Power Ranking All 32 NFL Defenses Post-Draft

Marcus Mosher@@Marcus_MosherFeatured Columnist IMay 3, 2017

Power Ranking All 32 NFL Defenses Post-Draft

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    Sam Craft/Associated Press

    Now that free agency and the NFL draft is over, rosters are essentially set, and it's time to project which teams are going to dominate on defense in 2017 and which will surrender points with ease.

    Some teams have performed massive overhauls on the defensive side of the ball (I'm looking at you, Green Bay). While some spent draft weekend re-tooling their offense (Hello, Titans). 

    How much will Myles Garrett, Solomon Thomas, Jamal Adams and others help their teams this season?

    Here is a post-draft power ranking of all 32 defenses as we inch closer to the 2017 NFL season.

32. San Francisco 49ers

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Robert Saleh

    Base Defense: 4-3

    After the failed Chip Kelly experiment in 2016, the 49ers have a brand new front office and coaching staff heading into 2017. New defensive coordinator Robert Saleh will transition the team from a big 3-4 team under Kelly to a faster 4-3 defense. The goal is to allow their linebackers to fly to the football instead of taking on blocks. However, this means that the two former first-round picks in Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner won't be playing the position they were drafted to play; 3-4 defensive end.  

    That isn't necessarily a bad thing, as the team was dreadful with the two as its ends. It's not their fault alone, but the rest of the roster just wasn't good enough around them to stay in the 3-4. They just weren't dominant enough to keep running that scheme. 

    In 2016, the 49ers gave up the most yards and points in the league. They allowed more than 165 rushing yards per game as teams gashed them on the ground each and every week. They were easily the worst defense in the league, which seems crazy considering how dominant of a unit they were just a few years ago under Jim Harbaugh. 

    In the first round, the 49ers used their first two selections on talented defenders in Solomon Thomas and linebacker Reuben Foster to help get back the speed on defense. While both players will excel in the NFL, it's unlikely they will drastically change this defense throughout the 2017 season.

    San Francisco still needs to add true 4-3 defensive ends who can get after the quarterback, but they should be better against the run this year with improved linebacker play. However, this is still one of the worst defenses in the NFL. 

31. Cleveland Browns

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Gregg Williams

    Base Defense: 4-3

    Cleveland's defense finished 31st in yards allowed per game and 30th in points allowed in 2016, but that group will look drastically different heading into 2017. After a wild draft weekend, the Browns selected numerous players who should start or contribute as rookies. 

    With the first pick in the 2017 draft, the Browns selected one of the most dominant college players we've ever seen in Myles Garrett. As a rookie, he will help provide pass rush off the edge for the Browns, something they haven't had in many years. He's the type of defender you can build a defense around similar to Khalil Mack or Von Miller. He has very little holes in his game, and his presence alone will improve the rest of the players around him. 

    The Browns have a talented front seven with Jamie Collins and Danny Shelton headlining the group, but they will need time to mesh with new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Draft picks Jabrill Peppers and Larry Ogunjobi are talented players but will need time to adjust to the NFL and their new roles. The Browns are starting to add quality starters and depth to their defense, but it's still likely going to a work in progress for the 2017 season. 

30. New Orleans Saints

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Dennis Allen

    Base Defense: 4-3 

    The Saints knew early in the offseason that they needed to improve one of the worst defenses in the NFL. It's been the team's biggest weakness since Sean Payton and Drew Brees arrived in New Orleans. Once again, the Saints finished near the bottom of the league in points allowed, giving up more than 28 points per game (31st overall) as teams moved the ball on them at will.

    Not only did they surrender the second-most points in 2016, they also allowed the most passing yards per game, giving up an average of 273 yards per game.  

    The Saints tried to upgrade their secondary this offseason by selecting the top cornerback in the draft, Marshon Lattimore, and free safety Marcus Williams in the second round. With 2016 second-round pick Vonn Bell competing with Williams for the other safety spot opposite of Kenny Vaccaro, the team should have a much better secondary heading into 2017. 

    However, just because the team has added talent to its roster, it doesn't mean it will translate to defensive success right away. The Saints have had a problem finding a defense that fits their high-flying offense. While they've taken some big steps to improve the unit, it will still be one of the most picked-on defenses in the NFL.

    They just don't have enough blue-chip players nor enough depth to become even an average defense. 

