NFL preseason Power Rankings 2023: How all 32 teams stack up - ESPN

UniqueThis 80 August 21, 2023
Aug 21, 2023, 06:30 AM ET

In a little more than two weeks, the 2023 NFL season will be here. The reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs open the season at home vs. the Detroit Lions on Thursday, Sept. 10.

Much has happened since we last polled our experts in the weeks after the 2023 NFL draft: The Washington Commanders were sold, DeAndre Hopkins signed with the Titans, running backs Ezekiel Elliott (Patriots) and Dalvin Cook (Jets) found new homes, and Josh Jacobs still has yet to report to Raiders camp.

Now that eyes are turning to the regular-season schedule, it makes us wonder. Who has the most at stake this season? Who is on the hot seat for each team in 2023?

In addition to our preseason Power Rankings, our 32 NFL Nation reporters identified one player, coach or executive who has much to prove in 2023 -- some players are trying to hold on to their starting spot, while a few coaches/general managers are looking to stay employed.

We did the same exercise in 2022, and out of the 32 names, 10 players are on different teams and four coaches have moved to different jobs. Who's on the list this year?

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.

Jump to a team:
NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF

1. Kansas City Chiefs

Post-draft ranking: 1

On the hot seat: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Edwards-Helaire is most likely in his final season with the Chiefs and could be playing for his career as well. He hasn't proved worthy of the first-round pick the Chiefs used on him in 2020 and has been passed on the depth chart by Isiah Pacheco, a 2022 seventh-round pick. The Chiefs declined the fifth-year option on Edwards-Helaire's contract, and he will need to play well in the opportunities he gets to earn a contract with another team for 2024. -- Adam Teicher

2. Philadelphia Eagles

Post-draft ranking: 3

On the hot seat: ST coach Michael Clay

Special teams was the weakest of Philadelphia's three units last season. There were a number of notable miscues, none bigger than an errant punt during Super Bowl LVII against the Chiefs that led to a pivotal 65-yard Kadarius Toney return in the fourth quarter. Clay reportedly received a contract extension this offseason, but his group needs to perform in order to ensure his job security moving forward. -- Tim McManus

3. Cincinnati Bengals

Post-draft ranking: 2

On the hot seat: OT Jackson Carman

In training camp, Carman has played at right tackle to see how he might fare at the spot, if not for this season then in 2024, when he could be a potential replacement for Jonah Williams. But instead, Carman struggled with consistency and was promptly moved to left tackle after his showing in the team's preseason opener against Green Bay. The 2021 second-round pick has struggled to win starting jobs in Cincinnati despite being positioned for success. If that trend continues into his third season, it doesn't bode well for his long-term outlook with the Bengals. -- Ben Baby

4. San Francisco 49ers

Post-draft ranking: 5

On the hot seat: DT Javon Kinlaw

Kinlaw's career to this point has been marred by a persistent knee issue that has limited him to 24 games and 1.5 sacks in his first three seasons since being drafted No. 14 overall in 2020. The Niners opted not to exercise Kinlaw's fifth-year option in May, which means he's in the final year of his rookie deal. Kinlaw has returned to camp in shape and impressed coaches. The Niners don't need him to be a star, but if he can carve out a role and produce, it would bode well for his future in San Francisco or elsewhere. -- Nick Wagoner

5. Buffalo Bills

Post-draft ranking: 4

On the hot seat: OT Spencer Brown

Brown, a 2021 third-round pick, worked to return from back surgery after his rookie season and as a result, missed some practice time leading up to the 2022 season. General manager Brandon Beane said he thought Brown improved as last season went on, but going into his third year, the Bills need Brown to be consistent and show improvement. The team has limited depth at offensive tackle, and Brown playing well this year will go a long way in how the team addresses the position in the future. -- Alaina Getzenberg

6. Miami Dolphins

Post-draft ranking: 6

On the hot seat: OT Austin Jackson

The Dolphins' starting right tackle suffered an ankle injury in Week 1 last season and never got going. He's back in 2023, albeit in the final year of his contract after Miami declined to exercise his fifth-year option. The team has brought in serious competition for the first time since drafting him No. 18 overall in 2020, signing tackles Isaiah Wynn and Cedric Ogbuehi. The job is still Jackson's to lose -- but if he loses it, his future with the Dolphins is in doubt. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

7. Dallas Cowboys

Post-draft ranking: 7

On the hot seat: Coach Mike McCarthy

This is nothing new, of course. McCarthy has not had much of a honeymoon, and even winning 24 games in the past two years has not earned him much grace. But now that he is taking over as the playcaller, he will be under even more scrutiny. If the numbers falter and the wins don't continue, then there will be heat on McCarthy even if the organization publicly backs him. -- Todd Archer

