This won’t be your typical 2022 NFL Draft in the AFC East. The scales have tipped in a new direction with the Buffalo Bills as the clear favorite and the New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, and New York Jets scrambling to reload and compete. This year's NFL Draft could be especially blood-thirsty within the division, considering the similar positions of need and the proximity of picks at the end of the first round and early second round. For instance, will a team pay up to leapfrog the others and get the cornerback of choice like Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Trent McDuffie, or Andrew Booth Jr.?

In this article, we are going to look at each AFC East team and lay out what 2022 NFL Draft picks each squad has. Then, we’ll look at which positions each team is set at (unlikely to use high draft capital), where they have immediate draft needs (likely to use a pick in the first 2-3 rounds), or where they might need depth (mid to late-round picks). So let’s get to it! 





Buffalo Bills – 8 Picks

  • 1st Round: No. 25 overall
  • 2nd Round: 57
  • 3rd Round: 89
  • 4th Round: 130
  • 5th Round: 168
  • 6th Round: 185, 203
  • 7th Round: 231


Set: Quarterback, Tight End, Defensive End, Defensive Tackle

Quarterback – It has to be a good feeling to have a 25-year-old stud quarterback like Josh Allen locked up long-term. Drafting Allen was a risk, and he struggled with accuracy early, but the scouts correctly assessed his raw skill-set here and he’s developed into a megastar.  

Tight End – You have Dawson Knox returning as the starter and also added OJ Howard in free agency. Reliable blocking tight end Tommy Sweeney also returns. All set here.

Defensive End – Arguably the biggest signing of the offseason, the Bills brought in Von Miller to line up opposite first-round pick Greg Rousseau. You can never have too much depth at an important position like this, but the Bills have dangerous pressure coming from the edges.

Defensive Tackle – They have Ed Oliver and DaQuan Jones starting, Jordan Phillips returning, and Tim Settle coming over from Washington. Oliver, Jones, and Settle are all signed for this year and next so they are looking pretty good. You never know when a team might just go “best available," but if they draft no one, it’s not like they have a hole.


Immediate: Cornerback, Wide Receiver, Guard

Cornerback – This one is pretty simple. No one played more snaps at cornerback for Buffalo than Levi Wallace last year, but he left in free agency to join the Steelers. You have Tre'Davious White coming back on one side and Taron Johnson in the slot, but guys like Siran Neal and Dane Jackson are better suited as nickel/dime corners. A high-end corner would solve a lot of problems, but you’d likely need to trade up in the Draft to be in the conversation for a Trent McDuffie or Sauce Gardner. Just within the division, the Jets need a corner and pick at No. 4 and No. 10 overall; while the Patriots also could use a corner and pick at No. 21. So, the odds of someone that caliber sliding to the Buffalo at No. 25 overall are slim. If they stay where they are, the Bills would more likely be hoping for Andrew Booth Jr. or Kaiir Elam.

Wide Reciever – The Bills have “enough” to go into the season, but is that really “enough” when you look at what the top teams brought to the table last year? The Bengals (Tee Higgins, Ja'Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd), Buccaneers (Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown), and Cowboys (Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup) were flush with pass catchers. The Rams lost Robert Woods and immediately replaced him with Odell Beckham Jr. (then recently replaced them both with Allen Robinson). Gabriel Davis is a solid player but he’d be best suited in the role he had last year where he can reliably replace the split end, flanker, or slot on any given play. With the versatility of Stefon Diggs and Davis, you could realistically put Jamison Crowder in the slot and then draft either a flanker or a split end to compete with Davis opposite Diggs. The Bills would then be in the conversation for the top receiving corps in the NFL. Someone like Chris Olave or Treylon Burks could be available in the first round, or maybe a George Pickens or Justyn Ross in the second. The Cowboys pick right before the Bills in both rounds and also need a WR, though, so some maneuvering might be in order.

Guard – The Bills' starting guards are set to be Rodger Saffold and Ike Boettger (they also were able to fend off the Bears to retain Ryan Bates). Boettger and Saffold are both on one-year deals, while neither Boettger nor Bates is exactly a star. So, the Bills could certainly improve along the interior offensive line – if not for this season then for the future. 


