The Miami Dolphins made a powerful impact on their chances for success in 2020 and years to come by having one of the most successful drafts they’ve had in decades.

Miami drafted three potential new starting members to its offensive line, adding them to the two guys they picked up in free agency. Additionally, it might’ve found its franchise quarterback with the fifth overall pick in the draft and added multiple positions to its defensive depth. 

Dolphins fans were pleading for the team to draft offensive linemen and a new QB, and for the first time in a long time, management heard their cries.

The other teams in the AFC East were active during the draft as well, filling what they felt as though were their biggest needs. 

The FPC Dolphins staff ranked the teams in the division one through four with who they thought had the best overall draft. 

Kayla Morton, Managing Editor

1) Miami Dolphins

2) New England Patriots

3) New York Jets

4) Buffalo Bills

Why?

Looking at this as unbiased as possible, I still feel Miami won the draft out of the teams in the AFC East. It addressed its long-term quarterback situation with Tua Tagovailoa out of the University of Alabama and began seriously rebuilding its offensive line wall. It drafted three new OL to add to its two additions acquired in free agency: Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt and Solomon Kindley.  While this could cause growing pains if all five guys start week one, the long-term impact of the new, young names will set the Dolphins up for the long-term.

Miami also added depth at the right positions on defense to support head coach Brian Flores’ team memo: Start the best 11 guys on defense, regardless of position. Flores and General Manager Chris Grier added a cornerback, defensive tackle and safety in three of their first six picks. CB Noah Igbinoghene can rotate as a nickel and Brandon Jones could fill in for released veteran safety Reshad Jones.

The Patriots come in second for me. With a lot of departures on both sides of the football, New England stuck true to its scheme. It stocked up on linebackers, a gaping hole in its team, by taking three in its 10 picks. The Patriots also addressed its tight end position – drafting two back to back in the third round 10 picks apart. Matt LaCosse was a non-factor last year for them and head coach Bill Belichik was definitely done with the situation. 

Finally, after surprisingly letting go of veteran kicker Stephen Gostkowski, New England grabbed one in round five. While I think that was too high, and also them not grabbing who I feel was the best kicker in the draft, was a little premature. However, the Patriots addressed their needs with the draft. If they would’ve had as many holes to fill as Miami did, they’d earn the No. 1 spot in my rankings.

The New York Jets get third from me here despite what I feel was a major screw-up early. I like the OL pick with Mekhi Becton, but then it traded away its No. 54 overall pick to division-rival Buffalo when it could’ve drafted a much-needed defensive end in A.J. Epenesa. In turn, the Bills took him with the pick. I like that the Jets turned around their draft somewhat with addressing its wide receiver core by taking Denzel Mims in the second round. I think the Jets’ biggest weakness right now is the defensive side of their game, so the fact that they addressed three positions for it in the middle rounds was promising.

However, their stock takes a huge hit with their fourth round selections. They went RB and QB when they have Le’Veon Bell and a fresh Sam Darnold. Major questions here.

Buffalo without a doubt had the strangest draft in the division. I’d be upset if I were a Bills fan. Buffalo’s only good pick was Epenesa. It drafted running back Zack Moss in round three despite having the up and coming, proven talented back Devin Singletary. He took over as the starter for veteran Frank Gore last year even after missing six games with a hamstring injury. 

The Bills then took a WR in the fourth round after recently trading for former Minnesota Vikings WR Stefon Diggs. It will now pair an already crowded core that features deep-threat John Brown and slot presence Cole Beasley with University of Central Florida receiver Gabriel Davis.

When I thought Buffalo would go back to addressing its defense after some poor mid-round selections, it took QB Jake Fromm in the fifth round. Again, like the Jets, QB Josh Allen was drafted just a few seasons ago with Darnold. The Bills really can’t expect Fromm and Allen to mirror Drew Brees and Taysom Hill down in New Orleans. Wait, are they?

The Bills then didn’t take a defensive player until the final round. It took a K and WR prior. Props to getting the best kicker in the draft in my opinion, but, if that’s what Bills fans have to celebrate, it’s no consolation. 

