houston Texans: 1-7 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 17-9 at Miami
The list of one-win teams has been whittled down to just one. Houston lost its seventh straight uninspiring fashion. Tyrod Taylor struggled mightily in his first game since Week 2. The offensive line continues to be a problem as well. This is what was expected of the Texans this year though. It doesn’t make it any easier to watch.

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32. Detroit Lions: 0-8 (Last Week: 32)
Bye Week
Well at least the Lions didn’t lose this week. Their chances of getting a top-two pick also skyrocketed this week with wins by the Jaguars and Dolphins. I would expect an ugly game against the Steelers in Week 10.

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2022 NFL Draft Big Board: Top 25 dominated by offensive and defensive linemen

It is hard to believe it is already November. The first round of College Football Playoff rankings have already dropped and the second edition will already see a new top 4 following Michigan State’s loss to Purdue. While I have thoroughly enjoyed this wild college football season, I am also looking ahead to the 2022 NFL draft. This class is one of the most interesting ones we have had in recent years. Without an elite quarterback prospect, this group is dominated by elite offensive and defensive linemen. For the countless general managers who love to build in the trenches, this class is going to be a really fun one.

I already dropped my first mock draft of the year last week, but now I turn my attention to my first big board of the 2022 draft cycle. Mock drafts focus more on team fits, positional value and need. Big boards solely look at who the best prospects are to compete at the next level. While yes, it is likely that a quarterback goes in the top five picks, I do not have any ranked among my top 15 prospects. It is also unusual to see teams taking a safety in the top five, and just because Kyle Hamilton is a top-five player, it does not mean I think he will be a top-five draft pick.

This group has already been a fun one to break down and I have tons more film to go through before we reach draft day. I’ve watched at least two games for just about all of the prospects I have ranked below. This is far from set in stone. It is merely my initial assessment of where these prospects stack up. Without further ado, let’s get to these future NFL stars.

1. Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
There really isn’t anything Kayvon Thibodeaux can’t do. He is dominant as a pass rusher and disruptive against the run. He brings all of the projectables you want to see from a top-end edge rusher. With his length, bend and burst off the edge, he can line up with hand in the dirt or as a standup pass rusher. His ability to change the game makes him the top prospect in this class.

2. Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Size, speed and power. Evan Neal has it all. At 6’7”, 360 lbs, he is a mountain of a man, but moves like someone at least 100 pounds lighter than him. He has experience on both sides of the line, but has shown he is more than capable of holding his own in pass protection this year in the SEC. He has all the tools to be a franchise left tackle. He flashes some moments on film where he just flat out dominates opposing linemen. He did it to DeMarvin Leal earlier this season. I think he will be one of the top five players off the board come April.

3. Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Independent of position, Kyle Hamilton is one of the best players in this draft. Obviously, we don’t see too many safeties that go in the top three, but Hamilton could genuinely be worth the selection. Unlike Jamal Adams, he has the coverage ability to make him worth the selection this early in the draft. However, he is still a hard hitter who wraps up well and can play just about anywhere you want in coverage. His range makes him a complete player.

4. Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
If it is possible, breaking his leg in 2020 was likely a great thing for Aidan Hutchinson. He was in the mix to go in the top 50 last season. Now, it will be a surprise to see Hutchinson fall out of the top 10. He is a problem for opposing offensive lines in pass protection. He has six sacks this season and the length needed to succeed in the NFL. I expect him to test pretty well at the combine and at his pro day as well to bolster his draft stock.

5. Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Injuries have started to hurt Derek Stingley Jr.’s draft stock. When he has played this year, he has not looked like the elite shutdown corner we saw in 2019 and much of 2020. He has the physical tools and tape to be a top-five pick. However, he is going to need to answer a lot of questions in the pre-draft process. Otherwise, we could see Stingley start sliding much further down draft boards.

6. Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M
Pick a position on the offensive line, Kenyon Green has most likely played it. He has taken snaps at every spot except center this year. Many see him fitting best as a guard at the next level, but he has been Texas A&M’s starting left tackle for much of this season. He has not done much to indicate he cannot play tackle in the NFL, but measurements and testing numbers might dictate how teams view him.

7. George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
Purdue has been a giant killer this season. George Karlaftis is a big part of the reason the Boilermakers are making noise on the national stage. He has not put up the huge pass rushing numbers so far this season, but his impact can be seen on tape. He is very capable of turning the corner and chasing down opposing running backs and quarterbacks. He is a quick-twitch athlete with plenty of upside that should land him in the top 10.

8. DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M
Something of a tweener, DeMarvin Leal has plenty of experience at end and at tackle from his time at Texas A&M. I like him best on the interior. That’s not to say he cannot play out on the edge, but I think he projects best as a defensive tackle. His ability to beat interior offensive line off the snap with his quickness is incredibly impactful. He has the strength to fight through run blocks as well. Teams needing a 1-technique or 3-technique player should be all over Leal.

9. Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
One of my favorite players in this draft class, I’ve been banging the drum for Devin Lloyd since 2019. He jumped out to me on film when watching Bradlee Anae. His athleticism and nose for the football stood out. He can do a little bit of everything, evidenced by his 81 tackles, 6 sacks and 3 interceptions in 2021. Sometimes, he is guilty of being over aggressive and not reading his keys, but he is usually an instinctive, downhill player with good production.

10. Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
Given his size, Tyler Linderbaum won’t be for everyone. He is listed at 6’3”, 290 lbs, which is definitely a little light for interior linemen in the NFL. However, he is one of the most agile linemen in the country and has some nastiness to his blocking. For any team that runs a zone blocking scheme or one that emphasizes pulling linemen to block, he would be an excellent fit. Despite that slightly smaller frame, he is still more than capable of blowing opposing defensive linemen off the ball and putting them on the ground.

11. Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
The man known as Sauce is certainly no secret. He is arguably the best player on Cincinnati. Desmond Ridder and Myjai Sanders might have something to say about that. One thing is for sure, he is definitely the best NFL prospect on this team. A big corner, Ahmad Gardner is a press man corner with experience in zone schemes. I think he has the size and traits to be a true No. 1 corner at the next level.

