As a part of our partnership with ESPN, this story was originally published on ESPN+ and can be viewed in its entirety here with your ESPN+ subscription — 2020 NFL roster rankings for all 32 teams: Ravens are first, and Jaguars are last
Rosters can turn over quickly in the NFL. Just three seasons ago, the Jacksonville Jaguars played in the AFC Championship Game, and now they're one of the favorites to land the top quarterback in next year's NFL draft.
With the 2020 draft and free agency behind us, we're breaking down each team's roster using the PFF database with an eye toward the projected starters. Using both the PFF grades from the 2019 season — a number that is included for every projected starter — and a more comprehensive look at each player's career using both PFF grades and statistics, here's how the 32 rosters stack up heading into next season.
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Biggest strength: The Ravens' rushing attack was so good in 2019 that they were the most efficient offense in the NFL according to expected points added (EPA) per play while running the ball at a higher rate than any other offense. In the modern NFL, that just isn't supposed to happen. Lamar Jackson‘s unique skill set as both a runner and passer is what makes that possible. His 47 carries with 5 or more yards before contact was eight more than any other runner in 2019, and his 42 missed tackles forced was over double the next-closest quarterback. Simply getting a hand on Jackson is easier said than done.
Biggest weakness: Despite how well the offensive line played in 2019, the interior offensive line stands out as one of the Ravens' biggest weaknesses heading into the 2020 season. Marshal Yanda‘s retirement after 13 consecutive seasons with a PFF grade of 80.0 or higher leaves a battle between unproven options at right guard. Meanwhile, Bradley Bozeman and Matt Skura hold tenuous claims to the left guard and center positions, respectively. Outside of Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr. at tackle, there are questions about this group this season.
X factor for 2020: Baltimore's addition of Calais Campbell is one of the biggest moves this offseason that has flown under the radar for some reason. He has picked up overall grades of 90.0 or higher in each of the past four seasons, dominating against the run and consistently bringing pressure at an above-average rate whether lined up on the inside or on the edge. Bringing one of the better defensive linemen in the NFL into the fold is only going to make what was a strong defense last season even better.
Biggest strength: The Drew Brees-to-Michael Thomas connection has been something else since Thomas was drafted in the second round in 2016. Brees has completed 80.3% of his targets to Thomas since then — over 5 percentage points higher than any other quarterback/wide receiver duo with at least 150 targets over that span. The fact that their 513 targets over that span falls second to only Matt Ryan and Julio Jones makes the efficiency even more impressive, as Ryan has completed only 65.3% of his targets to Jones.
Biggest weakness: It might come as a surprise given that he just re-upped on a contract with a total value of $57.5 million, but Andrus Peat has graded out as one of the worst starting guards in the NFL at PFF over the past few seasons. In fact, Peat comes in at 41st out of 41 qualifying left guards in overall PFF grade since 2018 (41.9). The Saints have one of the best offensive lines in the league, but Peat is a clear weak link at left guard.
X factor for 2020: The receiving load that Thomas shouldered for New Orleans this past season was unlike any other top option across the NFL. The addition of Emmanuel Sanders — who sparked the 49ers' passing attack just a season ago — gives Brees another proven veteran option to turn to at wide receiver. Sanders has some of the best hands in the NFL, dropping just one of his 96 targets last season, and it's hard to imagine he won't make a very good passing offense even better.
Biggest strength: Despite the 49ers trading away DeForest Buckner this offseason, there is a chance that their four-man pass rush could be even better in 2020. They used the 13th overall pick they received in the Buckner trade to select Javon Kinlaw (PFF's top interior pass-rusher in the 2020 draft), and more important, they should be getting a healthy Dee Ford back after offseason surgery. Ford's 77 quarterback pressures in 2018 were more than any other edge defender.
Biggest weakness: San Francisco has one of the top rosters in the NFL. It's hard to find many holes in it, but one place where it could have looked to improve this offseason was at cornerback. Richard Sherman was excellent during the 2019 season — earning a 90.5 coverage grade — but he turned 32 in March. Emmanuel Moseley likely will get the nod at the other outside spot, and while he played reasonably well in his opportunity last season as the starter (68.0 coverage grade), he's also a 2018 undrafted free agent without a ton of starting experience.
X factor for 2020: It's not often that a team can go directly from a player like Joe Staley to a Hall of Fame-caliber talent like Trent Williams at left tackle, but that's the case for the 49ers heading into next season. Williams sat out the entire 2019 season, but he earned eight consecutive grades of 75.0 or higher from 2011 through 2018, finishing six of those seasons above the 80.0 threshold. It bears seeing how his recent injuries and time away from the field will affect his play, but the move to acquire him allows the 49ers to maintain one of the best starting tackle duos in the NFL.
Biggest strength: The Chiefs have the best quarterback in the NFL, and I don't think there are many people out there arguing that point. It's the out-of-structure plays that capture the headlines for Patrick Mahomes. He is, of course, very good at those, as his 24 big-time throws (eight more than any other quarterback) outside the pocket since 2018 will attest, but he also does the little things well. From manipulating defenders with his eyes to making the right reads from a clean pocket, there isn't much to nitpick with his game. That makes the Chiefs one of the favorites to defend their Super Bowl title in 2020.
Biggest weakness: Kansas City did just win the Super Bowl with this cast of cornerbacks (plus Kendall Fuller, who left for Washington in free agency), but that doesn't make it any more of a strength. Bashaud Breeland did a decent job of limiting production with just 29 receptions allowed on the season, but his coverage grade of 51.3 indicates that it came with a fair amount of luck. The reception total also doesn't consider his 12 penalties on the season — tied for most at the cornerback position. A potential suspension following an offseason arrest for Breeland makes that starting spot even shakier.
