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One reason for optimism for every non-playoff NFL team

Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) celebrates his fourth quarter sack against the Chicago Bears at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

  • The importance of draft success: The New York Jets and Detroit Lions are prime examples of why hitting on key picks in the draft can turn a franchise around.
  • The thrill of the chase: For the Indianapolis Colts, all the attention turns to a potentially massive trade for the No. 1 overall pick and a future franchise quarterback.
  • The Green Bay Packers‘ pieces are still in play to keep them competitive: Should Aaron Rodgers leave, Green Bay has plenty of solid players to remain a threat in the NFC.
Estimated reading time: 13 minutes

The regular season finale brings plenty of disappointment for the majority of NFL teams and fans because the goal of reaching the playoffs is officially over, extending the wait by another year. For every team dealing with that level of disheartenment, there is also reason to be optimistic about the future. 

Whether it’s the NFL Draft or pieces already in place, a turnaround is possible for all teams in 2023, as proven by the Jacksonville Jaguars’ ascent from No. 1 overall pick in 2022 to division winner in the same season. The offseason is a time for optimism for NFL teams and fanbases so let the positivity begin.

Arizona Cardinals: The No. 3 overall pick in the NFL Draft

The Cardinals sit in an optimal spot to select the best player available as a team that has a young quarterback and former No. 1 overall pick already locked up, creating a high probability they can add a blue chip prospect in 2023 via the draft. With the likelihood of two quarterbacks going before Arizona's selection at No. 3, assuming the Chicago Bears trade out as suspected by many, the Cardinals will have a great opportunity to fill a significant need, specifically on the defensive line.

Alabama edge prospect, Will Anderson, is considered by many to be the best defensive prospect in this class and should provide an immediate upgrade to a defensive line that ranked 26th in pass-rush productivity (combination of sacks and pressures). Anderson owns a 90.1 pass-rush grade in addition to landing the most sacks (28) and pressures (146) for his position since 2021. With J.J. Watt retiring, adding Anderson as a rookie should be considered a very acceptable trade-off.

Atlanta Falcons: Dynamic offensive corps

The Falcons have hit on some draft picks over the past two seasons between Drake London, Kyle Pitts and a hidden gem in fifth-round pick Tyler Allgeier. While Pitts’ season was abruptly ended by injury, he still ranked among the top 10 at his position in key receiving categories, such as yards per reception (12.7), yards per route run (1.69), and receiving grade (76.6). 

London finished with the second-highest receiving grade among rookie wide receivers (85.3), showing off great hands with a low 2.7% drop rate — also, second-best among rookie wide receivers. 

Allgeier led all rookie running backs in rushing grade (88.0), rushing yards (1,035) and yards after contact (752), making him an efficient offensive option while allowing the team to focus on addressing more important needs this offseason.

Carolina Panthers: Top-tier offensive tackle duo

The Panthers are going to be searching for their quarterback of the future, and the ability to protect said quarterback will be paramount in ensuring their success. Thanks to Taylor Moton and rookie Ikem Ekwonu, those key insurances are already in place. Moton finished top 10 at his position in pass-blocking grade (82.0), allowing just three sacks on 531 pass-blocking snaps. Ekwonu’s rookie season had its ups and downs but ultimately was strong enough to allow for the Panthers to boast a top-10 tackle unit in combined pass-blocking grade (76.7), sacks allowed (nine), pressure rate allowed (9.2%), and knockdown rate (sacks plus QB hits) allowed (2.1%).

Chicago Bears: A haul to be had


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