With the 2016 NFL Draft on tap at the end of this month, Bucky Brooks is breaking down the biggest areas of need for every team in the NFL, division by division. Below is his look at the AFC East.
Buffalo Bills (8 total picks)
» Round 1: Pick 19 overall
» Round 2: Pick 49
» Round 3: Pick 80
» Round 4: Picks 117 and 139 (compensatory selection)
» Round 5: Pick 156
» Round 6: Picks 192 and 218 (compensatory selection)
Biggest needs: offensive tackle, defensive line, linebacker.
The Bills failed to play up to expectations in Rex Ryan's first year, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Thus, the team needs to invest heavily in the front seven to get the unit back on track. The loss of Mario Williams puts the designated pass rusher position in play with candidates like Oklahoma State's Emmanuel Ogbah, Eastern Kentucky's Noah Spence, Clemson's Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd in the mix on Day 1. If the Bills wait until later, they could affix their eyes on Boise State's Kamalei Correa or Utah State's Kyler Fackrellon Day 2. At inside linebacker, the Bills could elect to add a "thumper" like Alabama's Reggie Ragland in Round 1. If the Bills are looking for a down-the-line prospect, Arizona's Scooby Wright III, Stanford's Blake Martinez and Oklahoma's Dominique Alexander could be in the mix. On offense, the Bills need an edge blocker to complement Cordy Glenn along the frontline. Ohio State's Taylor Decker would be a terrific addition on Day 1, but the team could land a value pick, such as Indiana's Jason Spriggs, UCLA's Caleb Benenoch or Western Michigan's Willie Beavers on Day 2.
Miami Dolphins (8 total picks)
Biggest needs: running back, cornerback, defensive end.
The Dolphins are attempting to end their playoff drought under new head coach Adam Gase, but they will need to provide him with a few more pieces on both sides of the ball to surpass the vying contenders in the AFC. On offense, the Dolphins are in need of a bell cow runner after Lamar Millersigned with the Houston Texans in March. Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott would be a dream pick on Day 1, but the team would certainly welcome a versatile playmaker like Utah's Devontae Booker, Alabama's Kenyan Drake or Notre Dame's C.J. Prosise on Day 2. On defense, the Dolphins need to find a young edge player to groom behind Mario Williams and Cam Wake. Clemson's Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd are worthy candidates, but the team could wait until Day 2 to pluck an intriguing player like Florida's Jonathan Bullard or Michigan State's Shilique Calhoun. At cornerback, the Dolphins could land on Day 1 a blue-chip prospect like Florida's Vernon Hargreaves, Ohio State's Eli Apple and Houston's William Jackson III, or the team could target a developmental ball hawk like Miami's Artie Burns, Alabama's Cyrus Jones or North Carolina Central's Ryan Smith on Day 2.
New England Patriots (11 total picks)
Biggest needs: defensive end, offensive tackle and cornerback.
The Patriots continue to own the AFC East under Bill Belichick's direction, but the team will need to add a few young playmakers to the lineup to keep its grip on the division crown. On defense, the loss of Chandler Jones and the unexpected release of Dominique Easley could prompt the Patriots to dig into the defensive end market on Day 2. BYU's Bronson Kaufusi and Penn State's Carl Nassib could command some attention, but the team could also take a flyer on a late-round prospect like Notre Dame's Romeo Okwara and Vanderbilt's Stephen Weatherly on Day 3. At cornerback, the Patriots have gotten away at times in the past with a host of cast-offs and misfits on the perimeter, but they should have an opportunity this year to upgrade in this area. Baylor's Xavien Howard, Alabama's Cyrus Jones, Georgia Tech's D.J. White and Notre Dame's KeiVarae Russell are the kind of feisty cover corners with the potential to excel in the Patriots' scheme. On offense, the Patriots need to find a developmental offensive tackle to groom behind Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer. UCLA's Caleb Benenoch, Nebraska's Alex Lewis and Harvard's Cole Toner could be down-the-line options to target on Day 3.
New York Jets (6 total picks)
Biggest needs: quarterback, edge rusher, inside linebacker.
The surprising standoff between the Jets and Ryan Fitzpatrick could prompt the team to shift their priorities on draft day. The team seemingly has a pair of young passers to develop in Geno Smith and Bryce Petty, but there is plenty of doubt surrounding both of their long-term prospects. Thus, the Jets could make a play for Paxton Lynch on Day 1 to secure a franchise quarterback candidate with immense talent and potential. If the team waits until Day 2, Mississippi State's Dak Prescott, Penn State's Christian Hackenberg and Ohio State's Cardale Jones could make sense as "boom or bust" prospects at the position. On defense, the Jets need help at edge rusher and inside linebacker. Eastern Kentucky's Noah Spence, Oklahoma State's Emmanuel Ogbah and Georgia's Leonard Floyd are sensible options on Day 1, but the team could also identify an undervalued player like Utah State's Kyler Fackrell and Boise State's Kamalei Correa on Day 2. At inside linebacker, Alabama's Reggie Ragland could be in play on Day 1, but Temple's Tyler Matakevich and B.J. Goodson could be options as Day 2 prospects.