Potential Early-Round Picks: 

CB Trent McDuffie (Washington), CB Ahmad Gardner (Cincinnati), CB Andrew Booth Jr. (Clemson), CB Kaiir Elam (Florida), WR Chris Olave (Ohio State), WR George Pickens (Georgia), WR Justyn Ross (Clemson), G Zion Johnson (Boston College), G Kenyon Green (Texas A&M), G Cole Strange (Chattanooga)


Depth: Running Back, Safety, Linebacker

Running Back — The Bills technically have what they need at running back with Devin Singletary and Zach Moss on early downs and Duke Johnson/Taiwan Jones pitching in as a satellite back. None of these guys, though, are exactly game-changers and Singletary, Johnson, and Jones are all unrestricted free agents after this season. Decent running backs can be found on the second and even third day of the NFL Draft – especially if Buffalo is simply looking for a third-down back.  

Safety – Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer are the Bills' starting safeties and, while a great pairing, they are also 31 and 30 years old, respectively. Buffalo has a couple of sixth-round picks behind them, but not a whole lot of immediate depth. Could be time to start taking stabs on guys who could be the safety of the future. Maybe go after a player who can also play dime or nickel corner so he can contribute right away. 

Linebacker – Specifically, a run-stopping inside linebacker after they were able to extend the roving Matt Milano, who is great at covering tight ends. When you look at the rest of Buffalo's LB corps – Tremaine Edmunds, Tyler Matakevich, Andre Smith, Marquel Lee – none are signed beyond this season. The Bills have what they need for now, but a rookie contract might ease the pressure next free agency when it’s time to try and retain guys or not.   




New England Patriots – 8 Picks

  • 1st Round: No. 21 overall
  • 2nd Round: 54
  • 3rd Round: 85
  • 5th Round: 158, 170 
  • 6th Round: 200, 210

Set: Quarterback, Tight End, Running Back

Quarterback – The Patriots have Mac Jones as the young starter and Brian Hoyer as the veteran backup. All you need.

Tight End – They drafted Dalton Keene and Devin Asiasi both in the third round in 2020, then decided to go out and sign BOTH of last year's top free-agent tight ends in Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. New England is deep at tight end.

Running Back – This team has been a two-back operation for as long as Bill Belichick’s run a modified Erhardt Perkins system. Over 20 years now, the Patriots haven't had one running back who got both 200+ carries and 35+ receptions. There is an outside chance they take a satellite back as the long-term replacement for James White, but they are honestly loaded at the position with White, Damien Harris, and Rhamondre Stevenson. JJ Taylor is a fine backup for the James White roll as is. Not a need.


Immediate: Cornerback, Linebacker, Offensive Line

Cornerback – Bill Belichick has historically found corners outside of the early picks, whether that’s late or undrafted guys (Malcolm Butler, JC Jackson) or paying for hired guns (Darrell Revis, Stephon Gilmore). Clearly, though, he’s hesitant to retain them at times as he let Gilmore leave last year and Jackson this past offseason. New England did bring Malcolm Butler back after letting him leave, but he’s not quite the stud corner that some folks thought he was after the Super Bowl heroics. Much like the Bills, the Patriots would need to trade up to take a top corner but could end up going “best available” in the first with Andrew Booth Jr. or Kaiir Elam. They have to be wary of the Bills (No. 25 overall) or Jets (No. 35 and 38 picks) swooping in front of them in the mid-to-late first round, of course. 

Linebacker – Specifically, an inside linebacker. Dont’a Hightower is still a free agent, but unlikely to return. Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo was a name that was bounced around for vacant coaching opportunities this offseason, so it would make a lot of sense to get a player in there now to work with Mayo in case he gets poached next offseason. Some names tied to the Patriots have been Nakobe Dean and Devin Lloyd, but they might both be gone at 21.

Offensive Line – Bringing back Trent Brown alleviated this issue a bit, but it’s been reported that his contract has a lot of incentives tied to keeping his weight down – which sheds some light on their hesitation with a player who has had trouble staying healthy. Originally, I might not have had this position listed in this section, but they’ve reportedly been meeting with a lot of offensive linemen during the pre-draft process – so they could simply take “best player available” at No. 21 or 54 overall. Kenyon Green is an interesting name as a guy who could be this year’s version of Alijah Vera-Tucker – a versatile player who can play multiple positions across the offensive line. The Texas A&M product could play left guard right away if he picks things up quickly, and we all know Belichick loves his versatility.  


