The Draft Scout Roster Grades: AFC East

Our team-by-team look at every division in the NFL continues with the AFC East. The Buffalo Bills look like a dominant force in the American conference, but the 10-win Miami Dolphins are ascending and the New England Patriots made major off-season improvements. Which roster is the best? We grade ‘em all.

Buffalo Bills

2020 Record: 13-3

Free Agent Additions:
WR Emmanuel Sanders, QB Mitchell Trubisky, DE Efe Obada, RB Matt Breida

Draft Class:
DE Gregory Rousseau (Rd 1, Pick 30)
DE Carlos Basham, Jr. (Rd 2, Pick 30)
OT Spencer Brown (Rd 3, Pick 30)
OT Tommy Doyle (Rd 5, Pick 17)
WR Marquez Stevenson (Rd 6, Pick 19)
S Damar Hamlin (Rd 6, Pick 28)
CB Richard Wildgoose (Rd 6, Pick 29)
OG Jack Anderson (Rd 7, Pick 8)

WR Andre Roberts, WR John Brown, DT Quinton Jefferson, TE Tyler Kroft

Overall Roster Grade: A-

The Bills’ roster is a loaded one with few areas of need or weakness and the crew that went to the AFC title game last year largely returning in-tact. The NFL draft saw the Bills add depth and potentially future impacts at offensive tackle and wide receiver, but this was an off-season light on adding to the offense outside of veteran wide out Emmanuel Sanders. The plan here hinges on continued development of the existing stars like quarterback Josh Allen and the ascension of running backs Zack Moss and Devin Singletary.

Defensively, the Bills resigned key linebacker Matt Milano and then went heavy addressing the outside pass-rush in Rounds 1 and 2 of the draft. Bringing back the starting defense from last year plus adding two premier pass-rush prospects should give the team a major boost.

Miami Dolphins

2020 Record: 10-6

Free Agent Additions:
WR Will Fuller, TE Cethan Carter, DT Adam Butler, QB Jacoby Brissett, CB Justin Coleman

Draft Class:
WR Jaylen Waddle (Rd 1, Pick 6)
DE Jaelan Phillips (Rd 1, Pick 18)
S Jevon Holland (Rd 2, Pick 4)
OT Liam Eichenberg (Rd 2, Pick 10)
TE Hunter Long (Rd 3, Pick 18)
OT Larnel Coleman (Rd 7, Pick 3)
RB Gerrid Doaks (Rd 7, Pick 17)

Subtractions: DT Davon Godchaux, LB Kyle Van Noy, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, C Ted Karras

Overall Roster Grade: B

The Miami Dolphins will go as far as quarterback Tua Tagovailoa can take them. If he develops in Year 2 with a full off-season and preseason under his belt—and further removed from the hip injury that ended his Alabama career—this roster is good enough to make serious noise. Despite having limited Day 3 selections, general manager Chris Grier loaded up his roster with impact players. Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle will be electric from Day 1 and tackle Liam Eichenberg will push his way into the lineup very soon. If the run game can win with a committee of backs, the Dolphins’ offense could be legitimately explosive.

On defense, head coach Brian Flores’ scheme will get a lot of the work done but additions like Jaelan Phillips and Jevon Holland will be huge as well. The Dolphins’ depth chart didn’t have many holes headed into the off-season, so look for more of the same in 2021 with a very tough, aggressive, opportunistic squad.

New England Patriots

2020 Record: 7-9

Free Agent Additions:
OT Trent Brown (trade), OLB Matt Judon, TE Jonnu Smith, TE Hunter Henry, S Jalen Mills, WR Nelson Agholor, DT Davon Godchaux, WR Kendrick Bourne, LB Kyle Van Noy, DE Henry Anderson, LB Raekwon McMillan

Draft Class:
QB Mac Jones (Rd 1, Pick 15)
DT Christian Barmore (Rd 2, Pick 6)
DE Ronnie Perkins (Rd 3, Pick 33)
RB Rhamondre Stevenson (Rd 4, Pick 15)
LB Cameron McGrone (Rd 5, Pick 33)
S Joshuah Bledsoe (Rd 6, Pick 4)
OT William Sherman (Rd 6, Pick 13)
WR Tre Nixon (Rd 7, Pick 15)

WR Julian Edelman (retired), G Joe Thuney, DT Adam Butler, CB Jason McCourty

Overall Roster Grade: B

The New England Patriots are masters at rolling out a solid roster that doesn’t pop with elite talents at key positions and still finding a way to win 11 games. The quarterback question is the biggest one here with the battle between Cam Newton and first-rounder Mac Jones a big preseason storyline. The offensive line is solid, the run game will be powerful, and the pass game targets are the best they’ve been in quite some time. The offense won’t remind anyone of Tom Brady to Randy Moss, but it’s good enough to win games.

The real strength of the Patriots’ roster is on defense where so many veteran role players either return or arrive to bolster what Bill Belichick does best—win with defensive football. Rookies Christian Barmore and Ronnie Perkins were steals where the Patriots found them in the draft and will be key playmakers early on.

New England will be a tough out every week, but a lack of a breakout offense makes it tough to see them back atop the division.

New York Jets

2020 Record: 2-14

Free Agent Additions: DE Carl Lawson, WR Corey Davis, DT Sheldon Rankins, CB Justin Hardee, WR Keelan Cole, LB Jarrad Davis, G Dan Feeney, FS LaMarcus Joyner, TE Tyler Kroft

Draft Class:
QB Zach Wilson (Rd 1, Pick 2)
OG Alijah Vera-Tucker (Rd 1, Pick 14)
WR Elijah Moore (Rd 2, Pick 2)
RB Michael Carter (Rd 4, Pick 2)
S Jamien Sherwood (Rd 5, Pick 2)
S Michael Carter II (Rd 5, Pick 10)
CB Jason Pinnock (Rd 5, Pick 31)
S Hamsah Nasirildeen (Rd 6, Pick 2)
CB Brandin Echols (Rd 6, Pick 16)
DT Jonathan Marshall (Rd 6, Pick 23)

Subtractions: G Pat Elflein, DE Henry Anderson, OLB Jordan Jenkins, OLB Tarell Basham

Overall Roster Grade: C-

Give general manager Joe Douglas another year and we’ll be talking about a contending football team. Right now, the Jets are still climbing out of the hole the previous regime dug for them. If Zach Wilson plays up to his reputation, the turnaround will be faster. The depth at wide receiver is impressive with Denzel Mims expected to have a bigger Year 2 and key additions through free agency and the draft. The right side of the offensive line is still a concern, but the left side has All-World potential.

Defensively, new head coach Robert Saleh will love what he has inherited in terms of the pass-rush units. The middle of the field is a question mark with CJ Mosley returning to the field for the first time in two seasons due to injury and Covid opt-out and at cornerback the team doesn’t have a defender offenses must fear (yet). The Jets will need to score a ton to win ball games with a defensive depth chart that is still being built out.