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 AFC East Draft Needs

Three AFC East teams have enjoyed high draft picks consistently for the better part of the last decade. While New England has been among the best teams in the league, year in and year out, the Dolphins, Bills, and Jets have not been able to find a consistent foothold from which to challenge them. With each of the other teams now having either a new coach, or a second year coach, it seems as if the Patriots will enjoy at least another season without serious competition. Miami has already begun Adam Gase’s tenure by aggressively trading for key veteran players and the Jets are linked to several trade scenarios. The Patriots are without a first round draft pick this year due to deflategate. While the Bills have shed some expensive veteran players that didn’t mesh with Rex Ryan’s defense. Buffalo, New England, and Miami find themselves with a deep crop of draft picks to work with, while the Jets have just enough to focus on their primary needs.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills have the potential to be a surprise team in 2016. Defensively they have one glaring need, pass rusher, and could use some more depth at linebacker. Lesean McCoy’s potential return should help their offense - although he could miss some time - and some upgrades at offensive line will strengthen them as well. Watkins and McCoy give the team two legitimate playmakers to work with and Tyrod Taylor played well enough last year to justify some degree of enthusiasm going into this season. Still, as long as Ryan is the head coach the Bills will win with defense. Look for them to address their pass rush with at least two picks and hope that a dominant defense will lead them to the playoffs.

Team Needs: OL, DE, LB, WR, QB

Rex Ryan’s Buffalo defense was, surprisingly, ineffective at rushing the passer last season. Ryan desires, and needs, a strong pass rush in order to make his defense more effective. Adding a good edge rusher will allow Buffalo’s defense to really shine and take some pressure off of an offense that doesn’t really have the talent to outscore opponents consistently. Richie Incognto has played well for the Bills but he won’t be around many more seasons and Cyrus Kuondjo still needs to grab a hold of the right tackle job for the long run. Buffalo could look to add to it’s linebacker depth in a deep defensive year or it could take a mid round receiver to develop for the future. Although Tyrod Taylor played better than expected last season a long term upgrade at quarterback is needed.

Draft Picks, 8: 19, 49, 80, 117, 139*, 156, 192, 218*

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins invested heavily in their defense again during free agency and with Adam Gase coming from an offensive background one would imagine they will focus on offensive players in this draft. Gase surely hopes to be able to help Ryan Tannehill make the leap to productive starter, finally, and with Jarvis Landry and Devante Parker giving the team two good young receivers the team can focus on upgrading their offensive line in order to give Tannehill time. A replacement for Lamar Miller is also needed but this is less of a priority for Miami.

Team Needs: CB, OT, OG, LB, RB

Miami addressed their defensive line in free agency each of the last two years and the team can use this draft to fix some holes on its offensive line, add some depth to its linebacking corps, and find  a starting cornerback. By trading down with Philadelphia the team added some solid veterans to its defense but Byron Maxwell might not ever regain the form he showed early in his career. The Dolphins are in position to add either a cornerback or offensive tackle in the first round, and pick the other position up in the second. This isn’t a great year for offensive guards but the team can find some capable developmental players on day 3 along with a linebacker and perhaps a second cornerback.

Draft Picks, 8: 13, 42, 73, 107, 147, 186, 227, 231

New England Patriots

The Patriots are without their first round pick but still have the benefit of being the most talented team in the division, and really being the only team with a good quarterback. The team will usher in some veteran free agents later this summer to replace the veterans that they ushered out. Their draft will likely be a best player available scenario with a number of trades for future picks. Fortunately for New England fans the team is mostly in search of depth that can be developed for the future. As it always seems to be.

Team Needs: CB, WR, OL, DE

Draft needs for New England are always fluid as Bill Belichick does a phenomenal job of scheming towards his team’s strengths year to year. That Malcolm Butler became the team’s best cornerback despite being undrafted should not go unnoticed, Belichick likely won’t reach for a player at a position of need. Although Nate Solder’s return from injury will be a boon to the offensive line, the team learned last year that their backups aren’t good enough to protect Brady against elite defenses. A deep  receiving option for Brady would be nice, but it might be difficult to find value with no first round pick. Having no first round pick is mitigated by the Patriot’s multiple picks in the second and third round, where they will be able to find good complimentary players.

Draft Picks, 11: 60, 61, 91, 96*, 196, 204, 208*, 214*, 221*, 243, 250

New York Jets

The Jets were a surprise team in 2015 but the jury is still out on how they will fare in 2016. Ryan Fitzpatrick had a breakthrough year and played great for the team, who promptly rewarded him with a contract offer for back up money. Quarterback is by far the biggest question mark for the Jets today, but they now have a major hole to fill at left tackle in addition to outside linebacker. With no other starting options seemingly available for the team and no other starting jobs for the player the table is set for Fitzpatrick and the team to agree to a new contract. The Jets are the only team in the division with fewer than 8 draft picks so they’ll need to be creative in order to fill their holes.  Fortunately the draft is deep at their positions of need so it is possible that they can fill their major needs. A trade with Denver for Ryan Clady gives the team some flexibility at offensive tackle for the short term, though Clady has missed 30 games over the last three years and can’t be counted on to play in 16 games.

Team Needs: OLB, CB, OT, ILB

Calvin Pace needs to be replaced, D’Brickshaw Ferguson just retired rather than take a pay cut, and Dee Millner is a complete bust. The Jets will have options in the first round at these positions of need. Based on their board they should be able to find capable players CB and OLB in the second round. They could also trade to the early second for a shot at one of the remaining offensive tackles should they desire. Although, with only six selections, that might not be an option they pursue.

Draft Picks, 6: 20, 51, 83, 118, 157, 241

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