NFL power rankings: How did 2022 draft alter league landscape heading into next season?

Nate Davis

NFL power rankings after 2022 draft reshapes league rosters anew (post-free agency rank in parentheses):

1. Rams (1): Had they been able to reel in OL Cole Strange with that 104th pick, we coulda crowned them Super Bowl 57 champs. Alas ... LA's championship core returns largely intact, despite a few key losses (OLB Von Miller, WR Odell Beckham Jr.?) and with some intriguing additions (LB Bobby Wagner, WR Allen Robinson). Also noteworthy, they're the only team in the NFC West without an issue at quarterback or some form of major offseason drama.

2. Bengals (2): Had they had next season's offensive line for last season's Super Bowl, Cincinnati is probably hoisting its first Lombardi Trophy. The Bengals should remain among the AFC's elite after a depth-fortifying draft, though it appears the rest of their division is closing the gap.

3. Bills (3): Miller might be the guy who puts them over the top. So might be first-round CB Kaiir Elam or second-round RB James Cook. It won't be rookie Matt "Punt God" Araiza, because he won't play much.

4. Buccaneers (4): Still awaiting verdicts on free agents Rob Gronkowski and Ndamukong Suh, though the draft provided insurance for each, notably second-round DL Logan Hall. The path to the NFC's No. 1 seed could go through Tampa ... or Munich.

5. Packers (5): They were never going to replace WR Davante Adams' production with one stroke and were wise not to reach for a wideout in Round 1. Perhaps a reinforced defense could propel a team that wins 13 games every year but just can't seem to get to the 15 or 16 required to win the Super Bowl.

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6. Ravens (12): Baltimore, which started 5-1 in 2021 with wins over the Chargers, Chiefs and Colts, had its annual stellar draft and should rise up the AFC again with newfound talent and an influx of depth that should protect this roster better in 2022.

7. Chargers (6): Sure seems one of the league's more talented teams has filled the few holes it had at the end of last season. And the Bolts were already good enough to go toe to toe with Kansas City prior to the departure of WR Tyreek Hill.

8. Chiefs (7): Kind of the AFC's version of the Packers, making needed defensive upgrades rather than heaping outlandish expectations on a first-round wideout to replace Hill. (But second-round gem Skyy Moore could do a lot of damage in Hill's stead.)

9. Saints (17): Let's not forget how close San Francisco came to reaching the Super Bowl courtesy of a stacked roster that could endure middling quarterback play. After a statement draft and signing of hometown S Tyrann Mathieu, New Orleans might have a better roster than those 2021 Niners – and QB Jameis Winston showed a lot of promise prior to his ACL tear. But the main question is how this organization adapts to the departure of Sean Payton.

10. Colts (8): They had a sneaky good draft on the heels of acquiring QB Matt Ryan and CB Stephon Gilmore and might have erased the gap on a Tennessee squad that appears to be in transition.

11. Raiders (9): If the trade for Adams wasn't reminder enough, their decision to decline fifth-year options on all three of their 2019 first-rounders was a clear signal that the Silver and Black are under new management. Look for Round 4 RB Zamir "Zeus" White to eat into Josh Jacobs' touches.

12. Eagles (19): Captivating team that's set up to build on last year's playoff run with the acquisition of WR A.J. Brown and two Georgia defenders (DT Jordan Davis, LB Nakobe Dean) but could also make an interesting QB pivot in next year's draft.

13. Patriots (10): How best to sum up their "Strange" draft? A team that can't develop early round receivers took one in Round 2 from a school – Baylor – that doesn't produce NFL-caliber receivers.

14. 49ers (14): We think Trey Lance will be QB1, though it's not clear how ready he is. We think All-Pro Deebo Samuel will remain on the roster, though it's not clear how much of a distraction he'll be. We think this team will be pretty good, though it's not clear how many off-field issues coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch will have to manage, especially if QB Jimmy Garoppolo remains in the background.