12. Drake London, WR, USC
Despite a broken ankle, Drake London is my No. 1 wide receiver right now. He reminds me a lot of Mike Evans in his play style. Given his size and ability to catch the ball away from his body, he is a mismatch for most opposing corners. His production this season certainly points to that. He eclipsed 1,000 yards in just eight games. USC threw at him a lot too, as he recorded at least nine catches in all but one game this year. He certainly has room to improve his route running, but I like what he brings to the table.

13. Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia
After watching Jordan Davis, it is fair to wonder how people that large are able to move that fast. Davis is 6’6”, 340 lbs, but he has burst off the line of scrimmage. He can collapse the pocket and stuff the run. On tape, he displays good play strength and a solid understanding of gap assignments. It is fair to wonder how much he benefits from playing with the talent around him. That being said, there is no way Georgia linebackers would look as good without him eating up blocks in front of them.

14. Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Garrett Wilson’s production won’t blow you away. It is solid, with 687 yards and 6 touchdowns on 43 catches, but far from breaking any records. However, his tape tells a different story. He has the stop-and-start ability to make defenders miss, reliable hands and a well-developed route tree. He is an all-around receiver who can fit some different roles as needed. 

15. Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC
When you look at Drake Jackson’s athletic profile, it is easy to see how he fits at the NFL level. He is built like a prototypical 3-4 outside linebacker, standing 6’4″, 255 lbs. While primarily serving as a pass rusher, Jackson does have a couple of snaps where he drops into coverage, mostly in the flats. It definitely his not is strong suit, but it is good to see him show he is capable of being a three-down player. Why teams will be interested though is because of his quick first step and tantalizing length. He understands the importance of keeping contain, but still has room to grow as a block shedder. He is an intriguing prospect.

16. Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State
The Athletic called him the most feared offensive linemen in the ACC. Put on the film and it is easy to see why. Ikem Ekwonu blocks to the whistle on just about every play, many of which involve him putting defenders on the ground. He shows some incredible raw power as a run blocker and is fairly polished in pass protection. There is room for improvement when it comes to his balance and footwork, but that mostly points to a higher ceiling for him to reach given all his physical gifts.

17. Sean Rhyan, OT, UCLA
There are a few things I really like about Sean Rhyan’s game. He always keeps the play in front of him. He slides his feet well and keeps his head up to see what he is hitting. I can’t tell you how many offensive linemen I watch that drop their heads as they lean into a block. You won’t see that very often with Rhyan. He has decent athleticism for the position but it won’t blow you away. If he can take the next step as a run blocker, he could push himself even higher up my board.

18. Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
This is not the year to desperately need a quarterback. That’s not to say Matt Corral won’t succeed in the NFL. His play style and traits are reminiscent of Baker Mayfield, maybe without the same arm strength. Corral does show nice zip on his passes, but his ball placement is inconsistent. He has a good internal clock, but there are moments where he hangs onto the ball too long. He has enough athleticism to hang in the modern NFL, but he won’t be putting up huge rushing numbers. There is definitely a bit of room for improvement if he can improve his accuracy.

19. Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
The latest example of the modern day NFL linebacker, Christian Harris is built like a linebacker, but moves like a safety. He has great closing speed and flashes impressive strength as a pass rusher against backs and tight ends. He is a very effective blitzer and has more than enough range to play in coverage. So far, he has not shown the awareness or ability to work through run blocks to be a middle linebacker, but he could fit really well as an outside backer in a 4-3 scheme.

20. Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson
I tend to be a fan of taller corners. If you take a look at the top outside corners around the NFL, most are at least 5’11”. Jaire Alexander is pretty much the only elite corner below that threshold, and he is 5’10”. All of that to say that Andrew Booth Jr. checks all the physical boxes for a top outside corner. He has plus athleticism and good ball skills as well. This is more of a projection as to where he could end up, but there is a lot to like so far.

21. Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
This offensive line class is shaping up to be a pretty good one. Charles Cross has all the physical tools to be a really good right tackle and the potential to start as a blindside protector down the line. He is physical in the ground game, even if Mississippi State’s offense does not run the ball much. Cross’ 2021 film shows some improved hand placement and technique in pass protection, but I am concerned by how consistently he is beaten across his face, a cardinal sin in pass blocking. If he can fix the problem, likely oversetting in pass blocking kick, he will move up on my board.

22. Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
Another long, tall corner, Kaiir Elam has all the traits to be a good press-man corner. He is 6’2” with good open field speed and shows physicality on film. I haven’t been able to watch too much of his 2021 film yet, but his 2020 film shows some room for improvement in zone and off coverage. He is definitely better when he is allowed to keep contact with opposing receivers. I’m excited to dig into more of his tape from this year.

23. Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Much like Trey Lance and Jordan Love as prospects before him, Malik Willis has exciting physical traits and some truly spectacular plays on film, but struggles with consistency and has a lot of developing to do before he is ready to be a starting NFL quarterback. The arm talent is clearly there, but he holds onto the ball way too long and has not learned to throw it away. Following a hot start, he has come back down to earth. He now has three games this season with three interceptions. He also took a staggering nine sacks against Ole Miss. Some of that is on his offensive line, but Willis needs to identify the rush and learn to get rid of the football when he knows the pressure is coming.

24. Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Another year, another incredibly talented Alabama wide receiver. Jameson Williams is not quite as polished or physically dominant as Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith, but he is a solid route runner with good hands and a knack for the big play. He has surpassed John Metchie as the top receiver in Alabama’s offense. I will be really interested to see how he tests during the pre draft process. 

25. Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
Much of the early scouting process is focused on identifying traits in players that can translate to the NFL. It does not take long to start seeing how Daxton Hill’s traits could translate. He posted the highest SPARQ rating in the 2019 recruiting class and you can see his clear speed and burst when you watch him fly around in Michigan’s defense. He also has reps in man-to-man coverage out of the slot. With experience at both safety spots, he could be a versatile chess piece for defensive coordinators to move around at the next level. 

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2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 9

Just when you think you know what is going to happen in the NFL, the league throws you a massive curveball. Three backup quarterbacks led their teams to victories, as Mike White shocked the Bengals, Trevor Siemian beat the Bucs and Cooper Rush humbled the Vikings. We also had a massive NFC showdown to kick off the week on Thursday night as the 1972 Dolphins were finally allowed to pop their champagne.