X factor for 2020: The linebacking corps has been a problem for the Chiefs, but 2020 second-round pick Willie Gay Jr. adds an immediate dose of athleticism and coverage ability to the unit. Beside blowing the athletic testing out of the water at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Gay has shown instincts in coverage in his limited action at Mississippi State; his 93.9 coverage grade on 294 career coverage snaps in college speaks to that. He could provide a nice spark to the defense as a rookie.
Biggest strength: Chris Godwin finished the 2019 season with a 90.7 PFF grade that ranked first among qualifying wide receivers, and Mike Evans wasn't far behind, with a mark of 85.7 that tied for sixth. They were the only wide receiver duo in the NFL with both players ranked among the top 10 at the position in terms of PFF overall grade. After wallowing through a season with well-below-average receiving options in New England, quarterback Tom Brady will be spoiled for choices in Tampa Bay.
Biggest weakness: The Buccaneers have plenty of young, intriguing options at safety, but no one player is guaranteed a starting job heading into the 2020 season. Rookie Antoine Winfield Jr. probably has the best claim on a starting job thanks to the instincts and playmaking ability he put on display at Minnesota, but guys such as Andrew Adams, Jordan Whitehead, Mike Edwards and Justin Evans, while young, have yet to flash high-end play. There isn't a safety on the Buccaneers' roster who has recorded a PFF grade of 70.0 in a single season.
X factor for 2020: Several months ago, Rob Gronkowski won a WWE title. A year and a half ago, he was making a pivotal catch to put the Patriots in striking range for the only touchdown of Super Bowl LIII. Although the tight end wasn't quite the same dominant force in 2018 as he was in the eight seasons prior, Gronkowski still put up seven consecutive seasons with a 90.0-plus overall grade from 2011-17. Gronk is one of the most dominant players ever to play the position, and what he looks like in his return to the NFL will be one of the biggest storylines of the season.
Biggest strength: Not too many quarterbacks have it better than Dak Prescott. The trio of wide receivers that Dallas plans to run out on the field in 2020 is arguably the best three-deep group in the NFL. Among the 104 wide receivers to run at least 250 routes in 2019, both Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup finished in the top 10 in receiving yards per route run. And now the Cowboys have the FBS leader in yards per route run last season — CeeDee Lamb — after selecting him in the first round of the draft.
Biggest weakness: Losing cornerback Byron Jones is going to hurt the Cowboys' secondary. Rookie Trevon Diggs is a player PFF liked coming out of Alabama — someone who projects well in a press-heavy, zone scheme — but you can't expect him to replace a top-10 cornerback such as Jones as a rookie. The cornerback depth becomes even thinner if Chidobe Awuzie transitions to safety as some chatter this offseason has suggested.
X factor for 2020: A neck injury took a large portion of last season from linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, but even when he was healthy, his play wasn't at the same level as it was during his rookie season. A decline in play against the run was a major culprit. Vander Esch's run-defense grade fell from 81.3 as a rookie to 43.2 in 2019, and he missed nearly as many tackles in 2019 (12) as he did in 2018 (13) on fewer than half of the opportunities. Following Vander Esch's offseason surgery, the Cowboys will be hoping the player who looked like one of the NFL's best linebackers as a rookie returns to the field.
Biggest strength: When the Bills traded for Stefon Diggs this offseason, they acquired a true primary option for Josh Allen in the passing game. Diggs led the league in receiving yards on passes 20 or more yards downfield in 2019, something that should terrify opposing defenses with John Brown already on the other side of the field. Buffalo now has a great wide receiver trio with Diggs, Brown and Cole Beasley.
Biggest weakness: It's not a popular sentiment in the city of Buffalo, but this is a very good roster that probably will be limited by shaky quarterback play. Even if you want to discount the PFF grades or advanced accuracy metrics, Allen finished the 2019 season with a 58.8% completion percentage that was lower than each of the 32 quarterbacks with the most regular-season attempts. He had bottom-10 marks in yards per attempt and passer rating as well. There just aren't many numbers — other than quarterback wins, of course — that point to Allen developing into an above-average quarterback.
X factor for 2020: In Washington, Josh Norman never quite lived up to his 2015 season with the Panthers, but he remained a solid starter from 2016 through 2018, earning PFF coverage grades north of 69.0 in each of those seasons. That changed last season as his coverage grade plummeted to 43.4 and his passer rating allowed spiked to 133.3. With Norman the presumed starter at cornerback opposite Tre'Davious White, Buffalo's secondary will be counting on a bounce-back season.
Biggest strength: Regardless of what you think about the value he provides, it's hard not to be impressed with how Derrick Henry runs the football. He was the only running back in the NFL with over 100 carries to average more than 4 yards after contact per rush, and since 2018 his 89.3 rushing grade is below only Nick Chubb at the position. Returning the NFL's third-highest-graded run-blocking offensive line in 2019 minus Jack Conklin, the Titans should once again have one of the better running games in the NFL.
Biggest weakness: The only team that had a lower team pressure rate than the Titans in 2019 (28.8%) was the Miami Dolphins. Bringing in Vic Beasley Jr. — a player whose 8.9% pressure rate ranks 33rd among 34 edge defenders with 1,000 or more pass-rushing snaps since 2017 — isn't going to solve that problem. Tennessee will need big jumps from Harold Landry III and Jeffery Simmons to field a significantly improved pass rush.
X factor for 2020: Ryan Tannehill was the X factor for this team in 2019, and the Titans' success in 2020 will ride once again on his performance — regardless of how Henry plays. It wasn't until Tannehill took over in Week 7 that this offense took off. In Weeks 1-6, the Titans ranked 26th in expected points per play on offense. With PFF's third-highest-graded quarterback in 2019 at the helm, they ended the rest of the season ranked second behind the Ravens.
Biggest strength: The Eagles are one of the strongest teams in the NFL in the trenches. As a team, they finished the season with PFF's highest-graded offensive line, and their defensive line ranked fourth behind only the Steelers, 49ers and Rams. The defensive line is a group that should continue to improve with the additions of Javon Hargrave and a healthy Malik Jackson.
Biggest weakness: Linebacker is still a question mark for Philadelphia. Nathan Gerry figures to be atop the depth chart after more than 600 snaps of average play in 2019, but there's much less clarity behind him. Can T.J. Edwards break out after earning an 83.4 overall grade on just over 100 snaps last season? Will Jatavis Brown win a starting job after shaky play led to his role getting significantly reduced in 2019 with the Chargers? Rookie Davion Taylor will have a chance at playing time early, too. It's a group that still doesn't have much definition on what should be an improved defense overall.
X factor for 2020: Darius Slay‘s PFF grade in 2019 doesn't represent the kind of player that he has been throughout his career. The first thing to note is that he played a difficult role in Detroit, consistently shadowing the opposing team's best receiver in man coverage. Despite that, Slay came in as the fourth-most valuable cornerback in the NFL in 2014-18 per PFF WAR (wins above replacement), and his 74 forced incompletions over that stretch were the most in the NFL. Expect him to bounce back and give a big boost to that secondary.
Biggest strength: The Steelers had the NFL's highest-graded pass rush last season, and it was a well-rounded pass rush. T.J. Watt was the highest-graded edge defender in the league (91.3 overall). Cameron Heyward was the second-highest-graded interior defender in the NFL behind only Aaron Donald. Bud Dupree put together a career year off the edge, earning a franchise tag for the 2020 season. The Steelers might have lost Javon Hargrave, but the return of Stephon Tuitt — who was off to a terrific start last season before going down with an injury in Week 6 — should ensure this remains one of the league's most dangerous rushes.
Biggest weakness: The additions of Steven Nelson and Minkah Fitzpatrick last year gave the Pittsburgh secondary a boost, but safety Terrell Edmunds still sticks out as the weak link among the starters. His 58.3 coverage grade in 2019 was actually lower than what he put up as a rookie (65.2 coverage grade in 2018). There just haven't been many signs of growth to this point. At only 23, Edmunds will get another chance to show that growth this season, but his time might be running out with guys such as Cameron Sutton — who has flashed high-level play when on the field — and rookie sixth-round pick Antoine Brooks Jr. competing for snaps in the secondary.
X factor for 2020: The Diontae Johnson hype train is leaving the station, and PFF is on board. Johnson was one of the best separators in college football during his time at Toledo, and the wide receiver showed last season as a rookie that he is a hard man to bring down in the open field. Johnson's 18 forced missed tackles after the catch were tied with Deebo Samuel for the most in the NFL among wide receivers.
11. Cleveland Browns
Biggest strength: The offensive weapons surrounding quarterback Baker Mayfield are among the best in the NFL. Nick Chubb has a higher PFF rushing grade since 2018 than any other running back in the league, and while Odell Beckham Jr. wasn't his usual self in 2019, there is plenty of evidence to suggest he is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. From 2014 through 2018, his 92.2 receiving grade landed behind only Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, Michael Thomas and DeAndre Hopkins. Throw in Jarvis Landry, Austin Hooper, David Njoku and Kareem Hunt, and you have a Browns offense rich in talent.
Biggest weakness: The linebacker spot, particularly after losing Joe Schobert in free agency, has to be a concern for the Browns. Mack Wilson recorded run-defense and coverage grades lower than 45.0 as a rookie last season, and the next guy on the depth chart — B.J. Goodson — has never graded above 65.0 in coverage and has just one season with 500 defensive snaps played. The Browns might have to alternate through players this season looking for a solution.
X factor for 2020: Mayfield's transition from three elite seasons as a starter at Oklahoma and one of the better rookie performances we've ever seen from a quarterback at PFF to complete disappointment last season was unexpected. Mayfield's PFF grade of 83.2 as a rookie in 2018 was better than every first-year quarterback except Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott over the past decade. That number fell to 73.5 in 2019 (18th out of 32 qualifying quarterbacks). New coach Kevin Stefanski's offense and the additions of tackles Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills Jr. should help right the ship situationally for Mayfield in 2020, but there are also accuracy and pocket presence issues that fall on him to figure out.
Biggest strength: Davante Adams is one of the best route runners in the NFL. His 90.3 receiving grade since 2017 ranks eighth among the 66 wide receivers who have run 1,000 or more routes over those three seasons, and no one has been able to match his production once things tighten up in the red zone. Adams' 23 receiving touchdowns from inside the red zone since 2017 are more than any other player.
Biggest weakness: The Packers are counting on Christian Kirksey to replace what Blake Martinez gave to their defense at linebacker, and that looks like a risky proposition. Not only has Kirksey been hampered by injuries in recent seasons, playing under 600 snaps since the start of the 2018 season, but he has been a liability in coverage stretching back even further. Kirksey hasn't recorded a PFF coverage grade above 60.0 since he did so all the way back in 2015 with the Browns.
X factor for 2020: With the only offseason move at wide receiver being the addition of Devin Funchess, the Packers will need big things from a young, largely unproven player such as Allen Lazard. He seems to have found himself in the good graces of quarterback Aaron Rodgers — a good place to be as a young receiver — and he did play well down the stretch in 2019, finishing with a 69.6 overall grade for the season. It will be on the former undrafted free agent out of Iowa State to silence the critics who were calling for Green Bay to add more at wide receiver.