8. Baltimore Ravens

Post-draft ranking: 8

On the hot seat: WR Rashod Bateman

This season will determine whether the Ravens pick up Bateman's fifth-year option next offseason. The No. 27 overall pick in 2021 has struggled to stay on the field, missing a total of 16 games in his first two seasons. He has flashes where he looks like a No. 1 wide receiver, but he has produced only three career touchdowns. It's going to be more challenging for Bateman to get catches this season after Baltimore signed Odell Beckham Jr. and drafted Zay Flowers in the first round. -- Jamison Hensley

9. Los Angeles Chargers

Post-draft ranking: 9

On the hot seat: GM Tom Telesco, coach Brandon Staley

Entering his 11th season as general manager, Telesco has an outstanding record of first-round draft picks (including DE Joey Bosa, S Derwin James Jr., LT Rashawn Slater and QB Justin Herbert) but a less-than-stellar record on the field, where the Chargers have earned only three playoff berths. Staley is in his third season as coach and must lead this stacked roster to a playoff victory after his previous two seasons ended in painful disappointment, including a crushing 31-30 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in a 2022 wild-card playoff game despite holding a 27-0 lead with a minute left in the first half. If the Chargers don't produce in 2023, both Telesco and Staley are likely gone. -- Lindsey Thiry

10. Detroit Lions

Post-draft ranking: 13

On the hot seat: QB Jared Goff

Expectations are high in Detroit, and the Lions have reassured Goff that he is their guy. With that being said, it would be a disappointment if the Lions don't reach the postseason after narrowly missing the playoffs in 2022. The Lions finished the season with eight wins in their last 10 games, and Goff's strong play was a major factor -- but they'll need him to be consistent all season in his third year in Detroit. He'll have to produce if he hopes to lock down a long-term deal. Goff is signed through 2024, but the team also drafted Hendon Hooker in the third round of April's draft, so the future isn't so clear for him in Detroit. -- Eric Woodyard

11. Jacksonville Jaguars

Post-draft ranking: 10

On the hot seat: OLB Josh Allen

The No. 7 overall pick in 2019 is playing on his fifth-year option, and what he does this season will determine his future in Jacksonville. He has not been the dominating pass-rusher the team hoped for -- he had 10.5 sacks as a rookie but just 17 in 41 games since. He was among the league leaders in QB pressure percentage last season (15.3%, which ranked seventh) but had only seven sacks. A double-digit sack season would at least get Allen franchise-tagged and might lead to a potential long-term deal. -- Michael DiRocco

12. Seattle Seahawks

Post-draft ranking: 11

On the hot seat: S Jamal Adams

Adams will be in danger of being cut if 2023 is anything like either of his past two seasons. He was excellent in 2020 after Seattle acquired him in a blockbuster trade, recording a defensive back-record 9.5 sacks in 12 games en route to a Pro Bowl appearance. But he didn't have a sack in 2021 and then went down in last year's opener with a torn quad tendon, the latest in his long list of injuries. Whenever Adams returns (he's still on PUP), Seattle will use him extensively at linebacker in the hope of recapturing his 2020 form. If not, the dead money associated with moving on will drop from just under $24 million to a more palatable $14.2 million. -- Brady Henderson

13. New York Jets

Post-draft ranking: 12

On the hot seat: HC Robert Saleh/GM Joe Douglas

It's time to win. No excuses. After a blockbuster offseason highlighted by the trade for Aaron Rodgers, the Jets believe they have the goods to be a legitimate contender. Players are talking Super Bowl. So is the fan base. Saleh and Douglas have done some good things, but they don't have the results to back it up. Saleh is 11-23 in two seasons; Douglas is 20-46 in four. The Jets have gone 12 straight seasons without a playoff appearance, the longest active drought in the league and the longest in franchise history. Ownership wants results now. If the Jets fail to make the playoffs, it'll probably be an unlucky 13 for Saleh and Douglas. -- Rich Cimini

14. Pittsburgh Steelers

Post-draft ranking: 15

On the hot seat: OC Matt Canada

No surprise here, this is a make-or-break season for Canada and his offense. Entering the final year of his contract, Canada has all of the tools -- at least on paper -- to make his offense successful: a second-year quarterback, a wide receiver on the cusp of a breakout season and an overhauled offensive line. The temperature of Canada's seat will cool dramatically if the offense can pick up where it left off at the end of the 2022 season, when QB Kenny Pickett threw five touchdowns to one interception and confidently led back-to-back fourth-quarter game-winning drives. -- Brooke Pryor