With no undefeated teams left, the rankings see a sizable shakeup. As if that wasn’t enough, trades and injuries changed the outlook of several teams moving forward. Let’s see how the league stacks up through eight weeks.

1. Los Angeles Rams: 7-1 (Last Week: 2)
Won 38-22 at Houston
In addition to a big win over the Texans, the Rams added Von Miller to bolster its pass rush. Sitting at 7-1 with an offense capable of putting up tons of points, Los Angeles went all in for this season. As for the game on Sunday, L.A. led 38-0 heading into the fourth quarter before clearly taking its foot off the gas. Houston scored three touchdowns to make it seem a bit closer. It will be interesting to see if the Rams have any other areas they want to bolster before the deadline passes. They are running out of draft picks to make it happen though.

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2. Dallas Cowboys: 6-1 (Last Week: 4)
Won 20-16 at Minnesota
No Dak, no problem. Kind of. Cooper Rush did just enough to win the game, but it was the defense that really won the day. Dallas held Minnesota under 300 yards of offense and limited Kirk Cousins to a single touchdown drive. That is really impressive, especially when you consider that the Cowboys lost the turnover battle 2-0. Finding different ways to win when you are not at full strength is the sign of a good team. Thankfully, Dak Prescott should be back for Week 9 against the Broncos.

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3. Green Bay Packers: 7-1 (Last Week: 7)
Won 24-21 at Arizona
Aaron Rodgers loves proving everyone wrong. Without his top three wide receivers, the reigning MVP tossed two touchdowns to knock off the previously undefeated Cardinals. It was far from his most efficient performance, but it was good enough to get the job done, with a little help from Rasul Douglas. Green Bay keeps pace with the Rams and Cardinals atop the NFC and seems to be ready for another deep postseason run. The Packers will only get better when its full complement of receivers return and David Bahktiari gets back on the field.

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4. Arizona Cardinals: 7-1 (Last Week: 1)
Lost 24-21 vs. Green Bay
This was a really tough loss for the Cardinals, especially considering how it ended. A.J. Green apparently ran the wrong route on Arizona’s final offensive play, which led to a pass whizzing right past an oblivious Green and into the waiting arms of Rasul Douglas. An incompletion could have set up a game-tying field to force overtime or another chance to win the game in regulation. While it was a disappointing finish, it is also clear that the Cardinals are capable of competing with some of the top teams in the league. A rematch with the 49ers is up next.

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5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6-2 (Last Week: 3)
Lost 36-27 at New Orleans
I turned to my wife while watching this game and said, “I would love it for the Buccaneers to get into a position to win and for Tom Brady to throw a pick-six to end it.” Low and behold, that actually happened, so I will be buying some lottery tickets this week. Tampa continues to struggle with New Orleans in the regular season. Even without Jameis Winston, the Bucs defense could not shut down the run game. Penalties also continue to crush Tampa, especially on defense. Sean Payton got creative to take advantage of their aggression up front. For Brady, this was one of the worst fourth quarters we’ve seen him play in some time. He was staring down throws and forcing the ball into double coverage, leading to two crippling interceptions. Tampa Bay still leads the division, but this changes the outlook for how the NFC South will be decided.

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6. Buffalo Bills: 5-2 (Last Week: 6)
Won 26-11 vs. Miami
Buffalo picked up the win, but some of the same issues that have plagued this offense in recent years reared their head again. Josh Allen accounted for more than half the team’s rushing yards and the passing game did not produce any big plays. Cole Beasley had Buffalo’s longest reception, which went just 20 yards. Thankfully, the defense bullied an overmatched Dolphins offense. Miami managed just 68 yards on the ground and Tua Tagovailoa threw a late interception to set up the Bills’ final touchdown. There is definitely no reason to panic, but this was far from the cleanest game we’ve seen from Sean McDermott’s side.

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7. New Orleans Saints: 5-2 (Last Week: 13)
Won 36-27 vs. Tampa Bay
Just as we all expected, the Trevor Siemian-led Saints hold off Tom Brady and the Buccaneers to pick up a critical division win. Sean Payton put on a master class in creative play calling to take the pressure off Siemian and find some big plays to spark the offense. The defense finished the job with a pick-six to put the game out of reach. Unfortunately, Jameis Winston is likely out for the rest of the year and Taysom Hill is still questionable to play in Week 9. It could be another defensive battle featuring a heavy dose of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram if Siemian remains the starter against the Falcons.

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8. Tennessee Titans: 6-2 (Last Week: 8)
Won 34-31 at Indianapolis
Tennessee won the battle, but may have very well lost the war. Derrick Henry will potentially miss the rest of the season after fracturing a bone in his foot. While Henry was not as effective in recent weeks, he is still crucial to everything the team does offensively. The Titans rank fourth in run percentage and eighth in play action percentage. Unless Adrian Peterson turns back the clocks big time, this offense is going to change dramatically. Thankfully, the Titans held on to beat the Colts in overtime and build a three-game lead atop the weakest division in the league. That should buy them a bit of wiggle room to reinvent themselves.

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9. Cincinnati Bengals: 5-3 (Last Week: 5)
Lost 34-31 at New York
Time to cool the hype. Cincinnati blew an 11-point lead in the final five minutes against Mike White and the Jets of all teams. White, making his first NFL start, lit up the Bengals secondary for 405 yards and three touchdowns. Part of the issue is Cincinnati’s inability to run the ball and Joe Burrow’s struggles with ball security in the fourth quarter. Joe Mixon managed just 33 yards on 14 carries for a whopping 2.4 yards per attempt. Meanwhile, Burrow threw his fifth fourth-quarter interception of the season, tied with Taylor Heinicke for the most in the league. The Bengals are much closer to being contenders than in years past, but still have a few areas for improvement.

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10. Las Vegas Raiders: 5-2 (Last Week: 12)
Bye Week
Las Vegas’ position in the AFC suddenly looks much better than it did a week ago, and the Raiders didn’t even play! The Chargers and Bengals took unexpected losses, while the Titans lost Derrick Henry indefinitely. The Raiders are tied for the fewest losses of any AFC team. Still, there is a long way to go and a lot of work to do. That starts at MetLife Stadium against the Giants in Week 9.

