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AFC East roundup: Lots of changes among projected defensive starters

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Some defenses made major changes while others stayed in tact.

Last week on the AFC roundup, we looked at the projected offensive starters for each team in the division. This week, we examine the other side of the ball, looking at the projected defensive starters. As a reminder, these are only projections, and a lot can change between now and the start of the regular season.

Note: an asterisk represents a new starter from 2017.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills attacked free agency, filling holes on the defensive sides of the ball. Some of the new faces that are expected to contribute in a big way are defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, defensive end Trent Murphy, and cornerback Vontae Davis. With the loss of the unit’s play caller, middle linebacker Preston Brown, the team addressed the need by drafting Tremaine Edmunds in the first round of this year’s draft. Buffalo is also bringing back three quarters of a secondary that was among the best in the league.

DE Jerry Hughes
DT Star Lotulelei*
DT Kyle Williams
DE Trent Murphy*
OLB Matt Milano
MLB Tremaine Edmunds*
OLB Lorenzo Alexander
CB Tre’Davious White
CB Vontae Davis*
S Micah Hyde
S Jordan Poyer

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins will have an interesting defense heading into next season. The team released defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, but they still have edge rusher Cameron Wake, who can change a game all by himself. They added veteran Robert Quinn and drafted Davon Godchaux to solidify the defensive line. On the back end of the defense lies rookie corner Minkah Fitzpatrick, who was the team’s first round pick in the draft. Miami will look to improve a defense that finished in the middle of the pack (17) in the 2017 regular season.

DE Robert Quinn*
DT Jordan Phillips
DT Davon Godchaux*
DE Cameron Wake
OLB Kiko Alonso
MLB Raekwon McMillan*
CB Xavien Howard
CB Cordrea Tankersley
S Reshad Jones
S Minkah Fitzpatrick*
S T.J. McDonald

New York Jets

The Jets pride themselves on their defense, and last year it was the best thing the team had going for them. The defense finished in the top ten (8) in the league, but finished in the bottom half of the league in sacks. New York will look at defensive end Leonard Williams to step up in a big way up front and Buster Skrine to defend the back end of the defense. The gem of the defense may be new corner Trumaine Johnson, who was the team’s biggest haul in the offseason. After moving on from defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, the team is moving on to bigger and better things.

DE Leonard Williams
DT Steve McLendon
DE Henry Anderson*
OLB Jordan Jenkins
ILB Avery Williamson*
ILB Darron Lee
CB Trumaine Johnson*
CB Morris Claiborne
CB Buster Skrine
S Jamal Adams
S Marcus Maye

New England Patriots

The Patriots are primed once again to have another top-five defense this season. Their biggest loss on defense may not be a player, but rather defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, who is now the head coach for the Detroit Lions. They were able to acquire defensive tackle Danny Shelton from the Cleveland Browns. Even with the loss of corner Malcom Butler, the team still has Stephen Gilmore, the McCourty brothers, and Patrick Chung controlling the back end of the defense again. Their defense did not have the best performance in the Super Bowl against the Eagles, but they are looking to bounce back.

DE Adrian Clayborn*
DT Danny Shelton*
DT Malcom Brown
DE Trey Flowers
LB Dont’a Hightower
LB Kyle Van Noy
CB Stephen Gilmore
CB Jason McCourty
S Devin McCourty
S Patrick Chung
S Duron Harmon