Power Ranking All 32 NFL Defenses, Post-Draft

Alessandro Miglio@@AlexMiglioFeatured ColumnistMay 8, 2015

Power Ranking All 32 NFL Defenses, Post-Draft

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The dust has begun to settle. 

    The draft is over. Free agency has spoken. Power to the coaching carousel has been shut down.

    At the end of it all, we have an altered landscape in the NFL, as is the case every year. How has this affected defenses?

    Based on all the movement—and, in many cases, the stability—let's take a look at where each NFL defense stands as we march on toward the preseason. 

    Will Darrelle Revis propel the New York Jets to the top? Can the San Francisco 49ers weather the retirement storm? Who has improved the most?

    Click through to find out.

32. Tennessee Titans

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Dick LeBeau

    Can Dick LeBeau bring some of that Steelers defensive mentality over from Pittsburgh?

    The Titans haven't exactly been giants on the defensive side of the field—well, on the offensive side either—so even a LeBeau whose defenses had been in decline will be better than whatever the Titans fielded before. 

    Of course, an improved roster would help things, too. Sadly, Tennessee didn't make too many moves on that side of the ball.

    Oft-injured outside linebacker Brian Orakpo might have been the best defensive addition this offseason. If he can stay healthy, he will be a big boost to a mediocre pass rush. 

    Safety Da'Norris Searcy and cornerback Perrish Cox were the only other additions to speak of on defense. The Titans focused on offense in the draft.

31. Chicago Bears

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Vic Fangio

    The dominant years during Brian Urlacher's tenure in Chicago seem like a lifetime ago. Lately, though, that Bears defense has been toothless.

    That's likely why the team hired Vic Fangio. The architect of that fantastic San Francisco 49ers defense over the past four seasons moved on after Jim Harbaugh was canned, but he has a tall task ahead of him in the Windy City.

    He doesn't have the talent that had been accumulated in San Francisco. The Bears lacked quality personnel everywhere on that defense last season, though they have certainly tried to improve on that situation this offseason.

    Chicago signed outside linebacker Pernell McPhee as a pass-rusher in Fangio's new 3-4 defense, nabbing Mason Foster and Sam Acho to man the inside as well.

    The soft underbelly that was the middle of that defensive line got a boost on paper after the Bears took Florida State defensive tackle Eddie Goldman in the draft.

30. Washington

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    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Joe Barry

    Washington was hurting for a pass rush heading into the offseason, and that was before outside linebacker Brian Orakpo signed elsewhere.

    Not that they could rely on his health—Orakpo played in just 24 games over the past three seasons, missing almost the entire 2012 season—but his departure highlighted an already-glaring need.

    Naturally, Washington signed a bunch of interior defensive linemen and took an offensive guard in tackle's clothing despite having the No. 5 pick and a bunch of stud pass-rushers available.

    It's hard to argue with those interior linemen, though—Washington beefed up the middle of that defensive line with Terrance Knighton, Stephen Paea and Ricky Jean-Francois. 

    All was not lost in the draft either, where defensive end Preston Smith landed in Washington's lap in the second round. He may not be Vic Beasley, Bud Dupree or even Randy Gregory, but Smith makes for a decent consolation prize.

    If cornerback Chris Culliver and safety Dashon Goldson pan out, that secondary will have improved dramatically. If they don't, well, Washington fans are used to seeing a porous back line.

29. Green Bay Packers

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Dom Capers

    There has been plenty of turnover on the defensive side of the ball in Green Bay this offseason.

    Gone are linebackers A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones and cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Davon House, replaced by...hold on, it's here somewhere...where did I put that Post-it note?

    Oh, it seems the Packers did nothing to address those positions, either in free agency—typical of general manager Ted Thompson—or the draft. Instead, they will probably stick pass-rusher Clay Matthews inside, though that seems debatable to head coach Mike McCarthy, per Fox Sports' Paul Imig:

    Number one, Clay is an outside linebacker. He's a pass-rusher. That's his premium position. I think it's very evident after the bye week )Week 9 of the 2014 season) that moving Clay around, his productivity went through -- definitely went up.

    Clay is going to both meetings. I was in the inside linebacker meeting on Friday with Clay. He's getting ready to play wherever he needs to play. The most important thing is creating opportunities for your big-time players to make plays, and that's what we'll do with Clay.

