While NFL rookies are experiencing mini-camp for the first time and getting their first taste of life in the NFL, we’re still pouring over the results of the draft. This week we’ll be ranking teams based on how they drafted compared to the other teams in their division. First up is the AFC East, whose teams made quite a splash during the draft, not that we’d expected anything less. Here’s how the teams of the AFC East stack up against one another:
1. Miami – The Dolphins made a splash by trading up to get Dion Jordan, who may end up being the best pass rusher in this draft, and was certainly the safest pick among the pass rushers taken in the first round. Miami also drafted a pair of cornerbacks that both have the potential to be starters for them in Jamar Taylor and Will Davis. Jordan, Taylor, and Davis will help Miami’s pass defense immensely after the Dolphins ranked 27th in the league in pass defense last season.
The Dolphin’s offense also got considerable help from offensive lineman Dallas Thomas and running back Mike Gillislee. Tight end Dion Sims is a perfect fit for the NFL and will give Miami a great new weapon in the passing game. There’s something to like about every pick the Dolphins made, including place kicker Caleb Sturgis, who was one of the most accurate kickers in college football over the past few seasons, and that gives Miami the best draft in the division and one of the best in the NFL.
2. New York Jets – The Jets are a distant second in this division, as they failed to add any offensive skill position players in the draft, a dire need they have no matter who ends up being their quarterback this year. That being said, the Jets used their two first round picks to replace Darrelle Revis with Dee Milliner and bolster their defensive line with Sheldon Williams.
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New York was also able to get a quarterback with a first round grade in the second round in Geno Smith, which essentially gives them three first round picks. The Jets also addressed a need by drafting three offensive linemen, which may have been one too many, but third round pick Brian Winters should start right away and has the versatility to play multiple positions, making him a great pick. But despite adding a handful of good players, not drafting any offensive playmakers was a huge failure for the Jets, keeping them far behind the Dolphins on this list.
3. Buffalo – The Bills ended up with some good pieces, as Doug Marrone hopes to start a reclamation project in Buffalo, but the team went about things the wrong way. E.J. Manuel might have been the quarterback they wanted, but they picked him far too early, as he still would have been available in the second round, and possibly even later than that, although trading down in he first round was a smart move.
Buffalo did pick up a pair of wide receivers in Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin, but their defense was a much bigger need coming into the draft. They needed to add impact defensive players in the early round, but linebacker Kiko Alonso was the only defensive player they drafted in the first three rounds. Using their late-round picks on a place kicker and a receiving tight end instead of adding depth to their defense were also questionable picks, and kept them from having a better draft.
4. New England – The Patriots traded away their first round pick and didn’t use the picks they did have wisely, as they came away without an impact player. The first pick they made was second round linebacker Jamie Collins, who will help their pass rush considerably, but he’s not an every down player. The wide receivers they took, Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce, will provide solid depth, but neither are the game breakers the Patriots are looking for, especially after losing Wes Welker.
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Bill Belichick clearly likes defensive backs from Rutgers, taking both Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon in the third round, but both were a stretch to take in the third round, especially Harmon. Not only were the Patriots absent from the first round, but they also didn’t have any picks in the fifth of sixth rounds, losing out on a chance to get younger and add some depth to their roster. Overall, there’s little to like about what New England did in this draft, and that puts them far below the questionable drafts the Jets and Bills had, which says a lot.