With the NFL draft and rookie minicamps in the rearview mirror, the frenzy of offseason moves is mostly over. Next up this offseason? The spring owners meetings, which kick off next week, and mandatory team minicamps, which begin June 4.
Our panel of ESPN NFL experts takes a look back at the past few months and looks ahead to the 2019 season, answering questions to recap the offseason action. Check back every day this week to see more questions and answers.
Which team improved most this offseason?
Matt Bowen, NFL analyst: Indianapolis Colts. General manager Chris Ballard took a smart approach to boost a squad that went to the playoffs in 2018. During free agency, the Colts re-signed key defensive contributors, while adding veteran pass-rusher Justin Houston and wide receiver Devin Funchess. Now, flip to the draft, where Ballard targeted productive college players with high-end athletic traits. Look for rookies Rock Ya-Sin, Parris Campbell, Ben Banogu and Bobby Okereke to carve out roles in 2019.
Mike Clay, fantasy writer: Detroit Lions. General manager Bob Quinn has quietly done a nice job filling voids on Detroit’s roster over the past few months. Those moves included revamping the tight end position with Jesse James and first-round pick T.J. Hockenson, upgrading with Trey Flowers on the edge of the front seven, overhauling cornerback behind Darius Slay by signing Rashaan Melvin and Justin Coleman, and adding Day 2 talent at linebacker (Jahlani Tavai) and safety (Will Harris). Every year there is a team that goes from last to first in its division, and the Lions have a shot to be that team in a wide-open NFC North.
Dan Graziano, national NFL writer: Oakland Raiders. I count as many as eight potential Raiders starters who weren’t on their roster when the 2018 season ended. They traded for Antonio Brown, hit free agency hard and picked four players in the first two rounds of the draft who have a chance to play a lot of snaps this year. Last year was a tough tear-down, but this year’s Raiders roster looks more like what Jon Gruden is trying to build.
Jon Gruden, Mike Mayock and the Raiders have made serious upgrades this offseason, including trading for receiver Antonio Brown. AP Photo/Ben Margot
KC Joyner, fantasy writer: Cleveland Browns. The perception of the Browns as cellar dwellers has disappeared, but this year’s offseason haul of Odell Beckham Jr., Kareem Hunt, Sheldon Richardson, Greedy Williams and Morgan Burnett could give the Cleveland as many as five more impact starters on their roster.
Jason Reid, The Undefeated senior writer: Cleveland Browns. There’s no disputing that general manager John Dorsey is a top-notch talent evaluator, and he again displayed his chops in significantly bolstering the Browns’ roster. The additions of Beckham and Hunt will only accelerate quarterback Baker Mayfield‘s ascent to Tier 1 status.
Catch up on the draft:
• Pick-by-pick analysis »
• Kiper’s grades » | McShay’s best picks »
• Team-by-team analysis » | Takeaways »
Catch up on free agency:
• Biggest impact moves for all 32 teams »
• Winners and losers of free agency »
• Barnwell: Grades » | Lessons from FA »
More on the draft » | More on FA »
Mike Sando, senior NFL writer: Oakland Raiders. They had so much room for improvement and tons of draft ammo to address needs. Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, Trent Brown, Lamarcus Joyner and three first-round draft picks made the Raiders much better on paper. Now we’ll see how that translates against a potentially difficult schedule.
Kevin Seifert, national NFL writer: Buffalo Bills. I love the depth and variety of players the Bills have assembled on both sides of the ball. They’ve put some really productive receivers around quarterback Josh Allen, most notably Cole Beasley and John Brown, and made a big move to add center Mitch Morse. Rookie defensive tackle Ed Oliver will enhance an already nasty defense. It all comes down to Allen. If he can make the kind of progress we normally expect from the first to second year, the Bills are a playoff team.
Field Yates, NFL analyst: Buffalo Bills. They’ve been the team I’ve most focused in on this offseason throughout our variety of roundtables. General manager Brandon Beane and his staff have a clear pattern on how they want to build this roster, and I thought this offseason was productive in not just adding starters but also building competition across the roster. Between at least two new offensive line starters, two new starting wide receivers, their likely two top tight ends, backfield depth, an elite defensive line talent in Oliver and more, Buffalo made major strides.
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