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Gil Brandt: Raiders, Browns top two NFL teams that helped themselves the most this offseason

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Oakland Raiders

Consider Gil Brandt a fan of what the Raiders have been doing lately. The longtime NFL man put together his list of the top five NFL offseasons and the Raiders landed in the number two spot, behind only the Cleveland Browns.

Here is what Brandt had to say about the Raiders offseason.

The Raiders have improved greatly this offseason. After setting the bar extremely low on defense in 2018, Oakland gave that unit a serious boost, drafting pass rusher Clelin Ferrell (selected at No. 4 overall), safety Johnathan Abram (No. 27) and cornerback Trayvon Mullen (No. 40) and signing safety Lamarcus Joyner and cornerback Nevin Lawson. The front seven is still a bit shaky, but veteran linebackers Brandon Marshall and Vontaze Burfict should help in that area.

On offense, the trade for seven-time Pro Bowler Antonio Brown has boom or bust written all over it. But the risk is well worth it, considering the relatively meager cost (the Steelers received a third- and fifth-round pick) and Brown’s extremely prodigious track record. Veteran signee Tyrell Williams, meanwhile, should be a nice deep-threat complement to Brown -- the former Chargers is a real sleeper. It’s fair to question the wisdom of paying Trent Brown a king’s ransom and then sticking him at right tackle after he played so well on the left side in New England. But it appears the team is reticent to move 2018 first-round pick Kolton Miller out of position. Josh Jacobs (drafted No. 24 overall in April) should be able to contribute at running back, especially with veteran signee Isaiah Crowell going down with an Achilles injury. This is shaping up to be an important season for quarterback Derek Carr. But head coach Jon Gruden has shown the ability to make something great out of inherited QBs, and now he and Carr both have more pieces to work with than they did a year ago.

A team with an historically bad defense should be focusing on that side of the ball. After the Raiders signed just one defensive player in the first wave of free agency (Lamarcus Joyner) they had no choice but to lean heavily to defense in the draft, making six of their nine players — three pass rushers and three defensive backs — defensive prospects.

From 4-12 and with what ended up being well over $100 million to spend in free agency and four picks in the top 40 of the draft, there was a lot of room to improve and a lot of ammo to use to improve it.