Desmond Ridder drags Falcons down in ESPN power rankings

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Power rankings never make much sense to me, but they’re arbitrary on the NFL level, so it doesn’t really matter. Still, I have to bring this one up because the Falcons‘ placement doesn’t make much sense at all.

Power rankings should never be based on last year’s roster, but it should be taken into account. Atlanta finished 7-10 last year, landing the 8th overall pick, which would in turn make them 25th in a hypothetical power ranking. Even still, the Falcons were one of six clubs to finish at 7-10, so technically, they could’ve been as low as 19th.

However, personnel turnover and development must be taken into account when doing current power rankings. And by all accounts, the Falcons got better. Defensively, the front office added to all three levels, signing Jessie Bates III, Kaden Elliss, Calais Campbell, and Bud Dupree, among others.

Offensively, they return most of their starters while adding Bijan Robinson, Matthew Bergeron, and Jonnu Smith. The most notable difference is at quarterback, where Desmond Ridder will take over for Marcus Mariota, who was regarded as one of the worst signal callers in 2022.

It’s going to be a much more balanced offensive attack, and Ridder will be hard-pressed to be worse than Mariota as a passer. Still, the third-round pick is dragging the Flacons down in ESPN’s preseason power rankings, which had Atlanta as the 28th-ranked club.

Our power panel is a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities that evaluates how NFL teams stack up against each other, then ranks them from 1 to 32.

28. Atlanta Falcons

Post-draft ranking: 26

On the hot seat: QB Desmond Ridder

Ridder is entering his first full season as a starting NFL quarterback, and the Falcons have invested a lot around him, from three top-10 picks in receiver Drake London, tight end Kyle Pitts and offensive option Bijan Robinson to signing right guard Chris Lindstrom to the biggest contract for a guard in NFL history. If Ridder plays well, Atlanta might have one of the most intriguing offenses in the NFL. If he doesn’t, the Falcons will have questions at quarterback for another 12 months. — Michael Rothstein

I guess I understand because he hasn’t proven anything other than a less-than-stellar four-game sample size last year and one preseason drive this year. But in the same breath, it’s not going to take much to be better than Marcus Mariota, who led a worse roster to a 7-10 record. If the Falcons are picking in the top-five of next year’s draft, several things would have gone terribly wrong.

Photographer: Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire


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