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AFC East Roundup: 2021 draft needs

What position groups will each team be targeting?

Before we know it, April 29 will be here—which is, of course, draft night for the NFL in 2021. The draft is an excellent opportunity for teams to pick players who could turn into new franchise faces or simply provide the missing role a team needs to get over the hump. This week on the AFC East Roundup, we look at some of the players and positions in whom/where the Buffalo Bills and their divisional foes may have their sights.

Buffalo Bills

For the Bills, there are a number of directions the team could go. First, there is some concern in certain circles regarding Devin Singletary and Zack Moss. Can they be the duo needed to ground and pound the football? There are a few excellent running backs in this draft who could be on the board when the Buffalo makes their first pick. Players like Travis Etienne and Najee Harris would certainly provide an instant upgrade to the Bills’ backfield. The team could also target running backs outside of the first round, considering that is where Singletary and Moss were drafted. But would general manager Brandon Beane be comfortable with taking another running back with a premium draft pick three years in a row?

Other areas of need include tight end, as attempts to pick up some of the free-agent studs who were available in the offseason proved unsuccessful. Also on offense there’s a chance they look at adding another offensive tackle. On the defensive side of the football the Bills need to find depth at the cornerback position and an edge rusher since Jerry Hughes is not getting any younger (nor is Mario Addison). You can find more draft needs for the team in this article written by Matt Warren.

New York Jets

A lot of the early mock drafts thought that it was possible the Jets were going to use their top pick to beef up their offensive line and protect Sam Darnold. That was until the team decided to trade Darnold to the Carolina Panthers. Granted, offensive line is still a big need for the team but all indications are currently pointing towards the team taking quarterback Zach Wilson with the second overall pick in the draft.

The Jets really need to get an impact cornerback after not making any moves on the free-agent market. Much like the Bills, New York could also be looking to upgrade at the running back position after Le’Veon Bell was released last season and ageless wonder Frank Gore is currently a free agent.

New England Patriots

The Patriots had a rough outing last season, missing the playoffs for the first time in a long time. This was partially due to a lack of playmakers on both sides of the football. As such, this is why the team has a lot of holes and multiple directions they can go in when it comes to the draft. Do not rule out New England picking a quarterback early. Even though Cam Newton will be returning under center in 2021, he just did not seem like the same quarterback after missing a couple weeks due to COVID-19.

New England will also try to address cornerback and offensive tackle heading into the draft. At cornerback, there were a lot of rumors that the Patriots were looking to move on from All-Pro Stephon Gilmore, so they would most likely try to find his replacement through the draft. At tackle, New England will have a lot of free agents at the position heading into 2022, so it will be important to beef up at that position. Our friends over at Pats Pulpit wrote a nice article detailing the draft needs for the Patriots.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins have a whole lot of firepower heading into the draft and currently have a roster that appears only a couple players away from being serious contenders. Miami has a chance with all the quarterbacks going in the first round to draft a game-breaking wide receiver to pair with DeVante Parker. With guys like DeVonta Smith and Ja’Marr Chase both likely to be on the board when Miami is up to pick, it appears the team could do no wrong.

The Dolphins could also change it up and address the need at offensive line early to give some added protection for Tua Tagovailoa heading into his second season. Another need for Miami is one that has appeared frequently through out this article: running back. Miami used a bunch of different running backs last season and may be looking for that one true back who can consistently carry the rock.