NFL Power Rankings: Where Do Teams Stack Up After the Draft?

Ty Schalter@tyschalterNFL National Lead WriterMay 12, 2014

NFL Power Rankings: Where Do Teams Stack Up After the Draft?

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    All 256 picks of the NFL draft are in the books, and every key free agent has long since signed. All 32 NFL teams have largely finished building their rosters for the 2014 season. Now it's time to see how they stack up against each other—at least, as much as is possible without playing football.

    A quick reminder: These are power rankings, a snapshot of where these teams stand in relation to one another. They aren't reflective of last year's records (SPOILER ALERT: The Seahawks are not No. 1), nor are they offseason grades.

    They're an attempt to rank the overall state of the league's rosters—considering their talent, depth, experience, youth and balance.

    Whenever power rankings are done, fans upset with their team's too-low ranking will say things like, "But we added [however many] new starters in the draft!" Yes, and so did every other team.

    In order to gain ground in the NFL, you have to get better faster than the other teams around you. Teams that stand pat or get worse (sorry, Carolina Panthers fans) will drop a long way in these rankings from their 2013 finish.

    The other thing to remember in these rankings: Rookies rarely make a huge impact on the bottom line. If your favorite team really struggled at cornerback in 2013, a fifth-round rookie is not going to step in and fix the problem for 2014.

    My colleague Matt Miller usually handles the power rankings; he last did them at the end of the 2013 regular season. Let's find out how the teams stack up now.

32. Miami Dolphins

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    J Pat Carter/Associated Press

    The Miami Dolphins were not a bad football team in 2013. However, they needed just one win in two games against the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets to make a bid for the playoffs and didn't show up for either game.

    On the heels of a season-long scandal that involved most of the offensive line, most of that offensive line departed. The Dolphins, after over a year of talking about it, finally landed Branden Albert to hold down the left tackle spot—but none of the other linemen they signed or drafted (apologies to first-round pick Ja'Wuan James, who the Dolphins wildly reached for) look like immediate, quality starters.

    Beyond the gutted O-line, the Dolphins let several key defensive starters walk in free agency and did little to replace them. The Dolphins looked punchless and disinterested at the end of 2013, and they're likely to be worse on defense in 2014.

    That spells disaster.

31. Tennessee Titans

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    Craig Ruttle/Associated Press

    The Tennessee Titans took an offensive tackle in the first round despite already having two starters under contract (and a mess of needs elsewhere). Taylor Lewan donned his "deal with it" shades; Titans fans are going to have to deal with yet another rebuilding year.

    The Titans have new head coach Ken Whisenhunt coming in, and new defensive coordinator Ray Horton switching the Titans base defense to a 3-4 alignment. That always makes for a year of regression and confusion as miscast starters try to learn new roles, and the front office frantically churns the bottom of the roster.

    The Titans lost major pieces like corner Alterraun Verner, running back Chris Johnson and receiver Kenny Britt in free agency, and they made no real attempt to replace them.

    To avoid a fall to the cellar of the AFC South, second-round rookie back Bishop Sankey will have to hit the ground running (ha!), and Jake Locker will need to make the most out of his last chance in Tennessee.

30. Houston Texans

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt. J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. The NFL's most dominant defensive lineman and a once-in-a-generation pass-rushing prospect. The idea is intoxicating.

    Add in perennial Pro Bowler Andre Johnson, tailback Arian Foster and an offensive line anchored by stud Duane Brown, and the Texans should waltz back to the playoffs, right?

    Well, no, not unless fourth-round rookie Tom Savage is a heckuva lot better than anyone thought.

    The Texans—with Foster and Johnson, when healthy—had the 31st-ranked offense in 2013. They added second-round rookie Xavier Su'a-Filo and tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz in the draft, but the problem was under center. There's little evidence Savage or veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to make much of a difference to the Texans' bottom line.

    Even with the addition of Clowney and safety Chris Clemons, a defense ranked in the bottom third of the NFL in points allowed (which lost a lot of rotational and depth players to free agency) is not going to become a dominant unit in 2014.

29. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Steelers played .500 ball in 2013 but only after getting off to a horrific 2-6 start.

    Yes, they closed the season on a 6-2 run through the wide-open AFC, but last season was a sneak preview of what a Ben Roethlisberger decline would do to the Steelers offense.

    Adding running back LeGarrette Blount in free agency and getting a full healthy year out of 2013 second-round pick Le'Veon Bell will go a long way to get the Steelers back to "normal."

