NFL Power Rankings 2022: Preseason 1-32 poll and hot seat watch for coaches and players

ByNFL Nation via ESPN logo
Wednesday, August 24, 2022
ESPN

In a little more than two weeks, the NFL regular season returns. Training camps are winding down, the final cut-down day is approaching (Aug. 30) and the last of preseason games will be played this weekend.

What better time than now to present our 2022 NFL preseason Power Rankings to get you ready for kickoff? Below, you'll see a shuffle in the top 10 and a shuffle in the bottom 10.

The Buffalo Bills remain at the top with Josh Allen leading the way, but there is a new No. 2 team. The Carolina Panthers got a bump from trading for Baker Mayfield, and our voters showed an increase in confidence in the Detroit Lions.

With the updated rankings, NFL Nation provides us with one person in each organization -- coach, general manager or player -- who is firmly on the hot seat as the season starts. Some players need to prove they are worth re-signing -- such asNew York Giants QB Daniel Jones -- and some coaches need to prove they can win down the stretch -- like Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury.

Let's jump into it with our No. 1-ranked team.

Jump to a team:ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CINCLE | DAL | DEN | DET | GB | HOU | INDJAX | KC | LV | LAC | LAR | MIA | MINNE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SFSEA | TB | TEN | WSH

1. Buffalo Bills

Post-draft ranking: 1

Who's on the hot seat:Offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey

Quarterback Josh Allen isn't going anywhere, and for the first time in his NFL career, he'll be working with a new offensive coordinator -- Dorsey, his former quarterbacks coach. New York Giantscoach Brian Daboll set a high bar as Bills offensive coordinator, both in his relationship with Allen and on-the-field success. If Buffalo's offense has major missteps or playcalling hiccups, the pressure will be on the first-time coordinator, especially with expectations so high for the Bills this year. -- Alaina Getzenberg

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Post-draft ranking: 3

Who's on the hot seat:QB Kyle Trask

Quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen set the expectation already this offseason that Trask was unlikely to challengeBlaine Gabbert for the backup role this year, but it hasn't even been close between the two in training camp. That's disappointing, given the high priority the Bucs have placed on wanting to see Trask this preseason, as Tom Brady is under contract for only one more season. Less than two weeks into camp, Trask had already reached double-digit interceptions, one of which was so poorly thrown that the Bucs' social media account deleted its Play of the Day video of Jamel Dean picking it off because of negative responses. Granted, that's not going to get him booted, but it doesn't inspire much confidence for the future. -- Jenna Laine

3. Los Angeles Rams

Post-draft ranking: 2

Who's on the hot seat:S Taylor Rapp

It's hard to be on the hot seat just six months after your team won the Super Bowl. But if there is a candidate, it could be Rapp, who is entering the final season of his rookie contract. The Rams have not typically re-signed safeties to big contracts, instead opting to try to find younger players to take over. Los Angeles drafted safeties Quentin Lake (sixth round) and Russ Yeast II (seventh round), so the team may choose to move on from Rapp when he hits free agency. -- Sarah Barshop

4. Kansas City Chiefs

Post-draft ranking: 4

Who's on the hot seat:RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Edwards-Helaire hasn't been a bust, but the 2020 first-round draft pick hasn't had the impact expected of one. He is in no danger of losing his job, but the Chiefs will have to decide on his fifth-year option at the end of this season. The addition of rookie Isiah Pacheco to the running back group could lead the Chiefs to decline the option if Edwards-Helaire doesn't have a big season. -- Adam Teicher

5. Cincinnati Bengals

Post-draft ranking: 6

Who's on the hot seat:CB Eli Apple

Sticking Apple on the hot seat feels weird because he just got a new contract from a franchise that is very confident in his ability to be a quality NFL starter, which he has displayed throughout training camp. However, Apple is on a one-year deal, and the Bengals took cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt in the second round of this year's draft. It'll be up to Apple to continue to prove to the Bengals and others around the league that he's worth a long-term investment after this season.-- Ben Baby

