Ranking the NFL's 32 defenses

Matt Williamson is a former scout for the Cleveland Browns and spent the last 10 years at ESPN as a scout and co-host of "The Football Today Podcast."

Everyone has power rankings. They are all over the internet. But how often have you seen a defense-only power ranking? Well, here it is! Strictly offense will be out next week.

Power Rankings
Offense | Defense

1. Denver Broncos

The champs deserve to stay on top of this list, but Denver’s defense, especially after losing Danny Trevathan and Malik Jackson, will soon realize that everyone is gunning for their crown. And the Broncos could be ready to deal with another loss: a suspension to Aqib Talib. They might not be first for long.

2. Minnesota Vikings

Mike Zimmer has created this up-and-coming defense in his image. It's loaded with exceptional young talent at every level. It could be the best in football.

3. Arizona Cardinals

A huge key here will be the return of Tyrann Mathieu, which might spring the Cardinals to the very top. The defensive front looks to be vastly improved with the additions of Chandler Jones and Robert Nkemdiche.

4. Houston Texans

The Texans' defense was on par with Denver's last year. However, the defensive line is perilously thin … with the exception of that Watt character, who makes all kinds of problems go away. A Jadeveon Clowney breakout would go a long way.

5. Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks own the best defense of this generation, one loaded with great players, but the depth is beginning to become worrisome.

6. Carolina Panthers

The Panthers' amazing front seven could remain as strong as any in football, but Josh Norman is gone and there is no way this unit can manufacture turnovers at the same rate as last year.

7. New England Patriots

Well-coached. Versatile. Not a lot changes with how the Patriots play defense. There is a lot of young talent on this side of the ball.

8. New York Jets

New York is exceptional on their defensive line and the Jets are hoping that Darron Lee is an instant impact player. In his second season, Todd Bowles could really have a good group on his hands now.

9. Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs boasted one of the league's premier defenses last season. However, they lost a few key pieces in free agency and Justin Houston might not be a factor for quite some time due to injury.

10. Oakland Raiders

The Raiders just keep loading up on quality defensive backs and defensive linemen. They should really be able to get after the passer. It all just needs to jell … then lookout.

11. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals bring back the majority of their well above-average defense from a year ago. They also infused it with first-round pick William Jackson, and you can never have enough cornerbacks.

12. Green Bay Packers

The Packers' inside linebacker situation is worrisome, but the rest of this defense looks to be in fine shape with youth and upside. Clay Mathews moving back to outside linebacker will make everyone better.

13. Los Angeles Rams

The Rams took some big hits, especially in the secondary, during free agency. How far can Aaron Donald and this defensive line carry this team in their new home?

14. Jacksonville Jaguars

Let's see how well all these impressive pieces Jacksonville has added come together as a unit. If it all works, the Jags could be great on this side of the ball.

15. Philadelphia Eagles

Switching to a base 4-3 should help the Eagles defense quite a bit, as much of their best talent was drafted for that scheme originally. Philadelphia also has an exceptional pair of underrated safeties.

16. Washington Redskins

This is quietly and quickly developing into an impressive defense. Adding Norman certainly helps, but don’t be surprised when youngsters like Preston Smith and Su'a Cravens make a big impact sooner than later.

17. Baltimore Ravens

This defense certainly isn't what it used to be and the secondary is rather questionable. The front seven should be quite good though, especially if Terrell Suggs returns to form.

18. New York Giants

No defense in the league added more splash players than the Giants. But those moves were also extremely high risk/high reward and there are still holes at linebacker and safety.

19. Buffalo Bills

The Bills' secondary is excellent. However, they are counting too much on rookies to come in and fix a front seven that was a huge problem area last season.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers have used a ton of premium picks on defense over the past three draft classes. Now it is time for some of that talent to take over.

21. Detroit Lions

The Lions certainly have some good pieces in players like Ziggy Ansah and Darius Slay, as well as getting DeAndre Levy back from injury. More is still needed here though.

22. Chicago Bears

The Bears' front office has done a very admiral job of building what could be a very good front seven, but this secondary might be the worst in the league.

23. Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons are trying very hard to build their defense in a mirror image of the one in Seattle. Maybe Vic Beasley and especially Desmond Trufant make Seahawk-like impacts in 2016, but this group is still extremely unproven and lacks anything resembling the Seahawks' star power.

24. Tennessee Titans

Dick LeBeau has a bevy of new young pieces for his scheme. But who will be the instant contributors?

25. San Diego Chargers

The Chargers were quite terrible on this side of the ball last year, but they made some fine moves. Losing Eric Weddle might hurt, but the cornerback situation is improved and Joey Bosa is a very welcome addition.

26. San Francisco 49ers

This roster is certainly very rough and needs a ton of work, but the defensive line has a chance to be excellent, the edge rush isn't bad, and the Niners still have NaVorro Bowman to lead the defense in the middle.

27. Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are counting on Mario Williams and Byron Maxwell to cure a lot of what ails them on defense. Miami could be in for a lot of shootouts in 2016.

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs have two great players in Lavonte David and Gerald McCoy and they hope that Noah Spence and Vernon Hargreaves follow in their footsteps. Still, there are far more questions here than answers.

29. Dallas Cowboys

Where is the pass rush? That is going to be a major problem, especially considering who the Cowboys have in coverage. Dallas is betting on the offense utterly dominating the time of possession battle every week.

30. New Orleans Saints

Historically awful, especially in the passing game, in 2015, New Orleans added some quality pieces to the equation. Can they at least play at a league-average clip? If so, the Saints' record will be much improved in 2016.

31. Indianapolis Colts

The Colts are old and slow on defense. And they lack difference-makers. Other than that, they are fine.

32. Cleveland Browns

The Browns need everything. Clearly, as shown by their draft, they will be putting a premium on pass-rushers. That's a start.

Ranking the NFL's 32 defenses
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