29. New York Jets

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Kacy Rodgers

    Base Defense: 3-4

    The New York Jets used to pride themselves on having one of the most fearsome defenses in the NFL. Their excellent pass rush combined with a dominant secondary allowed them to reach the AFC Championship Game in back-to-back years in 2009 and 2010. But the 2016 Jets defense didn't resemble anything close to those terrifying units, as it was one of the worst in the entire NFL.

    The group allowed the 28th-most points per game and only created 14 total turnovers in 2016. Cornerback Darrelle Revis' play fell off a cliff, as did their pass rush, so it's not surprise the Jets were one of the worst teams against the pass throughout the year. Despite spending three first-round picks on their defensive line, the Jets were only able to create 27 sacks last year, which put them in the bottom five in the NFL. 

    The Jets released Revis as they tried to improve their secondary and infuse the group with youth. Their first two selections in the 2017 draft were safeties, Jamaal Adams and Marcus Maye, who can play both strong and free safety. The team also signed the talented but oft-injured Morris Claiborne from the Cowboys in a desperation move to fix its secondary. 

    While the Jets have talent at every level of the defense, the pieces just haven't meshed well with head coach Todd Bowles, and the team is likely on its way to another year in which they select inside the top 10. There is a chance they get things turned around because of their enormous talent on the defensive line with Leonard Williams, Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson, but it'll likely be more of the same as the Jets try to rebuild their defense and roster.  

28. Indianapolis Colts

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    AJ Mast/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Ted Monachino

    Base Defense: 3-4 

    The Colts have struggled mightily on defense in the Andrew Luck era, and 2016 was no exception. The team finished just 22nd in points allowed and 30th in total yards allowed. Under former general manager Ryan Grigson, the Colts had one of the worst defensive rosters in the league as the unit was filled with old and slow players. They lacked any sort of physicality, and the roster consistently was one of the worst in the league.  

    But under new general manager Chris Ballard, the Colts are slowly building a much better unit. The Colts signed numerous mid-tier free agents, replenishing the lack of depth on the roster. Players such as Jabaal Sheard, Margus Hunt, John Simon and Sean Spence were all brought in at reasonable prices. Their biggest free-agent acquisition happened right before the draft when the team signed run-stopping specialist Johnathan Hankins from the Giants. 

    Along with a strong free agency, Ballard and the Colts spent the team's first three picks on defense in the 2017 draft. Malik Hooker, Quincy Wilson and Tarell Basham are three high-upside picks who could all start Week 1. The Colts defense will likely finish in the bottom half of the league again in 2017, but the team is starting to add talent to one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Under Chris Ballard, things are looking up for this defense. 

27. Chicago Bears

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Vic Fangio

    Base Defense: 3-4

    Aside from finishing 24th in points allowed in 2016, the Bears finished dead last in turnovers with just 11 in 2016. No other team in the NFL had fewer than 13. Chicago has talent on defense, specifically at the linebacker position with Leonard Floyd and Parnell McPhee. But they just don't have enough talent in the secondary nor on the defensive line to keep up with the rest of the teams in the NFC.

    The Bears lack a true star on defense and depth at key positions like cornerback and defensive end. With the team being a distant fourth in the division, the Bears are in for another rebuilding year on defense. 

26. Los Angeles Chargers

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Gus Bradley

    Base Defense: 4-3

    The Chargers forced the fourth-most turnovers in 2016, but it wasn't enough to help elevate them to the playoffs as their defense still gave up more than 26 points per game. 

    Gus Bradley was over-matched as a head coach in Jacksonville, but he should be able to make a much bigger impact as a defensive coordinator. Bradley will transition the team from a 3-4 defense to a Seattle-like 4-3

    Luckily for Bradley, he inherits a unit that has talent, specifically in its front-seven. Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram and Corey Liuget make up one of the better fronts in the NFL. After winning defensive rookie of the season, Bosa is a much better fit as a 4-3 defensive end.

25. Green Bay Packers

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    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Dom Capers

    Base Defense: 4-3

    In the Aaron Rodgers era, the Packers have been led by their offense. And once again, their defense was the reason why Green Bay wasn't able to make the Super Bowl. The defense was so bad during the regular season that it almost kept the team out of the playoffs. 

    And after losing some key pieces in Julius Peppers, Micah Hyde and Sam Shields, the Packers might be in trouble again heading into 2017. However, the Packers have talent on their defensive line and in their secondary, but they need to stay healthy if they want to improve on their 21st-ranked scoring defense in 2016. 

