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AFC East rookie grades: Fins' Laremy Tunsil, Kenyan Drake excel

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The 2016 NFL season just ended -- but the 2017 NFL season is coming. As the NFL Scouting Combine nears, NFL.com looks forward by looking backward, grading the 2016 rookie class for each team and identifying what the front office should focus on this offseason. Click below to scroll through each divisional rundown.

Buffalo Bills

» Round 1: (No. 19 overall) Shaq Lawson, DE, 10 games/1 start.
» Round 2: (41) Reggie Ragland, ILB, 0 games.
» Round 3: (80) Adolphus Washington, DT, 15 games/11 starts.
» Round 4: (139) Cardale Jones, QB, 1 game/0 starts.
» Round 5: (156) Jonathan Williams, RB, 11 games/0 starts.
» Round 6: (192) Kolby Listenbee, WR, 0 games; (218) Kevon Seymour, CB, 15 games/3 starts.

In many ways, the 2016 draft followed the Rex Ryan playbook closely: defense, defense, defense and a raw, athletic quarterback who entertained Ryan in the lead up to the draft (but one the Bills will never spend the time or effort to develop). In the nicest of possible ways, the Bills could earn a grade of incomplete for their 2016 picks because first-round pick Shaq Lawson made it fewer than 300 snaps with a lingering shoulder issue (he finished with two sacks in 10 games), while second-round pick Reggie Ragland partially tore his ACL and missed the entire season. One can argue the Bills got decent production out of Adolphus Washington (2.5 sacks as a third-rounder), but the disruptive factor was low for someone of his size (6-foot-4, 295 pounds). Sixth-round pick Kevon Seymour was a contributor. However, this was a painfully inefficient draft for a team that could have been a few players away from disrupting the division. GRADE: D

Combine/free agency focus: The Bills could tip their hand prior to the combine should they make public what they are doing with quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The 2015 Pro Bowler is due a massive roster bonus, which he could restructure in order to remain with the Bills. If the Bills opt to cut ties, let the DeShone Kizer, DeShaun Watson, Mitch Trubisky buzz ignite. This team needs someone under center next season. Buffalo also has some work to do rebuilding their defensive line and defensive backfield, so expect to hear a lot about 'Bama boys Jonathan Allen and Marlon Humphrey.

Miami Dolphins

» Round 1: (No. 13 overall) Laremy Tunsil, OT, 15 games/15 starts.
» Round 2: (38) Xavien Howard, CB, 8 games/7 starts.
» Round 3: (73) Kenyan Drake, RB, 17 games/1 start; (86) Leonte Carroo, WR, 14 games/2 starts.
» Round 6: (186) Jakeem Grant, WR, 17 games/0 starts; (204) Jordan Lucas, SS, 9 games/0 starts.
» Round 7: (223) Brandon Doughty, QB, 0 games; (231) Thomas Duarte, TE, 1 game/0 starts.
» Notable undrafted free agent: Lafayette Pitts, CB, 9 games/0 starts.

The Dolphins had one of football's most interesting draft days a year ago, opting to stop the Laremy Tunsil slide at pick No. 13. The result? A good-to-very-good season for the Ole Miss tackle who might have been Miami's most consistent performer up front in 2016. Second-rounder Xavien Howard played almost 600 snaps and played especially well down the stretch after recovering from a torn meniscus that required surgery. At the top of his game, Howard can be competitive against elite NFL receivers and has shown the game isn't too big for him. Third-rounder Kenyan Drake had his moments at running back, even if no one was going to unseat Jay Ajayi amid his Pro Bowl season, and could find himself in a third-down role this coming season. Drake, if nothing else, proved his ability in the kick-return game with 13 returns for 397 yards and a touchdown (of 96 yards). Wideout Leonte Carroo is talented but raw, and could develop in Miami's offense, given the time. This was, by all accounts, a solid foundational draft. GRADE: B-

Combine/free agency focus: Before the emergence of Ajayi, the Dolphins made an effort to go after Arian Foster because Adam Gase's system thrives with the services of a great pass-catching running back. By all accounts, this is the kind of draft that could land you a great pass-catching running back. Jeremiah, in his mock draft 1.0, projected J.J. Watt's younger brother T.J. to Miami, landing the Fins an "ultra-versatile, athletic" linebacker to inject some youth into that defense. The Dolphins have a lot of places they can go here, but with the departure of defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, don't be surprised if they look at linebacker, edge rusher or safety -- three reportedly deep positions that the Dolphins could use. Free agency might be a nice time to sort through all the veteran defensive backs who were cut this week as cap casualties.

