Ranking our starters, from worst to best

Now that the draft is over, I thought it would be a good time to look at our team and see what positions are the weakest and which are the best in terms of our starting 23 (11 on offense, 12 on defense.)

23. CB Zech McPhearson. Unquestionably the biggest question mark on the team, and the most likely not to be a starter week 1. My guess is that, if he wins the job and ends up starting week 1, he wouldn't be a disaster. But certainly if you could pick one guy to be replaced in the starting lineup, it would be him.

22. Safety Anthony Harris. There's a real argument to be made that he is the worst starting player on the team, but for now he avoids that designation. We brought him back for $2.5 million, which is great value. And I like him as a fit in our defense. He won't kill us, but I wouldn't count on him making any great plays.

21. Safety Marcus Epps. I actually like Marcus Epps, and I think he will be fine in our defense. But I would like Marcus Epps a lot more if he were number 23 on this list, and if the other people above him weren't also in our secondary.

20. Quarterback Jalen Hurts. Is this where he belongs? I don't know. But I will put him here. He needs to get better this year or else he's out of a job, and I can't say that about anyone below him on this list, so this feels right for him. He has a top 5 oline and top 5 skill position group, so here feels like a good spot for him.

19. Running Back Miles Sanders. He probably should be higher, but I can't put him up there yet. Missing games hurt him last year, but despite a high average yards per carry, he hasn't scored a lot and really isn't the impact player I would like to see considering the line he is running behind.

18. Linebacker Kyzir White. A guy who had a breakout year last year and who absolutely fits in our new defensive scheme. I think our linebackers will be a strength this year rather than a detriment. His coverage skills should help immensely.

17. Guard Isaac Seumalo. It will be interesting to see how he comes back from his injury, and whether he moves to the right side or stays on the left. A solid player who flashes elite skills at times.

16. Linebacker Nakobe Dean. It remains to be seen if he can get on the field, and how long he lasts if he does. But if healthy, I think he can be an immediate impact player. He has the best film of any linebacker we have ever drafted. Of all the players I am ranking, Dean has the most questions. But when I watch his college tape, I can't rank him lower than this.

15. Slot corner Avonte Maddox. A decent player who finally did well last year when he was played in the right position. Give me this guy for the defense every day of the week.

14. Wide receiver Quez Watkins. Had somewhat of a breakout season by averaging an absurd 10.4 yards per target. A perfect wr3, he will stretch defenses and is a menace once he gets the ball in his hands.

13. Guard Landon Dickerson. It was amazing watching him get better over the course of last season. This season his ceiling is the pro bowl.

12. Defensive Tackle Fletcher Cox. A down year last year but I think he rebounds this year. And his stats weren't horrible, just bad for him.

11. Defensive End Josh Sweat. One of the most productive NFL players on a per-snap basis, he should benefit from a deep rotation that will keep him fresh.

10. Nose tackle Jordan Davis. If he is just average, here's where I see him being ranked. His floor is the 10th-best player on the team. Even if he offers nothing as a pass rusher, he will control the middle of the offensive line on early downs and allow us to better defend the pass, especially with speedy linebackers behind him who can track down outside runs. But his athletic profile suggests he can also be used in a pass-rushing role that he was never allowed to do in the Georgia defense. And if he can do that, this ranking is obviously way too low.

9. Wide Receiver DeVonta Smith. The trade for AJ Brown will help this kid out a lot. Last year he had to work from the outside in, which doesn't play to his skill set. Now he can work inside out, which is going to be a nightmare for corners assigned to covering him. The team needed a player who could win quickly at the LOS to give Hurts easy looks, and now we have it. Combined with Brown's ability to win at the X position, this offense is way more dangerous.

8. Tight End Dallas Goedert. A top 5 tight end in the league, I think he has a monster year. I never thought pairing him with Ertz was a great fit, and we saw him play much better after Ertz was traded.

7. Javone Hargrave. Had a great year last year, but saw his production slide late in the season as he got double-teamed more often. Now he can move to a spot where he will get a lot of one-on-one looks, and I expect him to thrive.

6. Outside linebacker Haasan Reddick. His double-digit sack totals the last two years are indicative of what he can do here. He fits in our 3-4 looks and provides us with a true SAM linebacker that we were missing last year.

5. Wide Receiver AJ Brown. A monster who should help Jalen Hurts immensely. His addition gives the team a true X receiver, and will allow DeVonta Smith to play inside more where he can put defenders into a blender. He can win 50 50 balls, make catches down the field and win in crossing routes that should be a staple of our offense. Best pickup this team has made in years.

4. Cornerback Darius Slay. One of the top corners in the game, hopefully Father Time overlooks him. Just put him on the other team's best receiver and hope the rest of the secondary can keep it together.

3. Center Jason Kelce. One last ride for one of the greatest players in team history. He will go out as a top center in the league as there is no one else who can do what he does.

2. Offensive Tackle Jordan Mailata. This is a bit of a projection, as he had some bad moments last season. But I think he makes the pro bowl this year. He simply does things in the run game no one else does. And he has gotten better every year, so it makes sense to put him this high.

1. Offensive Tackle Lane Johnson. The best right tackle in football, and the best player on the team. The only question is whether he can stay healthy. The closest thing to a brick wall that can strap on a helmet.

So that's how I see the team. The secondary is obviously the weakest part of the team, and I wouldn't be surprised if the starters listed here weren't starting week 1. Hurts and Sanders have a lot to prove this season. I put two rookies in the starting lineup, and it is largely a guess on how I ranked them, but I think I am being too conservative based on what I saw of them at Georgia. Overall, this is a much better team than last year, and hopefully they will show that on the field in a few months.