15. Minnesota Vikings

Post-draft ranking: 14

On the hot seat: QB Kirk Cousins

Cousins is in a contract year for the fourth time in his career but the first since he signed with the Vikings in 2018. The Vikings decided against extending his current deal in March. There is no obvious heir on the roster, but at the very least, the 35-year-old Cousins will have to ward off any hints of a physical decline to secure a new deal. On the other hand, a huge season could propel him to a bigger payday in free agency next offseason. -- Kevin Seifert

16. New York Giants

Post-draft ranking: 17

On the hot seat: RB Saquon Barkley

We all know how Barkley's contract negotiation went ... not smoothly. He is playing on a one-year adjusted franchise tag, which means he could be back in the same spot next year with the Giants in control and the potential for another franchise tag. Barkley understands and thinks his best bet is to go out and have a monster individual season mixed with team success. His contract has incentives for 1,350 yards rushing, 11 touchdowns and 65 receptions combined with the team making the playoffs, which would basically be a career year. -- Jordan Raanan

17. New England Patriots

Post-draft ranking: 16

On the hot seat: QB Mac Jones

Jones' production dipped in 2022 -- and he missed three games with injury -- after an impressive rookie season, and this is his year to prove that the decline wasn't as much about him as the changes around him (e.g. Bill Belichick revamping the offense and assigning longtime defensive coach Matt Patricia to carry out his vision). The Patriots have to decide in May whether they will pick up Jones' fifth-year option for 2025, which further contributes to this being a pivotal year for him. -- Mike Reiss

18. Cleveland Browns

Post-draft ranking: 18

On the hot seat: Coach Kevin Stefanski

Stefanski won NFL Coach of the Year honors as a rookie head coach in 2020. But since, the Browns have struggled through back-to-back losing seasons -- though quarterback uncertainty has been the biggest culprit. Still, the pressure is firmly on Stefanski this season to finally produce a winning record again while proving he's the coach and playcaller who can help QB Deshaun Watson lead the offense. Given the $230 million investment in Watson, anything short of a return to the postseason and Cleveland will likely be on the hunt for yet another coach next offseason. -- Jake Trotter

19. New Orleans Saints

Post-draft ranking: 21

On the hot seat: DE Payton Turner

The No. 28 overall pick in the 2021 draft was a healthy scratch at times last season and injured at other times. Saints coach Dennis Allen said he's looking for the guy to play next to Cameron Jordan, and a now-healthy Turner has a prime opportunity. If he doesn't take a step forward this season, the Saints will likely start looking elsewhere. -- Katherine Terrell

20. Green Bay Packers

Post-draft ranking: 20

On the hot seat: GM Brian Gutekunst

Gutekunst drafted Jordan Love and is the one who decided it was time to move on from Rodgers. The Packers don't have to make the playoffs -- or even have a winning record this season -- for Gutekunst to be vindicated, but Love must show enough promise to indicate the decision to start over at quarterback was the right one. If he doesn't, then Gutekunst will have to find another option at quarterback. He might get a second shot at getting the right quarterback, but who knows if he'd get a third? -- Rob Demovsky

21. Denver Broncos

Post-draft ranking: 23

On the hot seat: QB Russell Wilson

The Broncos traded three starters and five draft picks -- including two firsts and two seconds -- to acquire Wilson. They quickly signed him to a $245 million extension, and then he had his worst pro season. The Broncos were the lowest-scoring team in the league. Wilson has to be much better, and the Broncos have to do their part to make him better. Can they protect him? Will he get the ball out of his hands quicker like Sean Payton wants him to? Because if 2023 looks anything like last season offensively for the Broncos, there won't be an easy solution. -- Jeff Legwold

22. Carolina Panthers

Post-draft ranking: 22

On the hot seat: OLB/DE Yetur Gross-Matos

Gross-Matos, a second-round pick in 2020, needs to make an impact as he transitions from a 4-3 end to a 3-4 edge rusher. His impact was minimal in the past three seasons, with a combined 8.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss. He's second on the depth chart behind Marquis Haynes Sr. as the edge rusher opposite Brian Burns, and he easily could fall to third if 2023 third-round pick D.J. Johnson develops more moves. Gross-Matos has to show improvement if he wants a new contract. -- David Newton

23. Las Vegas Raiders

Post-draft ranking: 19

On the hot seat: DC Patrick Graham

In 2022, Graham led the No. 28 total defense in the NFL, which finished last in takeaways (13) with an NFL-low six interceptions and 30th in sacks (27) despite the presence of two-time Pro Bowler Maxx Crosby and his 12.5 sacks and league-leading 20 tackles for loss. Improvement in 2023 is needed under Graham. Especially with Las Vegas using six of its nine draft picks last spring on defensive players, including No. 7 overall pick edge rusher Tyree Wilson -- who was finally activated from the non-football injury list Wednesday after having surgery on his right foot. Plus, the Raiders addressed the secondary with veterans Marcus Peters and Marcus Epps. Yeah, improvement is expected. -- Paul Gutierrez

24. Chicago Bears

Post-draft ranking: 27

On the hot seat: WR Velus Jones Jr.

