The NFL season may be over but it’s never too early to be looking ahead at the future. In just a couple months, the 2020 draft will be here and a new wave of football players will be introduced to the league. For this edition of AFC East Roundup, we’ll be looking at which positions the teams in the division could target in the early rounds.
For Buffalo, there are two options that could be worth exploring early in the draft. The 2020 class is expected to be very deep at the receiver position. The Buffalo Bills are scheduled to pick late in the first round and there’s sure to be at least one explosive receiver on the board who could make an immediate impact for the offense. On the other hand, one could make an argument that getting a defensive end could be the team’s priority. Currently on one side of the line there’s veteran DE Jerry Hughes who would be a good mentor for a rookie. On the other side of the line is uncertainty as Shaq Lawson, who made a considerable improvement in 2019, is a free agent now that his rookie contract has ended.
Over in Foxborough, it will be interesting to see what direction the New England Patriots take. It’s easy to say they, too, will be looking at the receiver position in the first round of the draft after seeing poor production from the position aside from Julian Edelman in 2019. However, there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding Tom Brady and if he’s coming back to the team. Even if he does return to the Patriots, you have to believe that he only has a couple of seasons left in the tank. It may not be a bad idea for them to consider drafting a guy for the future who could hopefully develop behind Brady for a season or two before taking over—that is, of course, if Jarrett Stidham isn’t the guy.
The New York Jets are in a different position because a case could be made for a variety of positions for them to target with the 11th pick of the first round. They could take one of the best receivers in the draft to give Sam Darnold another weapon going into his third season. This option could become more clear depending on what they decide to do about pending free agent Robby Anderson, who has been one of Darnold’s favorite target. One of the problems for the team this season was a lack of support from the offensive line, so the team could go in that direction as well. Even on defense there are a variety of positions the team could pursue. Safety Jamal Adams—who was talked about as a trade candidate at the trade deadline—could be on the move before the draft, which would make that a big position of need for the team.
Lastly there are the Miami Dolphins who control the first round of the draft with three picks at 5, 18, and 26. Entering the second year of the rebuild under head coach Brian Flores, it’s likely Miami will keep all of its picks instead of trying to deal them. One thing for sure is that the Dolphins will be looking for their quarterback of the future. An issue that could prevent the team from using its three first rounders is if they feel their guy isn’t going to be there at 5. Then Miami will have to find a way to trade up within the first few picks. After getting their quarterback, the team could pick any position as there are needs up and down the roster. Perhaps more than any other team in the league, it will come down to whether or not they select the right guys for the Dolphins to once again find success.