    Kevin King, Josh Jones, Vince Biegel and Montravius Adams were all added via the draft, and that should give the team a shot in the arm to start the season. If Clay Matthews can stay healthy, this defense should be much improved heading into 2017. However, they lack the cornerback depth and linebacker play to be a top-10 defense in the NFL. 

24. Buffalo Bills

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    Rich Barnes/Getty Images

    Defensive Coordinator: Leslie Frazier

    Base Defense: 4-3

    After firing Rex Ryan, the Bills decided to make the switch to the 4-3 defense. While Buffalo finished in the bottom half of the league in nearly every statistical category, there are reasons to be optimistic. The Bills have a talented defensive line, which includes Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams inside. The switch to the 4-3 should greatly help the Bills' run defense.

    While the team lost Stephon Gilmore in free agency, it was able to add free agent Micah Hyde and Tre'Davious White in the draft. Their defense is still a work in progress, but the transition to the 4-3 should help to revive the unit. 

23. Detroit Lions

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Teryl Austin

    Base Defense: 4-3 

    The Lions finished in the middle of the pack in almost every statistical category except turnovers. Detroit forced only 14 turnovers in 2016, and it's a big reason why the team struggled down the stretch. 

    Detroit has some talent on defense with Ezekiel Ansah and Haloti Ngata on the defensive line, but linebacker has real question marks entering the 2017 season. The Lions drafted Jarrad Davis with their first selection in the 2017 draft, and they will need him to start and play well early if this team wants to get back to the playoffs. 

    Detroit lacks playmakers to scare offenses, and it just doesn't have enough depth on defense to be one of the better units in the league. The Lions will have to rely on outscoring teams once again in 2017 if they want to make the playoffs. 

22. Atlanta Falcons

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Marquand Manuel

    Base Defense: 4-3

    If not for an epic collapse in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, we would be talking about how much the Falcons' defense improved in the postseason. They smothered Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady (for three quarters) before they blew a 28-3 lead to the New England Patriots.

    No longer just an offensive team, the Falcons have one of the fastest defenses in the league and only added to it this offseason. In the 2017 NFL draft, the Falcons landed Takkarist McKinley and Duke Riley, two speed demons who fly to the football on each and every play. 

    The Falcons finished 25th in the league in run defense, and they've added run-stopping specialist Dontari Poe to help shore up their defensive line. Poe's inside presence with Vic Beasley and McKinley's speed on the outside will make the Falcons a tough matchup for any offense.

    However, the Falcons have to improve their red-zone defense, as they allowed opponents to score touchdowns on 71.64 percent of their red-zone trips, the highest percentage in the league. 

21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Mike Smith

    Base Defense: 4-3

    The Buccaneers spent most of their offseason adding targets for Jameis Winston, but they didn't completely ignore defense either. The team added safeties J.J. Wilcox and Justin Evans, but those two likely won't move the needle much in 2017. 

    Tampa Bay has an average defense that happened to finish third in turnovers in 2016. Without the 29 turnovers, this would have been one of the bottom five defenses in the NFL. They've got young talent in Noah Spence, Kwon Alexander and Vernon Hargreaves, but the team needs those players to make a big leap in 2017 for the unit to make the next step. The Bucs will be forced to win games with their offense in 2017 and hope their defense isn't a liability.   

20. Los Angeles Rams

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    Ryan Kang/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Wade Phillips 

    Base Defense: 3-4

    Despite having two of the best pass-rushers in the NFL in Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn, the Rams finished just 23rd in points allowed in 2016, surrendering 24.6 points per game. The team finished near the bottom of the pack in every major statistic. However, the most egregious defensive problem was their inability to stop anyone in the red zone. Teams scored touchdowns on more than 71 percent of their trips inside the 20-yard line. That was bad enough for 31st in the league, and it's the reason why 2016 defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was let go. 

    The Rams made one of the most underrated hires of the offseason, bringing in coaching legend Wade Phillips. He was brought in to fix the defense and certainly will in time. The Rams will be making the switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4 defense, which is a clunky fit for some of their best pieces, such as Donald. 

    However, Phillips is one of the best defensive coordinators in the history of the NFL, and he should be able to quickly turn this unit into one of the toughest in the league. The Rams have a ton of talent at every level, it'll just be a matter of how quickly he can get the unit to play to its potential.   

