Guest writer Travis Wingfield checks in once again, as he continues his countdown of the 2007 off-season. This week, he looks at teams 16-9. To see part I, click here, or click here for part II. Onto the rankings:
16. Carolina Panthers- I don't know that any one loved the pick of Dwayne Jarret more than Keyshawn Johnson. I suppose someone should've told him that Jarret was taking his job as Keyshawn now finds himself with a job at ESPN/ABC. The Panthers also hit a home run in the draft selecting John Beason and Ryan Kalil. These are 3 guys who could come in and be big contributors immediately in 2007. Charles Johnson could also be a good pass rusher opposite Julius Peppers as the Panthers continued a strong draft. Their two big hits in free agency were Chad Lavalais to play left tackle, and David Carr who will finally give Jake Delhomme a viable backup.
Best add: John Beason LB
Worst loss: Keyshawn Johnson WR
Outlook: 8-8. The NFC South could get back to being one of the tougher divisions this year, expect the Panthers to have a say in that race.
15. Minnesota Vikings- You have to love the new 1-2 punch of the Minnesota Vikings with rookie Adrian Peterson and last season's full time starter Chester Taylor. Minnesota has a lot of burners at WR and they added a much needed big body in Sidney Rice in the 2nd round. If Troy Williamson can live up to expectations, it could turn into a solid 1-2 combo at WR. If they find a way to get Tavaris Jackson to develop soon, this could be a very good offense. Another team that kept mostly the same body of work, adding Mike Doss as a safety was the only big move. The team needs pass rushers, receivers and secondary help; they attacked all of these spots as they also drafted corner back Marcus McCauley.
Best add: Adrian Peterson RB
Worst loss: Brad Johnson QB (Yes, this is how few players they lost.)
Outlook: 6-10. I'm still not sold on that secondary or those inconsistent receivers. Minnesota will dominate the trenches again, but still struggle with winning games.
14. New York Jets- Doing absolutely nothing flashy in 2006, it's a complete mystery how the Jets made the playoffs. Chad Pennington is incapable of taking shots down the field, and Leon Washington ranked 31st in yards amongst the 32 NFL starting running backs. To help this area, New York traded for a very good runner in Thomas Jones. The Jets drafted Darrell Revis and then moved back into the second round to select linebacker David Harris. These two should help a defense that was already pretty darn good as they will be starters right away. The only player of note that the Jets lost was full back B.J Askew.
Best add: Thomas Jones RB
Worst loss: B.J Askew FB
Outlook: 7-9 coming back down to the earth, I still think the Jets overachieved big time last year. The Jets don't have enough offense to make another run.
13. Philadelphia Eagles- No one can say they thought the Eagles stood a chance when Donovan McNabb went down with a season ending injury mid way through 2006. Jeff Garcia rallied the team all the way to an NFC Divisional round playoff game. Garcia is gone but the Eagles drafted a backup with their first pick in the 2nd round in Houston's Kevin Kolb. Takeo Spikes, Montae Reager, and Ian Scott are all defensive help for the Eagles. Losing Donte Stallworth is a hit, but the Eagles replaced him with hot prospect Kevin Curtis in free agency. I like a lot of things the Eagles have done and I consider them serious contenders in 2007.
Best add: Takeo Spikes LB
Worst loss: Donte Stallworth WR
Outlook: 11-5 and serious contenders to play in Super Bowl XLII next February.
12. Arizona Cardinals- Apparently Dennis Green isn't "who we thought he was" and that was the man who would turn the Cardinals around. He is out, and former right hand man to Bill Cowher, Ken Whisenhunt, is in. He begins his run with a team that has a great deal of talent but can never achieve their lofty expectations. Offensive lineman Leonard Davis is the big man out the door at left tackle, but in is Mike Gandy from Buffalo, Al Johnson from Dallas, and former Penn State OT Levi Brown. Brown is expected to be responsible for Leinart's blind side as the Cardinals attempt to repair a line that has been nothing short of awful this century. Roderick Hood and Terrance Holt are two other players of note that head to the desert this season. If Matt Leinart gets it going this year, and they can keep him off his backside, this could be a pretty good team.
Best add: Levin Brown OT
Worst loss: Leonard Davis OT
Outlook: 8-8 and battling through a tight NFC West all year.
11. Dallas Cowboys- Another team, another new coach. Wade Phillips takes over for Bill Parcels and he walks into a comfortable situation. He has play makers on offense, hard hitting players in the secondary, and a fast front 7. The weak spot of the team was the offensive line and the Cowboys broke the bank on the 370 pound left tackle Leonard Davis. Jason Fabini is out but the Cowboys feel Davis is an upgrade at that position. Ken Hamlin joins Roy Williams to be one of the hardest hitting safety duos in football. Brad Johnson was signed to be the backup QB and Dallas selected Anthony Spencer to rush the quarterback opposite Demarcus Ware.
Best add: Ken Hamlin S
Worst loss: Jason Fabini OT
Outlook: 10-6 and right there in the NFC East.
10. Seattle Seahawks- Despite having no pick in the first round of the draft, the Seahawks made out pretty well this off-season, having a big free agent period. The team continued to bulk an already strong defense, adding pro bowl defensive end Patrick Kerney and Jacksonville safety Deon Grant. Grant takes over for Hamlin, which was a monster loss until the signing of Grant. Darrell Jackson was traded to division rival San Francisco and I hated the move. The Seahawks are depending on Nate Burleson and DJ Hacket to pick up the slack at WR.
Best add: Patrick Kerney DE
Worst loss: Ken Hamlin S
Outlook: 9-7 and right with everyone else in the NFC West.
9. New Orleans Saints- New Orleans is fresh off of a miracle season that ended in Chicago in the NFC Championship game. The big surprise of that team was the defense playing solid all year long. This off-season, the Saints decided to focus on that side of the ball in the draft and free agency. Veteran WR Joe Horn is gone to division foe Atlanta, but New Orleans replaced him with former Tennessee WR Robert Meachem. Eric Johnson is the new tight end from San Francisco and I really like that move. Brian Simmons, Jason David and Kevin Kaeshivarn are new additions on defense. The Saints will have a hard time with a repeat performance but should compete again.
Best add: Brian Simmons LB
Worst loss: Joe Horn WR
Outlook: 10-6 winning the NFC South.
Up next: teams 8-1, coming 6/12
Also, we haven't forgotten about the All-Time Favorite Dolphin Competition. Look for the beginning of round 2 sometime later today!