    However, "normal" includes real problems along the offensive line and in the secondary; signing former Carolina Panthers safety Mike Mitchell was their only effort to improve either position group. They spent most of their free-agent money and draft capital replacing departed defenders.

    Considering rookies almost never start on defense in Pittsburgh, it's hard to see the Steelers getting back to .500 in 2014.

28. Oakland Raiders

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    Associated Press

    Let me be clear: I like what general manager Reggie McKenzie is doing in Oakland.

    Yes, his very public failures to re-sign quality young veterans like Jared Veldheer and Lamarr Houston looked terrible, and the goof-up with Rodger Saffold looked worse. 

    Yet, between aggressively signing veterans in the back half of their prime and putting together what might have been the most sane, needs-driven, high-value Raiders draft ever, McKenzie has assembled a formidable defensive front seven.

    By drafting Derek Carr, McKenzie has also made a serious attempt to bring desperately needed stability to the quarterback position. If it pays off, the Raiders could get much better very quickly.

27. Buffalo Bills

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    Jamie Herrmann/Associated Press

    You can't knock the Bills' effort. They boldly traded up for receiver Sammy Watkins and reached for immediate need for the rest of the draft.

    Unfortunately, this came on the heels of a free-agency period where they let the team's best player, safety Jairus Byrd, walk without a replacement. They didn't get one in the draft, either (not that there was a Jairus Byrd replacement available).

    Head coach Doug Marrone has put together an interesting corps of receivers after trading longtime Bills standout Stevie Johnson: Watkins, Mike Williams and sophomores Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin. Add in a few clever defensive signings like middle linebacker Brandon Spikes and outside linebacker Keith Rivers, and there's the making of something good here...

    ...just not quite good enough, not quite yet. If the Bills are to surprise this year, they need a huge step up from second-year quarterback EJ Manuel.

26. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    The Jaguars identified a need: passing offense.

    They aggressively addressed the need, spending three picks in the first 61 on a quarterback and two wide receivers. Saying farewell to Maurice Jones-Drew and adding Toby Gerhart, Adrian Peterson's longtime understudy, was similarly bold.

    Head coach Gus Bradley also signed a pair of ex-Seahawks defensive linemen plus a grip of veteran defenders who add depth at every level.

    Yet, the quarterback (Blake Bortles) isn't ready to play, so they'll rely on veteran placeholder Chad Henne until he is. 

    Unfortunately, the sum of all these good moves isn't likely to be much more impressive than last season's team. It's still going to be Henne throwing mostly to Cecil Shorts and Ace Sanders until the rookies get up to speed, and there's little evidence Gerhart can be the difference-making workhorse back Jones-Drew used to be.

25. Cleveland Browns

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    What do first-round picks Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel mean to the Cleveland Browns' success in 2014?

    Not a lot.

    Manziel needs time to learn how to execute an NFL offense, and better cornerbacks than Justin Gilbert have struggled in their rookie seasons. Given the indefinite suspension of star receiver Josh Gordon, quarterback Brian Hoyer and the Browns will be leaning heavily on free-agent tailback Ben Tate and third-round rookie tailback Terrance West to carry the load.

    Defensively, the Browns should be no worse than in 2014, when they ranked 14th in scoring defense. Yet, enough pieces are being swapped around that chemistry on that unit might fairly be called into question.

    Like the Jaguars, the Browns are making smart moves to get better, but those moves won't bear fruit in 2014.

24. Dallas Cowboys

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    Zack Martin is not sexy.

    At least, he's not sexy in the way that gets football fans up out of their seats and screaming. He's not sexy in the way that gets draft analysts falling all over themselves to dish out A's.

    Yet, his quality and versatility is a perfect fit for Dallas—justifying owner Jerry Jones' decision to pass on quarterback Johnny Manziel. Jones managed to keep himself from being distracted by the sexy pick and committed resources to supporting head coach Jason Garrett.

    It may not be the move the fans wanted, but it's the right move. Give him credit for that.

    Once you're done giving credit, you can go back to bashing Jones for his bizarre handling of free agency.

23. Washington Redskins

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Washington general manager Bruce Allen did a masterful job of bringing in free agents this spring, starting with beastly nose tackle Jason Hatcher, going to every level of the defense and finally providing Robert Griffin III with a difference-making receiver in DeSean Jackson.

    Better yet, he did it without losing any significant pieces on either side of the ball.

