ESPN’s AFC East reporters weigh in on which team in the division helped itself the most in the draft. Each team’s draft class is below the reporter’s analysis.
Rich Cimini, New York Jets reporter: The Jets drafted the best player, safety Jamal Adams, but the Bills helped themselves the most -- from a long-term perspective. Acquiring a 2018 first-round pick from the Chiefs will be a valuable bargaining chip in next year’s draft, which could enable them to get into position to pick a blue-chip quarterback. The Bills also managed to pick up three potential Day 1 starters, including exciting wide receiver Zay Jones. I’d rank the Jets as the No. 2 team. They could have four early contributors, but there’s a hole in their draft because they didn’t take a corner until the sixth round.
Mike Reiss, New England Patriots reporter: This was a good year for the AFC East teams, all of which seemed to do well in the draft for different reasons. I particularly liked the Bills’ approach as they laid the foundation for longer-term sustainability (e.g., trading down and picking up a first-round pick in 2018) and establishing the type of culture coach Sean McDermott believes in with the type of hard-nosed, no-frills players they are targeting. It seems they have a defined plan, and that stood out as something different from the norm.
Mike Rodak, Buffalo Bills reporter: It's hard not to like the Bills' overall approach and execution in the draft. With McDermott serving as de facto general manager -- unless you actually think the Bills let Doug Whaley take the wheel for the draft before firing him the next morning -- the Bills balanced short-term needs with future considerations. McDermott netted the Chiefs' 2018 first-round pick by trading down from No. 10 then found his potential No. 1 cornerback in LSU's Tre'Davious White (first round) and No. 2 receiver in East Carolina's Zay Jones (second round). Second-round pick Dion Dawkins (Temple) also could start immediately at right tackle.
James Walker, Miami Dolphins reporter: The Patriots won the draft by a wide margin without a first-, second- or fifth-round pick. Instead, they used their draft capital to acquire veteran talent such as receiver Brandin Cooks, defensive end Kony Ealy and running back Mike Gillislee. These three players are proven and will make significant and immediate contributions. I also liked their third-round pick in offensive tackle Antonio Garcia out of Troy, who could turn out to be a good player in the long term. New England, as usual, took a different approach than the rest of the NFL this offseason, and it should work out well.