Is the AFC East up for grabs?

Lisa Johnson
AFC South AFC East Reporter

By Lisa Johnson // @LJ1303

Since the departure of quarterback Tom Brady from the New England Patriots to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the AFC East now is considered “up for grabs”.  So which team is poised and ready to take over the reins?

Buffalo Bills

With the Miami Dolphins in full rebuild mode and the Jets still finding their nitch with second-year Head Coach Adam Gase, the Bills are poised and are deemed the heavy favorites to take over the AFC East. Fourth-year head coach Sean McDermott brought the Buffalo Bills to a 10-6 record and second in the AFC East in 2019. With the aid of a departing Brady and a solid draft class(see below) for 2020, the Buffalo Bills and their Bills Mafia fan base are ready for an AFC East take-over.

Buffalo Bills 2020 NFL Draft.
Round 1: (Traded pick to Minnesota Vikings for Stefon Diggs), Round 2: DE A.J. Epenesa, Round 3: RB Zack Moss, Round 4: WR Gabriel Davis,  Round 5: QB Jake Fromm, Round 6: K Tyler Bass, 6: WR Isaiah Hodgins, Round 7: CB Dane Jackson.

New York Jets

As the New York Jets prepare for their second season under head coach Adam Gase, they entered the 2020 draft with one goal in mind, to protect their franchise quarterback Sam Darnold and open up this offense behind all-star running back Le’veon Bell.

Jets head coach Adam Gase, who was once deemed “an offensive guru”, went to work quickly in the first round of the draft, grabbing one of the premier offensive linemen, then adding another lineman in the fourth round. Coach Gase’s message is clear. The overall of this offensive line should yield more consistency which should lead to more points. If this happens quickly look for the Jets to try and make a run for the top spot in the East.

Jets 2020 NFL Draft
Round 1: OT Mekhi Becton, Round 2: WR Denzel Mims,  Round 3: S Ashtyn Davis,  Round 3: DE Jabari Zuniga, Round 4: RB Lamical Perine, Round 4: QB James Morgan, Round 4 (from Patriots via Ravens): OT Cameron Clark, Round 5: CB Bryce Hall, Round 6: P Braden Mann.

Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins behind second-year head coach Brian Flores are in full throttle with their rebuild. This year’s 2020 NFL Draft brought a hopeful Dolphins fanbase a franchise quarterback followed by a wall of protection. General manager Chris Grier mounted a very well planned out draft that should make Miami a contender for several years. Grier has stated that he wants to build this franchise from the trenches on up. With this year’s draft class Grier proved that statement. Give this Dolphins team a couple of years and I would expect to see them contending for the AFC East title.

Dolphins 2020 NFL Draft
Round 1: QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama, Round 1: T Austin Jackson, Round 1: CB Noah Igbinoghene, Round 2: OG Robert Hunt, Round 2: DT Raekwon Davis, Round 3: S Brandon Jones, Round 4: G Solomon Kindley, Round 5: DT Jason Strowbridge, Round 5: EDGE Curtis Weaver, Round 6: LS Blake Ferguson, Round 7: WR Malcolm Perry, Navy.

New England Patriots

With the departure of future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady, the New England Patriots were left with many questions. The most pressing is who will succeed the 6-time Super Bowl champion quarterback? Many thought the Patriots would address this during the NFL draft. Well as the rounds rolled by, the Patriots ended the draft with zero selections at the quarterback position.

This leaves the Patriots with QB Jarrett Stidham and journeyman Brian Hoyer. Many speculated that the Patriots would turn to a veteran FA quarterback, possibly Andy Dalton, but Dalton has since signed with the Dallas Cowboys. While it certainly looks like the Patriots rein on the AFC East is over, we have to remember that Bill Belichick is a 6 time Super Bowl champion coach. So don’t expect this team to roll over and not go down without a fight. And as far as the draft goes, coach Belichick has always marched to the beat of his own drum.

Patriots  2020NFL Draft
Round 2: S Kyle Dugger, Round 2: LB Josh Uche, Round 3: LB Anfernee Jennings, Round 3: TE Devin Asiasi, Round 3: TE Dalton Keene, Round 5: K Justin Rohrwasser, Round 6: G Michael Onwenu, Round 6: G Justin Herron, Round 6:  LB Cassh Maluia, Round 7: C Dustin Woodard.

Regardless of who you root for in the AFC East. One thing is for sure:  The absence of Tom Brady has busted this division wide open.

Follow Lisa on Twitter // @LJ1303

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