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11. Baltimore Ravens: 5-2 (Last Week: 9)
Bye Week
Somehow, the loss to the Bengals looks even worse now after they turned around and lost to the Jets. Hopefully, Baltimore spent the week off getting healthier and gelling a bit with some of the talent returning to the starting lineup. The Ravens have had to paper over so many injuries this year with backups and free agent signings, so it is fair to wonder what an additional week of prep will allow to finally get on the same page. The Vikings are up next.

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12. New England Patriots: 4-4 (Last Week: 19)
Won 27-24 at Los Angeles
Statement made. New England finally picked up a quality win. Bill Belichick seems to have Justin Herbert’s number. In two games against the Patriots, the former Oregon star is 0-2 with two touchdowns, four interceptions and a completion percentage of 50. With wins over the Texans and Jets up to this point, it was fair to wonder if the Patriots were really capable of knocking off an above average team. Now, the Pats are back to .500 and very much in the wildcard conversation. There is still room for improvement after giving up 163 yards on the ground, but this was a really good sign for New England.

13. Los Angeles Chargers: 4-3 (Last Week: 10)
Lost 27-24 vs. New England
So much for revenge. The Chargers’ hot start has fizzled a bit with losses to the Ravens and Patriots bringing them back down to Earth. Justin Herbert is not taking care of the football, highlighted by a pick-six and the defense is not generating much pressure. There is still a silver lining in the form of the ground game. Josh Jackson’s 75-yard run inflates some of the numbers, but Los Angeles still had 88 yards on 19 additional carries. Had Los Angeles not been playing from behind, it would have been good to see them lean on that run game more to take some pressure off Herbert and the defense. L.A. looks to bounce back in Philly this week.

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14. Pittsburgh Steelers: 4-3 (Last Week: 17)
Won 15-10 at Cleveland
Stories of the Steelers’ demise have been slightly exaggerated. The offense is as dysfunctional as expected, but Pittsburgh’s defense continues to step up. Cleveland narrowly eclipsed 300 yards of offense and went 3-for-12 on third- and fourth-down conversions. T.J. Watt also recovered a Jarvis Landry fumble in the fourth quarter to end a Browns drive. Offensively, it continues to be ugly, but Ben Roethlisberger and Najee Harris are getting the job done. Prepare for another defensive struggle as Pittsburgh hosts Chicago on Monday Night Football.

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15. Cleveland Browns 4-4 (Last Week: 11)
Lost 15-10 vs. Pittsburgh
While there is no doubt this season has been a disappointment for the Browns so far, it is amazing to see how much the expectations for this team have changed in recent years. It wasn’t that long ago that Tyrod Taylor was starting for a Cleveland team fresh off a winless season. Credit to the front office for building a much more competitive roster, but now it is time for the results to follow. Getting healthy should certainly help, but the front office might want to consider trading for a receiver at the deadline.

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16. Kansas City Chiefs: 4-4 (Last Week: 14)
Won 20-17 vs. New York
Kansas City managed the always impressive feat of winning a game while also making you feel way worse about the outlook of the team. Patrick Mahomes struggles yet again, completing 60 percent of his passes with a touchdown and an interception. He should have had more turnovers, but was bailed out when the Giants jumped offsides on a late pick. I suppose the bright side is that the defense played better. New York was nowhere near full strength, missing Kenny Golladay, Saquon Barkley and losing Sterling Shepard in the contest. Beating that team by just three at home does not inspire much confidence though. The schedule gets much tougher for the Chiefs with the Packers, Raiders and Cowboys on the docket.

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17. Indianapolis Colts: 3-5 (Last Week: 16)
Lost 34-31 vs. Tennessee
Indianapolis feels better than its record, but it is time for the Colts to start winning some of these close games. Indy has lost one-games against the Rams, Ravens and now Titans. Frank Reich’s crew has led in the fourth quarter of each of those games as well. This latest loss will most definitely be pinned on Carson Wentz. The veteran quarterback threw two very costly interceptions, leading to a pick-six and the game-winning field goal. Reich might want to consider running the ball a bit more. There is no reason Wentz should be throwing it 51 times in a game, even in overtime.

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18. San Francisco 49ers: 3-4 (Last Week: 18)
Won 33-22 at Chicago
It took a little while to get going for the 49ers offense. The Bears led 13-9 at halftime, holding Jimmy Garoppolo and company to three field goals. San Francisco scored 24 points over the final 21 minutes of game time to pull off the win, with Garoppolo rushing in two scores. Elijah Mitchell continues to look like a gem as he racked up 138 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, the 49ers did just about everything well, except stopping Justin Fields scrambling. The rookie quarterback went over the century mark on just 10 carries, including a highlight-reel scamper to pull Chicago within one after a missed extra point. Things get much tougher as the Cardinals are up next.

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19. Minnesota Vikings: 3-4 (Last Week: 15)
Lost 20-16 vs. Dallas
This was nothing short of laughable. Facing the Cowboys without Dak Prescott at home, the Vikings were set up to perfectly control the game and pick up a much-needed win to get over .500. Did I mention they were coming off a bye? Instead, the offense fell flat, managing just one touchdown. Kirk Cousins was nothing short of mediocre, totaling 184 yards passing. The defense gave up a last-minute touchdown and the offense could not respond with under a minute remaining. This is an embarrassing loss for Mike Zimmer.

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20. Carolina Panthers: 4-4 (Last Week: 21)
Won 19-13 at Atlanta
Carolina went from having questions at quarterback to having a problem at quarterback very quickly. Sam Darnold had a pedestrian day before exiting with a concussion in the fourth quarter. In fact, following an impressive start, Darnold has failed to top 207 yards passing in his past four outings. P.J. Walker has not looked much better in his limited snaps this year. Thankfully, the Falcons’ offense is even more inept and the Panthers’ defense made a few big plays when it mattered. Stephon Gilmore picked off Matt Ryan in his team debut while the front seven recorded three sacks and nine quarterback hits. Unfortunately, Carolina still feels much worse than a .500 team.

