Draft Review: AFC East

Kevin OBrien

The AFC East has been dominated by New England. Since 2008, the Patriots have 41 division game wins, and no other team has come close. Miami has had 25, the Jets 24 and Buffalo 18. As for 2016, the AFC East was one of only three conferences that finished with multiple teams having ten of more wins last year. So while the Pats were dominant, Miami was still able to have a quality season with ten wins. Let’s take a look at how the teams in the AFC East looked to improve their rosters via the draft.

New England Patriots

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The Patriots opted to move their picks for NFL veterans and made four trades, giving another one in compensation by signing a restricted free agent. With their first round pick they acquired wide receiver Brandin Cooks from the Saints. In addition, they acquired defensive end Kony Ealy from the Panthers with their second round pick. Dwayne Allen was acquired from the Colts, with the Patriots sending their fourth rounder. They then used their two fifth round picks to acquire James O’Shaugnessy from the Chiefs, and another fifth rounder to acquire running back Mike Gillislee as RFA compensation to the Bills. The following players were selected by the Patriots in this year’s draft:

Derek Rivers, DE Youngstown St. Round 3, Pick 19 (83)

Antonio Garcia, OT Troy Round 3, Pick 21 (85)

Deatrich Wise, DE Arkansas Round 4, Pick 25 (131)

Conor McDermott, OT UCLA Round 6, Pick 28 (211)

While none of the players drafted are fantasy contributors, the two offensive tackles are a clear indication the Patriots are looking to bolster their depth at OT. Per Football Outsiders, the Patriots’ Left Tackle ranked 23rd in the NFL. Look for Patriots offensive line guru Dante Scarnecchia to improve this spot in 2017.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins finished 10-6 on the year and made a concerted effort to bolster their defense through the draft this year, using five of their seven picks on the defensive side of the ball.

Charles Harris, OLB Missouri Round 1, Pick 22 (22)

The Dolphins used their first round pick on outside linebacker Charles Harris. Harris will likely end up playing defensive end for Miami, however he will come right in and compete with William Hayes for an opportunity to start. Harris can play standing up and with his hand in the dirt, rushes the passer with excellent angles, and can play the run just as well. One thing that stuck out to me was he rarely let an offensive lineman get their hands on him, as he’s very good at swatting the lineman’s hands while maintaining pursuit. For IDP, be aware that MyFantasyLeague.com has him listed as a DE, so prepare for the possible designation changes with Harris.

Raekwon McMillan, LB Ohio St. Round 2 Pick 22 (54)

After losing weak side linebacker Jelani Jenkins in free agency, the Dolphins needed to add depth at linebacker. McMillan can come right in and start at WLB with undrafted rookie free agent from last year, Neville Hewitt, who was Jenkins’ back up last season. McMillan is a very good, well-rounded linebacker with ability to play the run and the pass. Eventually, he could become a big-time tackle-heavy IDP producer.

Cordrea Tankersley, CB Clemson Round 3, Pick 33 (97)

Cordrea Tankersley provides Miami with another 6’1” CB to go with their starters Byron Maxwell and Xavien Howard, both at the same height as Tankersley. He has good leaping ability to breakup passes, but also has above average hands.

The remaining draft choices likely won’t be immediate contributors for the Dolphins, but provide depth at guard, defensive tackle, and wide receiver.

Isaac Asiata, OG Utah Round 5, Pick 20 (164)

Davon Godchaux, DT LSU Round 5, Pick 35 (178)

Vincent Taylor, DT Oklahoma St. Round 6, Pick 10 (194)

Isaiah Ford, WR Virginia Tech Round 7, Pick 19 (237)

For dynasty purposes, Isaiah Ford is not roster worthy outside of deep leagues with 360 or more players rostered. He will be fighting for the fifth wide receiver spot with Jakeem Grant and Rashawn Scott.

Buffalo Bills

Tre’Davious White, CB LSU Round 1, Pick 27 (27)

The Bills lost a significant cornerback in Stephon Gilmore and are turning to their first round pick, Tre’Davious White to fill the void. White has excellent pass breakup skills, and led LSU with 14 passes defended last year. White struggles converting those passes defended into turnovers. What he lacks in being able to fight off blockers, he makes up for in angles to defend the run and has decent attack skills on screens.