    They'll have to rely on unproven youngsters Carl Bradford, Sam Barrington and Joe Thomas whether or not Matthews winds up playing inside.

    Instead of replacing Williams or House, the Packers took a first-round safety when they already have starters Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Maybe fellow safety Micah Hyde will move over to play cornerback alongside Sam Shields and Casey Hayward.

    "In Ted we trust," say Packers fans as they tug on their collars.

28. New Orleans Saints

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    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Rob Ryan

    An awful salary-cap situation took a hatchet to the Saints roster this offseason.

    The offense took bigger hits than the defense, but it wasn't pretty on either side of the ball. The Saints allowed the second-most yards and fifth-most points in the league last season, and it might be more of the same if this offseason is any indication.

    Their best addition came in the form of Stephone Anthony, a surprise first-round pick who should come in and start immediately at inside linebacker. Unless he plays like the Rookie of the Year, however, that linebacker corps is just not going to be very good in 2015.

    The pass rush might see an improvement if Cam Jordan and Junior Galette get back to their 2013 form—not to mention the addition of second-round pick Hau'oli Kikaha—but it could just as easily be as bad as the 34-sack unit from a year ago.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Leslie Frazier

    For having such a powerful defensive duo at the top in head coach Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, the Buccaneers sure left a lot to be desired on that side of the ball in 2014.

    Tampa Bay featured the eighth-worst defense in the league last season, and that was after they'd spent big in free agency. The Buccaneers simply cut bait with big acquisitions Michael Johnson and Dashon Goldson after they failed to pull their weight.

    It wasn't all bad, though—Henry Melton came over to pair with Gerald McCoy and formed one of the more formidable defensive tackle duos in the league. Linebacker Bruce Carter and cornerback Sterling Moore made for nice values in free agency.

    Perhaps part of the reason why Tampa Bay hasn't been very good on defense is the fact that they have focused so much on the offensive side of the ball—Tampa Bay has selected exactly one defender over the past two drafts, linebacker Kwon Alexander in the fourth round of this year's draft.

26. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Keith Butler

    Out with the old, in with the new and athletic.

    That starts at defensive coordinator, where legendary Dick LeBeau was replaced by Keith Butler, who is 19 years his junior. Granted, Butler is 58, but that's a far cry from the 77-year-old LeBeau.

    Safety Troy Polamalu retired, leaving a massive hole on the back line and in the locker room. He followed promising pass-rusher Jason Worilds out of the NFL.

    That's why the Steelers drafted Bud Dupree with the 22nd pick in the draft. Much like linebacker Ryan Shazier a year ago, Dupree comes into the league as an athletic marvel that will need some polish. 

    Unfortunately, there were too many holes to fill on that defense. Even with the additions of Dupree and second-round cornerback Senquez Golson, that defense—which ranked in the middle of the pack last season—is in for a rough season.

25. Cleveland Browns

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    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Jim O'Neil

    Cleveland boasted the ninth-best scoring defense in the league last season. Unfortunately, the Browns also featured the 10th-worst total defense.

    Better to bend and not break, right?

    There was a bit of roster churning for the Browns this offseason, particularly on the defensive side. Gone is Buster Skrine, replaced by the cheaper and older Tramon Williams. Defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin is out, replaced by rookie Danny Shelton at nose tackle in the team's 3-4 hybrid defense.

    The Browns were clearly trying to shore up that defensive front, signing Randy Starks, drafting Xavier Cooper to beef up the middle and taking second-rounder Nate Orchard as a pure pass-rusher to replace disappointing and departed Jabaal Sheard.

    Will that all add up to an improved defense? Probably, but it could be marginal growth under second-year head coach Mike Pettine.

24. Atlanta Falcons

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    Sean Gardner/Getty Images

    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Richard Smith

    The pass rush has been a major issue for Atlanta in recent years. The Falcons did their best to address that once and for all this offseason.

    It started early in free agency, when linebacker Brooks Reed and defensive end Adrian Clayborn were signed, and it culminated with the selection of Clemson edge-rusher Vic Beasley, who is one of the safest rookie prospects heading into the NFL this season. 

    The Falcons also bolstered their secondary with cornerback Jalen Collins, who will be a nice addition in nickel packages.

23. Oakland Raiders

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    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Ken Norton Jr.

    Hoping to bring some of that dominance down from Seattle, the Oakland Raiders hired former linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. away from the Seahawks.

    Unfortunately for him, the roster isn't quite comparable, even if it is improving.

    The Raiders had another offseason with a ton of cap space available, but it wasn't necessarily spent wisely. The best pickup on defense was former Arizona Cardinals nose tackle Dan Williams.

    Linebacker Curtis Lofton, safety Nate Allen and linebacker Malcolm Smith are all middling signings who could be slight improvements, and Mario Edwards Jr. should bolster the defensive line as a rookie.

    However, general manager Reggie McKenzie has failed to impress over the past two offseasons after getting his team out of cap hell.

22. Philadelphia Eagles

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    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Billy Davis

    We are going to find out rather quickly whether offensive-minded head coach Chip Kelly can evaluate defensive personnel.

    The hullabaloo was all about the offense in Philly, but Kelly did plenty of tweaking to the roster on the defensive side of the ball.

    Cornerback Byron Maxwell was the big-name addition, getting overpaid to the tune of a six-year, $63 million deal. He should be an upgrade, but Maxwell isn't Richard Sherman material.

    At least Kelly retained Brandon Graham, who had been criminally underutilized for years. Hopefully his four-year, $26 million deal means he will see the field more.

    Utah's Eric Rowe was a nice pickup for that secondary, which needed dire help at safety before Nate Allen signed elsewhere. The second-round pick should have a good shot at starting as a rookie. Whether or not he will be good is a question for another time.

21. Detroit Lions

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    The Lions won't have these two to anchor the middle of that defensive line anymore.
    The Lions won't have these two to anchor the middle of that defensive line anymore.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Teryl Austin

    Whatever the Detroit Lions try to tell you, don't be fooled—they are going to miss Ndamukong Suh. They should also miss Nick Fairley, though he could have been retained without much effort.

    General manager Martin Mayhew tried his best to minimize the damage, but 31-year-old Haloti Ngata isn't quite the same player. True, Tyrunn Walker is a promising player, but it would be difficult for anyone to fill Suh's shoes.

    The Lions did draft Gabe Wright out of Auburn after he fell into the fourth round, but the big defensive tackle will likely serve as a rotational player on running downs as a rookie.

    Hence, Detroit's top-ranked run defense should decline a bit in 2015. The 13th-ranked pass defense, meanwhile, was hardly addressed.

    The only real addition to the secondary was third-round pick Alex Carter, a versatile player who might need a year to get his feet under him in the NFL. 

20. Indianapolis Colts

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    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Greg Manusky

    Slowly but surely, the Colts defense is catching up to the offense.

    OK, that will never happen with Andrew Luck under center, but that unit is still on the rise if Indy's offseason moves are any indication.

    The Colts beefed up the defensive line by signing Kendall Langford and shored up the pass rush with the addition of outside linebacker Trent Cole. Of course, that was after losing Ricky Jean-Francois and Cory Redding, so it's all relative.

    Defensive end Henry Anderson and cornerback D'Joun Smith could be solid depth players as rookies, but the Colts didn't really do much for the immediate future in the draft.

19. San Diego Chargers

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    2015 Defensive Coordinator: John Pagano

    Quarterback Philip Rivers dominates headlines in San Diego these days, but that defense was quietly impressive in 2014.

    It was particularly good against the pass, ranking fourth in the league. Safety Eric Weddle is one of the best in the league, and cornerback Brandon Flowers bounced back from a rough end with the Kansas City Chiefs to have one of the best seasons at his position for the Chargers, according to Pro Football Focus.

    Defensive backs Marcus Gilchrist and Shareece Wright are gone, replaced by Jimmy Wilson and Patrick Robinson. Third-round cornerback Craig Mager should join the fray, too.

    The pass rush might be a problem, however.

    Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson retired, and Dwight Freeney won't be far behind at 35 years of age. The Chargers didn't do anything to address the position this offseason, which may have created an Achilles' heel for that defense.

