- Oakland Raiders
If you said that the Raiders would be at the top of this list two years ago, I would have laughed in your face. But that’s the amazing thing about NFL futures, a couple of good back to back drafts can get you from last to first. With a promising young quarterback in Derek Carr the Raiders have a solid base to build their future. Add to that arguably the best edge defender in the league, Khalil Mack, and you have some dominant players on both sides of the field. The Raiders also boast one of the leagues most promising wide receiver duos in Amari Cooper, one of the highest rated rookies of the 2015 draft, and Michael Crabtree who is coming off a career year. These two weapons make Derek Carr’s future look even more favorable. Don’t forget the 6’3 athletic freak in the backfield Latavius Murray. The Raiders have plenty of holes to fill, specifically in the secondary, but they are also oozing potential. The Raiders will need to continue to draft well, as they have a top 15 pick this year, but they could make a run at their first playoff appearance since 2002 in the near future.
- Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings are coming off their first division title since 2009, so its no surprise to see them on this list. While their playoff run ended in heartbreak they should take comfort in the fact that they should have bested one of the leagues best team had Blair Walsh been able to make a 27-yard field goal. They have a underappreciated defense with talent at all levels. From Everson Griffen on the defensive line to linebacker Anthony Barr and one of the league’s best safeties, Harrison Smith. On the offensive side they have some question marks to fill, an heir for Adrian Peterson and some weapons for Bridgewater besides Stephan Diggs. If they can compliment their defensive talent with some stability on the offensive side of the ball they can challenge Green Bay for the NFC North every year.
- Jacksonville Jaguars
Young and solid. That’s how I would describe a lot of the starters on the Jags. For a lot of these guys the sky is the limit, however as of now they are just very solid. Blake Bortles has been good his first two years in the league and has one of the best young receiving duos in the league with Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. T.J. Yeldon should also continue to play well, however they will need to drastically improve their offensive line for this offense to really click. The defense is a little weaker, but if Dante Fowler can live up to his high expectations they will have a brilliant young pass rusher to build their defense around. These good building blocks, paired with a top 5 pick in the 2016 draft and a spot in arguably the worst division in football solidify this teams bright future.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With the number 1 overall pick in last years draft, the Bucs drafted their quarterback of the future, Jameis Winston. A strong connection between Winston and another rising star Mike Evans insures a high flying offense for years to come. It would be beneficial to their offense to resign their pro bowl running back Doug Martin, to ensure balance moving forward. On the other side of the ball you have two great defensive players to build around. Outside linebacker Lavonte David is one of the best in the league. Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy does not play a flashy position but he is one of the best interior linemen in the league, a position that is key to disrupting opposing offenses. With a solid nucleus of rising stars, this team comes in at 4th in terms of brightest future.
- Los Angeles Rams
It’s hard to put a team on here with a big question mark at QB, however the Rams have arguably both the best offensive and defensive prospects in football. They also have one of the better up and coming defenses in football, centered around interior defensive lineman, Aaron Donald. This former defensive rookie of the year had just as good of a season as his first, finishing with 43 tackles and 11 sacks from the inside! This guy has an unparalleled repertoire of moves, and is often compared to JJ Watt in terms of his disruptiveness. Joined by Robert Quinn, Alec Ogletree, Janoris Jenkins, and Akeem Ayers this defense will be good for years to come if they can a just a few key secondary pieces. The future of this offense will be built around Todd Gurley. Now in a huge new market of Los Angeles and paired with a top 15 pick, they are a few offensive pieces away from being the team to beat in the next 5 years.