The NFL is a league that's very familiar with the quick turnaround. In fact, in each of the past dozen years, at least one team picking in the top 10 has gone on to make the playoffs that season.
Let's take a quick look at the teams that picked in the top 10 of last week's 2015 NFL Draft, with the selection listed parenthetically:
1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State)
2) Tennessee Titans (Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon)
3) Jacksonville Jaguars (Dante Fowler Jr., DE/OLB, Florida)
4) Oakland Raiders (Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama)
5) Washington Redskins (Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa)
6) New York Jets (Leonard Williams, DL, USC)
7) Chicago Bears (Kevin White, WR, West Virginia)
8) Atlanta Falcons (Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson)
9) New York Giants (Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami)
10) St. Louis Rams (Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia)
So, taking everything into account from this offseason (draft, free agency, coaching changes, etc.), which one of those 10 teams has the best chance to make the playoffs in 2015?
With improvements on both sides of the ball, the Giants will be NFC East players
I'm going with the
New York Giants
. They solidified their offensive line with the addition of
. Big Blue can slot the rookie at right tackle and kick
inside to guard. In addition to improved line play, the
' offense will benefit from the return of
. And with
in his second year with coordinator Ben McAdoo, the quarterback will be able to execute the system much better. Honestly, this could be one of the best offenses in the NFL.
On defense, the
improved in two critical areas by adding safety
. Both of these players will help the defense. Collins fills a big void in the back end, and Odighizuwa will give New York's pass rush a boost.
Look for the NYG to win the NFC East.
Atlanta should be much better in a division that can't get much worse
I think the
' solid draft -- which included pass-rushing terror
and big-play back
-- combined with
a weak division lends hope that Atlanta can make the playoffs.
A new coaching staff should be able to change the team's collective mindset and improve the defense; it's not going to be anything close to a dominant D, but it should be markedly better. Coleman should provide a boost to the rushing attack and relieve some of the pressure on Ryan. The biggest positive for the
is that no team in the NFC South truly scares anybody.
Giants should put up plenty of points and contend for a playoff spot
Jr. as the game's most unstoppable offensive weapon, the
took three of their final four games to close out last season. With the addition of
, the return to health of
and an overhauled offensive line featuring first-round pick
, New York's offense has a chance to be one of the league's highest-scoring units.
In a division with no clear-cut favorite, the
have a fair shot at the playoffs.
Rams could finally break through with a stout defense, potent ground game
I'll go with the
St. Louis Rams
, who likely would have picked a bit further down in the first round had
not gotten injured (again) last August. While the past few drafts have given rise to one of the better defenses in the game, this year was all about re-tooling the offense. I'm extremely high on
and the one-two punch he'll form with
. This should take plenty of pressure off of new quarterback
With a little bit of luck in a tough division, it's not hard to see this squad winding up as a wild-card team by following the blueprint of the
: run the football and play good defense.
Falcons in prime position to bounce back after reloading in the draft
have the best chance to crack the 2015 playoffs among teams that had a top-10 draft pick. They're in the weakest division in football and, despite finishing with a 6-10 record, managed to stay in the playoff hunt for most of last season. That alone makes them an easy choice -- but add to that
a stellar draft haul
, and it's even easier.
a much-needed pass-rushing presence, and Atlanta might have picked up one of the draft's biggest steals in Clemson defensive tackle
will provide immediate help in the secondary.