15. Browns (13): Still turbulence to navigate given the likelihood of a suspension for QB Deshaun Watson and lack of resolution around his predecessor, Baker Mayfield. But if Cleveland can tread water until Watson is ready to play – assuming he integrates effectively – this team should be dangerous.

16. Titans (11): They drafted some impressive players, but dealing Brown and taking Malik Willis as the presumed successor to QB Ryan Tannehill – and all that comes with that – hints Tennessee could be headed into a cocoon before molting into something significantly different.

17. Vikings (16): New GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has quietly but wisely upgraded a 30th-ranked defense since free agency opened, and it may be enough to row this franchise into a dark horse postseason berth.

18. Broncos (18): Can they reach postseason for the first time since 2015 with a new coach and new quarterback while trying to navigate the AFC West gauntlet? Just maybe. Might even be a divisional playoff sweep if these four teams don't beat each other up too much.

19. Cowboys (15): The 2004 Eagles are the last team to repeat as NFC East champs ... and that streak's probably going to remain intact given the limited impact it appears Dallas will reap from the draft and free agency.

20. Steelers (22): First-round QB Kenny Pickett could be an upgrade juxtaposed to the declining play of now-retired Ben Roethlisberger. Yet Pickett might not be much of an upgrade at all from Mitch Trubisky nor have the long-term impact Willis could. Gonna be fascinating to see how this unfolds.

21. Dolphins (21): With Hill, Jaylen Waddle and Cedrick Wilson, Miami's three-receiver set may be better than anyone's. But can QB Tua Tagovailoa leverage it sufficiently to lift this team as something more than best not to qualify for the playoffs?

22. Cardinals (20): The six-game suspension to WR DeAndre Hopkins, whose absence at the end of last season coincided with this team's collapse, explains the suspect deal for WR Hollywood Brown ... short-sighted as that still seems given Arizona coughed up its first-rounder.

23. Jets (25): By all accounts, they "won" the draft, capitalizing on the remaining picks extracted from the Jamal Adams and Sam Darnold trades. Now, can a team that hasn't been to the playoffs in 12 years nor been above .500 in seven actually win some football games?

24. Lions (26): After following last year's winless start with a 3-3 finish, Detroit appears to be loading up nicely and should be ready to move on from biting kneecaps to delivering some body blows.

25. Seahawks (24): Quick history lesson – the last season (2011) Pete Carroll didn't have QB Russell Wilson or Wagner ... he still had a hungry, young team that featured a top-10 defense and went 7-9 with Tarvaris Jackson throwing most of the passes.

26. Commanders (23): Their draft haul supplements what really is a nice nucleus of talent. Just hard to forecast what lies ahead for a team that has such a huge X-factor component at quarterback, a position where fifth-rounder Sam Howell might wind up getting into the mix this season.

27. Jaguars (27): With Doug Pederson calling the shots and RB – not slot receiver – Travis Etienne poised to make his NFL debut, it's almost like they're getting four first-round picks this year after getting DE/OLB Travon Walker and LB Devin Lloyd, both potential defensive rookie of the year candidates.

28. Panthers (30): With their skill players healthy and first-round LT Ickey Ekwonu stabilizing the offensive line ... Darnold and, very possibly, coach Matt Rhule are pretty much out of excuses when it comes to achieving forward progress.

29. Giants (29): Speaking of forward progress and excuses, the table also seems nicely set for QB Daniel Jones in Year 4 ... even if a fifth-year contract option isn't on the menu.

30. Texans (32): Headlined by No. 3 overall pick Derek Stingley Jr., this draft class' first six picks could provide Week 1 starters for Houston, which seems to be out of dry dock as the franchise finally moves forward from the Watson controversy and former coach Bill O'Brien's egregious roster mismanagement.

31. Bears (28): No issues with recasting your identity and potentially setting the stage for a big step forward in 2023. But couldn't we be doing more to fuel QB Justin Fields' development in 2022?

32. Falcons (31): GM Terry Fontenot had already acknowledged they're "taking it on the chin this year," and a draft full of players who might take longer to blossom than most suggests Atlanta is playing a longer game.


Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.