If there is such a thing as a low point in the NFL year, it's late June. OTAs and minicamp have concluded, training camp doesn't start for another month, and player movement has effectively concluded for the time being.
To keep their NFL page views up, ESPN has once again chosen this period to release its annual NFL Future Power Rankings. It's behind the paywall, so we'll provide only short snippets of the article.
ESPN's panel of analysts rated each team according to 5 criteria: the roster (minus the QB) as it projects in 2016 with emphasis placed on players under 28, the quarterback as he projects in 2016, the value of a team's 2013 draft picks and their available picks in upcoming drafts, the quality of the team's front office, and the quality and stability of the team's coaching staff. Each category is assigned a grade 1-10.
A few thoughts:
- As we remind readers every year, it's impossible to adequately grade a draft until several years after the fact. It's highly unlikely that any player has already validated their selection during OTAs or minicamp. Finally, as we've seen from years of Ted Thompson drafts, you shouldn't judge if the picks filled immediate holes. Rather, it's important to see if those players are contributors a few years out.
- The front office and coaching staff should really be one category. If the staff is lackluster, the general manager is responsible. Similarly, if the coaching staff may not be around a few years from now, that too falls on the GM. Furthermore, if the coaching staff is strong, the assistants are likely to be hired away. It's impossible to know how the staff will be rebuilt.
With that said, here's a little of what ESPN's analysis think about the Packers' future.
(On the roster) "When you can lose Greg Jennings in free agency and still possess one of the best receiving corps in football, your roster is in good shape. The Packers also added two potential starting running backs in this draft."
(On the quarterback) "The Packers ranked No. 1 at quarterback because of Rodgers, period. He might be wise to cut down the number of hits he takes as his career progresses, as Rodgers ranks 23rd out of 28 qualifying quarterbacks in sacks taken per drop-back over the past five seasons."
(On the draft) "They consistently find value down the board -- consider Heyward (sic) and Randall Cobb at picks No. 62 and 64 over the last couple of years -- and that matters because the Packers simply won't be drafting high as long as Rodgers is healthy."
(On the front office) "Thompson and Mike McCarthy have built a longstanding winner. This is the hardest thing to do in the National Football League. And they do it as well as anyone ever has. Others get the headlines, the Pack keeps cashing playoff checks."
(On the coaching staff) "A players' coach, McCarthy has had a great run in Green Bay. Expectations are always high with Rodgers and such a storied franchise, but he's made the playoffs in five of his seven seasons there and has a Super Bowl title to his name."
The Packers finished second in the future power rankings with an overall score of 83.63. This is slight decline from 2012 in which Green Bay, fresh off a 15-1 season, topped the list. This year, the San Francisco 49ers led the way with an overall score of 87.50.
There's not much there that Packers fans haven't already heard. The Packers have the best quarterback in the league today, and barring injury, Aaron Rodgers should still be in that conversation three years from now. The front office and coaching staff have performed well, though the yearly defections in the front office could hurt future performance. Overall, little has changed for Green Bay since last year's future power rankings.
So what do you think about ESPN's future power rankings? Do you think they got it right with the Packers, or do you question their judgment? More importantly, do you even care for such rankings? Cast your vote in our poll and voice your opinions in the comments.
Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Co. He has previously written for Lombardi Ave, College Hoops Net, LiveBall Sports, and the List Universe. He is also currently a senior writer for Beats Per Minute, an indie-music webzine. Follow him on Twitter: @JBHirschhorn