18. New England Patriots

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    Revis Island has left the Boston Harbor.
    Revis Island has left the Boston Harbor.Elsa/Getty Images

    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Matt Patricia

    It must have been rather deflating for Patriots fans to watch Darrelle Revis take the money and reunite with Gang Green in New York. The star cornerback's flight really took the wind out of the offseason sails after New England's championship run. 

    After years of mediocre secondary play, that unit was pumped up by Revis, flanked by fellow newcomer Brandon Browner and Devin McCourty, one of the best safeties in the league.

    McCourty re-signed to a below-market deal, but Browner is also gone. The Patriots are back at the drawing board, having signed Robert McClain and Bradley Fletcher to try to fill those shoes.

    There is better news on the defensive front, where New England landed Jabaal Sheard to improve the pass rush and defensive tackle Malcom Brown to replace longtime starter Vince Wilfork in the middle.

    The pressure will be on defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to keep the defense from falling to the middle of the pack—or worse—after those losses in the secondary, however.

17. San Francisco 49ers

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    Bowman stands alone in the middle of that 49ers defense.
    Bowman stands alone in the middle of that 49ers defense.Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Eric Mangini

    There is no doubt about it, the 49ers defense is a shell of its former self.

    Unexpected retirements by middle linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland were big blows, even if NaVorro Bowman can get back to form after missing the 2014 season with a devastating knee injury.

    Beyond that, San Francisco let defensive end Ray McDonald go, and the team could see his counterpart, Justin Smith, retire before the season begins. Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks might not be long for the roster either after a recent accusation of sexual assault, per USA Today''s Lindsay H. Jones.

    Fortunately, the 49ers have some depth on which they can rely.

    Defensive end Tank Carradine and linebacker Aaron Lynch are young players who should see bigger roles, and Oregon defensive tackle Arik Armstead was San Francisco's first-round pick.

    The 49ers focused on defense in the draft, taking safety Jaquiski Tartt and outside linebacker Eli Harold after Armstead to replenish the ranks.

16. Dallas Cowboys

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    Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Rod Marinelli

    There has been no shortage of buzz surrounding the Dallas Cowboys after their surprising playoff appearance.

    At first, the situation seemed dire—there was little cap space in Dallas, and the Cowboys were hemorrhaging players. That was especially true on the defensive side, where defensive tackle Henry Melton, defensive end George Selvie and linebackers Bruce Carter and Justin Durant all bolted.

    It even looked like they might lose Comeback Player of the Year candidate Rolando McClain. He would eventually re-sign, however, and the Cowboys quietly inked Jasper Brinkley and Andrew Gachkar to fill other holes at linebacker.

    Of course, the biggest free-agent acquisition came in the form of controversial defensive end Greg Hardy, who has been dealing with the fallout from his alleged domestic violence issue. Those charges were eventually dismissed, but that didn't stem the public's ire or stop the NFL's ban hammer.

    As far as football production, Hardy might have been a huge gain for Dallas. His 10-game suspension, per Ken Belson of The New York Times, short-circuited that notion, though a reduction via appeal could have him contributing before the midway point of the season.

    Perhaps that's why the Cowboys stole edge-rusher Randy Gregory in the second round of the draft. 

    Once considered a top-10 player, Gregory's draft stock fell off a cliff when word got out that he'd failed a drug test at the NFL combine, per NFL.com's Kimberly Jones. Rumors of mental issues also surfaced during the draft, as reported by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Albert Breer.

    Owner Jerry Jones saw an opportunity and took it, snagging one of the draft's best pass-rushers to pair with second-year defensive end Demarcus Lawrence.

    That came after the Cowboys took the draft's most athletic defensive back in Byron Jones, bolstering one of the team's weakest areas—the secondary.

15. Cincinnati Bengals

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Paul Guenther

    The pass rush was a disaster in Cincinnati last season. Good thing Michael Johnson is back.

    His money grab a year ago wasn't the only reason why the Bengals had the fewest sacks in the league last season. Not making a real effort to replace him might have been, however.

    Johnson is back after his ill-fated tenure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That'll be a boon for the Bengals defense if he can be the player he was two years ago. If not, it could be another long year trying to get to the quarterback, given that they didn't do much else to address the issue.

    The Bengals did nab inside linebacker A.J. Hawk in free agency, and they stole former TCU linebacker Paul Dawson at the end of the third round. Whether or not the latter sees the field much as a rookie is another matter, but Cincinnati has nice depth there.

