Ranking the most, least improved NFL teams from 1-32: Why the Jags are at the top

  • Fantasy football, NFL analyst for ESPN.com
  • Member of Pro Football Writers of America
  • Founding director of Pro Football Focus Fantasy
  • 2013 FSTA award winner for most accurate preseason rankings

As NFL training camps start to pick up pace and the 2021 season looms just over a month away, the bulk of offseason player movement is certainly in the rearview mirror. When the offseason began last February, all 32 teams had the same goal: to improve. Some teams did it better than others. So who improved the most during the past six months? Who got worse? Who is pretty much the same as when we last saw them on the field?

To take stock of each team’s additions, subtractions, activity and inactivity from these spring and summer months, I ranked all 32 teams’ net change from the end of last season to now. Keep in mind that this is not a ranking of how good or bad a team actually is, but rather a ranking of how the roster changed since last season. The Jaguars, for example, aren’t going to top anyone’s power rankings this season, but their roster improvements rank among the best in the league. (That tends to happen when you, for starters, draft a generational QB prospect at No. 1 overall.)

Considerations for this list include free-agent signings, trade acquisitions, draft selections, long-term injuries, retirements and returns from the 2020 COVID opt-out list. So here is my ranking of how each NFL team improved — or didn’t — during the 2021 offseason.

Note: All first- and second-round draft picks are listed.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

Big additions: QB Trevor Lawrence, RB Travis Etienne Jr., CB Tyson Campbell, OT Walker Little, CB Shaquill Griffin, WR Marvin Jones Jr., S Rayshawn Jenkins, ED Jihad Ward

Key losses: WR Keelan Cole, CB D.J. Hayden, QB Mike Glennon, TE Tyler Eifert

The Urban Meyer era started with a strong offseason, as the Jaguars had plenty of available cap space and four draft selections in the first two rounds. Draft picks are, of course, far from a sure thing, but it’s a big plus anytime you add a potential franchise quarterback, as Jacksonville did by spending the first overall pick on Lawrence.

Etienne was a suspect first-round pick considering the state of the roster, but he — along with Jones — is an explosive offensive playmaker. Second-round pick Campbell, Griffin and Jenkins are much-needed additions to the secondary and easily offset the departure of Hayden.

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