NFL

10 Underrated AFC Offseason Moves- Part I

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As training camp approaches, most teams are feeling pretty good about their situations entering the 2015 season.  Everyone knows about Ndamukong Suh going to the Miami Dolphins via free agency, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafting Jameis Winston first overall.

What about the moves that didn’t receive as much attention?

We’ve already looked at some under the radar NFC moves here and here, and now we’re going to highlight some shrewd, yet underrated moves by AFC general managers which should pay off this season.

Chiefs Restructure Hali, Extend Houston

The Kansas City Chiefs are positioning themselves to be in contention for a wide open AFC West division title.  Of all the moves they made in the offseason, perhaps the best one was finding space to re-sign sack master Justin Houston.

Sure, signing Houston was somewhat of a no-brainer, but finding the money to do so while still paying starting quarterback Alex Smith and getting him the best weapon he’s ever played with in Jeremy Maclin was the tough part.  Kansas City found the money by restructuring former first-round pick Tamba Hali and keeping together one of the very best pass rushing duos in football.

Jaguars Draft Michael Bennett

A sixth-round draft pick likely won’t be a season changer for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are just trying to be respectable in 2015.  Still, the selection of Ohio State defensive tackle Michael Bennett in Round 6 was nothing short of a steal for Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell.

Bennett was in impact player and helped lead the Buckeyes to a national title.  He’ll fit in well in Jacksonville on the defensive line as Sen’Derrick Marks is trying to come back from ACL surgery.  Bennett will rotate in on the Jaguars defensive line with Marks, Jared Odrick, Tyson Alualu and Ziggy Hood.

“I don’t really have any concrete goals,” Bennett said.  “I feel like when you start chasing numbers you focus on that stuff. I just want to get better. I just want to get the pads on, see where I’m at, see what it’s like to hit in the NFL. I’m really excited about that. I love the physical aspect so I can’t wait to see what they’ve got for me.”

Bills Hire Greg Roman

When you don’t have an established quarterback, playing “ground and pound” is the default setting on the offensive playbook.  Bills head coach Rex Ryan found the perfect guy to run his physical, conservative offense in former 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman.

The Bills will try and run the football as much as possible and set up play action and run action off that ground game.  Greg Roman did this to perfection in San Francisco, while developing Colin Kaepernick into a quarterback that you can win playoff games with.

That is the picture perfect formula for success in Buffalo with the current Bills roster.

Browns Draft Inside Out

The Cleveland Browns aren’t expected to make the playoffs this season, but they do have a plan and a formula to execute said plan.

Instead of trading their next several premium draft picks to go up and select Marcus Mariota (another project at quarterback), Cleveland kept their picks and built up their lines.  The Browns used their first, first-round pick on Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton and their second, first-round pick on Florida State offensive lineman Cameron Erving.

Cleveland has further strengthened the middle of their offense and defense so whenever they do find a legitimate quarterback (if he’s not already on the roster), he will be protected and not asked to do too much.

They went with smart over sexy, the antithesis of their 2014 NFL Draft.

Jets Draft Devin Smith

The New York Jets are giving quarterback Geno Smith (or Ryan Fitzpatrick) every possible chance to be successful in 2015.  Not only did they trade for perennial Pro Bowler Brandon Marshall, but they selected Ohio State speedster Devin Smith with their second round pick.

Smith is one of the best deep threats to come along in years and he will make every offense better, even if he’s used as nothing more than a decoy.  Smith is the perfect complement in the Jets passing attack as Marshall is a true No. 1, Eric Decker is a perfect possession receiver and Jeremy Kerley is the prototypical slot machine.

Teams not only have to worry about the Jets getting big and tough at the line of scrimmage running the football, but whoever plays quarterback now has a plethora of threats to throw to.

 


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.