    Assuming new head coach Jay Gruden can wring a performance out of Griffin that's somewhere in between his dominant rookie season and disastrous sophomore season, Washington is going to be very, very fun to watch this season—and could overtake a team or two in the always close NFC East.

22. Carolina Panthers

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    Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

    The Carolina Panthers had a fantastic 2013 regular season.

    I hope you took pictures, Panthers fans, because their free-agency period was an unmitigated disaster. Losing two starters out of their secondary and nearly their entire wide receiver corps doesn't bode well for the Panthers in 2014.

    Replacement-level stopgaps like Jerricho Cotchery and Tiquan Underwood are not going to net the Panthers another 12-win season. Throughout the draft, the Panthers reached for need to fill out the roster—including first-round receiver Kelvin Benjamin—but most of those picks won't turn into quality NFL starters right away.

    It almost seems as though the Panthers are targeting 2015 as a rebound year rather than striking while the iron is hot.

21. Baltimore Ravens

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    I have the greatest respect for Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome and his staff.

    That said, it's hard to figure out their approach to this offseason.

    It seems as though they're reinforcing their strengths, adding defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan in the second round and defensive tackle C.J. Mosley in fourth. These two talented players should make the Ravens better at what the Ravens are always good at.

    After letting top receiver Anquan Boldin go to San Francisco and watching their offense fall apart, the Ravens signed Carolina Panthers icon Steve Smith. Yet, Smith's performance fell off the map in 2013, despite the Panthers being desperate for weapons.

    If Smith doesn't have anything left, the Ravens haven't done anything to address their biggest needs—and their 25th-ranked scoring offense won't be any better in 2014.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Whether or not you buy Tampa Bay Buccaneers first-round draft pick Mike Evans as a game-changing NFL receiver, there's one thing that's clear: The Bucs got a whole lot better in this offseason.

    They replaced overbearing coach Greg Schiano with Lovie Smith, who was on staff during the Bucs' glory years in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

    They signed a massive crop of free agents, headlined by star corner Alterraun Verner and freaky defensive end Michael Johnson, as well as Bears veteran quarterback Josh McCown (coming off his monster breakout year). The Bucs drafted another size-speed freak, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, to give McCown and returning sophomore Mike Glennon a big, reliable target.

    The Bucs went 4-12 last season and afterward cut superstar cornerback Darrelle Revis from the squad. Yet, the Bucs made enough smart decisions and enough good signings to set themselves up for a much better record in 2014.

19. Minnesota Vikings

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    The Minnesota Vikings got the steal of the draft when they picked Teddy Bridgewater—Bleacher Report NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller's top prospect overall—with the No. 32 pick in the draft. They also happened to score a firey pass-rushing outside linebacker, Anthony Barr, with the No. 9 pick.

    That was after trading down one slot with the Browns and using the fifth-rounder they netted in the trade to get beastly Stanford guard David Yankey.

    Free agency was more of a mixed bag, with tons of prospects leaving and arriving all at once. That said, new head coach Mike Zimmer is tremendously well-respected around the NFL, and the trajectory of the Vikings curves unmistakably up.

18. Atlanta Falcons

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    Jason Getz/Associated Press

    The Falcons didn't get "the biggest steal" of the draft when they took Jake Matthews, as I said the lucky team who drafts Matthews might get. Nevertheless, the Falcons got a bulletproof prospect at a position of crying need—and a kid who would go in the first three picks in any other draft at the No. 6 overall slot.

    That's great for them.

    The Falcons also drafted Ra'Shede Hageman, who could be a monster 3-4 DE if he put his mind to it. That's not to mention free safety Dezmen Southward and running back Devonta Freeman all in the first few rounds. Hageman will look great next to former Miami Dolphins tackle Paul Soliai and former Chiefs defensive end Tyson Jackson.

    The question again is motivation, but Hageman has the tools to dominate.

17. New York Giants

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    The New York Giants are one of the hardest teams to get a bead on.

    With Rashad Jennings, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Geoff Schwartz headlining a rich free-agent signing class, you'd expect the news to be good. With a list of free-agent departures, including stud interior rusher Linval Joseph, receiver Hakeem Nicks and longtime captain Justin Tuck, you'd expect the news to be bad.

    Perhaps breaking the tie, general manager Jerry Reese snagged speedy receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in the first round and went on to draft good developmental players at critical spots the rest of the way. Now, only time will tell if this draft class is a winner or not.