6. Green Bay Packers

Post-draft ranking: 5

Who's on the hot seat:LT David Bakhtiari

You could put the left tackle into any one of several categories -- bounce-back candidate, hot seat, etc. Whatever you call it, the Packers need Bakhtiari to return to his All-Pro form. But first, they just need him to return. Since he signed his four-year, $92 million contract extension on Nov. 14, 2020, he has played a grand total of only 474 snaps. That includes the 27 snaps he played all of last season. He's due a $9.5 million bonus if he is on the roster next March as part of a $17.5 million payout in salary and bonuses for 2023. If Bakhtiari can't come back and perform at a high level, the days of him being their franchise left tackle could be numbered. -- Rob Demovsky

7. San Francisco 49ers

Post-draft ranking: 9

Who's on the hot seat:OT Mike McGlinchey

There aren't many Niners facing a hot seat going into this season, but it's undoubtedly a big year for McGlinchey. The No. 9 overall pick in 2018 is playing on a fifth-year option, isn't signed beyond this year and is coming back from a season-ending quadriceps injury suffered in November. At his best, McGlinchey has been a dominant run-blocker who fits the Niners' scheme well. But he'll need to prove he can stay healthy and produce in order to earn a second contract in San Francisco.-- Nick Wagoner

8. Los Angeles Chargers

Post-draft ranking: 7

Who's on the hot seat:DL Jerry Tillery

The 2019 No. 28 overall pick has yet to establish himself as an impact player, leading the Chargers to decline the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. Tillery, 25, is now fighting for a roster spot after the Chargers upgraded their defensive front during the offseason, signing Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Johnson and Morgan Fox. As for how hot Tillery's seat is entering this season? Consider this: Coach Brandon Staley is electing to sit most starters during the preseason, playing only those who could use game experience in their role or who are in a position competition. Tillery was a preseason starter. -- Lindsey Thiry

9. Baltimore Ravens

Post-draft ranking: 10

Who's on the hot seat:LB Patrick Queen

It's a critical time for Queen because the Ravens will have to decide whether to exercise his fifth-year option next offseason. He hasn't become the every-down middle linebacker that was originally envisioned. Queen has struggled in coverage and getting off blocks, which is why he was moved to weakside linebacker. But new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, who was Queen's position coach in 2020, said the game has slowed down for him. It took until Queen's third season before he broke out at LSU. The Ravens are hoping Queen can do the same this season after being Baltimore's first-round pick in 2020.-- Jamison Hensley

10. Dallas Cowboys

Post-draft ranking: 8

Who's on the hot seat:Coach Mike McCarthy

It's been this way since last season ended, and nothing has changed since, despite Jerry Jones' constant backing. McCarthy will be the most watched head coach this year because of the Sean Payton shadow and the way Jones took care of defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. It's as if the Cowboys did not win 12 games last year, as the residue from the playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers has not disappeared. To his credit, McCarthy has not allowed the outside discussions of his job to impact how he coaches. Players say he has remained the same with them in temperament and in his demands. -- Todd Archer

11. Tennessee Titans

Post-draft ranking: 11

Who's on the hot seat:QB Ryan Tannehill

Tannehill's 14 interceptions last season were more than the 13 combined picks he threw in 2019 and 2020. Coming off a three-interception performance in the divisional-round loss to the Bengals last season puts the pressure squarely on Tannehill's shoulders. The veteran quarterback will need a bounce-back season if he plans to be with the Titans in 2023. Tannehill has a $36.6 million salary-cap hit next season but would account for only $18.8 million in dead cap space if the Titans released him. It's no coincidence that Titans general manager Jon Robinson added the quarterback of the future when he selected Malik Willis in the third round. -- Turron Davenport