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21. Chicago Bears: 3-5 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 33-22 vs. San Francisco
Chicago was much more competitive, but still managed to pick up another double-digit loss. Justin Fields flashed his incredible wheels, specifically on his ridiculous 22-yard touchdown scramble that should have tied the game, but Cairo Santos missed the extra point. Khalil Herbert saw a heavy workload again, but was not as effective as he had been in previous weeks. Unfortunately, after a really strong first half, the defense fell apart down the stretch. The season is far from over, but the Bears need to turn things around quickly.

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22. Philadelphia Eagles: 3-5 (Last Week: 23)
Won 44-6 at Detroit
This felt like a huge trap game for the Eagles on the road against a Lions team desperate for a win and fresh off a close game with the Rams. It turns out Philadelphia was totally prepared for this matchup. Jalen Hurts, Jordan Howard and Boston Scott each topped 50 yards rushing as the Eagles racked up 236 as a team. Hurts was impressive on his 14 pass attempts and the defense teed off on Jared Goff. Josh Sweat led the way as Philly sacked Goff six times. Darius Slay capped it all off with a scoop-and-score against his former team. Now, Nick Sirianni needs to figure out how to build on this momentum heading into a showdown with the Chargers.

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23. Denver Broncos: 4-4 (Last Week: 22)
Won 17-10 vs. Washington
Winning but moving down? Well, that’s what happens when you trade away one of the best defensive players in franchise history and the offense looks lackluster in the effort. I actually think the Broncos were smart to move on from Von Miller given his contract situation and the return they netted. However, there is no doubt they were better when he was on the roster. It is also clear the offense needs a jolt. The defense did a great job pressuring Taylor Heinicke, racking up five sacks, and Justin Simmons picked him off twice. Still, Denver is averaging 16.2 points per game over the past five games. It is hard to win with that type of scoring output.

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24. Seattle Seahawks: 3-5 (Last Week: 26)
Won 31-7 vs. Jacksonville
This was exactly the get-right game Seattle needed following two tough primetime losses. Geno Smith played turnover-free football and completed a sterling 20-of-24 passes. He threw for two touchdowns and added another on the ground. Travis Homer capped it off with an onsides kick return for a touchdown, something I haven’t seen since Hines Ward in the Pro Bowl back in 2005. There is definitely still room for improvement offensively, as the Jaguars actually outgained the Seahawks by 80 yards. A much-need bye week awaits.

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25. Atlanta Falcons: 3-4 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 19-13 vs. Carolina
Things are looking bleak in Atlanta. Calvin Ridley stepped away early Sunday to focus on his mental health. It was evident right away how much the Falcons missed him. Matt Ryan finished with a meager 146 yards passing and a pair of interceptions as the offense stalled over and over again. The defense didn’t do them too many favors either, allowing Carolina to convert on 10-of-17 third-down plays. The Panthers also dominated time of possession. The Falcons ran 22 fewer plays on Sunday. Arthur Smith needs to get creative without a bellcow running back or a true No. 1 receiver.

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26. New York Giants: 2-6 (Last Week: 25)
Lost 20-17 at Kansas City
How much longer can we continue to allow the injuries facing the Giants be the excuse for why they don’t win? I understand it is uncontrollable, but Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay and Sterling Shepard all carry significant injury histories. Them missing a few games felt inevitable this season. Clearly though, this offense is not built to handle missing all of them at the same time, which is understandable. At least the defense played well to keep things close. Dave Gettleman’s tenure seems close to ending as the Giants offensive line continues to flounder.

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27. Washington: 2-6 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 17-10 at Denver
In a battle of two of the worst offenses in the NFL, Washington managed to come up second best. It was the fourth game this season where Washington failed to top 16 points. Taylor Heinicke looks overmatched, Antonio Gibson has clearly regressed and this receiving corps is underwhelming. On the bright side, Washington’s defense is finally starting to show signs of its 2020 form. Four sacks on Sunday tied a season high and gives the team seven in the past two games. Thankfully, a bye week is next.

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28. New York Jets: 2-5 (Last Week: 32)
Won 34-31 vs. Cincinnati
I am beyond perplexed by the Jets. Following a 41-point thumping against the Patriots in which Zach Wilson suffered a knee injury, Mike White steps in for his first NFL start and leads them past the previously 5-2 Bengals. Make it make sense. New York now owns two very impressive wins this season over Tennessee and Cincinnati. Unfortunately, the Jets have been nothing shy of lifeless in their five losses. Robert Saleh needs to find a way to carry over this performance and build some momentum into a Thursday night matchup with the Colts.

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29. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-6 (Last Week: 28)
Lost 31-7 at Seattle
The wait to win in the United States drags on. Seattle stomped the Jaguars in a game defined by missed opportunities. Jacksonville went 1-for-4 on fourth down and outgained Seattle, but struggled to get points on the board. In fact, the Jaguars’ list of drives is just pathetic. They went punt, punt, interception, downs, downs, punt, downs, punt, touchdown, end of game. Trevor Lawrence managed just 4.4 yards per attempt on 54 throws. This team is just incredibly dysfunctional at this point.

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30. Miami Dolphins: 1-7 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 26-11 at Buffalo
Well, I guess this is an improvement over the last time Miami faced Buffalo. The Dolphins were shut out 40-0 in that one, so it was hard to do much worse. Unfortunately, the offense sputtered behind a hapless offensive line and the defense had no answer for Josh Allen. For a team that expected to build on a 10-6 season, it is a bit shocking to see them with more losses already in 2021 at the midway point. I wish I could say Miami could just tank for a draft pick, but they don’t even own their own first-round selection. This is not a fun situation to be in.

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31. Houston Texans: 1-6 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 38-22 vs. Los Angeles
The final score looks better than this game actually was. Houston trailed 38-0 heading into the fourth quarter. Los Angeles is a talented team and should have won comfortably, but that is embarrassing. The Texans could have at least been competitive. With Deshaun Watson unlikely to move before the trade deadline, it is hard to find too much to be optimistic about at this point. Houston should definitely be major sellers on Tuesday.

