A panel of contributors for ESPN Insider has teamed up to release the latest edition of the NFL's future power rankings, which examines how the 32 franchises project to stack up in 2016.
The five categories that were voted on are the team's roster (outside of the quarterback), its quarterback, drafting ability, front office and coaching staff. Those five factors were voted on and tabulated on a weighted scale (the roster outside of the quarterback carried more weight than the other categories) to produce a final score on a 100-point scale.
The Patriots, who were one of the best teams in the NFL in 2013, have a positive outlook for the future, as they check in at fifth on the future power rankings list with a score of 76.83, behind just one other AFC team (Baltimore).
The roster received a 7.3 rating, quarterback 7.7, draft 7.0, front office 7.2, and coaching staff 9.2.
Here's what the panel, which includes Field Yates, had to say in the breakdown.
Roster: It's hard to think of the Patriots' roster without quarterback Tom Brady in mind, but the team has the talent to sustain success beyond his career. The offensive nucleus revolves around the best young tight end duo in football and a loaded backfield. On defense, the front seven is piling up young talent, with Jerod Mayo, Chandler Jones, Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins leading the way. -- Yates
Quarterback: Brady will be 39 years old when the 2016 season gets underway. He's a grinder whose dedication will give him the best possible chance to remain productive at that age. Brady is signed through 2017 and he has guaranteed money in the final years, unusual for a long-term deal associated with an older player. The Patriots will give him every chance to play out the deal, but it's fair to expect some erosion by then. -- Sando
Draft: The Patriots have a remarkable ability to find players capable of providing an immediate impact via the draft, and that's a significant compliment when you consider they: (A) Rarely draft anywhere near the top of the first round and (B) win a ton of games year after year. The 2013 draft will be one to watch because New England moved down and didn't pick until No. 52 overall (Collins), and there's a question of how well this team will remain equipped to slow down opposing passers. But this is a smart, resourceful front office under Bill Belichick and they haven't traded away any future picks, so there's no reason to question their ability to find more help (immediate and otherwise) in years to come. An underrated fact: they consistently find good offensive lineman and keep Brady protected. -- Kiper
Front office: Everyone assumes that the Pats are Super Bowl contenders every year and as long as Brady is at quarterback that is largely true. In addition, Dante Scharnecchia and his offensive line are among the best in both scheme and execution year in and year out. The Pats need a big-play wide receiver (which they may have unearthed in 2013 fourth-rounder Josh Boyce) and good health from receiver Danny Amendola and tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. The defense has been a work in progress for the past three seasons and until proved otherwise remains so. -- Polian
Coaching: The highest-ranked active coach on my list of all-time top coaches, Belichick has done a great job of evolving both his philosophy and how players fit his system. He brought in the era of using two tight ends as receivers and spreading out offenses to attack specific matchups. The Patriots will be a contender as long as he is wearing his hoodie on the sideline. -- Edwards
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