Which teams have the most high-end talent? That's the question I wanted to answer when I set out to rank every team based on its blue-chip players, which is how general managers and personnel directors grade the best in the league. The results were interesting and telling in many cases.
Here's how I came up with my list: Using the ESPN #NFLRank player rankings as a base line, I expanded our top-100 list to look at where the next 100 players ended up. Then, after talking to people across the league, I added and subtracted several players who I think are better -- and worse -- than where they ended up in the top 200 of #NFLRank. Then I added them all up for each team and put them in order. There were several ties, so I put them in a subjective order based on which rosters I thought were the best. I didn't add kickers or punters because the difference between the top end and the middle isn't substantial enough.
One thing to keep in mind: Just because a player is a blue-chip talent doesn't mean he's a blue-chip player. The perfect example of this is the Texans' Jadeveon Clowney, who hasn't been on the field enough in his first two seasons to warrant being on this list. There's no doubt the former No. 1 overall pick has the talent to ascend this season, though. I did, however, include two rookies on my list because I think they'll play so much this season that they'll already be among the top 10 at their position.
Let's get to my ranking, which will give you an idea of which teams are loaded to compete now, and which will be aiming to compete in the future.
1. New England Patriots (11)
Where they stand: Bill Belichick has quietly put together a loaded roster, particularly on defense. Imagine how good the defense would be if the Patriots had kept pass-rusher Chandler Jones, whom they traded to Arizona. New England is built to win now and down the road. It picked up some steals in Butler, Sheard and Bennett.
What could change: Brady's four-game suspension and injuries hurt the Patriots' Super Bowl chances. Vollmer could miss the season with a shoulder injury, and Rob Ninkovich is trying to play with a torn triceps muscle. The Patriots need Jimmy Garoppolo to play well to start the season. Their young talent is all represented here.