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32. Detroit Lions: 0-8 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 44-6 vs. Philadelphia
Oh Detroit. Just when it seemed like the Lions were making strides, they reminded everyone that they are the worst team in the league. A drubbing against the Eagles of all teams is not what was expected following a solid showing against the Rams. Jared Goff has been terrible and the infrastructure around him has to be one of the worst in the league. Detroit’s receiving corps is full of players that would not see the field on most other teams. The running game has been incredibly disappointing as well. The Lions knew they were headed for a long rebuild, that’s why they traded away Matt Stafford, but there are a ton of holes to fill on this roster.

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2022 NFL Mock Draft: Eagles have three picks in top 10, three teams find new QBs

Prior to 2021, we would be reaching the halfway point of the NFL regular season right. With a 17th game, there is no clean midway point of the season, so this is still close enough. The league standings are starting to take shape and it is clear which teams should start thinking about which players they could draft come April.

I am so excited that mock draft season is heating up. With tons of college football action already in the books, we are starting to get a sense for who the top prospects in the upcoming 2022 NFL draft will be. We still have a long way to go though before final rankings are in or the draft order is even set, so this more about starting to familiarize ourselves with upcoming team needs on the NFL side and players to watch as the college season continues.

This is the most up-to-date draft order according to Tankathon through the conclusion of Sunday Night Football. The outcome of Chiefs-Giants on Monday night will likely see each team slide a couple spots in either direction.

With the trade deadline right around the corner, it will be interesting to see if any of these teams’ needs change, but for right now, this is which players I could see teams targeting when the draft rolls around.

1. Detroit Lions (0-8) – Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
It is hard to find much to be positive about following a 44-6 loss. However, it moves the Lions one step closer to landing an elite edge rusher in Kayvon Thibodeaux. The Oregon star has been incredibly disruptive this season, racking up sacks and tackles for loss while just generally wreaking havoc. He would immediately provide a boost to this overmatched Detroit defense. Dan Campbell will love his motor and his nose for the football.

2. Houston Texans (1-7) – Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Houston’s secondary is a mess. The trio of Desmond King, Terrance Mitchell and Vernon Hargreaves do not inspire much confidence for the future, nor have they done much to deserve to stick on the roster past the 2021 season. Derek Stingley Jr. will have some questions to answer in the pre-draft process after missing much of this season due to injury. When healthy though, he is a sticky cover man with good physical traits and above average instincts. If he can return to the level he played at in 2019, when LSU won a national title, he will be a very good corner in the NFL.

3. Philadelphia Eagles via Miami Dolphins (1-7) – Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Miami is probably really regretting trading away their first-round pick right about now. Philadelphia will be happy to jump on an elite edge prospect who is drawing comparisons to J.J. Watt. He missed much of the 2020 season due to a broken leg and it might have been a really good thing for him. He has been on a tear in 2021, demonstrating good pass rush moves and overwhelming opposing offensive tackles. I would be surprised if he made it out of the top 10 with the production and tape he has put together this season.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6) – Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
This is a perfect example of need meeting value and talent for the Jaguars. Evan Neal is built like a small mountain or a very large human being. Measuring in at 6’7″, 360 pounds, he checks all the physical boxes for a prototypical left tackle in the NFL. He also brings above average athleticism for the position, especially given his size. He brings a ton of experience going up against top-end competition in the SEC at both tackle spots in his college career. Trevor Lawrence needs to be protected and this is a smart move to accomplish that goal.

5. Washington Football Team (2-6) – Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Another week, another lackluster showing from the Washington offense. Taylor Heinicke is not the only reason for those struggles, with the offensive line and running game failing to provide much help, but it is clear Washington needs a new quarterback. Malik Willis brings the best physical tools of any quarterback in this class. He has a huge arm with impressive elusiveness and burst as a runner. There is no question he is a bit of a project at this point. He holds onto the ball for far too long in the pocket and needs to learn when to get rid of it. Given his running ability and the lack of talent around him, he rarely works through more than one or two reads. Given time though, Willis could end up being a high-end NFL starter.

6. New York Jets (2-5) – Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M
Despite another improbable victory, the Jets offensive is still a work in progress, especially along the interior. Greg Van Roten turns 32 this offseason and could be a cap casualty. Kenyon Green could step in and start from day 1 in his place. He has experience at both tackle and guard in his college career, which could come in handy given Mekhi Becton’s injury history. Zach Wilson has been one of the most pressured and hit quarterbacks in the league this year. Green could help solidify an improving unit.

7. New York Giants (2-5) – George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
The Giants will be disappointed Green lands with the team that shares their stadium, but it allows them to grab the electric George Karlaftis. He would be an excellent complement to Azeez Ojulari, giving New York an exciting young duo of pass rushers. So far this year, Joe Judge’s defense ranks 30th in pass-rush win rate. Karlaftis has a quick first step and some impressive pass rush moves. He has room for improvement in the run game, but is incredibly disruptive. Most of his reps come with his hand on the ground, but he could operate a standup rusher if needed.

8. Philadelphia Eagles (3-5) – Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
A dynamic, ball-hawking safety would be a great addition to the Eagles secondary. Kyle Hamilton could very well be off the board before this spot, given his range and versatility in coverage schemes. He has already flashed his speed this season on a couple of remarkable plays. I am always a bit skeptical of drafting a safety this high given the positional value, but Hamilton is a complete package with the ability to drastically change the outlook of this defense. Philly definitely needs to rebuild the defense.

9. Philadelphia Eagles via Indianapolis Colts (3-5) – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
Let’s keep rebuilding this defense. I expect that Philadelphia will likely trade one of these picks away, but I’m not ready to project mock draft trades in early November. Assuming they stay put, grabbing a toolsy linebacker to play at really any of their linebacker spots. I don’t think it is unfair to say that there is not an NFL starting-caliber linebacker on the Eagles’ roster right now. Devin Lloyd is one of my favorite prospects in this draft cycle. He is very aggressive and athletic. I expect him to be a playmaker at the next level with the speed to hang in coverage.

10. New York Jets via Seattle Seahawks (3-5) – Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
After addressing the offensive line with their first pick of this draft, New York goes defense to find another corner to pair with Bryce Hall. There is still a chance one of their young defensive backs could develop, but Ahmad Gardner is a better prospect than anyone the Jets have in their secondary right now. He is big and long at 6’3″ with plus ball skills. He has been a major part of Cincinnati’s impressive season. While Robert Saleh’s scheme does not prioritize corners, finding two long, athletic corners to run the system with would only increase its effectiveness.

