Wednesday, May 23, 2012
AFC North: Future Power Rankings
By Jamison Hensley
A respected committee of ESPN experts -- including Trent Dilfer, Mel Kiper, Gary Horton and Matt Williamson -- got together to look into the crystal ball and produce the NFL Future Power Rankings .
The projection is for the 2015 season and takes into account five factors: roster (32.5 percent), quarterback (17.5 percent), draft (15 percent), front office (15 percent) and coaching (20 percent).
You'll need an Insider subscription to see the entire post, but here's the AFC North portion of it:
5. PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Williamson: The "Steeler Way" has been working extremely well for a long time, as Pittsburgh's front office evaluates college talent and its own players as well as any team in the league. They are exceptional.
Hensley: The key was the Steelers using their top two picks on offensive linemen. As long as Ben Roethlisberger is protected and stays healthy, the Steelers will be among the top teams in the NFL.
10. BALTIMORE RAVENS
Kiper: No team consistently delivers as much value. Ozzie Newsome is a Hall of Famer … in the front office, too. The Ravens face some big personnel losses on defense coming soon, but few are better equipped to move on.
Hensley: The biggest question mark facing the Ravens by 2015 is how do they replace the leadership of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Baltimore needs its offense to become the dominant unit in order for the Ravens to be a top-10 team at this point.
11. CINCINNATI BENGALS
Dilfer: Andy Dalton quietly had an exceptionally good rookie season. Only Cam Newton diminished it. He has maintained a mature approach that we saw when he was at TCU; he gets deep into his reads, has an accurate arm and should continue to get better. If they can run it a little better, this offense will take a big leap.
Hensley: The Bengals have certainly set themselves up with two really strong drafts. The key is developing this talent and making sure these young players reach their potential. Cincinnati could be the most complete team in the division by 2015, with the emphasis on could.
32. CLEVELAND BROWNS
Williamson: Color me skeptical of the Browns' front office -- and this organization isn't exactly patient. Cleveland's front office is now directly tied to Brandon Weeden's future success. I can't say that is the perfect position to be in.
Hensley: With the exception of Trent Richardson, this team lacks playmakers. That's a rough spot to be in when you play defenses like the Steelers, Ravens and Bengals. And don't forget that Weeden will turn 32 during the 2015 season.