Biggest strength: An offensive line that was heavily scrutinized for the beating quarterback Andrew Luck took for much of his career has become arguably the Colts' biggest strength. Quenton Nelson — the NFL's highest-graded guard since being drafted by Indianapolis in 2018 — has quickly become the leader of the group, but the Colts have gotten strong play across the entirety of their line. Their offensive line ranked second as a unit in PFF grade to only the Eagles in 2019.
Biggest weakness: Xavier Rhodes is penciled in to start outside at cornerback for the Colts in 2020, and if his recent career trajectory is anything to go by, that isn't a good thing. After a career-worst 55.1 grade in coverage in 2018, Rhodes allowed 84% of the passes into his coverage to be completed last season. His 45.3 coverage grade ranked 99th out of 105 cornerbacks with 250 or more coverage snaps. He has a long road to get back to being even an average starting option at the position.
X factor for 2020: Parris Campbell was hit with just about everything the universe could throw at him as a rookie last season, battling hamstring, sports hernia and broken hand/foot injuries throughout the year. Now healthy heading into Year 2, Campbell will get the chance to show why Indianapolis took the wide receiver in the second round in the 2019 draft. If nothing else, he'll bring an added element of speed to that offense — something he showcased with 10.1 yards after the catch per reception in his final two seasons with the Buckeyes.
14. Denver Broncos
Biggest strength: The 2020 draft was all about getting quarterback Drew Lock some more weapons. And now, those offensive weapons stick out as one of the strengths of the team. Courtland Sutton corralled the drop issues that plagued him as a rookie and ended the 2019 season as PFF's 10th-highest-graded wide receiver, and Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler should give him plenty of support early in their NFL careers. Jeudy, in particular, was the top wide receiver on PFF's big board this offseason, capable of creating separation better than any other route runner at the college level. His addition gives the Broncos two No. 1 wide receivers.
Biggest weakness: The Broncos have some nice pieces in place in the secondary with Kareem Jackson, Justin Simmons and Bryce Callahan. The cornerback position is still somewhat in the air, however. A.J. Bouye had a borderline elite run from 2016 to 2018, but things fell back down to earth with a 55.4 coverage grade in a season that saw the Jaguars trade away Jalen Ramsey. The other outside spot — assuming Callahan stays in the slot — looks to be an open competition, with third-round rookie Michael Ojemudia standing out as the favorite. In any case, it's hard to feel secure at the position heading into 2020.
X factor for 2020: This team will go as far as Lock takes it this season. The Broncos have put him in position to succeed with a talented offensive cast around him, but some of the Lock hype this offseason has gotten a bit out of hand. He had a couple of strong showings, but his 57.6 overall grade over the final five weeks of the season ranked 28th among 32 qualifying quarterbacks. At this point, it's too early to say what he'll look like in his second season, making him a true X factor on what is otherwise a talented roster.
15. Seattle Seahawks
Biggest strength: Behind Patrick Mahomes, there is no quarterback who has played at a higher level than Russell Wilson over the past several seasons. PFF charts two categories of throws — big-time throws and turnover-worthy plays — that capture the extreme highs and lows of quarterback play. Wilson is the only quarterback since 2018 to finish in the top five of both categories. He throws one of the prettiest deep balls in the NFL, consistently dropping well-placed over-the-shoulder passes, and there are few quarterbacks better at making something out of nothing on extended plays. Wilson gives Seattle a chance in every game.
Biggest weakness: A shaky offensive line isn't anything new in Seattle. Since entering the NFL, Wilson is the only qualifying NFL quarterback to be pressured on over 40% of his dropbacks, and it looks as though he'll be on the run often again in 2020. The additions of players such as B.J. Finney, Damien Lewis and Brandon Shell could solidify things a bit, but none of them is a lock to be even average at his position next season. The moves certainly don't do enough to significantly improve the outlook for a team that allowed pressure in 2.5 seconds or less at the second-highest rate in the NFL last season.
X factor for 2020: Cornerback Quinton Dunbar‘s outlook is currently clouded by an upcoming trial stemming from armed robbery charges this offseason, but if he does make it to the field, he serves as a massive improvement across from Shaquill Griffin. Dunbar had a career year last season with the Redskins. His 87.6 PFF grade ranked second among qualifying cornerbacks in 2019 and sat nearly 40 points higher than the Seahawks' 2019 starter, Tre Flowers (49.5).
Biggest strength: On paper, this is one of the league's best secondaries. Casey Hayward Jr. and free-agent signing Chris Harris Jr. both made PFF's All-Decade Team, and neither is showing signs of slowing down. Derwin James is also one of the most talented safeties in the NFL, capable of filling multiple roles on defense and doing them all well. The interesting question is what they do with Desmond King II — PFF's highest-graded slot cornerback since 2017 — with Harris taking over inside.
Biggest weakness: The Chargers showed a whole lot of confidence in their in-house options on the left side of the offensive line by not addressing the deficiencies in either free agency or the 2020 draft. At this point, Sam Tevi and Trey Pipkins are probably the favorites to earn the left tackle job, but they finished 68th and 87th, respectively, in pressure rate allowed among 93 tackles with 100 or more pass-blocking snaps last season. Dan Feeney and Mike Pouncey — given recent play and injury risks — don't stick out as great options at left guard or center, either.