12. Denver Broncos

Post-draft ranking: 12

Who's on the hot seat:QB Russell Wilson

Luckily for the Broncos, the guy who faces the most heat this season is the guy most equipped to handle it. The locker room, the city, the state and the region expect Wilson can take the Broncos where Peyton Manning did. Wilson embraces pressure, but the Broncos acquired him in a franchise-changing trade. A slow start for him or a first-year coaching staff would certainly bring about grumbling from the team's faithful -- as there was in 2012, when Manning opened his first season with the team 2-3. But the Broncos didn't lose for the remainder of that regular season. Wilson has met expectations so far, but he had better get used to carrying them in a place where more than one quarterback has buckled under them.-- Jeff Legwold

13. Las Vegas Raiders

Post-draft ranking: 13

Who's on the hot seat:DE Clelin Ferrell

This comes with a caveat, as Ferrell, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 draft, has to make the team. The defensive end, who was expected to get a lift from a new scheme under defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, has not practiced since early in camp with an undisclosed injury. He was working on a side field with a trainer this week, but as evidenced by the Raiders' new regime not picking up his fifth-year option, his future in in peril -- not only as a third pass-rusher alongside Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones but also as a member of the team. -- Paul Gutierrez

14. Indianapolis Colts

Post-draft ranking: 14

Who's on the hot seat:Coach Frank Reich

Now entering his fifth season, Reich does not seem in jeopardy of being fired. But the stakes are still high. The Colts have what they believe is the best team of his tenure, and owner Jim Irsay is growing increasingly impatient, as the franchise has just one playoff victory since 2014. It's also notable that Reich was a driving force behind last season's failed Carson Wentz experiment. If the Colts fall short again, Reich will find himself on thin ice.-- Stephen Holder

15. Philadelphia Eagles

Post-draft ranking: 16

Who's on the hot seat:QB Jalen Hurts

When is the quarterback seat in Philly not hot? Hurts led the Eagles to a postseason appearance in his first year as a full-time starter and has shown signs of improvement this summer. But the Eagles will soon have a decision to make when it comes to the long-term direction of the franchise. Hurts is eligible for a contract extension after the season. Philadelphia, meanwhile, holds two first-round picks in what is expected to be a quarterback-rich draft next April. Hurts' performance this season will help inform management's decision on how to proceed. -- Tim McManus

16. New England Patriots

Post-draft ranking: 15

Who's on the hot seat:Senior football adviser/OL coach Matt Patricia

It is still unclear whether Patricia will be calling the offensive plays, but he's clearly one of the top coaches on that side of the ball as the transition is made from Josh McDaniels to a "new offense." Patricia has had the walkie-talkie as the primary communicator to the QBs in practice more than anyone else, but those close to the situation insist that no decision has been made on who will call the plays. Nonetheless, if the offense falters, it won't stop many from pointing fingers toward Patricia for answers why.-- Mike Reiss

17. Cleveland Browns

Post-draft ranking: 17

Who's on the hot seat:Coach Kevin Stefanski

No Browns head coach has survived three full seasons since Jimmy Haslam bought the team in 2012; Stefanski is now entering his third season. And though he won NFL coach of the year in 2020 while guiding the Browns to the playoffs, last year's losing season was a massive disappointment. The pressure is now on Stefanski to get Cleveland back in the postseason despite enormous turmoil at quarterback surrounding Deshaun Watson. Although he spearheaded the Watson trade, Haslam has never demonstrated patience as an owner. If the Browns struggle under the circumstances, the heat could fall on Stefanski.-- Jake Trotter

18. Arizona Cardinals

Post-draft ranking: 19

Who's on the hot seat:Coach Kliff Kingsbury

Yes, Kingsbury signed an extension this offseason, and, yes, he has led the Cardinals to three straight years of annual improvement. Yes, he led them to the playoffs for the first time since 2015, but it's the late-season collapses that have put Kingsbury on the hot seat. If it happens for the third straight season and affects the Cardinals' seeding or playoff lives, Kingsbury will be put under a microscope after the season like he has never been before. Last season, Arizona should've been a top-two seed in the NFC but ended up as a wild card. For Kingsbury to survive, that can't happen again.-- Josh Weinfuss