Potential Early-Round Picks: 

CB Trent McDuffie (Washington), CB Ahmad Gardner (Cincinnati), CB Andrew Booth Jr. (Clemson), CB Kaiir Elam (Florida), T Trevor Penning (Northern Iowa), G Zion Johnson (Boston College), G Kenyon Green (Texas A&M), LB Devin Lloyd (Utah), LB Nakobe Dean (Georgia), LB Chad Muma (Wyoming), LB Christian Haris (Alabama)


Depth: Wide Receiver, Defensive Line

Wide Receiver – This might have been an immediate need before the DeVante Parker trade, but now the Patriots have their starting split end in Parker. With two solid tight ends, they can rotate Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, and Jakobi Meyers at flanker and slot. It’s not out of the question that New England takes a pass-catcher, but it’s no longer a glaring need.

Defensive Line – Belichick likes to sometimes run what is referred to as an “okie” front. It's essentially a 3-4 setup, except instead of a nose tackle and two defensive ends, he runs a nose tackle and two defensive tackles with players like Matt Judon setting the edge. For that reason, the Patriots like to keep a number of different types of hybrid defensive ends/tackles on the payroll. With guys like Davon Godchaux and Henry Anderson set to hit free agency next year, New England might opt for more depth here.






Miami Dolphins – 4 Picks

  • 3rd Round: No. 102 overall
  • 4th Round: 125
  • 7th Round: 224, 247


Set: Quarterback, Wide Reciever, Tight End, Running Back, Offensive Tackle

Quarterback – Tua Tagovailoa is the starter and the Dolphins have a rock-solid backup in Teddy Bridgewater. Ready to roll.

Wide Reciever – The Dolphins had so many good wide receivers that they traded one away to a division rival (DeVante Parker) and are still all set at the position. They’ll have Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill on the outside with Cedrick Wilson working in the slot alongside Mike Gesicki.

Tight End – Miami currently has every flavor of tight end on the roster. Mike Gesicki is essentially a “big slot” receiver, Durham Smythe and Adam Shaheen are the blocking tight ends, and Cethan Carter is a hybrid-fullback type. The Dolphins also drafted Hunter Long in the third round last year as a young two-way guy in development. Looking pretty good here though, obviously, Gesicki is on the franchise tag and not a lock to return next year. 

Running Back – Perhaps if the Dolphins had more picks, this might be a consideration. Maybe they do take a stab at someone late but with Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert, Myles Gaskin, and Salvon Ahmed, they really don’t need to spend a higher pick on a running back. It would be a luxury pick and they really only have two meaningful draft picks. If anything, I’d wait and then maybe target a franchise guy next year when you have picks in the second and third. That’s where most high-caliber RBs seem to come from. Their earliest pick this year is a third-round comp pick outside the top 100.


Immediate: Offensive Line, Linebacker 

Offensive Line – The Dolphins took big strides to improve the offensive line this offseason by signing Terron Armstead and Connor Williams. The work isn’t quite done, though, and they can still find an impact player with their earliest picks at No. 102 and 125 overall. It could create competition for your weakest offensive line spots, like center and right tackle. Worst case scenario, the Dolphins simply confirm that what they have is good enough and simply add depth. Best case scenario, they hit on a starter and take a huge leap forward. 

Linebacker – With only two picks in the first six rounds, the Dolphins are likely picking players that can make a real impact right away. Neither pick is in the top 100, which makes it even harder to predict position. Miami has what it needs for this season at linebacker because the defense runs so much nickel and dime it only needs two LBs at any given time. Jerome Baker is a beast, but Elandon Roberts is on a one-year deal and they don’t have a ton of depth up the middle. That’s where I would look with one of the two picks.


Potential Early-Round Picks: 

C Cole Strange (Chatanooga), T Nicholas Petit-Frere (Ohio State), T Max Mitchell (Louisiana), G Ed Ingram (LSU), LB Damone Clark (LSU), LB D’Marco Jackson (Appalachian State), LB Terrel Bernard (Baylor)


Depth: Secondary

Secondary – We mentioned the amount of nickel and dime the Dolphins' defense uses, so it would probably be wise to bolster the secondary depth with the two late-round picks (or even one of the higher-end ones). Modern NFL defenses can be a bit flexible with the hybrid slot corner/safeties, so you can just try to take the best player available rather than trying to pick something highly-specific for your scheme. Drafting a larger hybrid safety could substitute for drafting a linebacker. Or maybe a linebacker like LSU’s Damone Clark could play that hybrid role – at least he looks the part in the picture above.  




New York Jets – 9 Picks

  • 1st Round: 4, 10
  • 2nd Round: 35, 38
  • 3rd Round: 69
  • 4th Round: 111, 117
  • 5h Round: 146, 163


Set: Quarterback, Tight End

Quarterback – Zach Wilson, Joe Flacco, Mike White. I’d put the odds of the Jets drafting a quarterback this year at zero point zero.