19. Tennessee Titans

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Dick LeBeau

    Base Defense: 3-4 

    On paper, the Tennessee defense is one of the more average-looking units in the NFL. They don't have a perennial All-Pro on their roster nor anyone who is a household name. Their best player is Jurrell Casey, but he's a 3-4 defensive end who has averaged around 5.5 sacks per season since he came into the NFL in 2011. 

    The unit is average on paper and performs the same on the field. In 2016, they finished 16th in points allowed per game and 20th in yards allowed. They had just 18 turnovers, which tied for 23rd amongst the league. It's not a flashy defense, but the team added corners Logan Ryan and Adoree' Jackson in the offseason to potentially help catapult this defense inside the top half of the league. 

18. Washington Redskins

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Greg Manusky

    Base Defense: 3-4

    After signing Josh Norman in free agency, the expectations were high in Washington. While Norman played well in Washington, the team still struggled to stop the pass, giving up the 25th-most yardage per game (258.1 yards per game). 

    In order to improve the team's poor pass defense, the Redskins invested their offseason resources in defensive line help and cornerbacks. With the additions of Jonathan Allen and Terrell McClain to the defensive line, the Redskins have become a much faster defense in just one year. They've also added defensive backs Fabian Moreau and Montae Nicholson in the draft to compete for starting jobs sooner rather than later. 

    Not only did the team draft defensive backs, they've also moved other players around in order to change their defense. Most notably, the Redskins moved linebacker Su'a Cravens to safety in order to better protect themselves against the pass. Newly signed linebacker Zach Brown will take his spot inside next to Mason Foster. 

    Many of these moves seem like positive ones, and the Redskins defense looks like it's trending in the right direction. But until we see how the pieces mesh together, it's hard to imagine that this defense still won't be in the bottom half of the league in 2016. 

17. Miami Dolphins

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    Bill Wippert/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Matt Burke

    Base Defense: 4-3 

    The Dolphins have one of the better defensive tackle/defensive end combinations in the league with Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake, but their defense lacked depth at linebacker and cornerback in 2016. Those two spots were major weaknesses for the team and were the reason they were eventually knocked out of the playoffs by the Steelers. 

    In 2016, the Dolphins allowed the fourth-most yardage in the NFL and third-most on the ground. Teams averaged more than 140 yards per game on the ground against the Dolphins in 2016. A big reason why is because their linebackers just weren't good enough to compete with the better teams in the NFL. 

    However, the Dolphins have taken steps to improve their defense in 2017 by signing veterans Lawrence Timmons and T.J. McDonald as well as spending their first three selections on talented defenders. Charles Harris, Raekwon McMillan and Cordrea Tankersley could all challenge for starting jobs before the season begins.

    If Timmons and McMillan can play at a high level in 2017, the Dolphins defense should drastically improve, as linebacker has been their Achilles' heel for the past few seasons. 

16. Cincinnati Bengals

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Paul Guenther

    Base Defense: 4-3

    The Bengals finished eighth in points allowed in 2016, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Cincinnati was never able to recover from the devastating 2015 playoff loss to the Steelers. The team finished just 19th in turnovers and was gashed on the ground, giving up an average of 113 rushing yards per game.  

    However, the Bengals took steps this offseason to improve their defense by adding defensive ends Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson in the draft and linebacker Kevin Minter in free agency. Along with those signings, the team will also get back 2016 first-round pick William Jackson who missed his entire rookie season after tearing his pectoral muscle before the season started. 

    The Bengals have talent all across their defense, but they will need their stars to stay healthy in order to have success. If Andy Dalton and the offense can help keep the defense from playing excessive snaps in 2017, this team has the potential to be one of the better units in the league.  

15. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Keith Butler 

    Base Defense: 3-4

    In 2016, the Steelers finished as a top-12 defense in nearly every category. The most impressive feat was finishing inside the top five in red-zone defense, allowing teams to score touchdowns on just 48 percent of their red zone trips. 

    However, their defense is what caused their elimination from the playoffs. In the AFC Championship Game, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots lit up the Steelers defense for 36 points as Brady threw for 384 yards and three touchdowns. Their inability to get to the quarterback allowed Brady to stay in the pocket all day as the Steelers blew coverages left and right in the defeat.

    Knowing full well that New England stands in their way again in 2017, the Steelers added T.J. Watt in the draft in hopes that he can supplant James Harrison on the depth chart. Their roster is very much the same heading into 2017, but as good as the Steelers were on defense last year, they need to improve in order to surpass the Patriots in the AFC. 

