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Evaluating the AFC East Draft Classes of the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, and New England Patriots (2013-2015)

A look at the last three draft classes of the AFC East.

Catching the New England Patriots has been the goal of the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, and NY Jets for years. Since 2001, the Dolphins and Jets have each won the division once but the Patriots’ dominance has never been challenged. The Patriots have won four Super Bowls over that span of time and no other AFC East team has made it further than the AFC Championship Game.

To pass the Patriots, all three AFC East rivals need to build through the draft. To get an idea of how the Bills, Jets, and Dolphins are doing in this area, I looked back at the last three draft classes for each team in the AFC East. It’s too early to truly evaluate the 2015 draft classes overall, but here’s a look at the last three draft classes, as well as my opinion on which team had the best and worst overall draft, as well as the best value pick in each draft, best overall pick in each draft, and worst overall pick in each draft.

2015

Bills

Dolphins

Jets

Patriots

2(50) CB Ronald Darby

1(14) WR DeVante Parker

1(6) DL Leonard Williams

1(32) DT Malcom Brown

3(81) OG John Miller

2(52) NT Jordan Phillips

2(37) WR Devin Smith

2(64) SS Jordan Richards

5(155) RB Karlos Williams

4(114) OG Jamil Douglas

3(82) LB Lorenzo Mauldin

3(97) DE Geneo Grissom

6(188) LB Tony Steward

5(145) CB Bobby McCain

4(103) QB Bryce Petty

4(101) DE Trey Flowers

6(194) TE Nick O’Leary

5(149) RB Jay Ajayi

5(152) OG Jarvis Harrison

4(111) OG Tre’ Jackson

7(234) WR Dezmin Lewis

5(150) FS Cedric Thompson

7(223) NT Deon Simon

4(131) C Shaq Mason

 

5(156) WR Tony Lippett

 

5(166) LS Joe Cardona

 

 

 

6(178) LB Matthew Wells

 

 

 

6(202) TE A.J. Derby

 

 

 

7(247) CB Darryl Roberts

 

 

 

7(253) LB Xzavier Dickson

*Italicized player means player is no longer with team

Best Team Draft: To be determined. Players should get at least two seasons before determining best and worst draft statuses.

Worst Team Draft: To be determined. Players should get at least two seasons before determining best and worst draft statuses.

Best Value: After one season, Buffalo Bills RB Karlos Williams gets the nod. Williams rushed for 517 yards and seven touchdowns on 93 carries this season. The former Florida State Seminole also added two touchdowns in the receiving game. Buffalo found a gem in Williams. Nine total touchdowns and over 600 total yards from a fifth round pick is a fantastic find.

Best Pick: (Tie) CB Ronald Darby and Leonard Williams. Both players were up for the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Worst Pick: FS Cedric Thompson. Miami drafted Thompson in the fifth round of the draft but after a poor preseason, the team released the safety. Thompson spent the year on Miami’s practice squad but was added to New England’s practice squad in January.

2014

Bills

Dolphins

Jets

Patriots

1(4) WR Sammy Watkins

1(19) OT Ju’Wuan James

1(18) S Calvin Pryor

1(29) DT Dominique Easley

2(44) OT Cyrus Kouandjio

2(63) WR Jarvis Landry

2(49) TE Jace Amaro

2(62) QB Jimmy Garoppolo

3(73) LB Preston Brown

3(67) OT Billy Turner

3(80) DB Dexter McDougle

4(105) C Bryan Stork

4(109) CB Ross Cockrell

4(125) DB Walt Aikens

4(104) WR Jalen Saunders

4(130) RB James White

5(153) OG Cyril Richardson

5(155) TE Arthur Lynch

4(115) WR Shaquelle Evans

4(140) OT Cameron Fleming

7(221) LB Randell Johnson

5(171) LB Jordan Tripp

4(137) OG Dakota Dozier

6(179) OG Jon Halapio

7(237) OT Seantrel Henderson

6(190) WR Matt Hazel

5(154) LB Jeremiah George

6(198) DE Zach Moore

 

7(234) DE Terrence Fede

6(195) DB Brandon Dixon

6(206) DB Jemea Thomas

 

 

6(209) WR Quincy Enunwa

7(244) WR Jeremy Gallon

 

 

6(210) DE I.K. Enemkpali

 

 

 

6(213) QB Tajh Boyd

 

 

 

7(233) LB Trevor Reilly

 

 

Best Team Draft: Unknown. It’s really hard to determine a winner between the Bills, Dolphins, and Patriots. If Jimmy Garoppolo turns out to be Brady’s heir apparent, New England will probably end up getting the nod here. For now, we’ll stay it’s to be determined.

Worst Team Draft: New York Jets. The Jets had 12 picks in the 2014 NFL draft and one year later, only six players remain. Calvin Pryor looked very good in 2015 but no one else from the draft class has really stood out for the Jets. 

