Schrock’s Power Rankings: Where Bears stand ahead of OTAs originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The 2022 NFL Draft has come and gone. The schedule has been released, and the offseason programs are entering their next phase.
The Bears are starting Year 1 of a rebuild under new head coach Matt Eberflus and general manager Ryan Poles. The growth of second-year quarterback Justin Fields is the primary objective for 2022. If Fields proves he’s a franchise quarterback, the Bears’ season will be a success, regardless of record.
With the draft and schedule release in the rearview mirror, it’s time to take stock of the league with our first 2022 power rankings.
Here’s where every team stands as we head into the summer:
32. Houston Texans: Lovie Smith is staring at a long season in 2022, one he hopes ends with Bryce Young or CJ Stroud coming to Houston.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars: Look on the bright side, Jags fans. This year can’t be worse than the Urban Meyer experiment. right?
30. Atlanta Falcons: I’m still a believer in Marcus Mariota, but it will be hard for him to resurrect his career behind this Atlanta offensive line.
29. New York Giants: Is this the final year for Danny Dimes in the Meadowlands? It has to be. The Giants will be players in the Stroud-Young Sweepstakes right alongside the Texans.
28. Carolina Panthers: The Panthers have to find a way to bring in Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo this summer. We know Sam Darnold isn’t the answer.
27. Detroit Lions: I love what the Lions did this offseason. They play hard for Dan Campbell. But at the end of the day, Jared Goff is Jared Goff, and Detroit is still on the ground floor of a rebuild. The Motor City Kitties will be a fun, four-win team.
26. Chicago Bears: There are many unknowns surrounding the 2022 Bears. But there’s one thing I’m pretty confident in: Justin Fields is a QB franchise. That’s the most critical piece to any rebuild.
25. Seattle Seahawks: It’s a new day in the Pacific Northwest. Like most days in Seattle, this one looks gloomy with Drew Lock under center.
24. New York Jets: The Jets won the draft. Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas have injected talent into the roster. But none of that matters if Zach Wilson doesn’t make significant improvements in Year 2.
23. Washington Commanders: I still have no idea why Washington made the aggressive move to trade for Wentz when it did. Was there really a bidding war for a guy who couldn’t beat the Jags to get into the playoffs?
22. Minnesota Vikings: Kirk Cousins has returned to Vikings National Bank with a ski mask on to hold up Minnesota for another $40 million heist. Oh, and he’s on the books for another $30 million in 2023. Not a bad job if you can get it.
21. New Orleans Saints: New Orleans lost out on Deshaun Watson and decided to run it back with Jameis Winston instead of trading for Garoppolo or Mayfield. The Saints are the second-best team in the NFC South, but that’s not saying much.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: The impending QB battle between Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett will have the attention of dozens in training camp. Can the Steelers keep pace in the AFC North with either at the helm?
19. Miami Dolphins: Miami’s plan for a big viral moment backfired when social media roasted the Dolphins over a video of Tua Tagovailoa throwing a deep ball to Tyreek Hill that the star receiver clearly had to wait on. This is a big season for the Tuanon cult. Either the 24-year-old takes a big step forward, or Miami has to move on.
18. New England Patriots: Bill Belichick stunned many when he selected offensive lineman Cole Strange in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. The Patriots also added DeVante Parker and linebacker Mack Wilson this offseason. But New England needs more if it plans to compete with the Bills in the AFC East.
17. Tennessee Titans: The Titans traded AJ Brown and replaced him with rookie Treylon Burks. hey drafted Malik Willis to succeed Ryan Tannehill eventually. Last year’s No. 1 seed in the AFC looks like it got a lot worse in the offseason.
16. Arizona Cardinals: It has been an eventful offseason for the Cardinals. From the letter from Kyler Murray’s agent to DeAndre Hopkins’ suspension, things have been anything but dull in the desert. Can the Cardinals keep Murray happy and avoid another late-season meltdown?
15. Cleveland Browns: The Browns tossed morality to the wind and traded for Watson, giving him a fully-guaranteed $230 million contract. Cleveland looks to be a legitimate AFC threat, but if Watson is suspended, everything changes.
14. Indianapolis Colts: Matt Ryan no longer is a game-changing quarterback, but he’ll still be a massive upgrade from the Wentz Wild Card the Colts had to deal with last season. The Colts are your AFC South favorites as we head into the summer.
13 Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens are hoping for better injury luck in 2022. But who is Lamar Jackson throwing to other than Mark Andrews? The WR corps in Baltimore looks rough.
12. Dallas Cowboys: Amari Cooper, La’el Collins, and Randy Gregory are all gone. The bill is coming due for the Cowboys, and with the Eagles’ aggressive offseason, Dallas is no longer the best team in the NFC East.
11 Las Vegas Raiders: The trade for Davante Adams was a huge swing that says the Raiders believe they are ready to win big now. But the AFC West is a gauntlet, and the Raiders’ defense might be the worst unit in the division.
10 Denver Broncos: Russ will be cooking in the Mile High City this season. He’s got weapons in Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, Jerry Jeudy, and Javonte Williams. Denver will be a factor in the AFC.
9. Philadelphia Eagles: I’m all aboard the Eagles train this season. Jalen Hurts has gotten better every year since his freshman season at Alabama, and he now has a true no. 1 receiver in AJ Brown. The defense should be better in 2022. Everything points to the Eagles being a legitimate contender in the NFC.
8 Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals made it to the Super Bowl with turnstiles on the offensive line. So, Cincinnati added La’el Collins and Alex Cappa to keep Joe Burrow upright. The Bengals made the right upgrades, but can they make it out of the AFC again?
7. San Francisco 49ers: Jimmy Garoppolo remains on the roster, Deebo Samuel is pissed, and the 49ers have had the opposite of a quiet offseason. Still, they were 10 minutes away from a second Super Bowl berth in three seasons and now plan to upgrade the quarterback position by starting Trey Lance. Kyle Shanahan is a wizard, but he needs to get Deebo back on board to compete for a title.
6 Los Angeles Chargers: Here’s my preseason Super Bowl pick. The Chargers addressed the offensive line, cornerback, and interior defensive line this offseason. Justin Herbert should become a full-fledged superstar in Year 3. It should be a big year for the Bolts.
5. Green Bay Packers: The Packers traded Davante Adams but improved their defense with the additions of Georgia stars Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt. The Packers will be good, but how does the new offense look without Adams and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett?
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tom Brady’s retirement lasted about 40 days. His rumored power play to get to either the 49ers or Dolphins didn’t work, so he returns for another season in Tampa with a big FOX deal waiting in the wings. The Bucs couldn’t bring back the entire band, but TB12 is still there, giving them a legitimate shot at the Super Bowl.
3. Los Angeles Rams: Matthew Stafford left Detroit, won a ring, and now his AT&T commercial is on 10 times a night. The Rams saw Andrew Whitworth retired and traded Robert Woods. But they brought in Allen Robinson, and there’s still a chance the rehabbing Odell Beckham Jr. re-signs when the time is right. They are your NFC favorites until proven otherwise.
2. Kansas City Chiefs: Kansas City said goodbye to Tyreek Hills, betting on Patrick Mahomes’ greatness elevating Marquez Valdez-Scantling, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mecole Hardman, and rookie Skyy Moore. That’s a bet I’d make as well.
1 Buffalo Bills: The hype train has left the station, and the Bills Mafia is already etching out the parade route. That’s all fair. The Bills addressed their need at cornerback and added tight end OJ Howard and running back James Cook in the offseason. Josh Allen & Co. are your preseason Super Bowl favorites for a reason, but can they deliver on the buzz?
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