14. Oakland Raiders

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Ken Norton Jr.

    Base Defense: 4-3

    The Raiders have one of the most puzzling defenses in the entire NFL. They are led by sack master Khalil Mack, who is arguably one of the best five defenders on the entire planet. Opposite him is another speed rusher in Bruce Irvin, which should provide one of the best combination of rushers in the NFL. 

    However, the Raiders finished with the fewest number of sacks in the NFL (25) in 2016. Not only did they struggle to get to the quarterback, they also finished 20th in points allowed per game, giving up an average of 24 points per contest. To make matters worse, the team finished 26th in red zone defense and 26th in yards allowed. 

    The only thing that saved the Raiders from being one of the worst defenses in the NFL during the 2016 season was their ability to create turnovers. They finished second in turnovers with 30. While they are one of the most opportunistic teams in the league, it can vary from year to year. 

    Heading into the 2017 season, the Raiders knew they needed to address their secondary and did so in the draft. The team added Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley and Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu. Both should be able to compete for starting roles as rookies. 

    The Raiders have one of the youngest defenses in the league, so growing pains are expected. But with Mack and Irvin rushing the passer again in 2017, this should be a much-improved unit. 

13. Carolina Panthers

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    Mike McCarn/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Steve Wilks

    Base Defense: 4-3

    After the 2015 season, the Panthers would have finished inside the top five on this list heading into the season. But the Carolina defense severely underperformed, finishing 26th in points allowed for the 2016 season. The Panthers were just never able to replace Josh Norman as the team finished 29th in passing yards allowed, giving up more than 268 yards per game through the air. 

    The Panthers were able to add Julius Peppers and Daeshon Hall to their already talented defensive line, but their success as a defense relies on the health of Luke Kuechly. When he is healthy, this is one of the best defenses in the league, particularly in the front seven. They are fast and can fly to the football with Kuechly, Thomas Davis and Shaq Thompson at linebacker. 

    Along with Kuechly's health, the Panthers need to find a suitable No. 1 cornerback to match up with Julio Jones, Michael Thomas and Mike Evans inside the division. Until the Panthers improve the cornerback position, the defense's talent level will always have a lower ceiling.  

12. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Gary McCullough/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Todd Wash

    Base Defense: 4-3

    On paper, the Jaguars have one of the most talented defenses in the entire NFL. When looking at their projected starting lineup on Ourlads.com, it's clear that the unit has no real holes. The team was able to add Calais Campbell, Barry Church and A.J. Bouye to an already loaded roster. 

    However, despite all of their talent in the past few seasons, the Jaguars just haven't been able to live up to expectations on defense. While they allowed just the fifth-fewest yards in 2016, teams were able to score at will, averaging 25 points per game. On top of giving up the 25th-most points per game last season, the Jaguars had the second-fewest turnovers in 2016, with just 13. The team had a combined seven interceptions throughout the year.

    But the ceiling is through the roof for this defense. With the added talent and the selection of running back Leonard Fournette in the first round, the Jaguars are going to try to have a ball-control offense that shortens games. With as much talent as they have on defense, look for Jacksonville to have a top-15 defense in both yards per game and points allowed in 2017. This will be one of the more fun defenses to watch this season. 

11. Philadelphia Eagles

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    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Jim Schwartz

    Base Defense: 4-3 

    The Eagles have one of the better front fours in the entire NFL and a defensive coordinator who knows how to get to the quarterback. However, the lack of reliable linebackers and cornerbacks have somewhat capped the ceiling of this roster. 

    In 2016, the Eagles finished 12th in points allowed per game and 13th in yards allowed. The team finished 10th in turnovers and tied for 16th in sacks. The only reason this defense wasn't graded higher was because of the lack of consistent play from their back seven. 

    However, the team did little to fix that need as their big moves were to draft cornerback Sidney Jones, who likely won't play in 2017, and signing linebacker Nigel Bradham from Buffalo to be the team's strongside linebacker. 

    They will likely have a slightly better than average defense again in 2017, but their cornerback and linebacker situations will likely prevent them from being one of the best defenses in the NFL. 

10. Dallas Cowboys

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Rod Marinelli  

    Base Defense: 4-3 

    Believe it or not, the Cowboys defense finished inside the top five in points allowed in 2016, giving up just 19.1 points per game. Not only did they not give up a lot of points, they also finished as the league's No. 1 rushing defense. 

