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ESPN NFL Future Power Rankings: 2018 Edition

Where do the Chiefs land when it comes to the next three seasons?

Kansas City Chiefs v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Prior to training camp each offseason, ESPN Insider releases its “future power rankings,” which project how the next three seasons will go in the NFL.

Upon first glance at the rankings’ description, you may think that the Kansas City Chiefs would be in pretty good shape. You’d be wrong.

The Chiefs were ranked 14th out of 32 NFL teams on the list.

Before we dive in, it’s worth noting the Chiefs were ranked No. 11 ahead of the 2016 season and No. 8 ahead of the 2017 season, so this is quite a dip in expectations.

Here’s how the Chiefs ranked in all five future power ranking categories:

(Note: The number in parentheses represents how the score has changed since 2017. All scores are out of 100)

ROSTER: 76.7 (-5.3) - 16th in the NFL

QUARTERBACK: 78.3 (-3.7) - 18th in the NFL

COACHING: 84.0 (-5.7) - 6th in the NFL

DRAFT: 75.3 (-3.4) - 22nd in the NFL

FRONT OFFICE: 76.3 (+6.3) - 12th in the NFL


ESPN analyst Field Yates blamed the Chiefs’ dip on uncertainty in Patrick Mahomes and expectations that the defense will struggle:

Why they’re here: Few in the coaching ranks command as much respect as Andy Reid, who was signed to an extension last summer and continues to be the rock of the organization. The Chiefs are an intriguing team in this regard; we have a feel for the current roster limitations (defensive struggles will be expected this year), but much of the future rides on Patrick Mahomes’ right arm. If he meets internal expectations, Kansas City will climb higher in these ranks next year. If he struggles, the narrative will shift.

Yates is correct in saying that the results of this year—and the next three years for that matter—ride on one man: Mahomes. If the Chiefs bet wrong on Mahomes, all of the other moves are for naught. I find this narrative doubtful.

As far as the defense goes, I think it’s a little unfair to assume it is going to struggle, especially given all the turnover. I don’t think we know what this 2018 Chiefs defense is yet, for better or for worse, and we won’t until about Week 4 or Week 5.

Another ESPN personality, Louis Riddick, has been an advocate of Mahomes since jump, and he has remained that way all offseason. But what is his biggest worry?

Biggest worry: The Mahomes era is here, and I am here for it! I have zero doubts that this young man will live up to the expectations and that the offense will be even more explosive in 2018. What I am concerned about is a defense that was soft up the middle, lacked a pass rush and had to get rid of its best coverage defender in order for the Chiefs to get “better” as a team in terms of chemistry and reliability. Yes, they will score a lot of points, but will they be able to stop anybody?

The Chiefs say they addressed that softness up the middle with the offseason additions of nose tackle Xavier Williams and inside linebacker Anthony Hitchens, but talk is just that—talk. Can they play? I believe they can, so I expect to see the run defense improve.

Like Riddick, I do have my doubts about the secondary. All the Marcus Peters talk has died down, but it will rise from the ashes if Steven Nelson and/or David Amerson are picked on by opposing quarterbacks like Terrance Mitchell was last season.

Mike Sando wrapped up the evaluation with what the panel felt could change for the better when it comes to the Chiefs:

What could change for the better: We hedged our bets on Mahomes in this evaluation, leaving the Chiefs with a No. 18 ranking in that category. It’s easy to envision a scenario whereby Mahomes meets or even exceeds the Chiefs’ expectations for him. That would send Kansas City rocketing up in these rankings overall.

As much as Mahomes is hyped in Kansas City, he is still an unknown on a team full of unknowns. How will Sammy Watkins fit in? Will the left side of the offensive line be OK? Is the Chiefs secondary good enough?

When you consider the next three seasons, I would have put the Chiefs in the top 10, but I can understand why they were left out, for the moment.

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