Best Value: Jarvis Landry. There are some mid-to-late round contributors on each team but Landry at pick 63 is by far the best value. The wide receiver has 1,915 yards in two seasons with Miami and is coming off of a season where he caught 110 passes for 1,157 yards, and four touchdowns. He has been Ryan Tannehill’s go-to receiver.

Best Pick: (Tie) Sammy Watkins and Jarvis Landry. Landry has been discussed above and has been outstanding for Miami. The same can be said about Watkins in Buffalo. Sure, the Bills traded away a first round pick to take Watkins fourth overall, but he’s been worth it. In two seasons, Watkins has 125 receptions, 2,029 yards, and 15 touchdowns. He’s averaged 16.2 yards per reception despite having Kyle Orton, EJ Manuel, and first-year starter Tyrod Taylor throwing him the ball.

Worst Pick: Cyrus Kouandjio. Buffalo spent a second round pick on Kouandjio and the offensive tackle has struggled to get onto the field. This season, Kouandjio sat behind Seantrel Henderson and Jordan Mills, a player the Bills added in October. It seems as though the Bills swung and missed on Kouandjio in the second round.

 

2013

Bills

Dolphins

Jets

Patriots

1(16) QB EJ Manuel

1(3) DE Dion Jordan

1(9) DB Dee Milliner

2(52) LB Jamie Collins

2(41) WR Robert Woods

2(54) DB Jamar Taylor

1(13) DT Sheldon Richardson

2(59) WR Aaron Dobson

2(46) LB Kiko Alonso

3(77) OT Dallas Thomas

2(39) QB Geno Smith

3(83) DB Logan Ryan

3(78) WR Marquise Goodwin

3(93) DB Will Davis

3(72) OG Brian Winters

3(91) DB Duron Harmon

4(105) S Duke Williams

4(104) LB Jelani Jenkins

5(141) OT Oday Aboushi

4(102) WR Josh Boyce

5(143) S Jonathan Meeks

4(106) TE Dion Sims

6(178) OL William Campbell

7(226) DE Michael Buchanan

6(177) K Dustin Hopkins

5(164) RB Mike Gillislee

7(215) RB Tommy Bohanon

7(235) LB Steve Beauharnais

7(222) TE Chris Gragg

5(166) K Caleb Sturgis

 

 

 

7(250) DB Don Jones

 

 

 

Best Team Draft: New England Patriots. New England found a star in Jamie Collins at pick 52. In addition to Collins, the Patriots also hit on Logan Ryan. Those two picks alone are enough to give New England the nod.

Worst Team Draft: Miami Dolphins. No one had any idea just how badly the Dolphins would miss on Dion Jordan. Miami traded up for Jordan and haven’t received any help from the move. Jordan was suspended for all of the 2015 season. In his career, he has 46 tackles and three sacks. Not exactly the results you want with the third overall pick. Jamar Taylor has contributed in Miami but he’s far from a key player for Miami. Dallas Thomas has also been a letdown for Miami. Jelani Jenkins is the best player from the draft class by far and he was the team’s fifth pick in the draft class.

Buffalo gets an honorable mention. It’s possible that no pick from Buffalo’s 2013 draft class gets a second contract. That said, Robert Woods has been a decent contributor for the Bills and Kiko Alonso was swapped for LeSean McCoy. Without this, Buffalo easily could have been the choice.

Best Value: Jamie Collins. Collins has developed into an All-Pro with the Patriots. Despite missing four games this season, Collins arguably had the best season of his career. The linebacker had 89 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, six passes defensed, one interception and five forced fumbles for New England. He is arguably the most important player on New England’s defense and the Patriots were able to select him with the 52nd pick in the draft.

Best Pick: Sheldon Richardson. Collins could arguably win this award as well, but Richardson has been a star for the Jets and was the AP’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013. In his career, Richardson has made the Pro Bowl, been named to PFF’s All-Pro Team, and made the NFL’s Top 100 Players list in 2014 and 2015. It’s a close contest between Richardson and Collins, but the defensive end deserves to be acknowledged for his strong play with the Jets.

Worst Pick: Dion Jordan. EJ Manuel and Dee Milliner both deserve honorable mentions here, but Jordan has been the worst pick. In two seasons, Jordan didn’t come close to living up to his hype. The former third overall pick disappointed on the field and his one-year suspension in 2015 didn’t help matters. Although the Bills and Jets also missed big time with their first picks in 2013, Jordan gets the nod here.

Unfortunately for the Bills, Jets, and Dolphins, no team has clearly out-drafted New England overall in the last three years. Next year, we’ll have a better idea about the picks from the 2015 draft but a changing of the guard doesn’t appear to be happening just yet. Perhaps the 2016 draft will start to turn the tide for one of these teams, but New England will once again be the favorite to win the AFC East next year. 


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