11. New York Giants via Chicago Bears (3-5) – Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
Five of the first 11 picks belong to the Eagles, Jets and Giants right now. Fun time to be a scout in the tri-state area. New York grabs an edge rusher at No. 7, so this time they go to the other side of the line of scrimmage. With Nick Gates suffering a potentially career-ending injury earlier this year Dave Gettleman attempting to rebuild the interior of his offensive line with castoffs on the trade block, center feels like a big need. Tyler Linderbaum is one of the fastest interior linemen that I have ever watched. He is great as a pulling blocker and operates well in space. He would be a welcome addition to the offense for Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley.

12. Atlanta Falcons (3-4) – DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M
Unquestionably, Grady Jarrett needs some help along the Falcons defensive line. Atlanta struggles to rush the passer and has gotten very little production from anyone other than Jarrett. DeMarvin Leal is a talented defensive lineman who can play as a 3-4 end or a 4-3 tackle. He sets the edge well and shows a good initial punch at the point of attack. He would definitely command some attention, which would open things up more for Jarrett.

13. Miami Dolphins via San Francisco 49ers (3-4) – Sean Rhyan, OT, UCLA
There are a few directions the Dolphins could head here. I think the urge to move on from Tua Tagovailoa is fading slightly even though Miami continues to lose. Honestly, Tua seems to be very far from the problem right now. The Dolphins’ offensive line is the worst in the league in terms of pass-block win rate. That has to be the focal point in the draft and free agency. Sean Rhyan is an intriguing prospect with really impressive agility and technique. He keeps the play in front of him and understands blocking angles. He could potentially be Miami’s long-term answer at left tackle, Austin Jackson continues to struggle.

14. Minnesota Vikings (3-4) – Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
I know it is a running joke right now and fans will push back, but it is hard to see who else the Vikings truly trust at corner outside of Patrick Peterson. Neither Bashaud Breeland nor Mackensie Alexander has done much to indicate they have what it takes to start on the outside. Andrew Booth Jr. would give Minnesota a projectable starter in 2022 and beyond. Putting him in a position to learn from Peterson while he acclimates to the NFL would be a phenomenal situation for him. He checks all the boxes from a measurables standpoint as well.

15. Kansas City Chiefs (3-4) – Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
While the offense has not been good this season, the Chiefs defense might be the worst in the league. They lack playmakers at every level. Most notably, Kansas City ranks dead last in run-stop win rate this season. Bringing in Christian Harris should help get this defense back on track. He is incredibly athletic, flying around the field. 10 years ago, Harris likely would have been a safety in the NFL. He is one of those new-age linebackers that brings a ton of speed and coverage ability to the position. He has plenty of room for improvement when it comes to reading his keys and finishing tackles, but his athletic profile makes him an exciting prospect.

16. New England Patriots (3-4) – Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
It is a little too early for a safety and the top three corners are already off the board, so the Patriots opt to protect Mac Jones instead. Isaiah Wynn is playing well enough to keep his job, so Charles Cross could be in line to start at right tackle in 2022. Trent Brown has not played since the season opener and will be a free agent following the season. Neither Justin Herron nor Yasir Durant has done much to indicate they should be the long-term starter. Cross is one of the best run blockers in this draft with a lot to like in pass protection as well. He struggles when opponents work across his face, but he can anchor and stem pass rushing moves. With a bit of polishing, he could be a really strong starter.

17. Denver Broncos (3-4) – Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
I would be shocked if Denver went into 2022 with Teddy Bridgewater as the unquestioned starter. He has been serviceable, but far from impressive enough to indicate that he should be the starter long term. Matt Corral would be a fun prospect for the Broncos to work with. He has played at a high level in 2021, piloting a high-scoring Ole Miss offense. He is a dual threat player, scoring 23 touchdowns this season, including eight on the ground. He has cut down on the interceptions this year, which is a huge improvement, but there is still plenty of upside left for him to tap into.

18. Cleveland Browns (4-3) – Drake London, WR, USC
Two years ago, the idea of the Browns spending a first-round pick on a wide receiver would have seemed outlandish. However, with Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry continuing to show signs that their best football is behind them, Cleveland will be searching for Baker Mayfield’s new top target. Drake London is not for everyone, but he can be a game-changing player with his ability to adjust to balls in midair and make catches away from his body. If you throw it within his zip code, he has the size and ball skills to bring it in. There is room for improvement as a route runner, but he would be a very reliable option for Mayfield to work with in this offense.

19. Carolina Panthers (4-4) – Darian Kinnard, G, Kentucky
Quarterback is definitely a possibility here given Sam Darnold’s struggles this season, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Carolina targeted a veteran passer to fill the void. The team has been heavily linked to Deshaun Watson after all. No matter who is quarterback for the Panthers next year, he will need to have an improved offensive line front of him. Darian Kinnard is a vicious run blocker with plenty of power. He starts at right tackle for Kentucky, but his skill set definitely points towards him fitting best on the interior at the next level. Kinnard is a bit raw and will likely need some seasoning before he can truly contribute, but the upside given his physical traits is enormous.

20. Los Angeles Chargers (4-3) – Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia
Los Angeles has struggled against the run this season. Linval Joseph is 33 and will be a free agent at the end of the season. Jordan Davis is more than capable of plugging the hole, literally and figuratively. He is a people mover with good athleticism for a man his size. He has been a menace this season in that Georgia defense. Every once in a while, he will simply bench press an opposing interior lineman to crash the pocket. That is something the Chargers desperately need.

21. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) – Carson Strong, QB, Nevada
Ben Roethlisberger is doing just enough to keep the Steelers offense afloat. While Pittsburgh assuredly needs help along the offensive line, they also need a succession plan for their 39-year-old quarterback. If Mike Tomlin wants to keep a similar playstyle, Carson Strong is an excellent fit in this scheme. He is a big, strong-armed pocket passer who can hit the far hashes. He has work to do on his deep ball, but he has nice touch on his intermediate passes. Unfortunately, Strong brings little to the table with his legs, but he can move around the pocket to extend plays, keeping his eyes downfield whenever he does. He would slot into this offensive nicely.

