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Division-by-division look at each NFL team's needs before the draft: AFC East

Terez Paylor
·Senior NFL writer
·4 min read
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Teams have spent the past few weeks adding talent via free agency, but not all holes can be filled that way. Each team has some pressing needs remaining, and we’re going division-by-division to analyze those needs and perhaps figure out which directions teams are leaning heading into the draft.

AFC EAST

Buffalo Bills

Positions needed: EDGE, CB, T, WR, RB

Analysis: Don’t look now, but Buffalo has quietly built one of the NFL’s better rosters. The Bills don’t have many glaring needs, which is good since they dealt their first-round pick to the Vikings for Stefon Diggs, who addresses their lack of a bonafide No. 1 receiver. Still, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Buffalo attempt to land a developmental tackle with upside, which could allow Cody Ford to eventually shift inside to guard, while also taking advantage of a strong receiver draft to select a long-term complement to Diggs. At running back, Devin Singletary is promising, but he’s only 5-foot-7, so Buffalo might handcuff him with a bigger back. Defensively, the loss of free agent defensive end Shaq Lawson means there’s a need for a developmental edge rusher, while a developmental corner would also be nice.

The Buffalo Bills acquired Stefon Diggs during free agency, but had to give up their first-round NFL draft pick. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
The Buffalo Bills acquired Stefon Diggs during free agency, but had to give up their first-round NFL draft pick. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Miami Dolphins

Positions needed: QB, T, RB, DE, G

Analysis: Despite their 5-11 record, the Dolphins were more competitive by the end of the 2019 season than you probably think. That bodes well for coach Brian Flores’ team going forward, especially with 14 draft picks at their disposal (including three first-rounders). It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Dolphins tab their quarterback and bookend tackle with two of those picks, not to mention a home-run hitting running back to pair with free-agent signee Jordan Howard and a starting-caliber interior offensive lineman. Defensively, the Dolphins used a free-agent spending spree to sign a pair of in-their-prime pass rushers in Shaq Lawson and Kyle Van Noy. They also spent $46 million guaranteed to pair Byron Jones with Xavien Howard and form what should be one of the game’s best cornerback combos. Now, the Dolphins may only be an impact down lineman away from having a frisky defense sooner rather than later.

New England Patriots

Positions needed: EDGE, QB, TE, WR, LB

Analysis: First off, it goes without saying that whoever starts at quarterback — be it 2019 fourth-rounder Jarrett Stidham or someone else — will have massive shoes to fill after the offseason departure of franchise icon Tom Brady. And yes, it’s also true that whoever plays quarterback will have to deal with the same issues Brady did last season (a weak tight end corps and lack of explosion at receiver). But Bill Belichick still coaches this team, which means it would be a mistake to think the Pats still can’t win the division, especially if they address these aforementioned weaknesses in the draft. Provided they do, they could again rely on a defense that returns several starters from one of the league’s best units in 2019, including the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The addition of underrated safety Adrian Phillips should make the secondary even stronger. Sure, the edge rush, defensive line and linebacking corps all need more depth — a solid rookie could start at any one of those positions — but the Patriots have the functional starters to field another good defense under Belichick.

New York Jets

Positions needed: WR, T, G, EDGE, CB

Analysis: The Jets addressed the interior of their offensive line with the signings of Connor McGovern and Greg Van Roten, and they beefed up the tackle position with the addition of George Fant. There remains a question about how good this unit will be, and there is a dearth of promising young talent up front, so they shouldn’t pass on a foundational blocker at any position on the line (with the exception of center). An even bigger priority offensively should be getting quarterback Sam Darnold some additional help in what figures to be a historically deep draft at receiver (call it Quincy Enunwa insurance). Defensively, the Jets are already strong on the line and safety, but every other position — with the exception of inside linebacker, which returns a lot of players with starting experience — could either use reinforcements and/or a long-term upgrade or two.

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