    However, anyone who watched the Cowboys in 2016 knows that Dallas doesn't actually have a top-five defense. Their ball-control offense limited the snaps the defense played each week, most of which came with leads. The Cowboys lost a lot in free agency, with four secondary members leaving, but Dallas still has a lot to be optimistic about. 

    Dallas added numerous players in the draft and in free agency, but their biggest addition might be a player who was actually on the roster last year in Jaylon Smith. Smith is recovering from a major knee injury, but the Cowboys are encouraged with his progress. If he can get back to his 2015 form, the Cowboys will have added one of the most talented linebackers to come into the NFL in some time. 

9. Arizona Cardinals

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: James Bettcher

    Base Defense: 3-4

    On paper, the Cardinals have one of the more talented defenses in the NFL. With stars like Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu and Chandler Jones on the roster, the Cardinals should have a much better defense than they had in 2016. While they finished second in yards allowed and fourth in turnovers during the 2016 season, they finished in the middle of the pack in points allowed (22.6 per game). 

    Arizona had the second-best run defense in the NFL, just behind the Houston Texans. That could change in 2017, as the team lost cornerstone Calais Campbell in the offseason as well as safety Tony Jefferson.

    The Cardinals added Karlos Dansby in the offseason as well as first-round pick Haason Reddick to the linebacker position, and both will be vital parts to the team's success in 2017. The Cardinals have one of the fastest, most talented defenses in the NFL and will need it to stay near the top of the league if they want to challenge the Seahawks for the division this year. 

8. Baltimore Ravens

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Dean Pees

    Base Defense: 3-4

    For the last decade, the Baltimore Ravens have been known for their physical, no-nonsense defense. But while the defense still finished inside the top 10 in points per game, yards per game and turnovers in 2016, it was not the same dominating unit. 

    However, the Ravens took multiple steps this offseason to ensure that their defense gets back to that level in 2017. Along with signing veterans Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson in free agency, the Ravens used their first four draft picks to address the defense. The team was able to add Marlon Humphrey, Tyus Bowser, Chris Wormley and Tim Williams to their already talented defense. 

    If the Ravens can stay healthy and Terrell Suggs can continue to produce despite his age, they should be able to have one of the best defenses in the NFL, especially against the pass. With the Steelers in the division, the Ravens will need all of their secondary members to play at a high level to win back the AFC North title in 2017. 

7. Kansas City Chiefs

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    Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Bob Sutton

    Base Defense: 3-4

    2016 was an odd year for the Chiefs' defense. The team battled through numerous injuries to star players, such as Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson, but they managed to finish seventh in points allowed for the season. What was even more impressive is that they led the league in turnovers with 33.

    However, the Chiefs' surrendered the 24th most yards in the NFL and produced only 28 sacks in 2016, which put them in the bottom five of the NFL. 

    If Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson can come back to 100%, this defense is talented enough to finish as the No.1 defense in the league, despite the loss of Dontari Poe inside. They have talented players at each level of the defense and have one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL. This defense will be in the top-10 in points allowed again in 2017. 

6. Minnesota Vikings

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    James Kenney/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: George Edwards

    Base Defense: 4-3

    In the first month of the season, the Vikings' defense looked like the best unit we've seen in a long time. The Vikings allowed just 63 points in their first five games of the season. Not coincidentally, the team started the season off 5-0. 

    But by the end of the season, the defense was just too exhausted from carrying a poor offense that they wore down and they were not as effective. They did finish third in total yards allowed and sixth in points allowed, so it was still one of the better defenses in the NFL. 

    Minnesota's ability to stop the run, get pressure on the quarterback with their front four and force a high number of turnovers (27 in 2016), allow the Vikings to compete with one of the worst offenses in the NFL. The Vikings' defense will look very similar in 2017 as they didn't add much to the roster, but if Sam Bradford and Dalvin Cook can keep drives going on offense, this defense shouldn't wear out as quickly as they did in 2016. 

5. New York Giants

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    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Steve Spagnuolo

    Base Defense: 4-3

    It's very rare for a team to go from having a bottom-five defense one year to a top-five defense the following year, but that's exactly what the Giants did in 2016. After giving up more than 27 points and 420 yards per game in 2015, the New York Giants rebuilt their defense and had one of the more dominant units in the league in 2016. They finished second in points allowed, giving up fewer than 18 points per game. 

