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NFL mailbag: Power rankings, Patrick Mahomes and more

We’re back for the second edition of our NFL mailbag, Verderame Verdicts. This week it’s the NFL draft, power rankings and the Patrick Mahomes effect.

I don’t think the Patrick Mahomes effect is a myth, but it’s not going to work unless the money is behind it. No player is taking less to go play with Mahomes (or any player) unless it’s a very unique circumstance.

That said, let’s say the Chiefs decide to cut Sammy Watkins after this season or move on from Tyreek Hill. Any receiver is going to have interest in going to Kansas City, and that’s where Mahomes really comes in. The Chiefs are always going to be on the wish list for playmakers, something they weren’t for years on end.

It’s hard to imagine Kyler Murray and Nick Bosa not being the first two picks, respectively. After that, I don’t think there’s a consensus within the league on which direction the New York Jets are going to go.

Smart money says the Jets are taking a front seven talent, whether it Josh Allen out of Kentucky or former Crimson Tide defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.

The real question is which team is selecting Murray. With each passing day, the belief is that the Arizona Cardinals are going that direction with the notion of trading Josh Rosen prior to the draft. Still, until Murray is putting on a Cardinals hat or Rosen is dealt, there are always going to be questions.

Power rankings in March? Power rankings in March!

In my opinion, here’s how the AFC power rankings shake right now…

1. Kansas City
2. New England
3. Los Angeles
4. Indianapolis
5. Cleveland

After that, you get into teams that are lagging behind. If the Chiefs lose Tyreek Hill, I’d bump them down a spot or two. For now, though, how are they not the favorite? Kansas City released Justin Houston and traded Dee Ford, but has added Tyrann Mathieu, Alex Okafor and Bashaud Breeland. Most importantly, the Chiefs swapped Bob Sutton for Steve Spagnuolo at defensive coordinator. That’s huge.

New England is always going to be there until Tom Brady and/or Bill Belichick retires. However, the Patriots move down a tick with the losses of Rob Gronkowski and Trey Flowers , particularly the former. Gronkowski was such a force as a blocker in the run game and brought his hands to the playoffs. His abilities will be sorely missed.

As for the Chargers … look, they have the most complete roster in the AFC. The problem with Los Angeles is identity. What are the Chargers elite at? The Chiefs have a great offense. The Patriots have a great HC-QB combo. Los Angeles is good plenty of places, but neither unit is elite. Until that changes, give me Kansas City.

Who will be the insane first-round pick?

This is a great question, and one that I had some fun with when thinking about it.

Gage is right. There’s always a pick or two that stuns everybody watching. Last year it was San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny going to the Seattle Seahawks. Turns out the general public was vindicated in Penny’s rookie year, with the youngster gaining 419 rushing yards.

Alright, back to 2019. It’s got to be a quarterback, right? Teams desperate for a signal caller will do mental gymnastics for days to convince themselves that a guy with even the tiniest shred of talent can be a franchise quarterback. In this case, give me Daniel Jones.

It would be stunning if Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins don’t go in the top 10. Drew Lock is also likely to land in the top half of the first round, according to multiple league conversations. The next quarterback on most boards is Jones, who has the size but not the consistent tape or arm strength.

Jones is a prime candidate for a team like the New York Giants to trade into the end of the first round for. New York needs to replace Eli Manning soon, and Jones would be seen as the future.

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