2010 NFL Pre-Season Power Rankings (32-30)

 

A few weeks back I attempted to start my NFL Preseason Power Rankings, but between kidney stones, a computer virus and Q’s introduction to Pee-Wee League Football I’ve been swamped. It also gave me time to revise the listing and tweak some things along the way.  For the next week we will go from worst to first in the NFL, there may be some headscratchers and that’s where you guys come in to lobby for your home team or just to make a good argument.

So without any further delay here are my 2010 NFL Preseason Power Rankings.

 

32. St. Louis Rams – Sam Bradford’s introduction to the NFL may come sooner than anticipated which isn’t such a bad thing.  A.J. Feeley’s thumb injury may have opened the door for the 2010 #1 overall pick to start for the remainder of the preseason and into the 2010 campaign. Steve Spagnuolo has some nice pieces in place, but it’s way too early for these young pups to compete. But once the Rams grow some teeth they’ll be in a good position to rise quickly in the up-for-grabs NFC West. The fact that Steven Jackson is still in St. Louis is a mystery and a testament his committment to the franchise’s vision (whatever that may be). The Rams receivers are very young and inexperienced, but with some seasoning this could become a talented bunch. Third year veteran Donnie Avery is the elder statesman of the group. Avery led all receivers in recpetions, yards and touchdowns. Laurent Robinson will line up opposite Avery. Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson are decent possession receivers but have enough speed to be effective in gaining yardage after the catch. The tight end position is up in the air and may be better suited by a free agent acquisition.

Chris Long (DE), James Laurinaitis (MLB) and O.J. Atogwe (S) are the leaders of a promising young defense that Spagnuolo is starting to put his stamp on. Veterans Fred Robbins, Bobby Carpenter and Na’il Diggs will give a boost to a defense that finished 28th in sacks. Another startling statistc, no Rams cornerback finished with an interception last season. 

31. Buffalo Bills – The Bills will start out in the minds of many as the worst team in football but they are the one team ranked below #25 that will finish this low. Why? Because the Bills can run the ball and with potentially the most dangerous trio in the League. New head coach Chan Gailey has been blessed with Fred Jackson, who was a revelation last season as he filled in for Marshawn Lynch who for all of his production has gotten on the wrong side of management. Rookie blazer C.J. Spiller will be placed anywhere he can create a mismatch. Quarterback Trent Edwards, wideout Lee Evans and the remainder of  the recieving corps had better get on the right page early otherwise it will be eight in the box all day, everyday. Last season was a struggle due to injuries along the offensive line and just overall poor play.

The Bills are switching to a 3-4 alignment which, given their young, speedy personnel may pan out. DE Aaron Maybin will now drop back to linebacker where his pass rushing ability will help the team tremendously. Alongside Maybin are Paul Posluszny, Kawika Mitchell and veteran Andra Davis a seasoned player in the 3-4 from his days with the Cleveland Browns. Up front, the Bills have former defensive tackles Marcus Stroud and Spencer Johnson will move to defensive end along with free agent acquisition Dwan Edwards another 3-4 disciple. The key to the success of the Bills defense rests in their young and very talented secondary. Rookie  safety Jarius Byrd played like a 10-year veteran as he finished in a tie for the lead in interceptions (9). The corners are solid in deep with starters Terrence McGee and Leodis McKelvin. Nickel corner Drayton Florence is the secondary’s most physical player, his ability to jam at the point of attack will be essential for the front seven to get to the quarterback.

If the Bills can adapt to the 3-4 quickly, execute a controlled passing game and thrive in their running attack they could push for a .500 record – but that’s asking alot with the Dolphins, Jets and Patriots on the slate twice a season.

Josh Freeman Quarterback Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throws a pass against the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on December 27, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The maturation of Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman is essential to the overall success of this group of young Bucs. The rumors that had first year coach Raheem Morris on the hotseat were both disturbing and disuptive to a team in the midst of a major rebuilding project. Josh Freeman showed flashes last season in wins over Green Bay and at New Orleans last season, but it was the victory against the Saints last season where Freeman displayed the poise and leadership that the Bucs need from their young signalcaller. The Bucs have an exceptional power running game that will help bring Freeman along at a decent pace Derrick Ward and Earnest Graham are the short yardage backs looked upon to eventually wear out the oppositions front seven. Cadillac Williams wasn’t supposed to fare in this equation, a second patellar yendon injury placed Williams’ career in jeopardy. Williams bounced back not only to get on the field – but as the season wore on, he would become the focal point of the Bucs running attack. A 1,000 yard season is not out of reach for Williams – health permitting. The Buccaneers recieving corps has to play catch-up with the rest of the offensive unit – literally. Tight end Kellen Winslow shook the nuisance tag last season and led the team in receptions, yards and touchdowns and should remain that way until the younger receivers emerge. Draft picks Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams will get every opportunity as veterans Mark Clayton, Maurice Stovall and Reggie Brown have been major disappointments.

Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy #93 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stretches during the Buccaneers Rookie mini camp at One Buccaneer Place on May 1, 2010 in Tampa, Florida.

The decision to switch from a two-gap man coverage back to a one-gap zone will mean more blitzing and schemes designed to confuse the quarterback. At the center of the madness will be Gerald McCoy the third overall pick out of Oklahoma, McCoy along with Stylez G. White will be asked to provide some muscle to an otherwise weak defensive line. The Bucs have traditionally have had strong linbacking units and this season remains no different. Barrett Rudd statistically is one of the better middle linebackers in the NFL but you’ll never hear his name mentioned among the elite. Alongside Rudd are Quincy Black and Geno Hayes who both need to bring their play up to the level of Rudd – a vital need since the defensive line is in transition.

Cornernack Ronde Barber is entering the final season of his contract and still remains the heart and soul of a very formidable secondary. Aquib Talib has growning into an eventual shut-down corner he has the athleticism and skills to do so. Safeties Tanard Jackson and free agent arrival Sean Jones round out a physical and talented secondary.

I hope that the Bucs brass gives Morris the opportunity to provide this young team with an identity and not stifle their growth by bringing in a new regime. They’re headed in the right direction let’s just see what happens.

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