19. Miami Dolphins

Post-draft ranking: 18

Who's on the hot seat:CB Noah Igbinoghene

The Dolphins declining Igbinoghene's fifth-year option is almost a given at this point, barring a complete turnaround. But forget his fifth year -- his fourth year with the team is very much in question right now. Even with Byron Jones' presence on the PUP list giving him the best shot at playing time to date, Igbinoghene has struggled in coverage throughout training camp and was the nearest defender on the Buccaneers' passing touchdown in Miami's first preseason game. He's highly mature and says all the right things at the podium, but the 2020 first-round draft pick will be a cut candidate after the 2022 season if he doesn't find a role.-- Marcel Louis-Jacques

20. New Orleans Saints

Post-draft ranking: 20

Who's on the hot seat:QB Jameis Winston

The Saints showed they weren't exactly all-in on Winston when they tried to trade for Deshaun Watson this offseason, and the short-term nature of Winston's contract backs that up. The Saints didn't go after a quarterback in the draft, but Winston has a lot to prove after starting only seven games last season before an ACL injury to his left knee. Winston needs a healthy and productive year to keep his job long-term, especially considering Andy Dalton has played well in the preseason while Winston recovers from a sprained foot.-- Katherine Terrell

21. Washington Commanders

Post-draft ranking: 22

Who's on the hot seat:QB Carson Wentz

Wentz is a clear upgrade over Washington's quarterbacks over the past four seasons -- the team has started 10 different quarterbacks. But Wentz has to prove he can still be a franchise quarterback who could be in place for several seasons or more. ESPN NFL analyst Troy Aikman called this Wentz's last chance to prove he can be a franchise quarterback. He has to show it on the field after being traded in each of the past two offseasons. And if he doesn't perform well, many will feel that hot seat entering the 2023 season.-- John Keim

22. Pittsburgh Steelers

Post-draft ranking: 21

Who's on the hot seat:ILB Devin Bush

The Steelers already declined Bush's fifth-year option, making this a make-or-break season for Bush. A former top-10 pick, he played well his rookie season and halfway through his second year until he sustained an ACL tear. Bush returned from the injury in 2021 but didn't appear to trust his knee, and his hesitation sometimes made him a liability on the field. In hiring Brian Flores and signing Myles Jack in free agency, the Steelers are giving Bush the tools to reach his potential, but he has to make the plays to solidify a starting job and his future in the NFL.-- Brooke Pryor

23. Minnesota Vikings

Post-draft ranking: 23

Who's on the hot seat:C Garrett Bradbury

Bradbury was an immediate starter at center after the Vikings drafted him No. 18 overall in 2019. But he was benched briefly last season, and new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah decided not to pick up the fifth-year option on his contract. That means Bradbury's deal will expire after this season, giving him one final chance to convince the team he can be its long-term answer. -- Kevin Seifert

24. Seattle Seahawks

Post-draft ranking: 27

Who's on the hot seat:QB Drew Lock

Pete Carroll could have a hot seat if the Seahawks fall apart in 2022 because coaches don't always survive back-to-back bad seasons. But another season with double-digit losses would probably mean that Lock either didn't play well or didn't even win the starting job in the first place. Whereas Carroll is signed through 2025 -- he's one of the NFL's highest-paid coaches, and their contracts are typically guaranteed -- Lock's rookie deal ends after this season, meaning the Seahawks could move on easily if he doesn't show that he is worthy of a longer look as their starter.-- Brady Henderson

25. Chicago Bears

Post-draft ranking: 24

Who's on the hot seat:S Eddie Jackson

Given that Jackson was my bounce-back candidate, it makes sense that he also has the most to prove on the Bears' defense. He could see his time in Chicago dwindling if he has another interception-free season. The Bears drafted Jaquan Brisker to make Jackson more effective by allowing him to focus on playing free safety, so he'll have to lower that passer rating allowed when targeted (132.3) considerably this season. Chicago's front office has made no bones about the fact that it's overhauling the roster and bringing in young players as building blocks. If Jackson, 28, doesn't prove his value to this defense and the new coaching staff, the Bears could look to move him via a trade or designate him a post-June 1 cut in 2023 and save $13.1 million against the cap.-- Courtney Cronin