14. Baltimore Ravens

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Dean Pees

    The personnel keeps taking hits in Baltimore, yet the Ravens keep on chugging. It seems like just yesterday that Ed Reed and Ray Lewis were prowling on defense.

    This time around, outside linebacker Pernell McPhee and longtime defensive tackle Haloti Ngata are gone. How did the Ravens cope? By saying "next man up," as has been the case in recent years.

    Not only did general manager Ozzie Newsome avoid big moves in free agency, but he went against his own history and selected offensive skill players early in the draft.

    It's tough to discount the Ravens, though. After all, they ranked in the top 10 on defense even after all that attrition over the past couple of years.

13. Carolina Panthers

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    Bob Leverone/Associated Press

    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Sean McDermott

    It was just two years ago that the Carolina Panthers had a great defense, one that helped them win the NFC South. Like most things in their division last season, however, things fell apart for that unit.

    Greg Hardy's off-field troubles and subsequent absence were big contributors to that decline, but it was more than just missing a single, talented pass-rusher and the psychology behind his ugly legal woes. They also had issues hanging onto talent thanks to a bad cap situation a year ago.

    It wasn't so bad this time around, but the Panthers didn't add much in the way of talent in free agency. Cornerback Charles Tillman is probably their best signing of the offseason, and he is a declining 34-year-old coming off a triceps tear.

    At least Shaq Thompson was a nice addition in the draft, an athletic outside linebacker who could turn that corps into one of the best in the league, spearheaded by former Defensive Player of the Year Luke Kuechly, of course.

12. New York Giants

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Steve Spagnuolo

    Spags is back. Will that Super Bowl defense follow?

    The New York Giants have been adrift in the NFL ever since defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo departed. The architect of that championship defense from 2007 wasn't there for long, and there have been plenty of issues outside the defensive coordinator in New York.

    But he's back now, and he has something to work with.

    The Giants retained talented defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who has the potential to be the best pass-rusher in the league if he can stay healthy. George Selvie came over from the hated Dallas Cowboys to bookend that defensive line, too.

    The secondary took a hit when Antrel Rolle followed divine inspiration to Chicago, but the Giants pounced when Alabama product Landon Collins fell into the second round. 

    Defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa was an even bigger steal in the third round, an athletic freak who will benefit from JPP's mentorship.

11. Arizona Cardinals

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2015 Defensive Coordinator: James Bettcher

    There were plenty of changes in Arizona this offseason. The biggest loss for the Cardinals comes in the form of defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who had shaped his unit into a surprisingly good one in a tough division. 

    His replacement—former outside linebackers coach James Bettcher—has some big shoes to fill, and it's difficult to see him replicating Bowles' success right out of the gate.

    That is not to say Bettcher will be a bad coach—it's simply difficult to replicate success, especially when your personnel has gotten worse.

    Patrick Peterson headlines the Cardinals secondary, but that might not be such a good thing. Sure, Peterson parlayed a strong start to his career into a massive contract, but he certainly didn't live up to that last year.

    The man who was supposed to challenge Richard Sherman allowed eight touchdowns and a passer rating of 97.0 on balls thrown his direction last season, according to Pro Football Focus, and he was regularly seen getting roasted by good wide receivers.

    Arizona's best cornerback—Antonio Cromartie—is gone, leaving hybrid defensive back Tyrann Mathieu and newly acquired Alfonzo Dennard to account for his absence.

    Then there is second-year safety Deone Bucannon, who needs to improve dramatically after his horrendous rookie season.

    There is plenty of talent in that secondary, but without improvement, the back line of that Cardinals defense could be in for a long year.

    Arizona's pass rush could be the real problem—the Cardinals had just 35 sacks last season and didn't do a particularly good job pressuring opposing quarterbacks. There wasn't much done about that this offseason.

10. Denver Broncos

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Wade Phillips

    Offense hasn't been an issue in Denver ever since Peyton Manning arrived. That defense, however, has been a constant work in progress.

    For all their efforts to improve that side of the ball, the Broncos haven't been able to get that unit to playoff-caliber form. Maybe bringing defensive guru Wade Phillips in will do the trick. 