    In the meantime, for 2014, their 28th-ranked scoring defense has every opportunity to be much better—but, if quarterback Eli Manning can't cut down on his interception rate, the Giants offense won't actually be much better.

16. St. Louis Rams

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    Craig Ruttle/Associated Press

    The St. Louis Rams face the impossible task of improving their standing in the NFC West. Well behind the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers and not much closer on the heels of the Arizona Cardinals, Rams head coach Jeff Fisher is no less set on trying to win now.

    With the No. 2 and No. 13 overall picks, the Rams added prototypical left tackle Greg Robinson and interior pass-rusher Aaron Donald. Donald, together with defensive ends Robert Quinn and Chris Long, could help make one of the most dangerous defensive lines in the game. Second-round cornerback Lamarcus Joyner and third-round running back Tre Mason should get on the field sooner rather than later.

    Beyond mercurial receiver Kenny Britt and (presumptive) backup quarterback Shaun Hill, though, the Rams didn't do much in free agency.

15. Philadelphia Eagles

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    Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia Eagles were one of the biggest stories of 2013. Not only were they one of the most aggressive teams in free agency, new head coach Chip Kelly's offense turned the league on its ear, racking up a fourth-best 27.6 points per game, per Pro Football Reference.

    This season, it's been the polar opposite.

    The Eagles' biggest free-agent move was to cut star receiver DeSean Jackson outright. They also let quarterback Michael Vick walk, allowing Nick Foles to take the starting job, and let both of last year's free-agent defensive backs go in favor of two others: safety Malcolm Jenkins and corner Nolan Carroll.

    After a very quiet free-agency period where the Eagles got worse overall, they kicked off the draft with a big reach for pass-rusher Marcus Smith. Second-round receiver Jordan Matthews is a perfect fit—but rookie wideouts rarely dominate, and the Eagles will be relying on him and rehabbed veteran Jeremy Maclin for almost all of their passing offense in 2013.

14. Indianapolis Colts

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    A little less than a year ago, I power-ranked the NFL on the eve of training camps opening up. I excoriated the Colts for taking a windfall of cap room and spending it on too-rich contracts for a legion of not-good-enough players.

    The Colts' strategy worked better than I thought it would; they went 11-5 and made it to the playoffs for the second straight season.

    This time around, I'm more impressed with the Colts' acquisitions. D'Qwell Jackson, Arthur Jones and Hakeem Nicks are all talented veterans at various points in the prime of their careers; any of the three could have a breakout/renaissance season with the change of scenery. Of the players they lost, only Antoine Bethea hurts.

    In the draft, the Colts' ill-fated midseason trade for running back Trent Richardson cost them dearly, leaving them a small handful of picks. Of those five, only second-round pick Jack Mewhort, a versatile offensive lineman, looks like a probable contributor in 2014.

13. New York Jets

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    In 2013, the New York Jets were the least dangerous, least explosive offensive team in football. They averaged a fourth-worst 18.1 points scored per game; sometimes they even looked lucky to be doing that well.

    This season, the Jets' projected skill-position starters are Michael Vick, Chris Johnson, Eric Decker and second-round rookie tight end Jace Amaro. That's a dangerously illegal concentration of weapons-grade athleticism.

    Can offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg pull it all together in an effective way? Did head coach Rex Ryan, between free agency and the draft, get enough raw talent in the door to do his thing?

    The answer to at least one of those questions is sort of, yes—especially with the Jets taking safety Calvin Pryor in the first round and cornerback Dexter McDougle in the second.

12. Detroit Lions

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    Craig Ruttle/Associated Press

    Lions fans didn't seem to care for the selection of tight end Eric Ebron over a player who could bolster the Lions defense.

    Yet, Ebron presents the same kind of physicality Calvin Johnson does; between the two of them, free-agent signee Golden Tate, incumbent tight end Brandon Pettigrew, and tailbacks Reggie Bush and Joique Bell, the Lions have one of the most complete groups of weapons in the NFL.

    The upshot of all this: There are no more excuses for Matthew Stafford. He's got one of the most talented, complete, balanced supporting casts in the NFL; he either gets it done or doesn't. If he does—and I think he does—the Lions have the upside to finish much, much higher.

11. Kansas City Chiefs

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    The Kansas City Chiefs were one of the best stories of 2013. They were the worst team in the NFL in 2012, but a rejuvenated Andy Reid and incredibly aggressive offseason propelled them to an 11-5 finish.

