AFC East Draft Needs
With the 2021 free agency period winding down and the Draft just 10 days away at the time of writing, we take a look at the AFC East and the remaining needs of the Patriots, Dolphins, Bills and Jets. New England and New York have both done a great job of reloading their respective rosters for 2021 being the top 2 most improved rosters heading into the 2021 Draft. Bill Belichick has been uncharacteristically open with the checkbook in free agency grabbing 2 of the top available tight ends, a wide receiver, though it is debatable is the Nelson Agholor contract is warranted given his inconsistency, bringing back Kyle Van Noy, and a number of other moves. The other school of thought is what Joe Douglas has done, being financially conservative but finding amazing players to sign like Carl Lawson, Corey Davis and Lamarcus Joyner for very team friendly contracts. Time will tell who chose the right path, BB or JD, but history has shown that wild spending in free agency has a lower success rate over comparatively conservative spending.
The Bills have added Emmanuel Sanders, re-signed Mike Milano, brought in Mitch Trubiski (still asking why..) and bringing in Matt Breida. Decent additions to an already solid roster, but the low spending will benefit the Bills in 2022 so that isn’t something to dismiss. The Fins most notable signings are WIll Fuller at WR and Jacoby Brisset at QB. Fuller has big time health/personal decision making concerns and no matter how good Fuller can be, none of that matters if he can’t stay on the field for 14-16 games. Be that from injury or suspension, and he will be starting 2021 in week 2. Brisset makes more sense because I truly don’t think Miami is sold on Tua. Better to have another safety valve that they can bring in yet again to show the fanbase that they don’t trust their 2020 first pick. The rest of the Dolphins acquisitions seem to be depth and they will be stocking premium players through the draft.
So let’s go team by team and I will give you my first round draft predictions based on what I believe the teams will do to fill remaining needs.
For how well the Dolphins did in 2020, they actually have a lot of holes to fill with premier talent. As I said, most of their free agency appears to be depth, but they need an Edge rusher, linebackers, interior O line, more specifically a center, RB to a lesser degree and receiver. With pick 6 and 18 in this draft, one would think that they could lock down a good chunk of those needs, but the fact is, Kyle Pitts will be there at 6 and I just can’t see Miami letting him slide any further. Pitts is the best player in this draft and being a Florida grad, it makes sense for him to land in Miami. Pick 18 I believe that Miami attacks the Edge position signing the top available Edge rusher and given the primary 3-4 defense, currently I see Azeez Ojulari OLB from Georgia as a great scheme fit for that defense. Can play Sam or WIll, but would be on the Sam side in Miami.
Buffalo is solid throughout and picking at 30, I think Buffalo can attack their top need of Tight End by drafting Pat Freiermuth out of Penn State. Well rounded TE, Freiermuth has really good hands and can be a blocking force for the Bills. With the O line class in 2021 being very deep, look for Buffalo to address that in the 2nd round.
New England Patriots
The Pats need a QB. And they need one badly. Cam Newton is not the answer or they would have given him more than a 1 year contract. My call of the draft is New England trades up to #4 with the Atlanta Falcons and takes Justin Fields at 4. With the top 3 picks bing all but locks with Lawrence going #1, Wilson going #2 and my call of Mac Jones going #3 to San Francisco, Justin Fields in New England is a great fit to sit behind Cam for a year and learn how to be a QB outside of the Ohio State system. The other need the Pats have is an outside corner. Look for an Asante Samuel Jr. to land there in the 2nd round.
New York Jets
Everyone knows that the Jets need a QB, obvious after the trade of failed experiment Sam Darnold. Zach Wilson, or Zach The Ripper and I will be calling him, is the obvious choice at 2. As the Jets also have the 23rd pick in the first round, I believe that Joe Douglas will pick someone to help keep our new franchise QB standing by drafting Creed Humphrey, C out of Oklahoma. I have said that Creed is the best center prospect in the last decade and I compare him to Nick Mangold as a hyper-intelligent leader of the offensive line. Creed can direct traffic and is a day one leader. 37 college starts with zero sacks allowed in his career is another feather in his cap. The Jets will also need to add a corner, look for Kary Vincent Jr. out of LSU to be chosen on day 3, another IOL selection should be Wyatt Davis at 34. I like Patrick Jones, edge out of Pitt in the 4th round as well. Jets could be very dangerous in 2021.
There you have it. The AFC East addressed and in the books. Keep an eye on this division moving forward NFL fans. It is very likely that the road to the Super Bowl will be coming through this division very soon and for the foreseeable future, regardless of which team takes the division. Yes, I said it. The AFC East can very well be the toughest division in football very soon. You heard it here first.
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