5 observations on the 2020 NFL Draft's impact on the AFC East

Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa (94) works against Southern California offensive tackle Austin Jackson (73) during the first half of the Holiday Bowl NCAA college football game Friday, Dec. 27, 2019, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Orlando Ramirez)

The Bills had the fewest number of draft choices among the AFC East clubs in the 2020 NFL draft, but they capably added to their already deep roster. Their division rivals had varying degrees of success in the draft. Here are some observations as to how Buffalo's three AFC East opponents fared last week.

1. Miami starts up front

The Dolphins finished the 2020 NFL draft with 11 new players. More than half of their picks were made to fortify their offensive and defensive lines.

It was no surprise to see Miami utilize three of their first seven picks on offensive linemen. The Dolphins were tied for the league lead in sacks allowed in 2019 with a whopping 58. Pass protection will be of paramount importance for the Dolphins after drafting Tua Tagovailoa, who had a lengthy injury history in college. 

Look for first-round pick Austin Jackson to challenge for the starting left tackle role. Second-round pick Robert Hunt is a road grader who may project inside and start at guard and fourth-round pick Solomon Kindley is a developmental interior lineman.

Defensively, the Dolphins addressed their run defense (27th) with DT Raekwon Davis and their pass rush with DE Jason Strowbridge and OLB Curtis Weaver.

2. Filling roster holes in New England

New England had a slew of positional needs heading into the draft after sustaining a healthy number of free agent losses. However, they picked some players that most analysts felt did not align with some perceived primary positional needs.

It will be interesting to see how Bill Belichick utilizes a linebacker like Josh Uche. Typically, 3-4 schemes need taller, longer players on the edge, which is where Uche played at Michigan. His 80-inch wingspan might help him overcome his lack of height (6-1) but dropping into coverage and setting the edge may prove difficult. As a result he may only be a subpackage player and you usually want more than that out of a second-round pick.

The Patriots needed a kicker after releasing Stephen Gostkowski. Justin Rohrwasser is a big boy at 6-3 and 230 pounds and was an 85 percent kicker for Marshall in 2019. He was 7-8 on kicks of 40-yards plus last season including 2-2 from 50 yards or more. But he had just over a 53 percent touchback rate on kickoffs the last two years.

3. Jets support Darnold with protection and weapons

New York GM Joe Douglas earned some kudos for the way he put help around QB Sam Darnold with OT Mekhi Becton, WR Denzel Mims and complementary RB La'Mical Perine.

Even backup QB James Morgan can assist Darnold in the quarterback room every week and has a similar arm to Darnold, so if the franchise QB succumbs to injury, the offense wouldn't have to change much to accommodate Morgan.

Even OL Cameron Clarke in the fourth round could be a starting guard by 2021.

4. Pats' tight end picks made a lot of sense

New England's selections for the offensive side of the ball proved to be pretty astute. They desperately needed tight end depth behind incumbent starter Matt LaCosse. TE Devin Asiasi is a vertical seam stretcher in the passing game and will provide Jarrett Stidham with a reliable target in the middle of the field to pair with Julian Edelman.

Fellow third-round pick Dalton Keene is more of an H-back type, but could be a versatile role player for New England's offense as a move tight end, fullback or in-line player if he can improve his strength at the point of attack.

5. Did Jets do enough on defense?

Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams did more with less last season, but was he given enough reinforcements in the draft?

New York arguably had to come out of the 2020 draft with two starting-caliber cornerbacks and may have only come away with one in fifth-round pick Bryce Hall.

The Jets curiously chose S Ashtyn Davis in round three when cornerbacks like Cam Dantzler, Darnay Holmes, Troy Pride and Reggie Robinson were all on the board.

Jabari Zuniga looks like a good tools player for the pass rush and may prompt the Jets to play more 4-3 defensive front so he can be a three-down player.

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