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NFlL’s 10 most talented teams...

June 14, 2018 08:21AM
By Gil Brandt


Talent is not necessarily a guarantee of success in the NFL, where injuries, bad luck and, yes, kickers can derail the hopes of even the most imposing preseason juggernaut. But while we continue to count down the days until the on-field chaos can be unleashed, let's consider what we know now, in June, and take a look at the 10 most talented teams overall.

It can be hard for Super Bowl winners to sustain success, especially with other teams flocking to poach your assistants, scouts and coordinators. It's a price you have to pay, and the reigning champs -- who lost Frank Reich and John DeFilippo to the Colts and Vikings, respectively -- are no exception. Luckily for Philadelphia, this team has tons of on-field talent. Quarterback Carson Wentz was a leading MVP candidate before hurting his knee last season. Zach Ertz is one of the top five tight ends in football. Lane Johnson (one of the top right tackles around), Jason Peters, Jason Kelce and right guard Brandon Brooks (one of the most underrated linemen in the game) anchor the O-line. The defensive line -- led by Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett -- is very strong. Malcolm Jenkins is a difference-maker, and then there are veterans like Michael Bennett, Chris Long and Nigel Bradham. Philly also smartly lined up young guys to elevate over the older players on their way out, like second-year player Sidney Jones replacing Patrick Robinson. Or consider Barnett essentially stepping in for cap-casualty Vinny Curry -- if you think about it like a trade, with Barnett coming back in a swap for Curry, you'd do that deal in a minute.

One year after ranking sixth on offense and second on defense, the Jaguars remain loaded with blue-chip talent at every level -- including cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive lineman Calais Campbell, both top-five players at their respective positions. The offensive line got a big upgrade when Jacksonville shelled out big bucks to sign guard Andrew Norwell, who will fit well on a unit that also includes Cam Robinson, a standout player drafted in the second round in 2017. Quarterback Blake Bortles remains the main question mark, but I think offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett's skill at developing quarterbacks will be made apparent by Bortles' continued improvement in 2018. With Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns both gone, Keelan Cole will have to come through at receiver, though I think Marqise Lee will keep trending in the right direction. And, of course, there's Leonard Fournette and the top-ranked running game. Finally, the Jags' first four draft picks this year -- defensive tackle Taven Bryan, receiver D.J. Chark, safety Ronnie Harrison and offensive tackle Will Richardson -- were strong and will further boost this squad.

The Rams simply made one great move after another this offseason. New additions Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib are excellent cornerbacks, while new receiver Brandin Cooks will further stretch opposing defenses. Free-agent signee Ndamukong Suh is a great player who will team with Aaron Donald up front to make life miserable for offenses across the NFL. Jared Goff and Todd Gurley headline a Rams roster that was already one of the best in the NFL in 2017 -- adding Peters, Talib, Cooks and Suh should only make this squad better. And here's an interesting wrinkle to the Rams' moves: Unlike traditional free-agent signings, they won't count against Los Angeles when compensatory picks are awarded for the 2019 NFL Draft, meaning the team was able to bring in big-time offseason help while preserving its chance to be handed some extra choices next year. (Suh's signing doesn't count against the Rams because his previous team, the Dolphins, released him.)

  NFlL’s 10 most talented teams...

Rams43209June 14, 2018 08:21AM