    That entire staff got an overhaul, so it's difficult to tell whether that'll help or hurt the defense in the short-term. After all, the roster may not have good fits for Phillips' 3-4 defense.

    Maybe that's why the Broncos focused on bargain-bin players like defensive linemen Vance Walker and Antonio Smith in free agency, veterans who can step in and play a two-gap scheme.

    The Broncos did move up in the draft to snag Shane Ray, a polarizing pass-rusher who will benefit from playing opposite Von Miller.

    Outside of replacing safety Rahim Moore with Darian Stewart, that's just about all she wrote for the Broncos this offseason, at least until the post-draft wave of free agency hits. If the defense really improves, it'll be because of Phillips and his staff.

    They did have the third-best total defense in the league in 2014, though playing in an offensively challenged AFC West might have helped a bit.

9. Minnesota Vikings

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    2015 Defensive Coordinator: George Edwards

    The Vikings went to the bargain bin for free agents and to the well in the draft to shore up a middling defense this offseason.

    Terence Newman might have been the team's best free-agent pickup, and he is a 36-year-old stopgap at cornerback. Minnesota drafted his eventual replacement in the first round, Michigan State product Trae Waynes.

    Luck was on Minnesota's side when middle linebacker Eric Kendricks fell to the middle of the second round. That defense may have found its starting inside linebacker for the foreseeable future thanks to some injury concerns.

    Newman's age notwithstanding, the Vikings have a nascent defense that should be the best in the NFC North.

8. Miami Dolphins

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Kevin Coyle

    If only the Dolphins defense could close out games.

    Miami missed out on the playoffs after giving up two late leads, buckling in the passing game. Naturally, the Dolphins beefed up the middle of the defensive line.

    In this case, who could blame them? Ndamukong Suh is one of the most dominant defenders in the league, and he should make everyone around him better. 

    That entire defensive line is going to be frightening for opposing offenses to face, with pass-rushers Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon terrorizing quarterbacks from the outside while Suh and Co. wreak havoc in the middle.

    Rookie Jordan Phillips should be part of that company, a second-round steal who should be a run-stuffing rotational player right out of the gate.

    Not everything is sunshine and rainbows, though. The Dolphins lack clarity and talent at linebacker, and Brent Grimes is the team's only reliable cornerback. The defensive line is going to have to stay healthy and set the rest of the defense up for success.

7. Houston Texans

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Romeo Crennel

    The Houston defense is spearheaded by a demigod. Now if only the rest of that unit could catch up.

    J.J. Watt can do it all, but he can't do everything. Despite his best efforts, the Texans defense was in the middle of the pack or worse in just about every category except scoring, where they ranked seventh.

    General manager Rick Smith bolstered the middle of the defensive line with Vince Wilfork, who could be a massive addition at nose tackle if he has another good year or two left in him after giving the Patriots everything he had over the past decade. 

    It's fitting that NFL.com's player comparison for second-round linebacker Benardrick McKinney is Houston's own Brian Cushing, whom McKinney should be joining in the starting lineup.

    Cornerback Kevin Johnson was an excellent addition to that secondary out of the first round, too. 

    If Jadeveon Clowney can beat the odds and start beating offensive tackles with regularity after microfracture surgery on his knee ended his rookie season, the Texans won't miss the departed Brooks Reed.

6. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Bob Babich

    The Jaguars had another nice offseason. One of these years, that'll start to pay off.

    It began with Jared Odrick. The big defensive lineman was a nice import from down south after the Miami Dolphins signed Ndamukong Suh.

    Free agency wasn't terribly splashy on the defensive side outside of the Odrick signing, but cornerback Davon House, linebacker Dan Skuta and safety Sergio Brown were solid additions to the secondary.

    The biggest upgrade to the defense might be in the form of rookie Dante Fowler Jr. out of Florida. The Jaguars needed to improve the pass rush, and Fowler was brought in to do just that as the "Leo" linebacker. 

    On paper, Jacksonville is one of the most improved teams this offseason.

5. Kansas City Chiefs

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Bob Sutton

    It was all doom and gloom for the Kansas City roster heading into the offseason. The Chiefs were strapped for cap space, and the franchise tag was the only way they were going to keep stud pass-rusher Justin Houston in Kansas City.