X factor for 2020: The expectations for Tyrod Taylor — the presumed starter at quarterback to begin the season — are understandably low. When we most recently saw him as a starter he was crashing and burning in Cleveland. Taylor did have several seasons of success under Chargers coach Anthony Lynn in Buffalo, though, and from 2015 through 2017, his PFF grade of 82.3 ranked ninth among qualifying quarterbacks. This roster is talented enough that the Chargers could have success if Taylor plays to that level again. The plug could also be pulled quickly if Los Angeles gets off to a rough start with Justin Herbert waiting in the wings.
Biggest strength: It's not hard to spot the strongest position on Minnesota's roster. The safety duo of Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris is comfortably one of the best tandems in the NFL. Over the past two seasons, Smith and Harris rank fourth and first, respectively, in PFF grade at the position. Their ability in coverage, coupled with a career year in coverage from linebacker Eric Kendricks, was able to mask some of the deficiencies Minnesota had at cornerback. They'll likely have to do the same thing again in 2020.
Biggest weakness: The Vikings did address the offensive line by selecting Ezra Cleveland in the second round of the 2020 draft, but it was really the interior pass protection that hamstrung the unit last season. That doesn't project to be significantly better in 2020. Garrett Bradbury (41.4 pass-blocking grade in 2019) will need to take a big step in his second season even to be average for the position in pass protection. Meanwhile, both guard spots are up in the air, including a potential move to guard for either Cleveland or Riley Reiff. There are still a lot of things to work out leading up to next season.
X factor for 2020: Minnesota underwent a wholesale change at cornerback this offseason, saying goodbye to starters Trae Waynes, Xavier Rhodes and Mackensie Alexander while selecting Jeff Gladney and Cameron Dantzler in the 2020 draft. Last season's starters struggled overall, but that is still a lot of turnover in one offseason. Gladney is the rookie to watch when it comes to making an impact early. He was tested heavily downfield in the Big 12, but he stood up to that test. Gladney's 47% completion percentage allowed ranked first among FBS cornerbacks with at least 1,000 coverage snaps from 2016 through 2019.
Biggest strength: No team was stingier in pass coverage than the Patriots last season. They allowed the lowest EPA per pass play in the league, and it wasn't particularly close. That shouldn't come as a surprise given the talent and depth New England boasts in its secondary — a group that returns nearly all of its key components in 2020. Stephon Gilmore, the most valuable player in that secondary, has recorded a higher PFF grade (92.2) and more forced incompletions (54) than any other cornerback in the NFL since joining the team in 2017.
Biggest weakness: If we weren't taking notice that the Patriots receiving corps struggled to create separation prior to Tom Brady's passionate sideline plea for faster, more aggressive play, the broadcast camera capturing that moment put the problem in the national spotlight. The only wide receiver or tight end on the Patriots' roster with a receiving grade of 70.0 or higher in 2019 was Julian Edelman (72.4), and even he was among the league leaders in drops (10). The Patriots will be hoping a healthy Mohamed Sanu and N'Keal Harry take big jumps in 2020.
X factor for 2020: Can this be anyone other than the man tasked with replacing the GOAT? Quarterback Jarrett Stidham took just 15 offensive snaps last regular season as a rookie, but he appears in line to take the reins for 2020. With Stidham's lack of NFL experience, we'll have to look at his college numbers to try to glean some insight into what the Patriots can expect. Stidham came out of the gates firing in 2015 as a freshman at Baylor, with a 91.5 PFF passing grade in limited action, but his grading profile in 2017-18 in Auburn's offense — which doesn't attack the intermediate range of the field with NFL throws — wasn't nearly as impressive. At this point, Stidham being an average NFL quarterback looks like an uphill battle.
19. Detroit Lions
Biggest strength: The Lions' receiving corps sticks out as one of the more underrated units in the NFL. Both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. are both downfield contested-catch threats, and both guys rank among the top 10 at the position in contested catches since 2017. Danny Amendola can also still win in the slot, as he showed last season with a 71.5 receiving grade. A second-year jump from T.J. Hockenson — a highly regarded tight end prospect out of Iowa — and additional contributions from D'Andre Swift (PFF's top receiving running back in the 2020 draft) would give quarterback Matthew Stafford even more to work with as he returns from injury.
Biggest weakness: Detroit didn't have much of a pass rush to speak of in 2019, despite bringing in Trey Flowers from New England last offseason. The Lions' 29.2% pressure rate as a team was higher than only the Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins. Julian Okwara should help in the long term, given his combination of ideal physical traits and college production at Notre Dame, but it's tough to count on rookie edge defenders to contribute early. The Lions could very well find themselves struggling to generate consistent pressure again in 2020.
X factor for 2020: Jeff Okudah was just about as clean a prospect as you're going to find coming out of college. From strong physical traits to outstanding production at Ohio State — not allowing a completion rate above 50% in any of his three seasons for the Buckeyes — it's hard to see a path where Okudah doesn't become a quality NFL cornerback. The question for Detroit becomes whether that happens immediately and just how well he can fill the hole in the secondary alongside Desmond Trufant. If he impresses early, this secondary could actually be better than it was in 2019, despite trading away Darius Slay.
20. Atlanta Falcons
Biggest strength: By many of PFF's metrics, Julio Jones is the best wide receiver in the NFL right now. Over the past five seasons, he ranks first in PFF receiving grade (95.2) among 109 wide receivers with 1,000 or more routes run, and he has dominated our receiving yards per route run metric. Jones' 2.91 yards per route run since 2015 are four-tenths of a yard higher than any other qualifier at the position. He should once again serve as Matt Ryan's go-to target — and arguably the best one in the NFL at that.
