AFC East Pre-Draft Offseason Grades
By Ryan Whitfield
New England Patriots
While you all revell at the idea of Brady sitting the first four games this upcoming season, it’s important to understand what a great Free Agency period they had this year. Adding Martellus Bennet as the second tight end is far and away the best move of the off season. While the Patriots let Hicks and former first rounder Easley walk out the door, and traded away Chandler Jones, the addition of Chris Long and Terrance Knighton were great moves. The growth of Sheard last year coupled with Geno Grissom and Try Flowers second season will help maintain a good (not great) pass rush. Chandler Jones was a perennial first half of the season monster, a second half disappearing act and a playoff no show…adios big fella. The addition of Chris Hogan and Nate Washington rounds out a solid skill group for the Patriots and I like the flyer risk on Donald Brown and bringing back Blount for one last harrah. Nothing super sexy here, but a B+ off season thus far.
I would say there are three major additions for the Dolphins this off-season. Bringing in Adam Gase to coach may finally be the reason why Tannehill finally establishes himself as playoff caliber QB. Adam Gase should be able to work well again with CJ Anderson. Anderson established himself the second half of last year, and for the Dolphins sake they better hope that the trip of Tannehill, Anderson and Gase make statements this year. The third major addition is Mario Williams. Time to find out if Williams is over the hill or it was a Rex issue last year. With that said, the Dolphins will feel the absence of Grimes, Rishad Matthews and Olivier Vernon. I did like the Belichickien move of signing Chris Jones after the Patriots let him walk.
New York Jets
This has to seem biased to you. I know it. But trust me this isn’t Jet’s hate, it’s just the facts. The Jets signed Matt Forte and they traded for OT Ryan Clady. Great moves, (although I’m not sold on how much Forte has left). The rest of the off season has been relatively quiet. For a 10-6 team last year I think that’s smart. You add a few key pieces, draft well, and you should improve. And the Jets should be a post-season team. But here’s where I’m torn, Ryan Fitzpatrick. I get it, he’s asking way too much, and I wouldn’t pay it either. But, you’re alternative is Geno Smith and Bryce Petty. Maybe someone they like falls to them in the draft, but if not it’s hard to ignore how weak they are at the most important spot on the field. It may not be their fault, but that doesn’t change their situation. Jets need a big night tonight.
The Bills are still steps away from really vying for a playoff spot. This offseason Percy Harvin retires and Chris Hogan leaves for your divisional foe Patriots and your replacements are Hankerson and Boykin. The loss of Mario Williams should be felt as well. Aside from that they have relatively added depth and role pieces. Again overspending in Free Agency usually is a losing process, but much like the Jets the Bills better have a good draft tonight.