Wednesday, May 23, 2012
NFL Future Power Rankings: AFC East
By James Walker
On Wednesday ESPN put together an expert panel to determine which team will is poised to dominate in 2015. That is three years and four seasons from now.
Here is how things shaped up in the AFC East:
No 2: New England Patriots
Thoughts: Earlier Wednesday I wrote a column that New England will struggle when Tom Brady retires. Our panel thinks Brady will still be around in 2015 and gave New England a "nine" rating at quarterback. That's debatable. Brady will be 38 years old in 2015. Is Brady still playing football? And if so, is Brady still elite pushing 40? The article also ignores tight end Aaron Hernandez's contract situation. He's a free agent in two years, along with teammate Rob Gronkowski. Hernandez is probably not on New England's roster in 2015 unless the Patriots find a way to make "Gronk" and Hernandez two of the highest-paid players at the same position. That's not likely.
No. 16: New York Jets
Thoughts: The Jets are an interesting team. Like the Patriots, they are built to win now. It’s hard to say where New York will be in four seasons. ESPN's Trent Dilfer says he still loves the talent and potential of quarterback Mark Sanchez, but I disagree. Entering his fourth season, I think Sanchez pretty much is what he is. Of course, Sanchez can play better over the next few years and reduce turnovers. But he’s not a future perennial Pro Bowler in waiting. Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis will be 30 in 2015. Maybe he’s still the best cornerback in football at that time. Maybe not. New York’s drafts also can be hit or miss.
No. 22: Buffalo Bills
Thoughts: Things are looking up for Buffalo this season, but I think the Bills were a victim of circumstance in this case. The Bills haven’t made the postseason in 13 years. Therefore, I would assume it was very hard for our expert panel to put any stock in Buffalo’s future several years down the line. But there are some good, young players on the roster. Running back C.J. Spiller has potential. So does defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and rookie corner Stephon Gilmore. No. 1 receiver Steve Johnson also is still just 25. I still have questions about the long-term potential of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. But the Bills have potential to build something.
No. 28: Miami Dolphins
Thoughts: ESPN’s panel sees too many questions about the direction of Dolphins. Is rookie Ryan Tannehill the long-term solution quarterback? Is Joe Philbin a viable head coach? Is Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long staying in Miami beyond 2012? There are a lot of questions in Miami. The Dolphins aren’t ready to compete now, and they have to make a lot of the right moves in order to compete in the future. Only the Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns had lower rankings than the Dolphins in these future Power Rankings.