The Schein Nine  

 

2016 NFL Draft: Jaguars, Cowboys among most improved teams

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There was so much to love in the 2016 NFL Draft!

Oakland put a cap on the best offseason of any NFL team. Cardinals general manager Steve Keim showed his masterful nature in yet another draft. Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome did the same. The Eagles drafted a franchise quarterback. And the Patriots picked really good players, despite not having a first-round pick.

But after you sort through the headlines, which teams did the most to improve themselves in Chicago?

Glad you asked.

Here's our Schein Nine on the rosters that received the biggest boost from the prospect pool.

NOTE: Click on team names to view entire draft hauls.

1) Jacksonville Jaguars

When I played draft matchmaker with the Schein Nine a couple weeks ago, I listed Myles Jack as the perfect fit for Gus Bradley's defense in Jacksonville. Of course, I was talking about the Jags taking Jack fifth overall. As it turned out, the team landed the linebacker in Round 2 (No. 36 overall)!

I'm still in stunned disbelief.

I felt terrible for Jack as he sank out of the first round, presumably because of concerns about his surgically repaired knee and long-term health. I'm not a doctor, but frankly, I think teams panicked after Jack openly talked about the potential of one day having microfracture surgery prior to the draft. The UCLA product is a stud who can play all three linebacker spots and even safety. He's special. He's unique.

Oh, and he's also the second-best defensive player the Jaguars drafted. Jalen Ramsey was a complete steal at No. 5 overall. He's a can't-miss defensive back who must be dreamy for Bradley.

I thought the two best defensive players in the draft were Ramsey and Jack, and the Jaguars -- who ranked 24th in overall defense and 29th against the pass in 2015 -- got them both. Incredible.

2) Dallas Cowboys

Sure, the second-round selection (No. 34 overall) of linebacker Jaylon Smith, who is likely to miss the entire 2016 season after suffering ACL and LCL tears in the Fiesta Bowl, was jaw-dropping. If he hadn't shredded his knee, Smith would've been the best defensive player in the draft; now, he likely won't be a factor until 2017. Yes, Smith is holding out hope he can take the field this year, but this was a major risk for a team that really could've used some defensive help this season.

And I know Jerry Jones is regretting not mortgaging the farm to draft quarterback Paxton Lynch. But I like the decision, as much as I love Lynch for Denver, which ultimately ended up with him. Dallas went on to do a nice job improving the backup quarterback spot and finding someone to develop for the future in the underrated Dak Prescott (Round 4, No. 135 overall).

The bottom line is, as I wrote Thursday night, the Cowboys won Round 1 of the NFL draft by picking running back Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall, for all of the reasons I documented there. (Briefly: Elliott is an instant-impact star who will give Tony Romo's offense the balance it needs to return to dominant form.)

The selection means Dallas can go from worst to first in the NFC East.

3) Houston Texans

I was over the moon for the Texans' draft, which made me feel even better about my way-too-early prediction that Houston will meet the New England Patriots in the AFC title game.

In March, the Texans smartly signed quarterback Brock Osweiler; at the draft, the Texans smartly aided Brock Osweiler. Receiver Will Fuller (No. 21 overall) is a speed demon and a perfect complement to DeAndre Hopkins. I was kind of obsessed with the selection of QB-turned-wideout Braxton Miller in Round 3 (No. 85 overall). I think Miller will become what Percy Harvin could have been but never really was in the NFL. Tyler Ervin (Round 4, No. 119 overall) is a nice back out of the backfield. Oh, and second-round pick Nick Martin (No. 50 overall) can play instantly and serve as a long-time fixture on the offensive line.

Add these players to Osweiler, Hopkins and free-agent addition Lamar Miller, and you suddenly have to account for the talent and speed of the Texans' offense.

4) Cincinnati Bengals

Kudos to the Bengals, who, despite losing receiver depth (Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu) via free agency, didn't panic and reach for a wideout in the first round after Corey Coleman, Will Fuller, Josh Doctson and Laquon Treadwell flew off the board. Instead, they plucked a strong corner prospect in William Jackson III at 24th overall. And then Cincinnati turned around and got Tyler Boyd to play receiver in Round 2 (No. 55 overall).

That's not where the value stopped for the Bengals, either. Nose tackle Andrew Billings -- who was projected to go in the first round in a couple of mock drafts on NFL.com -- was a steal in Round 4 (No. 122). He'll eventually replace 10-year veteran Domata Peko. And offensive guard Christian Westerman (Round 5, No. 161 overall) can play.

5) Miami Dolphins

2016 NFL DRAFT

Draft coverage:

The circumstances were not ideal for Laremy Tunsil as he plummeted in the first round, but the tackle landed in a great place, with a coach in Adam Gase who needs him. Tunsil was the best non-QB in the draft, and the Dolphins snagged him at No. 13 overall. That's value.

Mike Tannenbaum and Co. then plucked three players who will contribute right away for a team coming off a 6-10 season in corner Xavien Howard (Round 2, No. 38 overall), running back Kenyan Drake (Round 3, No. 73) and receiver Leonte Carroo (Round 3, No. 86).

6) Indianapolis Colts

In four previous drafts, Colts GM Ryan Grigson had selected just three offensive linemen in Round 4 or earlier. Is it any coincidence Andrew Luck has been sacked 115 times in that span? Well, this weekend, Grigson did the right thing and drafted on the offensive line to help Luck. What a concept!

In Round 1 (18th overall), Grigson picked the exact player I had targeted for the Colts in Alabama center Ryan Kelly. He can easily be a future star and an instant-impact performer. And Grigson didn't stop there; yes, he added three more offensive linemen in Rounds 3 (Le'Raven Clark, No. 82 overall), 5 (Joe Haeg, No. 155 overall) and 7 (Austin Blythe, No. 248)!

7) Buffalo Bills

I really liked the Bills' draft. After leading the NFL with 54 sacks in 2014, Buffalo sputtered to 21 sacks (31st) in 2015, so it made sense to take defensive end Shaq Lawson 19th overall heading into Rex Ryan's second season at the helm. The Clemson product can get to the quarterback instantly. Buffalo then stole a starting linebacker in Round 2 by getting Reggie Ragland (No. 41 overall).

As for the Bills' fourth-round investment in former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, Buffalo was one of three teams we thought was the perfect destination for Jones to learn and develop.

8) Detroit Lions

The Lions appear to finally have a real football person making football decisions -- and what a difference it makes. New GM Bob Quinn had a very strong nuts-and-bolts draft that deserves to be celebrated.

Tackle Taylor Decker (No. 16 overall) was a great pick in the middle of the first round to shore up the offensive line. I was floored that defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson was still around for the Lions to pilfer in Round 2 (No. 46 overall). Quinn put an emphasis on the talent in the trenches, using five of his 10 picks on offensive and defensive linemen, for a team that ranked 32nd in rushing offense and 19th in run defense in 2015, and I loved it.

9) Washington Redskins

Scot McCloughan is such a wonderful general manager who is so thoughtful and prepared when it comes to the draft. Washington's draft wasn't flashy, but it filled key needs at receiver (Josh Doctson, No. 22 overall), backup quarterback (Nate Sudfeld, Round 6, No. 187 overall), corner (Kendall Fuller, Round 3, No. 84 overall) and in the front seven on defense (Su'a Cravens, Round 2, No. 53 overall). Redskins fans have to be excited to finally have a legit GM working in concert with the head coach and everyone in the organization on the same page.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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