Analyst names NFL’s 10 most talented teams

Four playoff teams from last year didn’t make the list of the 10 most talented teams, according to one NFL analyst.

What part of NFL success is based on talent and what part on coaching?

Perhaps coaching is a big factor, too, since an NFL analyst’s breakdown of the top-10 most talented teams doesn’t include the New England Patriots, who made it to the AFC Championship Game. In fact, four playoff teams didn’t make the top-10 talent list.

Bucky Brooks, a former NFL player and scout and now an analyst for NFL Media, ranked his top-10 most talented teams based on the number of players on each team that he considers blue-chip prospects, guys that typically rank among the top players at their respective positions.

Brooks writes that when he worked for the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks, he discovered that championship teams typically have eight to 10 blue-chippers.  The Seahawks were Brooks’ top-ranked most talented team with nine blue-chip players. Three of those players, including QB Russell Wilson, reside on the offensive side of the ball, but three of the five defenders – DE Michael Bennett, LB Bobby Wagner, LB K.J. Wright, CB Richard Sherman, S Kam Chancellor and S Earl Thomas – named by Brooks as blue-chip players are defensive backs.

“The Seahawks’ dominant run has been fueled by their superb draft-and-development model,” Brooks wrote in his assessment of the Seahawks. “John Schneider and Pete Carroll routinely have identified impact players at every stage of the draft and unearthed a few quality players on the undrafted free-agent market.”

Brooks’ second-ranked team in terms of talent, the Pittsburgh Steelers, have seven blue-chippers, including QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown.

“The Steelers could be downright scary in 2016, with a roster that is chock-full of blue-chip talent on both sides of the ball,” Brooks wrote.

The Panthers fell to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50, but the Panthers rank one spot ahead of Denver after offseason moves in free agency. The Panthers have eight blue-chip players in Brooks’ estimation – four on offense, including QB Cam Newton, and four on defense.

“Many poked holes in the Panthers’ roster prior to last season’s Super Bowl run,” Brooks wrote. “Now it’s time to acknowledge the terrific job general manager Dave Gettleman has done putting together a championship-caliber squad.”

The defending Super Bowl champion Broncos were ranked fourth in talent, according to Brooks. He named eight blue-chippers for the Broncos, including two receivers, Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders; two linebackers, Von Miller and Brandon Marshall; and two cornerbacks, Aqib Talib and Chris Harris.

“The defending Super Bowl champs are bucking the trend of overpaying inexperienced/unproven quarterbacks,” according to Brooks. “John Elway possesses a balanced roster that features impact players on both sides of the ball.”

The Minnesota Vikings finished fifth on Brooks’ most-talented-teams list with seven blue-chip players. Only two of them, RB Adrian Peterson and TE Kyle Rudolph, were on offense. Mike Zimmer’s defense had five players considered blue-chippers.

“The Vikings are built to be a heavyweight contender in the NFC for the next few seasons,” Brooks wrote. “Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer have assembled a championship-caliber roster that features a number of blue-chip talents with a blue-collar mentality at the marquee positions.”

The final five teams on Brooks’ list were, in order, the Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, Arizona Cardinals, New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.

The Patriots, Washington Redskins, Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans were the 2015 playoff teams left off of the top-10 list of most talented teams. The Cowboys and Giants were the two non-playoff teams from 2015 that made the list.

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