Five best NFL offseasons

Chiefs, Rams among teams that did best work in draft, free agency

Originally Published: June 7, 2013
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN Insider
Stedman Bailey and Tavon AustinJustin K. Aller/Getty ImagesIn Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, Sam Bradford has two new playmakers at his disposal.

A month ago, I was handing out my grades for the 2013 NFL draft. But NFL offseasons aren't just about the draft, because a number of teams already looked a lot different before the draft than they did in Week 17 of last season.

I saw a number of cases in which I felt what teams did in free agency clearly shifted how they approached the draft. When I talk to teams, I know they try to approach the draft with talent in mind and try not to overvalue what's already on the roster, but in a league where patience doesn't really exist, immediate help -- in the form of free agency or the draft -- matters.

You can't tell me that the presence of Alex Smith in Kansas City didn't at least marginally shift the way the Chiefs evaluated the 2013 draft class when it came to quarterbacks. Each process of evaluation affects the other.

I saw at least a dozen teams I could have picked for this list. But I was asked for five. So here you go: These are teams I think -- through the combination of the draft and free agency -- have been the most successful in upgrading their talent this offseason.


Kansas City Chiefs

Draft pick I liked: The pick of Eric Fisher at No. 1 overall is the biggest story, and it made sense because John Dorsey and Andy Reid know the success of Smith is directly tied to how good that offensive line is, in protection and in the run game. But another pick I liked was Nico Johnson at No. 99 overall. I had inside linebacker as a big need for them, and I think Johnson can play right away next to Derrick Johnson.


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Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst