Even disregarding the fact that Mark Schlereth once said on Twitter that Marshall Newhouse would be "one of the great tackles in the league", I think it goes without saying that ESPN hasn't exactly been the paragon of enlightenment when it comes to forecasting success.
But this new article by their Insider crew is actually pretty astute (paid subscription needed to access the whole article). By ranking teams based on five categories - roster, QB, draft, front office and coaching - the cumulative scores are used to formulate ‘Future Power Rankings' for each team.
At #2, we find our Green Bay Packers. For a team that hasn't been to the conference championship in nearly four years, that seemed a little high at first. But dig a little deeper and you begin to see why the Packers rank so high. First is the most obvious: Quarterback. Whether you believe Aaron Rodgers is truly the best QB in the league or not, there's no disputing he's at the absolute peak of his powers right now which places him, at worst, among the top 3 QB's in the league. But that's just right now. Frustration of playoff losses has likely gotten us all in a tizzy at one point or another about "windows closing", but the fact is, Aaron Rodgers is only 30 years old. Last season's best QB was - and I'm estimating here - 73 years old and coming off multiple neck surgeries. So yeah, the Packers will have elite play at quarterback for years to come.
But that the Packers were ranked 9.7 (out of a possible 10) at quarterback doesn't really come as any surprise. What might cause an eyebrow to be raised however, is their 2nd highest rank - coaching. No, seriously.
In some way, I get where that ranking stems from. Remember, they're not just ranking current competency, but future success, which means things like consistency and experience have to be weighed in. But still, remember when Jordy Nelson had to hide the challenge flag Mike McCarthy mistakenly threw onto the field in 2012? Good times! That said, I trust that people like John Clayton know more about football (and especially coaching football) than the majority of fans, so maybe all those FIRE CAPERS memes shouldn't have been made in the first place. Maybe.
From there, the rankings seem pretty normal with the roster coming in at a 7.9 and front office at 8.7. But what really surprised me was the lowest ranking category of all - the draft.
I'm not quite sure how you rank a team #2 overall when the entirety of their success is predicated on the draft, but what do I know? Granted, Ted Thompson may very well go into Danny Glover, "I'm too old for this sh*t" mode any day now, which would certainly affect their future draft success. But even if Ted hangs up his khakis in two years, I have to believe
John Schneider, I mean, whoever the next GM is will at least follow in the Packers tradition of building through the draft. Again, maybe 10 years down the road the picture looks drastically different, but I can't see the Packers going from where they are now into a free agency spending spree any time soon.
But even with that head-scratcher thrown in, it's reassuring to look at the big picture of the Packers franchise. I think we've all found ourselves focusing on the minutiae of week-to-week events - wins, losses, injuries, good god not another injury! But taking a step back, it's easy to see why the Packers project so well.
This is a team that consistently ranks among the league's youngest, led by a quarterback who, even as his mobility starts to decline with age, has more than enough smarts to evolve his style and remain supremely effective. Plus, you've got a front office that continues to be a breeding ground for new coaching and executive talent throughout the league.
I can't say what degree of success the Packers will achieve this season, but nevertheless. It's nice to have a reminder that regardless of what happens, we can step back, take a deep breathe and say that right now and likely for years to come - "It's good to be a Packers fan."