Every team will come into a given draft with a strategy or philosophy of how to attack that draft. While some teams will lean heavily on finding fits for weaknesses, others will aggressively seek to address the offensive or defensive side of the ball with a majority of their picks.
And then there are teams that just look to target the best players available. They go into the draft with an idea of need in mind but don't sell out completely to the concept. Here are 6 teams that appear to have improved themselves the most on the defensive side of the ball thanks to their draft work.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
» Jaguars' 2016 draft class
No matter where Jalen Ramsey lines up in the secondary, Gus Bradley will surely have Ramsey in the lineup as he looks to use his size and playmaking potential from Day 1. For some, the fact that Myles Jack played so many different positions in college was viewed as a negative because they didn't feel like they had a grasp of where he best fit. I see Jacksonville as the perfect landing spot for his hybrid talents on the defensive side. While Yannick Ngakoue and Tyrone Holmes have some traits and could end up battling for playing time within the next year or so, Sheldon Day has right-now ability. Day isn't a perfect fit outside or inside up front due to his "tweener" size, but he has great feet and can be disruptive.
2. New York Jets
» Jets' 2016 draft class
The addition of linebacker Darron Lee helps in so many different ways for the Jets. Lee's speed and range will allow him to make some tackles that the Jets' inside 'backers couldn't get to in years past. The fact that he's good in coverage and as a blitzer simply adds even more three-down value. Jordan Jenkins is more of an edge-setter than a pass rusher off the edge, but he's tough and comes in with a pro-ready style that fits the Jets' personality. Fourth-round cornerback Juston Burris offers up size and matchup ability to work against some of the bigger targets in nickel coverage. With a willingness to tackle, Burris could find the field this season.
3. Tennessee Titans
» Titans' 2016 draft class
The Titans had additional picks to work with after trading down from the No. 1 slot, and they did an excellent job of weaving in and out between offensive and defensive needs with them. Kevin Dodd has the ability (and tape) to play with a hand in the ground or standing, and is an ascending pass-rush talent. Austin Johnson's motor never stops, and he can work into the Titans' defensive-line rotation quickly. The Titans' secondary was in dire need of help, and there is no reason to believe Kevin Byard, LeShaun Sims and even "Mr. Irrelevant" (Kalan Reed) can't help out on the back end.
4. New Orleans Saints
» Saints' 2016 draft class
The sheer quality of their two top defensive draft picks combined with the needs they filled help land the Saints on this list. I know there are arguments about whether or not Sheldon Rankins deserves to be compared to Aaron Donald as a smaller interior player who can produce big results, but I believe it is worth a discussion. The Saints also added Vonn Bell at safety and his coverage talent will be a welcome addition for a team that has to face Julio Jones, Kelvin Benjamin and Mike Evans twice a year. While Canadian defensive tackle David Onyemata might not be ready to compete for reps right away, his power and upside are reminiscent of former Saint Akiem Hicks.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
» Buccaneers' 2016 draft class
Vernon Hargreaves should step into playing time immediately at one cornerback spot, and he could be a big upgrade at the position. Noah Spence offers pass-rush potential at the defensive end spot, which is something the Bucs came into the draft hoping to address. Smooth-moving cornerback Ryan Smith has excellent mirror-and-match footwork that should get him noticed in camp.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers
» Steelers' 2016 draft class
General manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin traveled to every pro day imaginable in search of defensive-back help. With their first two selections, the Steelers grabbed cornerback Artie Burns and safety Sean Davis. Both players check several boxes when it comes to size and athleticism, and Davis might actually be the more pro-ready of the two if the Steelers lock him in as a safety rather than cornerback. Although he's not the biggest guy in the middle, defensive tackle Javon Hargrove has outstanding tape and showed in the postseason that he belonged with all of the big-name defensive line prospects from more prominent schools. He has enough ability to see rotational work quickly in Pittsburgh.