Zay Jones, WR East Carolina Round 2, Pick 5 (37)

The Bills selected wide receiver Zay Jones with their second round pick to replace Robert Woods who left in free agency. Jones provides big play ability opposite Sammy Watkins. As a senior at East Carolina, he completely dominated his competition leading the nation with 158 receptions. The production was really eye-opening last year, with ten of 12 games with ten+ receptions and nine of 12 games with 100+ yards receiving. If Watkins is healthy and plays a full season, it will be hard to see a clear path for Jones to significant production. However, if Watkins continues to falter and ultimately leaves the Bills after next season, Jones could be the benefactor of the leading wide receiver on the team. In DLF startup mocks, he is going off the board at 109 overall and WR54.

Dion Dawkins, OG Temple Round 2, Pick 31 (63)

Matt Milano, LB Boston College Round 5, Pick 19 (163)

Dawkins is a versatile offensive lineman who can come in and compete right away for a starting role. While Milano is likely depth at linebacker, he will instantly be a special team’s contributor. Milano blocked three punts in his Boston College career.

Nathan Peterman, QB Pittsburgh Round 5, Pick 28 (171)

Peterman compares to a Kirk Cousins type vanilla quarterback who comes into the NFL touted as a career backup, but could surprise people with his aptitude and high football IQ. He will compete with Cardale Jones for backup duties behind starter Tyrod Taylor.

Tanner Vallejo, LB Boise St. Round 6, Pick 11 (195)

Vallejo will come in and immediately contribute on special teams and unlikely to get much playing time at linebacker initially.

New York Jets

Jamal Adams, S Round 1, Pick 6 (6) LSU

Marcus Maye, S Florida Round 2, Pick 7 (39)

Adams and Maye provide an immediate safety duo which seemingly would leave incumbent safety Calvin Pryor the odd man out. The Jets have declined Pryor’s fifth year option clearing the path for their new rookie safeties to lead the way as the future of the Jets defensive backfield.

ArDarius Stewart, WR Alabama Round 3, Pick 15 (79)

Chad Hansen, WR California Round 4, Pick 35 (141)  

If there was a pair of picks that I was confused by, these two wide receivers are them. Stewart and Hansen are more of the same type level contributors as the current receivers. Going into the off-season workouts, these two rookies slot in as the seventh and eighth on the receiver depth chart and will need to elevate in order to beat out the incumbent veterans.

Jordan Leggett, TE Clemson Round 5, Pick 6 (150)

After adding Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the Jets are still looking for their starting tight end. Leggett will have an immediate opportunity to start and contribute. At Clemson, he was second in receiving yards in 2016 with 736, behind only Mike Williams. Leggett can provide an above-average receiving option for the Jets.

Dylan Donahue, DL West Georgia Round 5, Pick 38 (181)

Elijah McGuire, RB Louisiana-Lafayette Round 6, Pick 4 (188)

Jeremy Clark, CB Michigan Round 6, Pick 13 (197)

Derrick Jones, CB Mississippi Round 6, Pick 20 (204)

Donahue, Clark, and Jones provide depth and contributors on special teams, but McGuire is an interesting add in deep dynasty leagues. With Matt Forte aging and Bilal Powell typically the receiving back, he could see some action if Forte loses his battle with father time.


After reviewing the draft picks of the AFC East teams, I really like what the Dolphins did securing two major needs at DE and WLB, but also adding depth at CB. The Jets made a decision to target two top safeties as future cornerstone pieces to their defensive backfield, while adding a potential receiving threat at TE. The Bills hope to have addressed three starting roles with their additions at WR, CB, and OL.

On the surface it looks like these three teams addressed more needs than the Patriots did. However, when you consider the veterans acquired with their draft capital, hands down, they did the most to acquire immediate contributors at more positions by adding starters at WR, TE, RB, and DL. It consistently feels like the league is playing checkers, while Bill Belichick is playing chess.


kevin obrien