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2014 NFL Draft review - AFC East

The New England Patriots have won a fifth Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Roar Rookie
28th May, 2014
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In the next edition of our NFL draft grades in the slow build to the 2014 season, attention turns to the AFC East.

A division held in the evil clutches of the New England Patriots for over a decade, the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets are just now starting to show the faintest signs of catching up to their rival powerhouse, displaying an eclectic draft class swimming with both safe picks and flashy gambles.

Buffalo Bills
Every year, the first round of the draft is punctuated by a team that ‘got their guy’; a team that threw all draft projections out the window and said ‘we’re going to do whatever it takes to snap up the future face of our franchise.’

This year, it was the Buffalo Bills and Sammy Watkins. They traded up to the forth overall pick to claim the insanely talented wide receiver, who should prove an immediate asset on an offence led by so-far underwhelming quarterback EJ Manuel, and one that will be missing its most reliable weapon in Stevie Johnson, recently traded away for a pittance to San Francisco.

Elsewhere, Cyrus Kouandjio and Cyril Richardson will bolster a mediocre offensive line, and there’s a lot to like about Preston Brown’s physicality at linebacker.

Miami Dolphins
Surely tired of treading water in the River Styx of mediocrity, the Fins desperately had to make this draft count. The result, in typical Dolphins fashion, is a resounding ‘meh.’

First-round O-lineman Ja’Wuan James presents good, not great, value, but should expect to be fighting for a roster spot on a flimsy line still reeling from last year’s bullying scandal. Ever-improving quarterback Ryan Tannehill will enjoy throwing to the underrated Jarvis Landry out of LSU and a solid prospect in Georgia’s Arthur Lynch.

New England Patriots
Supercoach Bill Belichick has made a habit out of drafting relatively unknown defensive prospects with early picks, and turning them into something special by season’s end.

Florida’s Dominique Easley looks to be another one of those players who (if he can stay healthy) may just be the disruptive D-line wildcard the Pats defence has been missing since the departure of Richard Seymour. Bryan Stork will provide good training camp competition at center, while players like running back James White and receiver Jeremy Gallon head a new breed of Belichick’s utility role players.

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And with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, are the Pats finally starting to make plans for life after Tom Brady? We asked the same question when they drafted Mallett, who by now is probably at his wit’s end about how to find a starting job, so we’ll see.

New York Jets
Surprised to see defensive-minded head coach Rex Ryan draft off the ball again in 2014? Well you shouldn’t be, as the Jets picked up a versatile talent – and the draft’s consensus number one safety – in Calvin Pryor.

On offence, deceptive speed and defensive mismatches were the order of the day in the form of tight end Jace Amaro and wide receivers Jalen Saunders and Shaquelle Evans.

Throwing a spanner into the works of the usually uneventful third day, the Jets drafted Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, a diamond in the rough whose draft stocked steadily dropped throughout his final college season, but who may be thrown into the fire earlier than expected, pending the health of run-happy quarterbacks Geno Smith and Mike Vick above him.

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