2020 NFL Offseason Team Needs: AFC East

Will we finally see a new team atop the AFC East in 2020?

Tom Brady’s decision as to where he’ll play this upcoming season will likely play a large role in determining the Patriots’ success moving forward, and with the Bills winning 10 games and making the playoffs last season, we may have finally reached the end of New England’s dynasty and two-decade run of dominating the AFC East.

The position of quarterback in general will be interesting to watch this offseason and into the 2020 season. You’ve got uncertainty at the position in both New England and Miami, and while the Jets hope Sam Darnold can continue to build on the flashes he’s shown over the last two years, the Bills will look for Josh Allen to become a more complete player at the position – mainly when it comes to making big-time throws at critical points in games… prime example being last year’s playoff loss.

However, there are plenty of positions of need regardless of which team you’re talking about when it comes to the AFC East, so let’s take a look at my top need for each team this offseason.

In case you missed any of the divisions we’ve previously covered, check them out here…

AFC South
NFC South
AFC North

NFC North

New England Patriots
12-4, 1st place AFC East
Lost Wild Card Weekend
First pick in 2020 NFL Draft: Round 1, Pick 23

Biggest Need: Quarterback

Even if Brady returns to the Patriots this season, the position of quarterback is still one of the team’s most pressing needs. The only thing that really changes if Brady returns to New England is how the team will likely acquire its next QB. If Brady returns, expect the Patriots to address the position in the draft. If Brady leaves via free agency, then I anticipate the Patriots snagging a remaining free-agent quarterback while still potentially addressing the position in the draft as well. Picking a quarterback this year won’t be like when the team used high draft picks on the likes of Ryan Mallett or Jimmy Garoppolo due to the fact that Brady is truly at the end of his career this time around – so you can expect any QB drafted to be in New England for the long haul and competing to be Brady’s successor.

Top Free Agents: Dak Prescott, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Ryan Tannehill, Philip Rivers

Top NFL Draft Prospects: Joe Burrow (LSU), Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama), Justin Herbert (Oregon), Jordan Love (Utah St.), Jacob Eason (Washington)

jordan love

Buffalo Bills
10-6, 2nd place AFC East
Lost Wild Card Weekend
First pick in 2020 NFL Draft: Round 1, Pick 22

Biggest Need: Linebacker

I’m not sure how common of a selection this will be, but I think Buffalo would benefit greatly by adding another playmaker at linebacker. The Bills weren’t terrible statistically against the run last year (10th in rushing yards allowed per game), but if you had to point out a weak spot on the defense it would be stopping the run as the team had a few games they got toasted on the ground in 2019. The good news for Buffalo is that it may be in a perfect spot to address the LB position in the first round of April’s draft, if the Bills choose to go that direction. Isaiah Simmons will be off the board, but there’s a chance they could land either Kenneth Murray or Patrick Queen, two other prospects with first-round grades, with the 22nd-overall pick.

Top Free Agents: Cory Littleton, Joe Schobert, Blake Martinez, Nigel Bradham, Nick Vigil

Top NFL Draft Prospects: Isaiah Simmons (Clemson), Kenneth Murray (Oklahoma), Patrick Queen (LSU), Zack Baun (Wisconsin), Akeem Davis-Gaither (Appalachian St.)

kenneth murray

New York Jets
7-9, 3rd place AFC East
First pick in 2020 NFL Draft: Round 1, Pick 11

Biggest Need: Offensive Line

Jets fans received a tease the weekend of the NFC Combine as reports surfaced that the team was expected to sign Jack Conklin once free agency begins. However, updated reports quickly rebuffed the original news regarding Conklin, and now it appears that the Jets will be missing out on one of this year’s most coveted free-agent offensive lineman. The silver lining? Holding the 11th-overall selection in the NFL puts the Jets in an opportune position to select one of the draft’s best lineman if they agree that offensive line is a top priority to address. No team has less money invested in its offensive line heading into the 2020 season than the New York Jets, so don’t be surprised to see the team make moves in both free agency and the draft when it comes time to addressing the line.

Top Free Agents: Anthony Castonzo, Jack Conklin, Andrew Whitworth, Jason Peters, Bryan Bulaga

Top NFL Draft Prospects: Jedrick Wills (Alabama), Andrew Thomas (Georgia), Tristan Wirfs (Iowa), Mekhi Becton (Louisville), Josh Jones (Houston)

jack conklin

Miami Dolphins
5-11, 4th place AFC East
First pick in 2020 NFL Draft: Round 1, Pick 5

Biggest Need: Quarterback

The worst kept secret in the NFL is that the Dolphins will be selecting a quarterback in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. While it appears Ryan Fitzpatrick will begin the season as the team’s starter, whoever the team drafts in the first round this year will become the face of the franchise – likely sooner rather than later. Reports regarding the team’s preference at QB are all over the board right now – try to make your way through all the smoke surrounding this situation – but I ultimately feel that if the team wants to make a move for Tua Tagovailoa, they’ll have to trade up to either No. 2 or 3. It’s pretty safe to assume Miami will utilize the draft to address this most glaring need, so expect Justin Herbert, Jordan Love or Tagovailoa to be the new face of the franchise following the draft’s first round.

Top Free Agents: Dak Prescott, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Ryan Tannehill, Philip Rivers

Top NFL Draft Prospects: Joe Burrow (LSU), Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama), Justin Herbert (Oregon), Jordan Love (Utah St.), Jacob Eason (Washington)

tua tagovailoa

Check out our NFL Draft related podcasts:
Top 2020 NFL Draft WR’s
Top 2020 NFL Draft Edge Rushers
Las Vegas Raiders Draft Preview

Ben Morgan is a co-host and blogger for the Loaded Box Podcast. Check out his article archive and find more from the Loaded Box on Twitter & Facebook

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