Carl Mahler, Contributor

1) Miami Dolphins

2) Buffalo Bills

3) New York Jets

4) New England Patriots

Why?

The Dolphins really took a giant step forward in the rebuild process, making sure they improve from 2019. After much back and forth, Miami stuck with its original draft plan and took QB Tua Tagovailoa at pick No. 5. With his accuracy, pocket presence, ability to withstand pressure, decision-making and ability to extend plays, Tagovailoa is every bit of a franchise quarterback. I also like the Dolphins’ drafting a possible week one starting left tackle in Austin Jackson. He, along with the two other drafts to the OL have put Miami in a great spot to succeed. Head coach Brian Flores put himself together a good draft in year number two.

While Buffalo didn’t have a first-round pick, it traded up and used its first pick on a what will be a very impactful player. It took defensive stud, edge rusher AJ Epenesa, addressing the Bills’ loss of Shaq Lawson to Miami in FA. Epenesa should bolster the Bills’ defense against the run and can he can be used situationally behind Mario Addison, Jerry Hughes and Trent Murphy plus he comes from a program at Iowa that Bills coach Sean McDermott loves.

This may surprise many of you, as it is surprising myself, that I have the Jets ranked above the Patriots. But it’s true. The Jets drafted key positions to help develop QB Sam Darnold after he claims to see ghosts out on the field (you can laugh here, I know you did).

The Jets’ first selection of the draft saw them select OL Mekhi Becton who, although wasn’t ranked high on some draft boards, will make an immediate forceful impact.  He stands at six-feet, seven-inches and 360 pounds, but has the athleticism to be the best lineman in the draft. He’s high-risk, high-reward player and will have to watch his weight, but 100-percent worth taking a chance on. It should pay off in no time for New York. The Jets also took WR Denzel Mims at pick No. 59. He’s a six-feet, three-inch, 215-pound receiver. He owns elite athleticism and is the ideal side to win jump balls with all defenders. His body control will help teach the other WRs on the Jets, especially the new rookies coming in with him. 

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Finally, the Patriots bring up the rear. The biggest impact of their draft was when head coach Bill Belichick’s dog went viral of he/she sitting in the draft chair with Belichick nowhere in sight. Besides that, New England had a quiet draft. It ended up not selecting in the first round after trading away their No. 23 overall pick to the Los Angeles Chargers in exchange for the No. 37 and 71 picks. However, the one shining light was for the team was the Patriots taking Lenoir-Rhyne safety Kyle Dugger with their first pick. He’s a perfect fit for Belichick’s defense as a safety-linebacker hybrid with good size and speed. Other than that, New England was too quiet with most picks and selected players, like the kicker, too early.

Christian Chappell, Contributor

1) Miami Dolphins

2) New York Jets

3) Buffalo Bills

4) New England Patriots

Why?

The AFC East is a competitive division year round, not to mention draft time. With the 2020 NFL Draft come and gone there are draft winners and there are draft losers. With both teams lacking first round picks, it’s safe to say that the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills didn’t exactly make an impact with 2020’s draft board. 

With what was left of the first round, the Miami Dolphins walked away with the number two quarterback in the draft, Tua Tagovailoa out of the University of Alabama, with the fifth overall pick, which makes a pretty good deal. They had two other first round picks and spent them on Austin Jackson (OT) out of USC at No. 18 and Noah Igbinoghene (CB) from Auburn with No. 30. 

Miami finished with 11 picks altogether to add some fresh, young faces to their roster. It went hard on rebuilding the OL, which it desperately needed to do, built up a stronger defense and addressed its running back situation in a draft-day trade, ALL in addition to potentially finding its franchise guy. Hello, winner!

The New York Jets came away with Mekhi Becton, the offensive tackle from Louisville University. New York also had nine draft picks and took James Morgan, the quarterback out of Florida International, with one of their three fourth round picks. After drafting Sam Darnold just a few seasons ago, it’s a little bit of a precarious pick. Nevertheless, he’ll have some company come the start of training camp. There’s definitely no secret Becton was the team’s best pick, but the Jets were able to get all-around guys on both sides of the ball. Buffalo and New England can’t say the same. 

