This is a key moment to evaluate where NFL teams stand. The first phase of free agency, the NFL Draft, and the signing of undrafted free agents are all behind us. There will still be some changes before the season begins, but it’s likely that almost all of the players who will be on each team’s 53-man roster have now been acquired.
On Tuesday, ESPN released its latest power ranking of the league’s teams. They’re not the only outlet that has been publishing offseason power rankings, but theirs isn’t the opinion of one writer. Instead, it’s the result of a vote by their 32 NFL beat writers.
And guess which team is at the top?
Post-free-agency ranking: 1
Player who benefited most from draft: QB Patrick Mahomes
The Chiefs finished a rebuild of their offensive line by trading their first-round pick to the Ravens in return for left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and then drafting center Creed Humphrey in the second round. That means the Chiefs will have eight new linemen this upcoming season, and there’s a strong possibility the Chiefs will have a completely different group of starters. Mahomes is unlikely to be harassed like he was in Super Bowl LV. — Adam Teicher
The rest of the top 10 teams? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2), Buffalo Bills (3), Los Angeles Rams (4), Green Bay Packers (5), Baltimore Ravens (6), Cleveland Browns (7), Seattle Seahawks (8), San Francisco 49ers (9) and Tennessee Titans (10).
What’s interesting about this is that power rankings — even those based on a poll — tend to favor the previous Super Bowl winner. In the eyes of most NFL observers, once you’re the top dog, you remain the top dog — until another dog takes your place.
That might be especially true when the previous league championship was a 31-9 blowout — and the team that won it had (and still has) Tom Brady at quarterback. But as we see here, NFL beat reporters see that the Chiefs have solved their biggest problem — and now stand as the league’s best team.
It’s fine to grade individual parts of the offseason. But the only thing that really matters is the result: have offseason moves improved the team so that it can compete to win a championship? And in the eyes of ESPN’s beat writers, the Chiefs have done exactly that.