NFL Draft 2021: AFC East Team Needs
With impressive seasons from both the Bills and Dolphins last year and the multiple big-time moves made by the Jets and Patriots throughout the free agency period, the AFC East looks completely different than it did just two seasons ago when Tom Brady was still dominating the division.
However, these teams are far from finished products and can still add significant pieces with the draft right around the corner and plenty of solid veterans still available on the free agent market.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the specific needs and potential solutions for each team in one of the most interesting divisions in the NFL.
The Bills are ready to win now and if they want to get past the juggernaut that is the Kansas City Chiefs, they’re going to have to add multiple pieces on the defensive side of the ball.
Starting edge rushers Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison were lacking in terms of sack production and they aren’t getting any younger, so finding a replacement in the draft would be a smart route to take, especially with this year’s class having a plethora of quality pass rushers.
The Bills could also use a second cornerback opposite of Tre’Davious White after the Josh Norman experiment produced underwhelming results last season.
Some prospects to keep an eye on for Buffalo in the first round are: Jaelan Phillips (EDGE), Gregory Rousseau (EDGE), Jayson Oweh (EDGE), Asante Samuel Jr. (CB) and Greg Newsome II (CB).
Miami’s goal for this offseason should be to surround Tua Tagovailoa with as much help as possible, whether that means adding weapons at the skill positions or upgrading along the offensive line.
After making multiple trades, the Dolphins currently hold the sixth and eighteenth picks in the first round of the draft and they’ll have multiple options at positions of need at both spots.
At the sixth pick, they can pick one of Kyle Pitts (TE), Rashawn Slater (OT), Penei Sewell (OT), Ja’Marr Chase (WR), Devonta Smith (WR) or Jaylen Waddle (WR), all of whom are considered top 10 players in the class.
They could look to add a receiver or an offensive lineman at pick 18 as well, depending on their decision at six. Another option could be Najee Harris who has familiarity with Tagovailoa and would be their day-one starter at running back.
New England Patriots
Even with Cam Newton returning, quarterback remains the biggest need for New England.
With the Jaguars, Jets and 49ers all expected to select quarterbacks in the top three, the Patriots will need to move up to select one.
If none of the top-five quarterbacks fall to the Patriots at pick 15 or they can’t move up far enough to select one, they could look to add speed on defense, whether that be at linebacker or along the defensive line. Or, they could add another receiver to their receiving corps that has already been much improved via free agency.
New York Jets
What don’t the Jets need? Gang Green currently possesses one of the worst rosters in the league with a need at just about every position.
Zach Wilson is expected to be the newest member of the team after he is selected with the second overall pick, filling their hole at quarterback. But after that, they could look to add players at just about any other position.
After the quarterback position gets fixed, the interior of their offensive line should be the Jets’ next priority. After missing out on all the top free agents at the position, New York could look to add a guard or center at pick 23 or at the top of the second round.
The Jets also need to address the cornerback position.
Their current duo of Bryce Hall and Bless Austin on the outside is probably the worst in the league and could prove to be a serious liability if the position isn’t upgraded. Multiple free agents are still available such as Richard Sherman, Casey Hayward and Steven Nelson, but if they want to go the younger route, there are multiple high quality prospects at the position that will be available to them throughout the first three rounds.
Jakob Schnur is a freshman majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Second-Year / Broadcast Journalism