With the 2021 NFL Draft behind us, it is now time to focus on which teams got materially better between free agency and draft picks.
There are several who did improve their roster.
Could any of them hope to unseat the reigning Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in February 2022?
Here are three NFL teams who may not be on the immediate radar for Super Bowl greatness but should be considered dark horses.
3. New York Giants
It sounds crazy that a team who finished 6-10 in 2020 could be a Super Bowl dark horse.
Let’s consider that the Giants had a rookie coach during a pandemic; Joe Judge did a good job under the circumstances and will only be better under a more normal offseason.
We should also consider that running back Saquon Barkley touched the ball only 25 times in 2020 before tearing his ACL in Week 2.
Quarterback Daniel Jones was hampered with hamstring and ankle issues during the season also.
In addition to missing Barkley, the Giants did not have solid wide receivers for Jones to target.
The Giants fixed this by signing free agent Kenny Golladay from the Detroit Lions.
In the first round, they drafted Florida’s Kadarius Toney whose explosive speed had NFL executives talking.
NEW YORK GIANT
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 30, 2021
In a weak NFC East division, the Giants could emerge a frontrunner.
2. Los Angeles Chargers
Obviously, the Chargers are looking to build around 2020’s NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, quarterback Justin Herbert.
Giving him a sturdier offensive line was one of the goals of the offseason, and the Chargers did it well.
They signed veteran center Corey Lindsey (free agent from Green Bay) and tackle Matt Feiler (free agent from Pittsburgh).
Justin Herbert’s new best friend is Northwestern OL Rashawn Slater Jr., who can play four different offensive line positions.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 30, 2021
Their first-round draft pick was offensive tackle Rashawn Slater of Northwestern.
The Chargers also made defensive additions.
They drafted Asante Samuel Jr. in the second round.
He is a prized cornerback from Florida State with an excellent pedigree; his father had a 10-year career in the NFL as a cornerback.
The Chargers finished 7-9 in 2020, and after many years of expectations, 2021 could be the year they contend.
1. Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns were one of the surprising stories of the 2020 season.
With a rookie coach and an organization that has been riddled with change for years, the Browns made the playoffs.
They won a playoff game in Pittsburgh by dominating the Steelers.
The Browns have an explosive offense, but the defense was the weakness.
That’s not the case anymore.
The Browns signed two free agents from the top-ranked defense in the NFL (Los Angeles Rams).
The Browns added depth, versatility, and speed in free agency and continued the trend in the draft.
Linebacker Jeremiah Osuwu-Koramoah (JOK) from Notre Dame was the Browns second-round draft pick.
He joins Northwestern cornerback Greg Newsome II who was the Browns first-round pick.
New #Browns CB Greg Newsome II allowed 0.44 yards per coverage snap in 2020
Lowest in the 2021 NFL Draft class pic.twitter.com/2u3IJON4aX
— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) April 30, 2021
The Browns now have the roster to contend; the pressure will be to live up to the expectations.