New England Patriots

» Round 2: (No. 60 overall) Cyrus Jones, CB, 10 games/1 start.
» Round 3: (78) Joe Thuney, OG, 19 games/19 starts; (91) Jacoby Brissett, QB, 3 games/2 starts; (96) Vincent Valentine, NT, 16 games/2 starts.
» Round 4: (112) Malcolm Mitchell, WR, 16 games/8 starts.
» Round 6: (208) Kamu Grugier-Hill, OLB, 0 games; (214) Elandon Roberts, ILB, 16 games/7 starts; (221) Ted Karras, OG, 19 games/1 start.
» Round 7: (225) Devin Lucien, WR, 0 games.
» Notable undrafted free agent: Jonathan Jones, CB, 19 games/1 start.

The Cowboys obviously take the cake for teams getting the most out of mid-round selections in 2016, but had it not been for the extraordinary rise of Dak Prescott, the Patriots might have laid claim to that title. While they did not have a first-round pick and shuffled second-rounder Cyrus Jones in and out of the dog house before a nagging knee injury took its course, they did hit on third-rounders Joe Thuney and Jacoby Brissett. Fourth-rounder Malcolm Mitchell began to earn Tom Brady's trust and finished with 32 catches on 48 targets, for 401 yards and four touchdowns. If we're looking for a solid performer deeper in the draft, sixth-round pick Elandon Roberts actually made five starts over 13 appearances in the regular season and out-snapped some players with much more experience. New England's versatile linebacking corps was not an easy platoon to crack and Roberts finished with more than 300 plays. GRADE: B

Combine/free agency focus: NFL Network's resident personnel guru, Daniel Jeremiah, has two tight ends (Miami's David Njoku and Alabama's O.J. Howard) among his top 13 players. Should New England not be able to find a deal with Martellus Bennett, this might be an interesting place to start. With Rob Gronkowski failing to make it 16 games for the fifth season in a row and approaching the tail end of his very, very reasonable contract, it might be worth at least looking into. But Belichick is ever-practical with his draft and the secondary and linebacking corps could use some fine tuning if New England again plans to be frugal with departing free agents. Personally, my one hope is that they take an extended meeting with Christian McCaffrey in Indianapolis. What wonders he could do in that offense (James White is entering the final year of his rookie deal). Free agency will be eventful for New England like it always is. Last year, the bounty led to key role players like Chris Long, and trades led to the securing of Barkevious Mingo.

New York Jets

» Round 1: (No. 20 overall) Darron Lee, OLB, 13 games/9 starts.
» Round 2: (51) Christian Hackenberg, QB, 0 games.
» Round 3: (83) Jordan Jenkins, OLB, 14 games/11 starts.
» Round 4: (118) Juston Burris, CB, 16 games/1 start.
» Round 5: (158) Brandon Shell, OT, 8 games/3 starts.
» Round 7: (235) Lac Edwards, P, 16 games/0 starts; (241) Charone Peake, WR, 15 games/1 start.
» Notable undrafted free agents: Robby Anderson, WR, 16 games/8 starts; Jalin Marshall, WR, 10 games/1 start.

2017 NFL DRAFT

If the Jets are unable to get a replacement-level season out of second-round pick Christian Hackenberg, their 2016 draft will go down as an unmitigated disaster. To have the team stand idly by while the rest of the quarterback-needy organizations made power moves to secure their starters of the future was worrisome, but general manager Mike Maccagnan received the benefit of the doubt, having come from a Texans organization led by former Penn State coach Bill O'Brien -- a person who theoretically knew Hackenberg quite well. Darron Lee, like Jets mainstay David Harris, suffered from a less-productive defensive line in 2016 -- but he still struggled, especially when asked to cover, according to coverage grades provided by Pro Football Focus. He is certainly a high-upside player and did most of his best work against the run, but the Jets will need to see a massive leap forward in 2017. Jordan Jenkins might have been the best value in this draft group. With their third-round pick, the Jets found a capable edge rusher who found himself on the field for more than 500 snaps in his rookie season. Seventh-round pick Lac Edwards was not great, with one of the lowest yards-per-punt averages in the NFL. The Jets are claiming he is a work in progress -- but perhaps not the kind one would spend a draft pick on? GRADE: C-

Combine/free agency focus: I cannot blame the team for reloading with veterans after nearly missing the playoffs in 2015, but the Jets' failed playoff push has left them so threadbare at certain positions that the 2017 NFL Draft will be essential in cobbling together a team good enough to make a run at third place in the division. The Jets, in no particular order, need: a left tackle, wide receiver help, cornerback help, a quarterback, a tight end and some players capable of replacing their rapidly aging core players like Nick Mangold, David Harris and Darrelle Revis. It would be intriguing to hear names like Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker and Mike Williams associated with the Jets at pick No. 6, as Bleacher Report's Matt Miller noted in his post-Super Bowl predictions. As for free agency, the Jets could make a run at the second-tier defensive tackle market and, if salary cap allows, put themselves in play for one of the blockbuster corners coming available.

Follow Conor Orr on Twitter @ConorOrr.

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