The AFC East is arguably one of the most competitive divisions to compete in. The Dolphins, Bills, and Jets are playing catch up with Belichick and the 5-time Super Bowl Champions, New England Patriots, every year. The key to conquering the division is by having solid quarterback play and an outstanding defense.
These are the needs each AFC East squad will look to fill in the first round of the draft to become or remain competitive for the 2017 season.
New York Jets
2016 season: 5-11 record
Draft order: 6th overall
Glaring need: Safety, Cornerback
The Jets pass defense allowed 244 yards per game (16th), 30 passing touchdowns (25th), and 98.5 passer rating (30th) while forcing only eight interceptions (29th) in 2016. There are a few defensive backs in the draft, who are worth a top-ten pick, that can make an immediate impact on the Jets struggling pass defense.
Drafting a quarterback in the top ten won’t do this team much justice if they plan on winning now. They need a veteran leader under center to manage the offense and allow the defense to win them games.
2016 season: 7-9 record
Draft order: 10th overall
Glaring need: Wide receiver
The Bills lost their leading receiver, Robert Woods, in free agency this offseason. Their current number one option is Sammy Watkins who has been struggling with injuries throughout his short career. He caught a mediocre 28 passes for 430 yards and two touchdowns in eight games last season as the team’s second-leading receiver. Tyrod Taylor needs a reliable go-to weapon because right now he doesn’t have many options.
2016 season: 10-6 record
Draft order: 22nd overall
Glaring need: defensive playmaker
Whether it’s a linebacker or a defensive end, the Dolphins could use a playmaker on defense who can get after the quarterback on passing downs and make stops on running downs. They allowed an unacceptable amount of rushing yards per game (140) last season finishing 29th amongst all defenses.
New England Patriots
2016 season: 14-2 record
Draft order: traded their 1st round pick
Glaring need: N/A
The New England Patriots traded their first-round pick to the New Orleans Saints and acquired Brandin Cooks in the process. This move added speed to the offense and a home run hitter which they lacked. It’s unbelievable but the reigning Super Bowl champs bolstered their offense and defense in free agency. What’s more unbelievable is the fact that they still have the draft to continue to add more pieces to their roster.