The Bears' wide receiver room is more crowded now than it was during Jones' rookie season, which leaves little room for error when it comes to issues of ball security. Last season, Jones fumbled three times and muffed two punts in the fourth quarter of losses, which cost him his job as a returner. He has had steady work at receiver with the second-team offense, and coaches see a potential for him to be used on jet sweeps and gadget plays. But Jones' path to the 53-man roster comes via his special teams contributions, and a muffed punt in the preseason opener against Tennessee doesn't do much to help his case. -- Courtney Cronin

25. Washington Commanders

Post-draft ranking: 24

On the hot seat: Coach Ron Rivera

The truth is, everyone in the front office is on the hot seat, as is team president Jason Wright. With new ownership and a franchise that hasn't won a playoff game since 2005, no one should feel safe. But Rivera is the main football decision-maker -- he was handed the power from previous owner Dan Snyder and put together the front office. It's his fourth season in Washington; he won an NFC East title his first year, but the team has yet to finish with a winning record under him. Washington hasn't posted a winning record since 2016. -- John Keim

26. Tennessee Titans

Post-draft ranking: 28

On the hot seat: CB Kristian Fulton

Fulton is on the hot seat not because of a lack of performance when he's on the field. He has shown he's capable of taking on the opposing team's top receivers. This is a contract year, and the Titans need to see that he can play weekly. Fulton has 24 starts over the past three seasons. Many of the injuries that kept him out of the lineup have been of the soft-tissue variety, so he went to Miami for individual training starting in February. Titans coach Mike Vrabel said this is the best shape he's seen Fulton in since he got to Nashville. -- Turron Davenport

27. Los Angeles Rams

Post-draft ranking: 25

On the hot seat: RB Cam Akers

Akers is a running back in the last season of his rookie contract. In this financial environment, that's enough to put Akers under pressure. It is magnified because of his frustrating career trajectory so far. There have been brief flashes of a potential dominant back, but he has just nine career games with 15 or more carries. In those games he has a combined 789 rushing yards, 6 touchdowns, a 4.4 yards-per-carry average and four 100-yard performances. He has made 14 starts in three seasons, partially because of a torn Achilles tendon in 2021. If Akers is going to play like a star, and get paid like one, now is the time. -- Dan Greenspan

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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

29. Indianapolis Colts

Post-draft ranking: 29

On the hot seat: OL coach Tony Sparano Jr.

This is Sparano's first season, so his inclusion here isn't necessarily about his continued employment. Instead, it's a recognition that the Colts are asking a lot of him. They want him to resurrect the team's offensive line, and to do so without major personnel changes. The Colts once counted on their line as a strength of the team and still have tens of millions of dollars invested in its key players. But there has been continued slippage during the past two seasons and the Colts are worse off for it. Fixing it falls mostly on Sparano. -- Stephen Holder

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Post-draft ranking: 30

On the hot seat: OT Luke Goedeke

Goedeke's rookie season as a left guard was a disaster. He surrendered 5.0 sacks in 10 games before he was benched in favor of Nick Leverett. But now the Bucs have given him an opportunity to go back to his college position as a starting right tackle, moving All-Pro Tristan Wirfs to the left side. With Cody Mauch, a rookie starting right guard, next to him, they really need Goedeke to step up here. -- Jenna Laine

31. Houston Texans

Post-draft ranking: 31

On the hot seat: TE Brevin Jordan

The Texans drafted Jordan in the fifth round in 2021. He has 306 career receiving yards and three touchdowns in three seasons, but the Texans had higher hopes for him. Throughout camp Jordan has dealt with a lower leg injury, so he hasn't practiced much. If Jordan doesn't produce more this season, the Texans can chose to move on from him before the start of the 2024 season, as they have less than $90,000 guaranteed in his contract for 2024. -- DJ Bien-Aime

32. Arizona Cardinals

Post-draft ranking: 32

On the hot seat: WR Marquise Brown

Brown didn't receive a much-wanted extension before this season, which means he'll be playing for his football future in 2023. The better he plays and the higher the numbers he puts up, the more money he'll be looking at this coming offseason in free agency. -- Josh Weinfuss