Draft Needs - AFC East (04/22/15)

By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing
NFL Team Needs – AFC East edition



The NFL Draft, which begins on April 30, is fast approaching. Every team hopes to use their picks to fill a position of need. In the days leading up to the draft we will evaluate each team's biggest needs, greatest strengths and the best case scenario for the draft.

To objectively answer many questions related to the NFL including how to rank individual units and at exactly which positions teams can and should improve, we assign impact scores for every current NFL starter.

The impact score is a grade on a 0-10 scale based on a player's expected overall positive contribution at their current ages and relative to position. In the score, a seven or above can generally outperform a replacement player in the NFL at his position; an eight or above can be expected to start and a player with a rating over nine is a unique, standout player who stars.

AFC East- click for NFC East

New England Patriots

Top needs: Corner, Defensive Line, Guard

Greatest Strength: Skill Positions

New England's running back situation is fluid from year to year, their receivers are average, yet they have the best skill position unit in the division because of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. Since Gronk entered the league in 2010 no other passer-receiver duo has more touchdowns. Brady's impact score is 9.1 out of 10 (4th best QB in the NFL) while Gronkowski's is 9.3, the best for any tight-end or receiver.

Best Case Scenario:

Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner are both gone leaving the Patriots thin at corner. New England has had an uneven history of drafting cornerbacks during the Bill Belichick era. Luckily for the defending champs it shouldn't be hard to find a player that can make an immediate impact. There are ten prospects that grade out better than the current starting corners.

Buffalo Bills

Top needs: Offensive Guard, Offensive Tackle, Quarterback

Greatest Strength: Front Seven

The Bills were the best team to not make the playoffs last year. Buffalo ranked 8th overall in our Power Rankings despite having one of the worst offenses in the league. The Bills front seven is a championship caliber unit that led the league in sacks a year ago.

Best Case Scenario:

Buffalo added Pro Bowlers LeSean McCoy and Percy Harvin in the offseason, yet the Bills offense still ranks last in the league. EJ Manuel isn't the quarterback of the future and without a first round pick it is unlikely that Buffalo will find a solution under center in this year's draft. It would be wise of the Bills to use their limited picks on the offensive line (ranks 30th in NFL) to give their new skill position players a chance.

Miami Dolphins

Top needs: Offensive Tackle, Offensive Guard, Corner

Greatest Strength: Defensive Line

For six years and $114 million the Dolphins bought one of the best defensive linemen in the league. The addition of Ndamukong Suh (impact score of 9.2 out of 10) instantly gives Miami one of the top defensive lines in the league. The Fins now have the best defense in the division.

Best Case Scenario:

Ryan Tannehill continues to improve under center (4,045 passing yards and 27 touchdowns in 2014) but for Miami's young signal caller to take the next step he needs to stay off his back. The Dolphins allowed Tannehill to be sacked 46 times last year, the third most among quarterbacks. Only two starting linemen grade out as average or better, for Tannehill's sake this should be an area of focus during the draft.

New York Jets

Top needs: Quarterback, Guard, Outside Linebacker

Greatest Strength: Defensive Line

Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson are studs. After J.J. Watt these are the two best defensive ends in the NFL. The Jets have the number one defensive line in the league, a top five front seven and a top ten secondary. This defense could drag the offense to the playoffs.

Best Case Scenario:

In two seasons, Geno Smith has completed less than 60 percent of his passes and has thrown 34 interceptions to just 25 touchdowns. For what it's worth, Jon Gruden sees progress. In a quarterback driven league, Geno can only take you so far. The Jets are hoping Mariota slips to them at six.

AFC East Unit Rankings
Team Offense Defense Skill O-line D-line Front 7 Secondary
New England Patriots
9
17
5
20
28
19
12
Buffalo Bills
32
7
26
30
3
2
20
Miami Dolphins
16
5
10
23
4
4
10
New York Jets
29
6
29
19
1
5
9