22. Cincinnati Bengals (5-3) – Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
While Cincinnati seems to have unearthed a diamond in the rough with Chidobe Awuzie, the rest of the cornerback room is subpar. As demonstrated on Sunday, when the Bengals surrendered more than 400 yards to Mike White, the pass defense is still a work in progress. Kaiir Elam would give Cincy a long corner with good speed to play on the outside. He still has some room for improvement in zone coverage, but his physical traits bode well for success in the NFL. If Awuzie can keep this up, the Bengals would suddenly have a pretty imposing cornerback duo.

23. New Orleans Saints (5-2) – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Quarterback is a clear need, but I don’t have a first-round grade on anyone other than Willis, Strong or Corral right now. Instead of reaching for someone like Desmond Ridder, New Orleans can grab a talented receiver. As evidenced by Kevin White leading the team in receiving yards against the Buccaneers, the Saints need help at the position, even when Michael Thomas returns. Garrett Wilson is a smooth route runner with impressive production to match. He would be an interesting addition to a receiving corps that would feature Thomas, Marquez Callaway and Deonte Harris when healthy.

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2) – Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
Quickly rising up draft boards, Roger McCreary is playing some good football in 2021. In his latest outing, he had five tackles and two pass deflections against a talented Ole Miss offense. The six-foot tall senior is turning some heads with his athleticism and production on the outside playing against top competition in the SEC. With Tampa Bay’s defense struggling all year long, especially in the secondary, McCreary would be a welcome addition. With Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting still in place, McCreary would not have to start right away, but could provide some much-needed depth and develop into a starter down the line with both Dean and Murphy-Bunting set to hit free agency in 2023.

25. Buffalo Bills (5-2) – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Buffalo already has a super reliable possession receiver capable of giving defensive backs nightmares with his route running ability. Why not add someone capable of taking the top off? That’s not to say Chris Olave isn’t also a good route runner in his own right. He is one of the more polished players in this year’s class, opting to return to school after drawing first-round consideration a year ago. Olave is not the most physically imposing receiver in this class, but he brings an exciting blend of size and speed that has led to a very productive college career. He could take over for Emmanuel Sanders, who will be out of contract after the season.

26. Las Vegas Raiders (5-2) – Nicolas Petit-Frère, OT, Ohio State
The Raiders have pieced together an impressive first half of the season despite having one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Las Vegas tore apart what had been a strong unit in 2020, trading away or cutting all five of its starters and drafting Alex Leatherwood in the first round. It remains to be seen if Leatherwood can really compete at tackle or if he might be best suited for a move inside. Meanwhile, Nicolas Petit-Frere has been crushing it for Ohio State in his first season at left tackle. His experience at right tackle only increases his value. With good size and ample experience, he could continue to move up draft boards.

27. Dallas Cowboys (6-1) – Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
Dallas’ defense has been a revelation this year following a historically bad 2020 campaign. Still, there are definitely areas for improvement. The biggest one that stands out is safety. Donovan Wilson and Damontae Kazee are serviceable, but Daxton Hill has a much higher ceiling than either of those two players. He is the latest nickel corner-safety combo, showing an ability to disrupt plays in multiple roles. His versatility and athleticism would both be welcome in the Cowboys secondary.

28. Green Bay Packers (7-1) – Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC
Maybe I should learn my lesson and stop mocking receivers to the Packers in the first round. Aaron Rodgers showed on Thursday he can win with pretty much anyone catching passes. While Za’Darius Smith should return from injury soon, he is also a potential cap casualty this offseason, saving the team over $15 million in cap space if they cut or trade him. Keeping him at a $28 million cap hit feels untenable. That could put the Packers in the market for an edge rusher. Drake Jackson has the body type and quickness to excel as a standup pass rusher. He could help improve a Green Bay defense that ranks 22nd in pass-rush win rate.

29. Baltimore Ravens (5-2) – Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
After trading away Orlando Brown Jr. and seeing Ronnie Stanley suffer a second-straight season ending injury, tackle feels like a pressing need for the Ravens. Alejandro Villanueva is a stop-gap solution and he has had his fair share of struggles this season. Trevor Penning could be the long-term answer at right tackle with the experience to fill in for Stanley if he were to go down again. He is powerful and should fit well into Baltimore’s run-heavy approach. He might need a little bit of time to get up to speed coming from the FCS, but he handled himself well against Iowa State, which points to that being a shorter ramp up period than you might expect.

30. Detroit Lions via Los Angeles (6-1) – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
No team in the league needs receiver help more than the Lions. Detroit’s top two receivers this year are T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift, neither of whom are wide receivers. I am a fan of Amon-Ra St. Brown long term, but Jared Goff needs someone to target now. It is hard to miss Treylon Burks at 6’3″. At that size, it would be easy to assume he was a possession or jump-ball receiver, but he has the athleticism to be a true No. 1 option. The biggest concern is how he fares against elite competition. Georgia’s defense held him to just three catches for 10 yards, but he was hardly the only Arkansas player to struggle in that game. It seems to be an outlier in what has otherwise been a stellar season.

31. Tennessee Titans (6-2) – Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
Considering that the Titans are leading the AFC at the moment after wins over the Bills, Chiefs and Colts, this team does not have too many holes. However, linebacker is definitely one of them. Rashaan Evans has been very underwhelming this year and it simply feels unacceptable for a Mike Vrabel coached team to have subpar linebacker play. Adding Nakobe Dean would instantly change this defense. He is an effective blitzer with a nose for the football. He even flashed his coverage ability with a pick-six against Florida. Adding a dynamic player to the middle of this defense would help it take a step in the right direction.

32. Arizona Cardinals (7-1) – Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
The Cardinals are a miscommunicated route away from being 8-0 right now. While Arizona has been one of the more surprising teams this season, especially defensively, its secondary has some question marks. Robert Alford has played well, but he turns 33 today (Happy Birthday) and is set to be a free agent after the season. Meanwhile, Byron Murphy has yet to really live up to the hype. Arizona could opt to return for another Washington corner to continue building out this group. Trent McDuffie might not be the biggest player on the field, but he meets my threshold for size when it comes to scouting perimeter corners. He also flies around the field, blowing up plays with his incredible closing speed and explosiveness. He would be fun to watch in Vance Joseph’s defense.

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