- Matt Williamson, ESPN.com
One year ago, no one thought that the Minnesota Vikings could reach the playoffs. But with a fantastic draft class -- among other things -- they surprised and did just that. As it stands today, I see the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks as the top teams in the league and the NFC being much stronger than the AFC overall. In the AFC, the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots appear to be the class of the conference.
So who else could be eligible for this exercise? Obviously teams like the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons are also very strong and in my view, ineligible. The Kansas City Chiefs are a team that comes to mind; however, I just went into great detail recently about their offseason. Plus, Kansas City no longer has a second-round pick.
I am not betting my next mortgage payment that the teams listed below will end up in the playoffs, but don't be surprised if one or two can get there with a great draft class as a catalyst. Of course, there are an awful lot of really good football players who are unemployed right now and will find homes before the draft and leading up to the regular season. But keep an eye on how the teams below attack this draft.
They're listed in alphabetical order, so don't read anything into the order.
Matt Williamson looks at which teams are only a strong draft away from competing in their respective divisions. One franchise is the Chicago Bears, which would benefit from the addition of another linebacker.