Biggest weakness: Falcons cornerbacks combined to allow 9.1 yards per target on throws into their coverage in 2019 — a number that was better than only the cornerback units for the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals. They spent a first-round pick on A.J. Terrell to help, but with the loss of Desmond Trufant, it's going to take big jumps from Isaiah Oliver (56.8 overall grade in 2019) and Kendall Sheffield (47.5 overall grade in 2019) to see significantly improved production next season.
X factor for 2020: Dante Fowler Jr. cashed in on his 11.5-sack season with the Rams in 2019 to the tune of a three-year, $48 million free-agent contract with Atlanta. While that sack total might overstate just how well he played on a defense where Aaron Donald regularly draws two to three blockers, it did stand as a career year for Fowler. His PFF pass-rushing grade has risen each season of his NFL career to 73.3 in 2019. That's a trend Atlanta will hope continues in 2020.
21. Chicago Bears
Biggest strength: With the return of Akiem Hicks from injury and the upgrade from Leonard Floyd to Robert Quinn at the edge defender spot opposite Khalil Mack, the Bears should have one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL. Even in a down year by his standards in 2019, Mack still earned an overall grade of 86.2. Dating to his second season in 2015, he has graded above 80.0 as both a run defender and pass-rusher in every season. That makes him the focus for offensive lines, but there aren't a whole lot of places to hide when facing Chicago.
Biggest weakness: Chicago finished the 2019 season ranked 25th in PFF's end-of-year offensive line rankings after a year that saw it allow pressure in 2.37 seconds on average — 29th in the NFL ahead of only the Dolphins, Chargers and Falcons. Offseason acquisition Germain Ifedi is projected to move from tackle to guard in the starting lineup, but he has yet to crack an overall grade of 60.0 across four years as first the starting right guard and then the right tackle for the Seattle Seahawks.
X factor for 2020: If Nick Foles can win the starting job at quarterback — as he is projected to here — can he provide a significant upgrade over what Chicago has received from Mitchell Trubisky over the past several seasons? Foles has had flashes of brilliance, namely back-to-back elite performances to close out the 2017 postseason, but he has also had his fair share of lows outside of Philadelphia. All in all, it comes out to a 74.8 passing grade over the past three seasons on over 600 dropbacks, 10 points higher than Trubisky's mark of 64.6.
22. Los Angeles Rams
Biggest strength: In a shocker, the best player in the NFL is the biggest strength on this roster. Aaron Donald has broken the scale for interior defenders over the course of his career. He has 60 more pressures than any other defender over the past three years, and he has done that on the inside while being double- and triple-teamed more than any other defensive lineman in the league. As long as the Rams have him in the middle, their pass rush is in good shape.
Biggest weakness: The Rams lack experience at linebacker in a major way. Micah Kiser and Travin Howard are listed as the starters here, but the two have combined for just 103 defensive snaps in the NFL and both were drafted in the fifth round or later in the 2018 draft. There are other options — including Troy Reeder and Kenny Young — but none of those guys gets you excited. It will have to be a committee approach to replace the production that Cory Littleton gave the defense, particularly in coverage.
X factor for 2020: The Rams' offensive line went from a strength in 2018 to one of the lowest-graded units in the NFL this past season. Yes, there were injuries that played a role, but Rob Havenstein‘s play fell off a cliff (50.9 overall grade in 2019) and the losses of starters Rodger Saffold and John Sullivan played a big role too. With how reliant quarterback Jared Goff has been on being able to operate from a clean pocket early in his career, they'll need major improvements from the group up front if they hope to compete in a competitive NFC West.
23. Houston Texans
Biggest strength: This has been Deshaun Watson‘s team for several years, and it will fall on his shoulders now more than ever to carry this team to the postseason after the loss of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. No quarterback was more “clutch” than Watson last season. In the fourth quarter and overtime of one-score games, he put up a stat line of 66-of-88 passing for 909 yards, eight touchdowns and just one interception.
Biggest weakness: As things stand right now, the Texans' pass rush is a one-man show. Following J.J. Watt‘s injury, Houston ranked just 30th in the NFL in team pass-rushing grade from Weeks 9 to 17. It's probably safe to say the additions of rookies Ross Blacklock and Jonathan Greenard aren't enough to offset the loss of D.J. Reader (75.4 pass-rushing grade in 2019) when it comes to the supporting cast for Watt in 2020.
X factor for 2020: Injuries have limited what Will Fuller V has been able to show through the first four seasons of his NFL career, but the results with him on the field have been noteworthy for the Texans. His 114.7 passer rating when targeted over the past three seasons ranks seventh among 102 wide receivers with at least 100 targets over that span. If he can stay healthy, Fuller has a chance to become Watson's new go-to target next season.
Biggest strength: It's hard to overstate how huge the addition of DeAndre Hopkins is to this offseason. With Larry Fitzgerald living primarily as a possession and slot receiver at this stage of his career, quarterback Kyler Murray needed a true primary threat in the passing game — and Hopkins is one of the best in the business. By PFF's WAR metric, Hopkins was one of the five most-valuable non-quarterbacks in the NFL last season, and he has some of the best hands in the league. Murray and Hopkins should waste no time building a dangerous connection.
Biggest weakness: The pass-rushing options on this team outside of Chandler Jones leave a lot to be desired. Jones' 90.5 pass-rushing grade since joining the Cardinals in 2016 ranks 10th among all edge defenders, but Devon Kennard — the projected edge defender on the other side — hasn't earned a pass-rushing grade above 60.0 since 2014. Jordan Phillips (despite what the sack numbers last season might suggest), Corey Peters and Zach Allen can't be relied on for much pass-rushing push, either.