Buffalo had the fewest picks within the division and came away with the Georgia quarterback, Jake Fromm, with their fifth rounder (No. 167).  Again, this is another AFC East team who took a QB just a few years ago as well. The 21-year old threw 78 touchdowns to only 18 interceptions in his three years as a Bulldog, and won the Rose Bowl with his team in 2018. But again, the team doesn’t need him. The Bills also added a running back and a wide receiver despite having the young talent Devin Singletary and just trading for wideout Stefon Diggs. Head scratchers.

New England spent its fifth round pick (No. 159) on the kicker from Marshall, Justin Rohrwasser. That seems like a reach when the team chose to draft only one offensive player in the first five rounds. He wasn’t even the best kicker on the board. Even if the Patriots released veteran kicker Stephen Gostkowski because of injury complications, I don’t see how this guy is better. New England also didn’t address its QB or WR holes. My only guess is that the Patriots are eyeing a free agent QB floating around. However, I don’t see why it makes sense to sign a guy like Jameis Winston or Cam Newton over guys like Jake Fromm that they could’ve got. Instead, they watched him go to a division rival.

Daniel Roberts, Contributor

1) Miami Dolphins 

2) New York Jets

3) Buffalo Bills

4) New England Patriots

Why?

Looking at how each team drafted, it’s very clear which team in the AFC East had the best draft overall. That team is the Miami Dolphins. Ranking the other three was tough, but the New York Jets get second on my list, followed by the Buffalo Bills, and finally ending with the New England Patriots. 

The Dolphins took advantage of the number of picks they had in the draft and addressed most of the needs they had during. They took advantage of having a top-five pick and went out and selected a quarterback that can lead the team to a promising future. While the quarterback position being filled was the biggest highlight of their draft, Miami also went out and got a new running back via trade, adding more offensive skills behind a new and improved offensive line. 

The Jets, while not addressing all of their needs in the draft like the Dolphins did, did manage to fill up some of the offensive and defensive pieces that can help them to begin winning more games in the near future. The team could’ve selected more receivers for QB Sam Darnold, but only managed to draft just one. They’re smartest pick had to come at No. 11 overall when they took offensive tackle Mekhi Becton. While he can prove to be a vital piece to the Jets, the receiving core needed to be addressed more throughout. I think New York failed in that aspect, but it did make smarter moves overall than the Bills and Patriots, and that’s why I placed the team in second.

The Buffalo Bills needed defensive pieces from this draft. What did they do with the picks they had? Went out and got more offensive pieces. Thankfully they got defensive end A.J. Epenesa and cornerback Dane Jackson or they would’ve got a “F” draft grade. The other five picks went toward a quarterback, two wide receivers, a kicker and running back. Long story short, while the guys they added may help put up more points, they still have the gaps on the defensive line that they need to find ways to fill up before the season starts. While it was weird to see how they drafted knowing what they needed, it still wasn’t the worst out of the four teams. 

My last team is surprising even to me, but the Patriots really messed up their draft. Why did the Patriots get last on the list? There wasn’t much buzz from them during the draft. The team went out and mostly selected defensive and special teams players when those are the strongest units in New England right now. They have not yet filled the quarterback and receiving gaps at hand. You’re telling me Bill Belichick is going to roll with Jarrett Stidham or Brian Hoyer? Yeah, okay. It wasn’t a strong draft for New England, which is surprising, considering Belichick is much smarter than that and has proven to be a strong drafter. He’ll need to heavily recruit through undrafted free agents while the team is rebuilding after losing quarterback Tom Brady.

The Dolphins, out of all the teams in the AFC East, had the most promise during and after the draft. They managed to get players that filled up most of their needs and they executed a smart game plan in the draft.

– Kayla Morton is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Miami Dolphins. Like and follow on and Facebook.

– Carl Mahler is a Sports Contributor for Full Press Coverage Miami Dolphins. Like and follow on and Facebook.

– Christian Chappell is a Sports Contributor for Full Press Coverage Miami Dolphins. Like and follow on and Facebook.

– Daniel Roberts is a Sports Contributor for Full Press Coverage Miami Dolphins. Like and follow on and Facebook.

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