    However, that 11-5 finish came after a 9-0 start. The Chiefs defense lost a lot of mojo when top pass-rushers like Justin Houston and Tamba Hali suffered injuries; without that elite heat on opponent quarterbacks, the secondary was exposed.

    Then, the Chiefs got raided in free agency, losing both starting guards, two safeties and a host of others. They weren't able to attract any surefire starters, so they turned to the draft to add talent. Pass-rusher Dee Ford and cornerback Phillip Gaines are good players at need positions, but the Chiefs just didn't have enough picks to replace all the talent they lost, let alone improve.

10. San Diego Chargers

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    Craig Ruttle/Associated Press

    The Chargers surprised everyone by making the playoffs in 2013 after getting off to a 4-6 start. With a resurgent Philip Rivers playing some of the best football of his life, the Chargers finished the season with a 5-1 run and upset the AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals in the opening round of the playoffs.

    That said, the Chargers were very quiet in free agency, picking up tailback Donald Brown to compete for rotational snaps but neither losing much else nor gaining much else.

    The first-round pick of cornerback Jason Verrett was inspired, and second-round pass-rusher Jeremiah Attaochu has the talent to make a quick impact.

    Surprisingly good playoff-caliber regular season followed by a quiet but effective offseason? Music to this power-ranker's ears.

9. New England Patriots

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    Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

    Every year, Bill Belichick drafts tough, smart, talented rookies and signs talented, troubled veterans who need a change of scenery.

    Every year, Belichick coaches them up, and the Patriots cruise to double-digit wins on the strength of his coaching and Tom Brady's arm.

    For the first time in 13 years, though, Belichick's coaching and Tom Brady's arm were very nearly insufficient. When a rash of injuries and suspensions struck Brady's targets, the Patriots had some really close shaves. They finished 12-4, which papered over a lot of the cracks—but Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos punched a hole through the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.

    Instead of restocking the receiving corps with talent, the Patriots let a lot of players walk—and spent their first two draft picks on an injured defensive tackle and a quarterback. Sure, they replaced Aqib Talib with Darrelle Revis, arguably upgrading in the process, but the message sent here was clear: The Patriots are preparing for life after Tom Brady.

8. Arizona Cardinals

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The Arizona Cardinals put up a valiant effort in 2013. Somehow, they played in the same division as the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks and went 10-6. Unable to edge the 11-5 New Orleans Saints for the last playoff spot, the Cardinals had to stay home for the winter and try to come back stronger in 2014.

    Left tackle Jared Veldheer and cornerback Antonio Cromartie were good pickups at need positions; they will miss linebacker Karlos Dansby and receiver Andre Roberts.

    That said, the Cardinals' top picks in this draft all have the potential to be impact players right away. From safety Deone Bucannon to tight end Troy Niklas to defensive end Kareem Martin, all have the talent to contribute.

    Will that be enough to get them over the hump and out of the Seahawks or 49ers' shadow? Only time will tell.

7. Cincinnati Bengals

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    Al Behrman/Associated Press

    The Cincinnati Bengals have one of the NFL's deepest rosters. They're so deep that losing key players like defensive end Michael Johnson and tackle Anthony Collins doesn't seem to bother them at all. After all, they made no move to replace Collins until late in the seventh round of the draft.

    In fact, their most important free-agent signing might have been quarterback Jason Campbell; he'll step in as the backup to starter Andy Dalton—and may even push him for starting minutes if Dalton continues to be inconsistent.

    Despite functionally standing pat, the Bengals still have one of the most potent rosters in the NFL.

6. Chicago Bears

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    After the bold all-in move of firing Lovie Smith and hiring Marc Trestman, the Bears' less-than-the-sum-of-its-parts offense finally clicked. The Bears put up a second-best 27.8 points per game, per Pro Football Reference. Unfortunately, their perennially stout defense imploded.

    In the aftermath of that collapse, a lot of talented veterans sought their fortunes elsewhere, including Josh McCown, Devin Hester, Julius Peppers and Henry Melton.

    It's no wonder Trestman and Co. took defensive tackles with their second- and third-round picks: The Bears desperately need to stop the bleeding. Yet, who'd they take first? Kyle Fuller, a big, physical, NFL-ready cornerback, a perfect antidote to the explosive receivers of the NFC North.

    Add in former All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen and interior pass-rusher Lamarr Houston to this mix, and there's no reason to believe the Bears can't make a serious bid to get the division crown back from the Green Bay Packers.

5. New Orleans Saints

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    The New Orleans Saints made an incredible splash early on in free agency. Despite being allegedly strapped for cap room, they signed the best free agent available at any position: free safety Jairus Byrd.

    To pull it off, the Saints had to let a lot of valuable players walk, from starting center Brian de la Puente to safeties Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins. At the end of the day, though, with franchise-tagged tight end Jimmy Graham still in the fold, the Saints improved in free agency.

    They also drafted well, adding dangerous wide receiver Brandin Cooks—a perfect fit for their offense—in the first round; a big, fast, raw cornerback prospect in Stanley Jean-Baptiste; and a prototypical Rob Ryan inside linebacker in Khairi Fortt.

    All in all, the Saints had a better year than most expected and are clearly better now.

4. Green Bay Packers

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    After a couple of seasons of crying need, the Packers finally got a skilled, athletic coverage safety, taking Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round.

    They also added receiver Davante Adams in the second round of the draft and swooped up hulking pass-rusher Julius Peppers in free agency when the Chicago Bears let him loose.

    Most of the Packers' improvement, though, is just going to be from Aaron Rodgers' restored health. The Packers went 6-3 with him in 2013, per Pro Football Reference, but only 2-4-1 when starting other quarterbacks. 

    I don't believe in quarterback wins as a stat, but those numbers are no coincidence. Rodgers is an MVP-caliber quarterback who elevates the play of those around him, which is something you can't teach—or replace.

3. Seattle Seahawks

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    I'll surely get plenty of flak for dropping the Seahawks all the way to No. 3, but let's face it: Most of their offseason has been mitigating loss, and they haven't done that well.

    Brandon Browner, Walter Thurmond, Red Bryant and Clinton McDonald are all gone. So are Chris Maragos, Carson Wiggs, Breno Giacomini, Paul McQuistan, Kellen Davis and Golden Tate.

    The Seahawks didn't sign anyone of great significance, nor did their draft class have any game-changing talents. That said, if there's any team that's proven it knows which overlooked prospects to draft, it's general manager John Schneider and the Seahawks.

    If there's any coach who knows how to motivate prospects and get the most out of them, it's Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll.

2. San Francisco 49ers

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    For what feels like the 12th year in a row, the San Francisco 49ers had a bumper crop of draft picks, and they made the most of it.

    The 49ers drafted safety Jimmie Ward in the first round; he'll partner with last year's top pick, Eric Reid. Somehow, running back Carlos Hyde fell to the 49ers in the second. He'll likely sit behind starter Frank Gore and understudy Kendall Hunter in 2014, and displace failing project backs like LaMichael James while earning the right to do so. 

    The 49ers also got the draft's top center prospect, Marcus Martin, in the third round. They also flipped a conditional 2015 fourth-round pick for Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson.

    Inside linebacker Chris Borland is a perfect fit for their system and will be ready to challenge Patrick Willis for a starting spot when Willis eventually slows down. Needing still more speed at the wideout position, the 49ers drafted Bruce Ellington in the fourth.

    In free agency, the 49ers lost a lot of skilled defensive backs: Donte Whitner, Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown all left. General manager Trent Baalke replaced Whitner with Antoine Bethea, and Brown with Chris Cook.

    What about replacing the second cornerback? The 49ers had so many picks they went ahead and drafted a cornerback in each of the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

    Where Seattle has the depth and coaching to overcome a big net loss in talent, the 49ers had so many picks and used them so wisely they actually added a ton of talent. Not only are the 49ers ahead right now, they're set up to be ahead for a long time.

1. Denver Broncos

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    The Denver Broncos won the offseason when they landed DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward and Emmanuel Sanders in free agency.

    They also got cornerback Bradley Roby in the first round of the draft, addressing a need, and receiver Cody Latimer in the second.

    The Broncos lost a lot of pretty good players too, including cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Zane Beadles, receiver Eric Decker and running back Knowshon Moreno, but the free agents the Broncos brought in are in many cases better than the ones they lost.

    Third-round offensive tackle/guard swing prospect Michael Schofield could help offset the loss of Beadles, and general manager John Elway said, per Troy E. Renck of The Denver Post, he and head coach John Fox were "thrilled" linebacker Lamin Barrow was still there for them to take in the fifth round.

    They were a Super Bowl team a few months ago and clearly got better on defense. And if they regressed on offense it isn't by so much that they won't still have the best offense in the NFL.

    The Broncos, at this instant, are the NFL's best team.