The AFC East has been and remains a division dominated by the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. The 2017 NFL Draft did little to change that.
The New York Jets landed the best player of any AFC East team in this year’s draft, but the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins failed to add a significant difference maker who can bring them one step closer to the Patriots this season.
Here’s a look at how each team in the AFC East performed in the 2017 NFL Draft.
New York Jets: B
Jamal Adams | S | LSU (1.06)
Marcus Maye | S | Florida (2.39)
ArDarius Stewart | WR | Alabama (3.79)
Chad Hansen | WR | California (4.141)
Jordan Legget | TE | Clemson (5.150)
Dylan Donahue | DE | West Georgia (5.181)
Elijah McGuire | RB | LA Lafayette (6.188)
Jeremy Clark | CB | Michigan (6.197)
Derrick Jones | CB | Ole Miss (6.204)
Analysis: The Jets had a really good draft and added several players who can evolve into big-time starters in the not-too-distant future. Jamal Adams was one of the two or three best players in the entire class; Adding him with the sixth pick is a steal. He’s an instant culture-changer in the locker room and will become a superstar in New York. Marcus Maye in Round 2 should signal the end of Calvin Pryor’s tenure as a starter in the secondary. The Jets’ defensive backfield got a lot better in one draft. ArDarius Stewart is one of the most underrated players — regardless of position — in the entire class. He’s going to outproduce some of the pass-catchers taken in the first round when it’s all said and done. He should be the Jets’ primary target by season’s end. Chad Hansen has good size but is an all-around average player. Jordan Legget was lost in the shuffle with this year’s loaded class of tight ends, but he’s an NFL starter who will make plays in the intermediate passing game. The Jets failed to add a quarterback in 2017, a decision that will be questioned if none of their young passers take a big step forward this season.
Buffalo Bills: B
Tre’Davious White | CB | LSU (1.27)
Zay Jones | WR | ECU (2.37)
Dion Dawkins | G | Temple (2.63)
Matt Milano | OLB | Boston College (5.163)
Nathan Peterman | QB | Pitt (5.171)
Tanner Vallejo | OLB | Boise State (6.195)
Analysis: The Bills added three starters with their first three picks. Tre’Davious White is going to play — and play well — for the Bills for the next decade. He’s a high-character guy who has just enough athletic ability to complement his high football IQ. White knows how to play cornerback like a pro. He’ll have little trouble transitioning to the NFL. Zay Jones should’ve been a first-round pick. He’s a smooth and deceptively explosive pass-catcher along the lines of former Bengal Chad Ochocinco. Dion Dawkins is a diverse talent who can play all over the offensive line, but he’ll settle in nicely as a productive starting guard. Nathan Peterman fell to Round 5, a value that fits his skill set. He certainly has some upside, but he looks more like a career backup at this point in his development.
Miami Dolphins: C
Charles Harris | OLB | Missouri (1.22)
Raekwon McMillan | ILB | Ohio State (2.54)
Cordrea Tankersley | CB | Clemson (3.97)
Isaac Asiata | G | Utah (5.164)
Davon Godchaux | DT | LSU (5.178)
Vincent Taylor | DT | Oklahoma State (6.194)
Isaiah Ford | WR | Virginia Tech (7.237)
Analysis: The Dolphins underwhelmed with their 2017 NFL Draft class. Charles Harris is, fittingly, the best of their three-day haul and should offer immediate help to the pass rush. McMillan should also crack the starting lineup and will toughen the run defense. Cordrea Tankersley is a big, long cornerback with turnover production. He reminds me of the old-school Dolphins’ corners who were big and physical in press coverage. Isaac Asiata is a powerful run blocker who should provide nice depth for the interior of the offensive line. Isaiah Ford plays faster than his 4.61 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. He’s a practice squad candidate.
New England Patriots: C
Derek Rivers | OLB | Youngstown State (3.83)
Antonio Garcia | OT | Troy (3.85)
Deatrich Wise, Jr. | DE | Arkansas (4.131)
Connor McDermott | OT | UCLA (6.211)
Analysis: The Patriots’ grade is based on their draft-weekend haul. If their trade for Brandin Cooks is factored in, they’d get a bump to a B. However, I’m basing their C grade on what they did with the limited picks they had. Their first two selections — Derek Rivers and Antonio Garcia — were really nice values in the third round. Both players could have easily gone in Round 2. Rivers was impressive during the 2017 Senior Bowl, proving he can beat highly-graded offensive linemen in pass-rushing drills. Garcia, on the other hand, has really good tape but lost some ground in the draft process in Mobile, Alabama. He struggled during the week of practices and slipped from an outside chance at the first round to a late Day-2 pick. The Patriots were enriched by his fall. Deatrich Wise and Connor McDermott are NFL backups who will struggle to earn a relevant role in New England.