Each Wednesday we will take a look at how one of the NFL’s eight divisions did in the offseason. Today, the AFC East.
Most improved team: Dolphins
Jeff Ireland has done a really nice job of acquiring talent in the offseason. With perhaps the most aggressive offseason approach in the NFL, the Dolphins swung for the fences in free agency and in the draft. They added Mike Wallace, Dannell Ellerbe, Brent Grimes, Lance Louis, Dustin Keller, Tyson Clabo, Brandon Gibson, Philip Wheeler, Dion Jordan, Jamar Taylor and Will Davis, among others. That’s a lot of talent. Of course, the Dolphins lost a lot of talent in Jake Long, Sean Smith, Reggie Bush, Anthony Fasano, Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby. But they took more than they lost. And the new players are more in line with the schemes run by Joe Philbin and his second year coaching staff. Now we’ll see if all that talent gels and becomes a great team.
Biggest veteran move: Mike Wallace.
His speed and ability to stretch the field makes him a difference maker for Miami. Even if Wallace doesn’t lead the league in receiving, he should improve all facets of the Dolphins offense. Runner-up best veteran move might by the Dolphins’ signing of Dannell Ellerbe.
Best draft addition: Dee Milliner.
Milliner is NFL ready and should be an effective cover man early in his career. The problem is he will be battling the perception that he is the next Darrelle Revis. Milliner isn’t Revis. But he should line up and play for a long time and be an above average cornerback for the Jets. Dion Jordan was a mighty fine draft addition as well.
Best under the radar move: Adrian Wilson.
The temptation is to say this is Rodney Harrison all over again. It’s really not, but it could be close. Wilson is 33 and in his 11th NFL season. When the Patriots acquired Harrison, he was 30 and in his 10th NFL season. The difference between 30 and 33 can be monumental for a safety. Wilson is not going to move the way Harrison moved when he went to New England. But if he can move at all, you know Bill Belichick is going to find a way to get something valuable out of him. Wilson’s veteran experience should play well in the New England secondary.
Dan Pompei covers pro football for the Chicago Tribune at chicagotribune.com.