    A little salary-cap wizardry and good faith went a long way, however, and the defense didn't need to take major personnel losses after all.

    On the contrary, the Chiefs got better, at least if their rookies pan out early. Cornerback Marcus Peters was a fantastic first-round pick who should start right away if he can keep his emotions in check.

    The Chiefs sported the second-best scoring defense and seventh-best total defense last season, and they managed to keep the gang together. General manager John Dorsey had himself a fantastic offseason.

4. St. Louis Rams

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Gregg Williams

    At this point, there is little debate to be had—the Rams have the best defensive line in the league.

    It starts with the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year, defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who was dominant in his inaugural pro season and graded out as the best player at his position in the entire league, according to Pro Football Focus.

    He is joined by one of the premier pass-rushers in the league, Robert Quinn, who should have been the Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. Defensive tackles Michael Brockers and Nick Fairley and defensive ends Chris Long and William Hayes round it all out.

    Having such a good defensive line will have to mask the deficiencies found elsewhere on that Rams defense. That's because St. Louis did almost nothing to upgrade the linebacker corps or secondary this offseason.

    This is a defense that posted consecutive shutouts in 2014, but inconsistency doomed it to the middle of the pack over the course of the whole season, statistically speaking.

3. Buffalo Bills

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    Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Dennis Thurman

    Everyone thinks of Rex Ryan as a defensive wizard, but he credits his success to his defensive coordinator, Dennis Thurman, according to Sal Maiorana of the Democrat & Chronicle:

    It's one of those things, 'I hope you sign me quick so I can keep Dennis.' One of the smartest guys I've ever been around. He gets things quick. The players love him, respect him. We've been together for a long time, and it's because I need him. He makes me look good.

    Thurman joined Ryan in Buffalo as imports from New York, where they will not suffer from an increasingly depleted roster like they had with the Jets over the past couple of seasons.

    On paper, the Bills should have one of the best defenses in the league. The only real loss on that side of the ball was safety Da'Norris Searcy—unless you count still-unsigned Brandon Spikes, who is a limited player—and they added cornerback Ronald Darby to bolster the secondary.

    Buffalo sported the fourth-best defense in the league last season, and that was before Ryan and Thurman showed up. This unit could get all the way to the top in those capable coaching hands.

2. New York Jets

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    Leonard Williams makes the Jets defensive line even more insane.
    Leonard Williams makes the Jets defensive line even more insane.Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Kacy Rodgers

    No team improved a single facet of their game more than the Jets improved their secondary this offseason.

    New York lured star cornerback Darrelle Revis back to the Big Apple, prying him away from a division rival in the process. The Jets also landed his former wingman, Antonio Cromartie, and a solid nickel option in Buster Skrine.

    Heck, they even upgraded at free safety by bringing Marcus Gilchrist over from San Diego.

    As if that wasn't enough, the Jets had the draft's best overall player fall into their collective laps when Leonard Williams inexplicably fell out of the top five. It wasn't a need with stud defensive ends Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson in the fold, but that is now one nasty defensive front.

    The only thing found wanting is the pass rush. Quinton Coples is out of his element at outside linebacker, and Calvin Pace is out of his prime at 34 years of age.

1. Seattle Seahawks

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    2015 Defensive Coordinator: Kris Richard

    Despite a Super Bowl loss that saw them give up 328 passing yards and four touchdowns to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, the Seahawks defense is locked and reloaded for 2015.

    There wasn't much turnover outside the loss of starter Byron Maxwell, whom the Philadelphia Eagles overpaid. Seattle virtually traded cornerbacks by signing similarly sized Cary Williams to a far cheaper deal.

    Of course, the biggest loss on the Seattle defense wasn't a player—defensive coordinator Dan Quinn took his talents to Atlanta to become the Falcons head coach, leaving former defensive backs coach Kris Richard to take over the entire unit.

    Considering how good that secondary is, that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

    The defensive line was already darn good before the Seahawks bolstered it with free-agent addition Ahtyba Rubin. They did create some public relations trouble for themselves by drafting defensive end Frank Clark, who is currently embroiled in controversy after charges stemming from an alleged domestic violence altercation, per Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press.

    If he has truly repented and stays out of trouble, Clark will simply add to a deep defensive line.

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