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Denver Broncos drop in ESPN's future rankings

In their future power rankings, ESPN ranked Denver 9th overall for a three-year outlook

NFL Draft Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

ESPN apparently doesn’t think Denver is in a win-from-now-on mode, based on their most recent power rankings. These particular rankings, while still meaningless off-season fodder (that I yet still feel compelled to write about), are particularly interesting, in that they are future rankings.

Here’s their description:

To project which NFL franchises are in the best shape for the next three seasons, we asked our panel of experts -- Louis Riddick, Mike Sando and Field Yates -- to rate each team on a scale of 0-100 in five categories: roster (excluding quarterback), quarterback, draft, front office and coaching.

After averaging the results from the panelists, each of the five categories was weighted to create the overall score -- roster (30 percent), quarterback (20 percent), draft (15 percent), front office (15 percent) and coaching (20 percent). The result is a comprehensive rankings based on how well each team is positioned for the future.

The categories seem solid. Although, their draft category could be broadened to "player acquisition" to encompass free agency success etc. as well since we all know that can be just as defining for a franchise’s success. The weight they apply feels about right too, 50% on players, with the other 50% on organizational factors.

Now that their metrics have received my stamp of approval (I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to hear) let’s dig into where our beloved Broncos found themselves on their list.

Denver checked in at 9th (!?!) on the list. Here is their score by category along with analysis.

9. DENVER BRONCOS

2015 record: 12-4 (won Super Bowl)

AFC West future rank: 1st

High point: It didn't take long for John Elway to transition from a successful player on the field to a razor-sharp evaluator in the front office. Elway has shown that he is unafraid to make difficult decisions, as we saw this offseason when he wouldn't budge on his offer to quarterback Brock Osweiler. He also has kept players on deals that look now like great values (cornerback Chris Harris Jr. and defensive lineman Derek Wolfe among them). -- Field Yates

Low point: Elway and the Broncos find themselves in the rarest of situations for a reigning Super Bowl champion: They will attempt to repeat after losing their No. 1 and No. 2 quarterbacks this offseason. Say what you want about Peyton Manning and Osweiler, but over the next three seasons, I would have been much more optimistic if Osweiler could have been kept in house as the franchise QB, with Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian serving as backups. As it stands, Sanchez and Siemian are competing for the starting job with Paxton Lynch, a rookie. Lynch is going to need time -- a lot of time -- to get where he needs to be, and it's a pipe dream to think that Sanchez will have any prolonged success as a starter. Elway has done a fantastic job building this roster, but the current QB configuration leaves me scratching my head. -- Louis Riddick

What could change: The Broncos referenced an ownership succession plan when announcing in 2014 that Alzheimer's disease prevented Pat Bowlen from running the team. One of Bowlen's children was to take over ownership at some point, with the NFL giving the team a couple of years to make progress toward that end. The assumption here is that the Broncos will stay the course with team president and CEO Joe Ellis working under Bowlen-led ownership, and with Elway in the GM role. On the field, Lynch's development will be the No. 1 variable -- and a volatile one, according to evaluators who see Lynch as a boom-or-bust prospect. -- Mike Sando

Here are the folks in front of us on the list.

  1. Seattle Seahawks
  2. New England Patriots
  3. Carolina Panthers
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers
  5. Green Bay Packers
  6. Arizona Cardinals
  7. Cincinnati Bengals
  8. Minnesota Vikings
  9. Denver Broncos
  10. Baltimore Ravens

So essentially the only knock on us is quarterback, as per usual. However, I don’t understand how people keep forgetting how bad our QB situation was last year.

Sure, having bad quarterback play isn’t a sustainable long-term solution, but we beat all but two of the teams ahead of us on that list, and all the ones we played (granted we split with Pittsburgh) while having terrible QB play.

At the end of the day, I’ll give them the QB situation as bringing our overall ranking down. But, at least we have some options and potential on the roster. It is just all unknown at this point. Next year that QB rating could be in the 70s or 80s.

However, I do take issue with their ranking of our roster. I’ll concede our overall score just because everyone above us has a solid QB situation, but our roster is ranked below all of these teams as well.

How many of you honestly would trade our roster for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ (remember QB isn’t included in that either)? How about the Vikings?

The Bengals and Seahawks have the highest ranked rosters at 86.7. To me, that’s too high for the Bengals. They are full of good, but not great players. Also, the Seahawks are about as sketchy on offense as we are with Marshawn Lynch’s retirement. They have no blue chips at WR (we have two), they have Jimmy Graham who hasn’t shown he can produce in their system, their RB isn’t near as experienced as ours, and our defense is better.

So how are we a measly 78.3? The Steelers have zero secondary, no pass rush and just lost one of their young WRs to a year long suspension, and they have a better roster?

Ok, I am done ranting.

I did like that they recognized Elway’s greatness with our front office ranking tying Seattle for 2nd at 90 points (the Patriots were number one with 91).

We also tied with Cincinnati for second place in drafting at 83.3 (Seattle was number one at 86).

While, in the end, these rankings are in no means predictors of actual success, it is nice to see what we all know when looking at this team, we are a quarterback away from building a potential dynasty.

What do you say Broncos Country? What stuck out to you on this list?