Early NFL Power Rankings: Rams atop post-Super Bowl list, AFC teams land three spots in top four

The NFL has always valued draft picks. They are the lifeblood of your team, the building blocks to winning a Super Bowl.

Now teams may be about to re-think that after the Los Angeles Rams won the Super Bowl Sunday night. The Rams have built their star-studded team by trading for the quarterback who made the winning throw in Matthew Stafford and they also landed star pass rusher Von Miller, who had two sacks Sunday night, in big-time trades this season.

That’s on the heels of trading away two first-round picks for star corner Jalen Ramsey two years ago.

Stars win games in this league, and the Rams are exhibit A. But is it just easy to trade away picks to go for it? No, It takes shrewd drafting in the later rounds to do that, which Rams general manager Les Snead has done.

The risk was always there making those moves, but by beating the Bengals, 23-20, in the Super Bowl Sunday night, it was all worth it.

Now comes the tough part of trying to continue to do it. There is talk that coach Sean McVay might walk away, something he didn’t back up late Sunday night after the game. Star defensive tackle Aaron Donald is said to also be considering walking away. Plus, they have other players like left tackle Andrew Whitworth who might hang it up. If Donald comes back, they can win it all again.

Stars make it that way.

The challenge will be the continue to supplement the roster with lower draft picks who can contribute. That’s the challenge, but the Rams might be changing the blueprint on team building.

They finish atop my Power Rankings after beating the Bengals, who are in the second spot. Cincinnati had a nice playoff run, a precursor of things to come with Joe Burrow. But they better improve on the offensive line or it might not matter who is under center.

Burrow was sacked 19 times in the postseason, including seven times by the Rams. If not for his ability to move, that number could have been a lot higher.

The Bengals will try and fend off the curse of the Super Bowl loser, but they have a group of talented players who will put them in as the favorite in the AFC North next season. If the line improves, look out.

For now, they are left to wonder what might have been if they could have kept Donald and his line mates off of Burrow.

The Rams end the season as the best in the NFL, leaving teams to wonder if those draft picks they once viewed like Fort Knox gold might be more like crashing crypto currency.