The 2022 NFL Draft hasn’t happened yet, but I figured let’s take a look at the current state of our division. The Bills were aggressive in free agency as were the Miami Dolphins. The New York Jets were somewhat quiet in free agency but they are primed to add talent in the upcoming draft. As of right now, the Jets hold picks #4 and #10 in RD 1, picks #35 and #38 in RD 2, #69 in RD3, two 4th RD picks #111 and #117 and two in RD 5, #146 and #163. So four picks in the top 40, and then an additional 2 picks each in round 4 and 5. The Patriots have a pretty standard draft selection available with one pick each through the first 5 rounds and then one additional 6th rounder for 7 total picks. The Patriots pick in RD 1 #21, #54 in RD 2, #85 in RD 3, #127 in RD 4, #170 in RD 5, and then 2 picks in RD 6 at #200 and #210. The Bills have 8 selections in the 2022 Draft, two in RD 6, and one in each other round, RD 1 #25, RD 2 #57, RD 3 #89, RD 4 #130, RD 5 #168, in RD 6 2 selections at #185 and #203, and in RD 7 #231. The Dolphins as we all know sent two of our top picks RD1 and RD 2 to KC for the services of one Tyreek Hill, WR.
The Bills struck first in free agency with a big move for their defense, acquiring Von Miller formerly of the SB Champion LA Rams. I was a little surprised that Miller left the Rams, but he did go to the AFC super bowl favorite Buffalo Bills. Miller signed a 6YR/$120M deal. The Bills aren’t the unanimous favorite, but they are among the favorites. The Bills added depth at QB behind Josh Allen trading for Case Keenum and signing Matt Barkley, They added a very good slot receiver in Jamison Crowder, a solid OG in Roger Saffold, a pretty good TE although an underachieving one in O.J. Howard. The Bills also brought back former Bill and former Dolphins DT Jordan Phillips. They added Dolphins fave RB Duke Johnson for depth, as well as former Dolphins C Greg Mancz. The Bills are definitely an elite team as currently constituted, we’ll see if their draft can put them over the top.
The Patriots were not big spenders in free agency this year. Last year, uncharacteristically they were very aggressive but have settled back into just filling depth, and not going for the high ticket players. They brought in RB/WR Ty Montgomery from the Saints and re-signed their own RB James White. They did also re-sign OT Trent Brown. They added QB Brian Hoyer as a backup for Mac Jones. They re-signed S Devin McCourty and added FA CB Malcolm Butler from the Cards. There were a few mor low key signings as well, and due to BB being the HC and GM, the Patriots are still ranked as one of the better AFC teams, usually ranked higher than our own Dolphins.
The Jets fortified their O-line by signing OG Laken Tomlinson (who I really wanted!) early in free agency. They signed TE C.J. Ozumah who showed promise last year for the Bengals. They re-signed WR/KR/PR Braxton Berrios (Another player coveted by FU bloggers). Theyt also brought in another TE, former Vikes TE Tyler Conklin. They re-signed all purpose RB Tevin Coleman and brought back flash in the pan QB Mike White as well as long in the tooth QB Joe Flacco. Their big move was Tomlinson but their fireworks will be in the draft.
So right now, the Bills, who already had one of the best teams in the AFC got stronger on defense by adding one of the best pass rushers in the game in Von Miller. The Bills also have 8 picks in this draft. The Jets are definitely going to add lots of high ranked prospects from the draft having 4 picks in the top 40 picks. The Patriots while not having a reputation of drafting especially well, and this year received ZERO compensatory picks, no doubt due to their free agent spending spree of 2021, still have 7 picks and the rest of free agency including post June 1st cuts to improve their team. Our Dolphins are low on picks with just 5, and 2 of those are in RD 7, with the first not coming until RD 3, pick #102. There’s always the possibility of trading up and trading either a player or future assets. I don’t say no to any of those possibilities. The idea is to use assets to acquire players that can help the team now, and in the future. It doesn’t matter to me if we use future assets, we’re ready to compete now, it just accelerates the schedule. If there’s a player we feel will make us better now and in the future, go get him.
We closed the gap on the Bills, but if I’m going to be completely honest, until I see us play a competitive game against them, they are light years ahead of us. We haven’t really belonged on the same playing field with them the last few years, losing every game, including a 35-0 drubbing and an ugly 26-11 defeat last season.In 202, Ryan Fitzpatrick lost a shootout 31-28 and then we all remember the shellacking we took Week 17 with the playoffs on the line for us, 56-26. In 2019 we lost 31-21 and 37-20. You have to go back to November of 2018 where slid past the Bills 21-17, but lost the 2nd meeting Week 17 to start their dominant run, 42-17. We played well against the Patriots and Jets, but those Bills will hinder our playoff chances if we can’t take on from them. Can’t count on sweeping the Pats and Jets every year either. It will be interesting to see how much the Jets improve as they surround their QB with upgrades from the draft. They will almost certainly be selecting a WR and possibly on OL early. They need a pass rusher too and that could also be an early selection. If we want to compete in an ultra competitive AFC with teams like the Bills, Chiefs, Bengals, Titans, Raiders, Broncos and Chargers, and any other upstarts, we’re going to have once again do well in our own division, so at least 4-2 at a minimum.