X factor for 2020: What position does rookie first-round pick Isaiah Simmons play? That was the question that dominated the pre-draft process. The truth is, he's so versatile and so multitalented that it's not hard to overthink things. Last season at Clemson, Simmons earned grades in run defense, pass rushing, coverage and tackling above 80.0 while playing a wide range of positions on defense. Whether it's at linebacker, safety, the slot, edge or, ideally, a combination of each, Simmons should make Arizona's defense better.
Biggest strength: Darren Waller came out of nowhere last season. Waller ended the 2019 season ranked fifth in overall PFF grade at the tight end position behind only George Kittle, Mark Andrews, Travis Kelce and Tyler Higbee. His 29 receptions of 15 or more yards, however, were fewer than only Kelce. Waller quickly became quarterback Derek Carr‘s top target and one of the premier receiving threats at the position; expect him to remain in that conversation in 2020.
Biggest weakness: Given the limited offseason, Lamarcus Joyner will probably retain his starting job in the slot, but that is not his best fit on the Raiders' defense. Joyner enjoyed nothing but success when lined up at free safety with the Rams, and a move to the slot in 2019 came with a career-low 42.8 grade in coverage. It wouldn't be a surprise to see someone else in that role at some point next season.
X factor for 2020: Since PFF began charting college football in 2014, Maurice Hurst remains the highest-graded interior defender from an FBS school. He was dominant at Michigan. Obviously, health concerns caused him to slip in the 2018 draft, and Hurst hasn't exploded onto the scene yet in the NFL. The signs are there for a breakout in 2020, though. His 83.1 pass-rushing grade from Week 9 through the end of the 2019 regular season ranked fourth among interior defenders behind Aaron Donald, Kenny Clark and Chris Jones.
Biggest strength: You could argue that the Bengals' defensive line was one of the team's strengths last season — then they went and added D.J. Reader in free agency. Reader's 85.5 PFF grade in 2019 ranked eighth among interior defenders with at least 250 defensive snaps. He was always a good run defender, but Reader showed promising development as a pass-rusher with a career-high 35 pressures last season. Adding Reader to Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins, Sam Hubbard and Carl Lawson gives Cincinnati a strong group up front.
Biggest weakness: The offensive line remains a major question mark. The team added free agent Xavier Su'a-Filo and sixth-rounder Hakeem Adeniji to one of the worst units in the NFL. The return of 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams at tackle should help — he missed all of his rookie season with a shoulder injury — but Su'a-Filo and Trey Hopkins were average at best in 2019, while fellow projected starters Michael Jordan and Bobby Hart put up well-below-average performances per PFF grade. Quarterback Joe Burrow could be navigating folding pockets often as a rookie.
X factor for 2020: William Jackson‘s career has trended in the wrong direction since he came out of the gates spectacularly as a redshirt rookie in 2017. Jackson had a 90.4 coverage grade that season — allowing just 15 of 43 passes into his coverage to be completed — but that coverage grade has fallen to 72.9 in 2018 and just 55.2 this past season. The Bengals need him to recapture the play that made him a true shutdown cornerback for the defense to reach its potential in 2020.
27. New York Giants
Biggest strength: Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill all finished with well above average run-defense grades at the interior defender position. If you move back to the linebacker position, David Mayo — the potential starter alongside Blake Martinez — ended the 2019 season with a PFF run-defense grade of 90.1. Teams are going to have trouble running up the middle against the Giants.
Biggest weakness: Kyler Fackrell replaces Markus Golden in the lineup this season, but his career high in pressures is just 27 in 2017. Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter figure to compete for the other starting edge defender job. In their three combined seasons, the highest PFF pass-rushing grade between them is 62.3. With a run-first defensive line, New York projects to have one of the worst pass rushes in the NFL.
X factor for 2020: The high-end level of play from quarterback Daniel Jones is what has drawn people in, and it does provide reason for cautious optimism. His carelessness with the football last season has to be acknowledged, though. Jones' 31 turnover-worthy plays — plays that should have resulted in turnovers whether they actually did or not — ranked as the fourth most in the NFL. Jones' imperviousness to pressure produces some spectacular plays, but it also leads to those unnecessary sacks and mistakes. The Giants' 2020 season will largely rest on whether the second-year quarterback can improve in that area.
28. New York Jets
Biggest strength: There is a new wave of defenders coursing through the NFL — the multitalented, do-it-all player who can line up all over the field. Jamal Adams is one of the best examples of that archetype in the league. In each of the past two seasons, he has PFF grades of 78.0 as a run defender, pass-rusher, tackler and coverage defender. You can make the argument he is even the Jets' best edge defender. Adams' 41 quarterback pressures since 2018 are nearly 20 more than any other safety in the NFL. Getting him under contract long term should be priority No. 1 for New York.
Biggest weakness: If you want to group together Adams and Marcus Maye as one of the bigger strengths on this roster, you don't have to travel far to get to one of the biggest weaknesses. The outside cornerback situation for the Jets is shaky at best. Pierre Desir became the elder statesman of the group with two years of starting experience under his belt, but his 2019 season with the Indianapolis Colts did not go nearly as well as his 2018 campaign — the only season of his career in which he earned a PFF grade north of 70.0. At the other outside spot, there is no clear option. Blessuan Austin likely has the edge after several strong outings as a sixth-round rookie last season.
X factor for 2020: The Jets dumped resources into the offensive line to improve the protection for Sam Darnold and the running room for Le'Veon Bell heading into the 2020 season, but there is still a wide range of outcomes for the group. Rookie offensive tackles, such as Mekhi Becton, rarely step in as immediate, high-level contributors. Projected starters on the interior — Connor McGovern and Greg Van Roten — are coming off solid 2019 seasons but don't have an extensive track record of above-average play. The offensive line has a better outlook than last season, but it's still a group that has a lot to prove.
