AFC East draft preview: first two round draft predictions for all AFC East teams

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 18: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on prior to an NFL football game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the New England Patriots at Allegiant Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 18: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on prior to an NFL football game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the New England Patriots at Allegiant Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images) /

Do you feel it in the air?  The NFL Draft is only two weeks away. Now that I am 25 years old, this time of year is my new Christmas.

Which shiny new toys will my team have? Who will trade up for their next quarterback? Why is Mel Kiper still receiving paychecks? I am losing sleep counting down the days and making new mock drafts every day, so here’s a quick rundown on the AFC East’s draft preview for the first two rounds:

Round 1, pick 13

The first draft pick scheduled to be taken by an AFC East team in the 2023 NFL Draft is the 13th overall pick, currently held by the New York Jets.

I say currently because depending on the Aaron Rodgers saga and what the Jets may have to compensate the Packers with, New York may not own this draft pick come draft night. However, let’s suspend disbelief and say the Jets do hold onto this pick and send over a future draft pick to Green Bay for Aaron Rodgers.

The Jets will likely need some help protecting their new franchise quarterback. Sure, they took Mekhi Becton pretty high, but he’s been dealing with some injuries. And yes — Duane Brown is currently employed by New York, but he is 38 years old.

If the Jets want to keep Rodgers, who is 39 himself, upright and healthy, they ought to invest in a blue-chip offensive tackle with this selection. Paris Johnson, Peter Skoronski, Anton Harrison, and Broderick Jones would all be good selections here.

Round 1, pick 14

Immediately following the Jets’ selection, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots will be on the clock.

This is completely unrelated to the article, but I cackle anytime this picture resurfaces.

Recently, the Patriots have whiffed on a lot of their high picks. This is New England’s chance to right the ship and get back to winning football. Some mocks have the Patriots going with a quarterback here with the news of Belichick shopping quarterback Mac Jones this offseason, but I don’t buy it.

I see the Patriots looking for an offensive playmaker — something their offense has been lacking for a very long time. I think the Patriots take the best available pass catcher, whether that is a receiver or a tight end. Give Mac Jones some weapons and see if you can get the best out of him before completely giving up on him.

Watch out for guys like Quentin Johnson, Zay Flowers, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, or even Michael Mayer to be the pick here.

Round 1, pick 27

The Buffalo Bills enter this draft with very minimal needs across the roster. Coming off a really nice year, the Bills, with a home run draft pick here, could easily be Super Bowl contenders.

I would say the biggest need on this roster is interior offensive line help. At times, Buffalo’s offense was too one-dimensional, with no running lanes for their backs. Relying on letting Josh Allen drop back and let it rip is not the worst thing imaginable, but you’d really like to be able to run the ball too.

I think the Bills go with a guard here. Whether it’s O’Cyrus Torrence from Florida, the best one in the draft in my opinion, or Steve Avila from TCU, I see the Bills getting bigger and stronger up front to allow the run game to become a bigger factor in 2023.

Round 2, pick 42

The Jets come back around for their second selection in the draft with the 42nd overall pick.

Again, I’m not sure which draft picks get sent over to Green Bay in the alleged Rodgers trade, so this may not even be their pick.

However, assuming it is, the Jets may look towards the defensive side of the ball after taking their tackle of the future in the first round. You could argue the Jets are set in the secondary, but the front seven could use some love. At 42, there should still be some pretty intriguing prospects to bolster a defensive front seven.

The edge-rushing talent in this class is deep. Guys like BJ Ojulari, Keion White, and Will McDonald all still may be available by this pick. Any of those guys would be a nice plug-and-play option to slide into a rotation and get immediate production out of.

Round 2, pick 43

The Jets don’t even leave the podium before they’re back on the clock with the very next pick.

If the Jets go edge rusher at 42, I’d bet they’ll be looking for a linebacker at 43. Like edge rushers, there is no shortage of talent when it comes to the linebackers in this class.

Whether it’s Trenton Simpson, Drew Sanders, Jack Campbell, or Daiyan Henley, the Jets should have their pick of the litter at linebacker for this selection.

Round 2, pick 46

Just three picks later, the New England Patriots — and Bill Belichick’s dog — are back on the clock.

After picking up an offensive weapon in the first round in an attempt to get the most out of Mac Jones in 2023, the Patriots have to be thinking offensive line in the second round.

After failing the experiments of Isaiah Wynn and Trent Brown, the Patriots should be in the midst of a full rebuild at the tackle position. Can you really get the best look at Mac Jones when he’s under pressure every snap? The answer to that rhetorical question is no and Bill Belichick knows that.

The Patriots should have several tackles on their radar, including Cody Mauch, Matthew Bergeron or even Jaelyn Duncan, who I think is a grossly underrated prospect out of Maryland.

Round 2, pick 51

Finally — the Dolphins are on the clock!

After watching fifty prospects go in front of them, the Miami Dolphins are now ready to select their newest prospect.

There are a few areas of need for the Dolphins, including a running back, cornerback, tight end and interior offensive line. But I believe the biggest of which is the interior offensive line. There were games where the Dolphins were stuffed at the middle of the line of scrimmage on what felt like every run play. And Tua was harassed by interior rushers an egregious amount of times all year.

As a fan, it’s easy to identify a need just by watching the games. But as a scout or general manager, it’s not so easy to identify who exactly can rectify that issue.

Prospects the Dolphins should consider here at pick 51 include John Michael-Schmitz, Steve Avila, Joe Tippman and Luke Wypler. Whether they take a guard or center, there can always be a shuffle on the interior of the line — and honestly, they need a good shuffle this season.

Round 2, pick 59

Closing out the second round for the AFC East club will be the Buffalo Bills with their second selection of the draft.

Again, there are not many holes on the roster, but you can only get better in this league. After taking an offensive lineman in the first round, Buffalo may look to add another weapon to the arsenal of Josh Allen.

With Stefon Diggs continuing to play elite football and the emergence of Gabe Davis, I don’t necessarily see the Bills spending an early pick on a receiver. But a quick glance at the Bills’ roster makes me think they might snag a running back here.

Surely Bijan Robinson does not drop to 59, but perhaps the second-best running back, Alabama’s Jahmyr Gibbs, does. James Cook and Nyheim Hines are good depth pieces for the Bills, but they need that one feature back that can carry the bulk of their handoffs. And that is exactly what Gibbs can do for Buffalo.

Now, imagine an offense with Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs and Jahmyr Gibbs. I know, it’s disgusting.