Tight End – If the Jets want to lean heavily into two-tight end sets, maybe they do take a shot on a young prospect. They just signed CJ Uzomah, who skews pass-catching, and Tyler Conklin, who skews blocking. They have hybrid-fullback Trevon Wesco and retained raw athlete Kenny Yeboah. The Jets really don’t need any more tight ends right now. 


Immediate: Defensive End, Offensive Line, Cornerback, Wide Reciever

Defensive End – Robert Saleh has had the difficult task of converting the Jets from a 3-4 scheme into his own 4-3 defense. That started by letting guys like defensive end Henry Anderson walk and join the Patriots. The hallmark of great 4-3 defenses are edge rushers that can get to the quarterback and, at either pick No. 4 or 10, the Jets are in a position to grab a megastar. They could honestly just take “best available” out of Aidan Hutchinson, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Travon Walker, or George Karlaftis if they really wanted – though it seems Karlaftis has fallen a bit beyond the others throughout the draft process.

Cornerback – If this rebuild goes according to plan and Zach Wilson takes a step forward, the Jets won’t be selecting this high in the draft for a while. They certainly won’t be picking at No. 4 and 10 overall. Certain positions are at a premium in the NFL (quarterback, edge, corner, left tackle), so you can’t expect to get a game-changing player unless you are picking among the top ten. Now might be their best chance at landing a lockdown cornerback who can change the whole landscape of the defense. If someone like Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner or Trent McDuffie is still there at No. 10, that might be the play. Could be the pick at No. 4 as well.

Offensive Line – The Jets don’t technically NEED an offensive lineman, not in the short-term anyway. Still, they’ve done an amazing job building through the draft so far with Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker, and the best player available at No. 10 could very easily be an offensive lineman – something you can’t pass up on at times. George Fant is on the last year of his deal, so it might be wise to try to hit on another young tackle. Some teams like the Cowboys were able to draft well and have a high-end offensive line for years and years.

Wide Receiver – The Jets are in a unique position in terms of their rebuild process as they have most of what you need to compete. That puts them in a position to simply take the best player available rather than trying to cater to a specific team need. With two early second-round picks, the best player might end up being a WR. New York has Corey Davis at the split end alongside the elusive Elijah Moore, who can play either flanker or slot. Braxton Berrios can play slot, but he’s best utilized as a special teams guy who comes in as the fourth wideout. That leaves you a lot of flexibility in the type of guy you can select here. Why not just pick the best wideout available, especially if someone like Chris Olave slides or a guy like Skyy Moore is there? One of them mixing and matching with Elijah Moore could become annoying for defenses quickly. 


Potential Early-Round Picks: 

DE Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan), DE Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon), DE Travon Walker (Georgia), DE George Karlaftis (Purdue), CB Ahmad Gardner (Cincinnati), CB Trent McDuffie (T Charles Cross (Mississippi State), T Ikem Ekwonu (NC State), T Evan Neal (Alabama) WR Chris Olave (Ohio State), WR Skyy Moore (Western Michigan)


Depth: Defensive Tackle, Linebacker, Safety, Running Back

Defensive Tackle – The reality is that the Jets have arguably the best draft capital of any team, with nine picks all within the top five rounds. They also have five picks in the first three rounds, meaning that one of those five selections will likely be at a position in this “depth” section. I believe they will go best available, so they could even go for one of the potential game-changers up the middle from Georgia in Devonte Wyatt or Jordan Davis. Robert Saleh is still building this defense, so he’ll have a hand in whoever is selected on that side of the ball.

Linebacker – CJ Mosley is locked up as the middle linebacker and he is a beast. All of the Jets' other linebackers, though, are essentially free agents after this year. This is another position where, if the right player is there, maybe they take a swing with one of those top-70 picks.

Safety – There is one truly game-changing safety this year in Kyle Hamilton, so don't rule that possibility out with the Jets' two first-rounders. New York is simply looking for difference-makers with its early picks. Beyond that, they could look for a hybrid slot/safety player later in the Draft to play in nickel and dime. 

Running Back – The Jets, technically, have what they need at RB with Michael Carter on early downs, Ty Johnson as a pass-catcher, and then Tevin Coleman and La’Mical Perine still around. Again, though, if the right guy is there either as a satellite back or simply a guy you think should be going higher, there is no reason not to take another stab at running back. RBs are not as highly touted as they used to be, so the top back on the Jets' board could be available at No. 35 or 38 overall – which could be hard to pass up. 


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