26. Detroit Lions

Post-draft ranking: 30

Who's on the hot seat:QB Jared Goff

There's a big opportunity for Goff in Detroit, and the front office has faith that he can produce, which is why it didn't draft a quarterback with either of its two first-round picks in the 2022 draft. However, Goff has to show up to secure a long-term future with the Lions. He is currently in the last year of his fully guaranteed money, and Detroit has stronger targets around him, including wide receivers DJ Chark and Amon-Ra St. Brown, as well as a strong offensive line.-- Eric Woodyard

27. Jacksonville Jaguars

Post-draft ranking: 26

Who's on the hot seat:RT Jawaan Taylor

The 2019 second-round pick hasn't missed a snap in his three seasons but hasn't exactly flourished (he's given up 40 sacks in 49 games) and is facing competition from 2021 second-round pick Walker Little. This is Taylor's final year of his rookie contract, so winning the job could set him up for a potential extension. He missed the first couple of weeks of camp with a hamstring injury and has alternated first-team reps with Walker since his return. -- Michael DiRocco

28. New York Giants

Post-draft ranking: 25

Who's on the hot seat:QB Daniel Jones

I could easily have gone withSaquon Barkley here, considering this year is his last chance to convince anyone he is worth a significant second contract. But Jones is the quarterback, and he had the fifth-year option in his rookie contract declined this offseason. No more excuses, either, as this is his last chance to prove to the Giants that he is their franchise quarterback now that he is working in new coach Brian Daboll's offense.-- Jordan Raanan

29. Carolina Panthers

Post-draft ranking: 32

Who's on the hot seat:Coach Matt Rhule

This answer easily could have been both quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold, whose futures are tied to what happens this season. But Rhule's future likely is tied to how the winner of the quarterback competition performs. Without a consistent quarterback, Rhule's first two teams have gone 5-11 and 5-12. So in reality, they're all on the hot seat, but Rhule has the most to lose because he signed a seven-year, $62 million contract in 2020. If this year's team falters, he could become the lastest coach to fail to make the transition from college to the NFL. -- David Newton

30. New York Jets

Post-draft ranking: 29

Who's on the hot seat:WR Denzel Mims

Since taking Mims in the second round of the 2020 draft, the Jets signed Corey Davis to a big contract and used two premium draft picks on receivers -- Elijah Moore (second round, 2021) and Garrett Wilson (first, 2022). Get the picture? Mims, drafted by the previous coaching staff, hasn't been embraced by the current staff. He's no better than the fifth or sixth receiver on the depth chart. Barring a dramatic turnaround, Mims could be playing elsewhere this season. The Jets should be able to recoup a late-round draft pick in a trade. -- Rich Cimini

31. Houston Texans

Post-draft ranking: 28

Who's on the hot seat:QB Davis Mills

Placing Mills on the hot seat after one year seems unfair, but that's the life of a quarterback when you're not drafted in the first round. And while Mills had an impressive rookie year considering the turmoil he was surrounded by, with 16 touchdowns in 11 starts, he must significantly build on it. He has to prove there's no question he's the Texans' long-term answer because the organization has two first round picks in the 2023 NFL draft. If he doesn't perform up to par, the Texans will replace him. -- DJ Bien-Aime

32. Atlanta Falcons

Post-draft ranking:31

Who's on the hot seat:DL Marlon Davidson

Not many Falcons players or coaches are on the hot seat at this point. But Davidson, the third-year defensive lineman out of Auburn, has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career and missed the preseason opener thanks to injury. While it's unlikely at this point he would be cut, what role he would have for Atlanta now and in the future is very much in question if he can't remain on the field. -- Michael Rothstein

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