With the 2022 NFL Draft mere days away, teams are finishing up prospects top 30 visits with prospects, and putting finishing touches on their “big board.” Each of the teams in the AFC East have several positional needs, and certain players they’re hopeful to land, whether staying put or moving around the draft board.
For the Bills, their biggest need is a cornerback. Levi Wallace left in free agency, and the team hasn’t addressed his departure yet. Tre’Davious White is still rehabbing his ACL injury, and his return to form immediately is not guaranteed. That leaves only Dane Jackson because Taron Johnson and Siran Neal play corner in nickel packages.
Another underrated need for Buffalo is wide receiver. There are a lot of great options in this draft class so the Bills may be wise to invest a pick in one during the early rounds. Yes, they have Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis but currently the third receiver appears undetermined. Isiah McKenzie being able to step into the role is still uncertain even though he showed flashes of it at times last season.
This last need is more fan service than anything but nonetheless it is a need. I believe the Buffalo Bills need “Punt God” Matt Araiza. Araiza took college football by storm last season, setting the record for average punting distance in a season (over 51 yards). He has the distance but also the accuracy to flip the field and pin opponents deep. This would be a welcome sight for the Bills after Matt Haack ranked in the bottom of the league in the majority of punting categories last season.
Some may think the Patriots should be focused on drafting weapons for second-year quarterback Mac Jones to aid in his development. However, what he currently needs is protection on the offensive line. New England has a heavy need at guard after starting right guard Shaq Mason was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the offseason. Also, starting left guard Ted Karras left in free agency—causing a giant hole up front.
Flipping to the defense, cornerback may be a need after Pro Bowler J.C. Jackson left for the Los Angeles Chargers, but linebacker may be the bigger need out of the two. Starter Kyle Van Noy was cut by the team and their other starter Don’t’a Hightower remains a free agent. Linebacker as a whole remains a giant question mark and should be the Patriots’ likely target early in the draft.
Miami heads into the draft feeling good about themselves after using their first-round pick and then some to trade for receiver Tyreek Hill to pair with second-year receiver Jalen Waddle. While that should help Tua Tagovailoa on offense, it doesn’t mean the Dolphins don’t have other needs to address.
Miami needs another stud at nose tackle. Starter Raekwon Davis had a great season but there currently isn’t anyone behind him on the depth chart if he needs a rest or gets injured. The Dolphins can always shuffle their defensive line but it’s almost never wise to take players out of their natural position.
Tua now has the weapons on offense to be successful, but he’s going to need additional help along the offensive line. Although the Dolphins added Terron Armstead and Connor Williams in free agency, it never hurts to have added depth at the position. You never know when a lineman will be forced out for extended time after getting rolled up on in a pile. We saw last year against Buffalo how poorly the offensive line played against the Bills, which resulted in an injury for Tagovailoa.
Matt Araiza can also be considered a need for the Dolphins. The reason for that is because Miami currently doesn’t have anyone at the position on their roster. Now, teams can always sign a punter in free agency but drafting a once-in-a-lifetime talent at punter may not be a bad idea. Other areas of need include linebacker and depth at wide receiver.
The Jets’ needs are hard to determine from a priority standpoint because it’s still unclear if they will make any trades before the draft. What is clear is that the Jets have tried unsuccessfully to trade for a big-time receiver. Should that come to fruition, they will likely have to part with one of their first-round picks. If unable to make a deal before the draft, I would expect one of the draft’s elite receivers going to New Jersey so that Zach Wilson has a true number-one target.
Again, the problem with the Jets—as our friends over at Gang Green Nation mentioned—is that it’s hard to pinpoint certain needs. Simply put, New York lacks big time players all over the football field. Being year two of the rebuild under head coach Robert Saleh, it will be important for him to pick the best players—those who he sees contributing in a big way for the team.