The rising star in the AFC East? There was no clear winner -- each of the four ESPN.com reporters in the division selected a different player. But rookie defensive end Charles Harris got a vote.
Mike Rodak, Buffalo Bills reporter: Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers. The Arkansas product barely played as a rookie after being selected in the fourth round of the 2015 draft, but his development was swift last season. Flowers started the final eight games of the regular season, finishing with seven sacks. He capped his year with a key sack of Matt Ryan in the Super Bowl that pushed the Falcons out of field goal range, likely saving the Patriots' comeback bid. Pro Football Focus gave Flowers an 80.5 grade for the season, tying him with Sheldon Richardson as the 31st-best edge defender in the league. Flowers has a long way to go until he is considered in the same company as Khalil Mack or Von Miller, but his arrow is pointing up.
James Walker, Miami Dolphins reporter: Although it hasn't happened as quickly as the Dolphins would like, it finally appears wide receiver DeVante Parker understands what it takes to be a pro. Parker battled multiple injuries and rarely seemed to get to 100 percent in his first two seasons. This offseason, Parker said he changed his diet, gets at least eight hours of sleep per night and is practicing harder and more consistently, which was a point of contention with the coaching staff last year. Parker was one of Miami's best players in spring practices, was hard to defend and made various big plays. Barring injury, I expect Parker to surpass 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his career and have the type of breakout season the Dolphins have been waiting for.
Mike Reiss, New England Patriots reporter: Rookie defensive end Charles Harris appears to be the perfect fit for Dolphins coordinator Matt Burke's 4-3 scheme, which has roots in Tennessee and Detroit from Burke's time working under Jim Schwartz. A notable part of the scheme is having defensive ends play the wide-nine technique, which puts them in space instead of tighter quarters. Harris, a first-round pick from Missouri whose pass-rushing ability is a top asset, can potentially learn from veteran Cameron Wake and also be an immediate contributor in obvious passing situations, if not more. So when projecting a rising star in the division, and focusing on the combination of talent and scheme fit, Harris qualifies as a good bet.
Rich Cimini, New York Jets reporter: Some might say Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams already is a star, but I still think he's on the rise. He's only 23 and hasn't reached his ceiling yet. Scary, right? He has had two good years, but he's still learning the nuances of the position. Defensive line coach Robert Nunn said Williams "can do things that not many guys can do in this league." Williams is improving as a pass-rusher and said his goal is at least 10 sacks and to make the Pro Bowl. He made seven sacks last year and was a Pro Bowl replacement. Barring injury, he should take those steps. It's too bad the Jets don't have a few more guys like Williams.