2016 NFL MVP Power Rankings - Pre-Draft Edition

The 2016 NFL season is still several months away. The rosters aren't even close to set yet, because the NFL draft has yet to occur. However, we do have an idea of which players are the 2016 MVP front-runners. It's not just stats and wins that determine the MVP, although those are incredibly important. It's also how much a player means to their team and how drastic the drop-off would be if the player in question were to miss time.

This list could look completely different at the end of the season, and not many expected Cam Newton to end up winning MVP this year. The difference between the players on this list isn't a big one. Several talented players just missed out as well. With that in mind, here the 2016 NFL MVP Power Rankings - Pre-Draft Edition: 

10. J.J. Watt, DE, Texans

It's borderline obligatory to put Watt on this list. He's an incredible defender, and the best at his position. Although there are other defensive players who are just as good (like Luke Kuechly), Watt still gets the hype that's needed to be in the MVP discussion. While it will be incredibly difficult for Watt or any defensive player to win the MVP, it's worth mentioning. 

9. Drew Brees, QB, Saints

This one is bit tricky, because although Brees is still playing at a high level, the Saints are not. The MVP usually plays for one of the best teams, which is why Brees would need to put up a massive season to stay in the MVP discussion. Brees putting together a massive season is one of the few ways the Saints will be able to contend for a playoff spot. Brees beat out several other quality QBs like Matt Ryan, Tony Romo, Joe Flacco and Eli Manning. 

8. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers

A wide out hasn't come close to winning and NFL MVP award since Jerry Rice did it in 1987. Because the league is so QB dominated (as shown below), the MVP award is more likely to go to team's QB than WR. That's just the nature of the NFL, although that doesn't take away from what Browns has done in recent seasons. He's been nothing short of spectacular, and he's one of the best WRs in the NFL. Players like DeAndre Hopkins and Julio Jones have put up great numbers, but they lack the consistency of Brown. 

7. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings

Peterson was the last running back to the win the NFL MVP, and that's not an easy task. Peterson put up great numbers again last year, but he'd likely need to approach 2,000 yards to be in serious contention this year. Peterson is still the league's top running back, although young players like Todd Gurley are pushing for that title. 

6. Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals 

The real question surrounding Palmer is how he rebounds after a disastrous end to his season. Palmer turned the ball over six times, including four picks against the Panthers in the NFC Championship. It's the closest Palmer has ever been to a Super Bowl and a performance like that could hurt Palmer's psyche. But if Palmer keeps his regular season form, he could be back in the MVP race. 

5. Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks

Wilson carried his offense last season, especially late. Wilson won't have Marshawn Lynch this year, but he didn't really have him the previous season either. Wilson has a unique ability to extend plays, and he's improved the players around him. However, his offensive line is terrible this year. If the Seahawks don't find upgrades in the draft, Wilson could take a major beating. 

4. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers

When healthy, Roethlisberger is among the best QBs in the NFL. And while Roethlisberger constantly plays through injury, he's hurt quite a bit. Big Ben is still putting up strong numbers, but he needs to do just a little bit more to win an MVP. Staying healthy for a season would help, although the loss of Martavis Bryant for a year will deprive Roethlisberger of one of his best weapons. 

3. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers

Rodgers is coming off a down year by his standards, but he is still tied for the most Associated Press MVPs among active players. Rodgers won in 2011 and 2014, and his talent hasn't dropped. The return of Jordy Nelson, and possibly a thinner Eddie Lacy, could be a big boost for Rodgers. 

2. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots

Brady has only two AP NFL MVPs, having won in 2007 and 2010. Brady always seems to be close to winning, but comes up just short. That might be the case this season, although it was clear last year that Brady carried his offense. The Patriots have given Brady a few more reliable weapons and have tried to upgrade the offensive line. Perhaps that will be enough to get Brady his third MVP. 

1. Cam Newton, QB, Panthers

Newton might not win the MVP next season, and no one has won back-to-back AP MVPs since Peyton Manning did so in 2008 and 2009. But Newton is still the reigning MVP and that's why he deserves the top spot. Until the season actually starts, Newton has earned the top spot. 

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Related Topics: Adrian Peterson, Carson Palmer, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, NFL MVP, Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger, J.J. Watt, Cam Newton, Drew Brees, Tom Brady