The 2018 NFL Draft has the perfect makeup for those in the AFC East chasing the New England Patriots.
Each year the sustainability of the Patriots is questioned as Tom Brady continues to age, but nothing ever changes. New England wins the division and it’s rarely ever that much in doubt.
Since 2001, the year New England won its first of five Super Bowls over the last 17 seasons, the Patriots have claimed all but two AFC East Championships – and one of those seasons Brady was lost to a week-one knee injury. That stretch also includes eight Super Bowl appearances, 16 double-digit win seasons and an overall record of 209-63. Easily the best in the NFL over this time period.
This year’s draft class for quarterbacks, while unproven and viewed by many as high-ceiling prospects, is loaded with potential when it comes to selecting the next franchise-changing signal caller. Hence one of the main reasons the Bills, Jets and Dolphins should spend their first-round picks on a quarterback.
Let’s go back to the idea of Brady and the Patriots dominating the rest of the division. Brady will be 41 years old by the time the 2018 season starts, and despite the fact he hasn’t shown signs of slowing down, at some point age has to catch up with him, right? Right????
Keep in mind that Peyton Manning threw for an NFL-record 55 touchdowns in 2015 before retiring just two years later after showcasing a noodle arm in his final season with just nine touchdown passes.
With that being said, if the three remaining AFC East teams are able to land their future quarterback in this year’s draft, they may be in a very opportune position to compete in a highly-contested division in just a couple of years as they settle into their position while Brady prepares for his trip to Canton, Ohio.
The Jets have already made their intentions known, trading up to the No. 3 overall pick following their deal with the Indianapolis Colts. This move is a little puzzling since both Cleveland and the New York Giants, the two teams picking ahead of the Jets, could both likely select a quarterback. With this being common knowledge, the Jets must either think their desired selection will fall to No. 3, or they at least want to make sure they land one of the top-three quarterbacks and not have to worry about another team jumping ahead of them and picking a quarterback.
On the other hand, the Bills and Dolphins may have some work to do if they want to select one of the draft’s top-tier quarterbacks.
The 2018 draft class likely has five quarterbacks that will go in the first round including USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, Wyoming’s Josh Allen and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson. If you want to throw in a sixth, the most likely bet would be Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph.
Now when you look at the teams in the market for one of these top prospects you have a pretty extensive list. You could make a pretty strong case for the Browns, Giants, Jets, Broncos, Dolphins, Bills and Cardinals to all be in the market to draft a quarterback, so all eyes will be on these teams this offseason to see if they pull the trigger on a pre-draft trade like the Jets, or wait and see how things shake out come draft day.
Could the Dolphins and Bills stay at their current draft positions – Nos. 11 & 12 – and select a quarterback? Sure.
But this is the year for both of these teams to join the Jets and attempt to make a move to get the guy they believe is the next leader of the franchise.
The Bills have already been rumored to have been interested in the Colts’ No. 3 overall selection prior to the Jets trading for it, so you know they have quarterback very high on their list of priorities heading into the draft. Buffalo also holds two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and two third-round picks in this year’s draft, so they have plenty of ammo to get a deal done and land their next franchise quarterback.
Whereas the Dolphins have been linked to multiple quarterbacks during the NFL Combine, most notably Rosen and Mayfield; and soon face the decision of whether or not Ryan Tannehill is going to be the long-term solution at the position. The issue here is that the Dolphins have been wondering if Tannehill is the answer for multiple years now, and with his recent string of knee injuries, this is the ideal time for Miami to select a quarterback early in the draft and have him develop a year behind Tannehill who turns 30 prior to the start of the 2018 NFL season.
Whether or not any of these prospects turn out to be can’t-miss, franchise-leading quarterbacks is impossible to know, but the potential of these prospects is too high for any of these three teams to pass as the window to compete in the AFC East begins to open.
Check out the latest episode of the Loaded Box Podcast as the guys discuss the offseason in the AFC North and breakdown the Kapowski vs. Topanga championship matchup from the Barely 18, Sweet 16 March Madness Bracket.