    What was even more impressive was how the Giants were the only team in the league able to stop the Cowboys offense. In two meetings against Dallas, the Cowboys were held to just 26 points as the Giants won both matchups. 

    Last season, the Giants added a dominant nose tackle in Damon "Snacks" Harrison to clog the middle so that Jason Pierre-Paul and newly-signed end Olivier Vernon could scream off the edges and get to the quarterback.

    Heading into 2017, the defense is mostly unchanged. The only notable loss is Johnathan Hankins, but his replacement was selected in the second round with Dalvin Tomlinson from Alabama. 

    This is a young defense, especially in the secondary, and it could improve drastically if the Giants can get better play from their linebackers. The Giants should be in the top five in points allowed again in 2017.  

4. New England Patriots

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Matt Patricia

    Base Defense: 4-3 

    After finishing as the No. 1 defense in 2016 in points allowed, the Patriots added one of the best free agents on the market in Stephon Gilmore. Not only did they add a talented cornerback to pair with Malcolm Butler, they were also able to bring in Kony Ealy via trade and Derek Rivers through the draft. Already possessing one of the best defenses in the NFL, the Patriots didn't stop adding talent. 

    What makes the Patriots defense so special is that it is able to adapt and adjust to whatever offense its face. When facing a passing attack, the Patriots have enough depth in their secondary to match their opponents' weapons. If they are playing a power-running team, they have enough beef in the front seven to shut down even the best rushing attacks. 

    The Patriots don't have one single player who stands out amongst the rest, but their defense collectively is one of the best. They don't have an elite pass rush, nor do they take the ball away at an outstanding rate. But they know how to shut down even the best offenses in the NFL. The Patriots allowed just 15.6 points per game in 2016 and have only improved their defense heading into 2017.  

3. Denver Broncos

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Joe Woods

    Base Defense: 3-4

    After a dominant run in 2015 led to the Broncos winning the Super Bowl, the Denver defense fell off some in 2016. They finished fourth in points per game and first in passing yards allowed per game, but the team had the 28th-ranked run defense. Opponents ran for an average of 130 yards per game. 

    Adjusting to life after Wade Phillips will be tough for the Broncos, but they are still loaded with talent on defense. Led by Von Miller, the Broncos should be able to pressure the quarterback as well as any team in the league. If the team's offense can better control the clock, the defense won't be run on as much as it was in 2016. The Broncos still have one of the best defenses in the entire NFL. 

2. Houston Texans

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    Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Mike Vrabel

    Base Defense: 3-4

    Despite losing their leader in J.J. Watt for most of the season due to a back injury, the Texans still finished 11th in points allowed in 2016. But what's more impressive is that they finished first in total yards allowed, giving up just 301 per game. 

    With Watt returning and the team adding Zach Cunningham in the draft, the Texans have a realistic chance to finish with the best defense in the league. They will need to adjust to losing cornerback A.J. Bouye in free agency, but the team has the best group of pass-rushers in the entire league. If Watt is able to return to his usual self, he and Jadeveon Clowney will be terrifying together on the field. This is one of the best defenses in the entire NFL. 

1. Seattle Seahawks

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    David Goldman/Associated Press

    Defensive Coordinator: Kris Richard

    Base Defense: 4-3

    While there were rumors that Richard Sherman was on the trading block this offseason, it is unlikely the team would move him after the draft. And with him staying, the Seahawks return one of the best defenses in the NFL. 

    Despite losing Earl Thomas to a season-ending injury in the middle of the year, Seattle still finished top five in points and yards allowed in 2016. The Seahawks finished tied for third in sacks with 42 and were one of the league's most dominant units. 

    However, the loss of Thomas due to a broken leg exposed how much the team truly relies on their playmaking center fielder. The Seahawks focused on adding depth to their defensive backs in the draft this year, selecting three safeties and one cornerback, possibly as further insurance against another Thomas injury.

    Thomas is the leader of the defense and the heart and soul of everything they do on every snap. When he's on the field, they are the best defense in the NFL. 

    Along with grabbing four defensive backs in the draft, the Seahawks added Malik McDowell at the top of the second round. McDowell is a 20-year-old star who needs to be motivated to play at a high level. With the Seahawks and expert motivator Pete Carroll, he will be a fantastic addition for the team.

    As long as their stars stay healthy, the Seahawks are a lock to finish in the top five again in points and yards allowed per game.