Biggest strength: This Panthers roster certainly has holes, but the receiving talent for first-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is not one of them. DJ Moore is on the verge of becoming a star in the NFL after ranking 11th in PFF grade last season despite dealing with a revolving door of poor play at quarterback. Meanwhile, Robby Anderson and Curtis Samuel both have the tools to be dynamic deep threats — they just haven't had a quarterback who has been able to hit them deep downfield consistently. Christian McCaffrey, the best receiving running back in the NFL, rounds out the group.
Biggest weakness: The loss of linebacker Luke Kuechly is going to be felt on this defense. Shaq Thompson will keep some stability in the group, having earned PFF grades between 63.6 and 78.6 in each of his five years on the team, but Tahir Whitehead is a guy who has been picked on in coverage the past few seasons. Since 2018, Whitehead has been charged with allowing 14 touchdowns on throws into his coverage (six more than any other linebacker). No one can truly replace what Kuechly brought, but the step down to Whitehead will be jarring.
X factor for 2020: It's not a stretch to expect a big second-year jump from Brian Burns. Through the first four weeks of the 2019 season, his 16% pressure rate ranked 15th among the 87 edge defenders who had played 50 or more pass-rushing snaps, but injuries ultimately limited both his playing time and production as the season progressed. With a full offseason to get healthy and improve, we could be talking about Burns as someone who opened a lot of eyes at this time next season.
30. Miami Dolphins
Biggest strength: The Dolphins have two of the three highest-paid cornerbacks in the NFL. If that weren't the strength of their team, they would be in trouble. Byron Jones might not have many interceptions, but his 83.3 coverage grade since moving to cornerback in 2018 is a top-10 mark at the position. Meanwhile, Xavien Howard‘s 71.9 passer rating allowed into his coverage from 2016 to 2018 ranked 11th among 106 cornerbacks to be targeted at least 100 times. Adding a talent such as Noah Igbinoghene to the group only strengthens it.
Biggest weakness: Miami's offensive line might be improved over last season, but that's not saying much. The unit allowed pressure in 2.5 seconds or less on 33% of its 2019 dropbacks, 5 percentage points higher than any other team. The group's run-blocking grade was the worst in the NFL as well. Adding two rookies who look to be projects and two starters on the interior with just one starting season of average play apiece at their position isn't going to completely wipe away those problems.
X factor for 2020: Preston Williams was the Dolphins' leading receiver before going down with an injury in Week 9 — more receptions and receiving yards than DeVante Parker. Williams' 10 contested catches over those nine weeks were a top-10 mark in the NFL. If he can build on his rookie season and Parker continues at the pace he set toward the end of the 2019 season, Miami's receiver room could be in decent shape.
Biggest strength: Terry McLaurin was a revelation as a rookie last season for the Redskins. His 86.5 receiving grade in 2019 was the best from any rookie wide receiver not named Odell Beckham Jr. in the past decade. You can poke holes at nearly every position on the Redskins' roster, but WR1 is not one of them.
Biggest weakness: As a good as McLaurin's prospects look, the rest of this receiving corps for quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. is rough. Haskins' secondary options in the passing game project to be — in no particular order — guys such as Steven Sims, Kelvin Harmon, Trey Quinn, fourth-rounder Antonio Gandy-Golden, Cody Latimer (if he remains on the team after his arrest) and some combination of Jeremy Sprinkle, Richard Rodgers, Hale Hentges or Logan Thomas at tight end. The only member of that group to ever record a receiving grade north of 70.0 or more than 35 receptions in a season was Rodgers all the way back in 2015.
X factor for 2020: Reuben Foster earned an 81.2 overall grade as a rookie for the San Francisco 49ers, a number that ranked ninth at the linebacker position. Then came multiple arrests that led to his release from the 49ers midway through the 2018 season and a major knee injury that included nerve damage and sidelined him for all the 2019 season. Reportedly, Foster is expected to be on track to play this season if medically cleared. As we saw back in 2017, he could provide a spark to a wide-open linebacker group if he can stay on the field.
Biggest strength: The Jaguars' biggest strength comes with a major asterisk. Josh Allen and Yannick Ngakoue, supplemented by K'Lavon Chaisson in a rotational capacity, would represent one of the best pass-rushing groups off the edge in the NFL. The problem is that the trio doesn't seem likely to ever see the field together considering how vocal Ngakoue has been about his future, or lack thereof, with the Jaguars. Even without Ngakoue, the Jaguars still have talent along the defensive line with recent first-round picks Allen, Chaisson and Taven Bryan paired with Davon Hamilton, who should step in immediately as a plus run defender.
Biggest weakness: At best, the cornerback situation is unsettled in Jacksonville, but that is what happens when you trade away two starters like Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. CJ Henderson has all the tools needed to be a high-level, man-coverage cornerback — as the tape from his sophomore season in 2018 shows — but he also will be a rookie coming off an inconsistent final season in college. Neither Tre Herndon (54.7 overall grade in 2019) nor Rashaan Melvin (55.4 overall grade in 2019) is an exciting option to line up across from Henderson, either.
X factor for 2020: It wasn't long ago that Myles Jack looked like a star in the making at linebacker for the Jaguars. Jack was an integral part of the loaded Jacksonville defense in 2017, and he was the second-highest-graded defender in the 2017 postseason behind only Aaron Donald. His career has been on a downward trend since that playoff run, though, with his overall PFF grade dropping from 79.2 in 2017 to 68.3 and then just 46.1 this past season. There is no reason that he and the newly signed Joe Schobert can't become one of the better linebacker tandems in the NFL, but it's going to require Jack turning things around in 2020.