Over the summer, SB Nation ranked each position group, from quarterbacks to safeties, for all 32 NFL teams. It elicited a visceral response, to say the least. Healed from the tongue lashings in the comments and having finally responded to the tweets and emails from passionate fans, I thought that now offered a nice opportunity to revisit those rankings, using what have seen through the early happenings in training camp, starting with the offensive positions.
Let us know in the comments your thoughts on how players are performing at training camp this year and how that might impact things as the season gets closer.
There was some disagreement about the precise order at the top of the rankings, but not much argument that those players belonged in the conversation for the best quarterbacks in the league. I had the most trouble ranking Peyton Manning, and he generated some discussion in the comments and on Twitter.
On Monday, Peter King reported that Manning does not "feel like he's near 100 percent." Manning in a Broncos uniform has some conjuring up visions of Joe Namath in a Los Angeles Rams uniform in the twilight of his career. That assessment is a little too pessimistic. Manning at 75 percent would probably still be one of the 10 best quarterbacks in the league. Denver opens its preseason schedule on Aug. 9 against a Bears team that Manning beat to win his only Super Bowl. We should know more then about his status for the season ahead.
A few took exception to the Chargers and Philip Rivers being ranked ahead of the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger, at No. 5 and No. 6, respectively. Both are a reminder of just how impressive the 2004 draft was for quarterbacks. Ranking both in the top 10 was easy.
The Kansas City Chiefs landing at No. 13 upset a few fans, understandably so. Jamaal Charles is an electric runner, and paired with Peyton Hillis this year the duo has the potential to be one of the best in the league. The trouble is both players are coming off injury riddled seasons. Hillis played 10 games and averaged 3.6 yards per carry, a long way from his 4.4 YPC in 2010. Charles tore his ACL in Week 2, an injury that has the potential to slow any player, especially a running back. Training camp reports so far say both players are healthy.
The New Orleans Saints did not have a single 1,000-yard rusher last season, but only five teams had more rushing yards and just six scored more on the ground than the Saints. With Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram, the sum of the parts made the Saints running game deadly effective. Mark Ingram is healthy this year and it could make the Saints backfield even more powerful.
The Eagles came in at No. 3 and the Giants came in at No. 4. It upset some people. That is a tough one to assess. I went with Philadelphia over New York because of the depth behind their top two receivers, Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson. If Rueben Randle develops this season, the order could be easily flipped. You also have to wonder what a player like Jeremy Maclin could do with a quarterback like Eli Manning throwing the ball to him. The Giants are expecting to have Hakeem Nicks back in the lineup later this month. He played 15 games last season which was a career best.
Reports out of Atlanta are pointing toward a big season for Julio Jones in his second year. He certainly has the talent to put up numbers on par with any of the league's best receivers. Atlanta also has Roddy White who happens to be a pretty good receiver himself. The pairing of the two is why I put them at No. 7, over the Cardinals at No. 8 who have one of the game's best in Larry Fitzgerald but a big drop off relative to the Falcons behind him.
The Minnesota Vikings came in at No. 18 on the tight end rankings, but no team could make a bigger jump this season. Second-year tight end Kyle Rudolph oozes talent and has been turning heads at training camp this year. With a developing quarterback who finally has some pass protection, Rudolph's situation screams for big numbers this year. Minnesota could have an effective duo at the position, but John Carlson is already having health issues in camp.
A few Bills fans took exception with seeing their team at No. 11 on the list, pointing to the fewest sacks allowed last season and productive numbers from their running backs. The Bills are leaning heavily on rookie Cordy Glenn, a talented second-round pick, but a player who is having some early struggles in camp with pass rushers. Glenn has more than enough talent to start right away this season, but adjustments are to be expected.
If were doing these rankings again now, I would not put the Carolina Panthers at No. 6. They have some very talented players in the unit with Jordan Gross and Matt Kalil. The Jeff Otah situation has left a big hole in the right side of the line, though probably no bigger than when Otah was manning that spot. It looks like Byron Bell will take over as the starting right tackle in his second season. He allowed seven sacks and 38 total pressures in relief of Otah last season, but is turning some heads in training camp.