AFC East Post-Draft Power Rankings: Patriots make good strides, but not enough

Drake Maye has New England optimistic heading into the future.
Apr 26, 2024; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Drake Maye speaks to media on
Apr 26, 2024; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Drake Maye speaks to media on / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The ink is barely dry from the New York Jets' selection of "Mr. Irrelevant" as the final pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, but it's never too early to look at where everyone in the AFC East stands heading into the 2024 season.

The Patriots have their work cut out for them in the division, but there's reason to believe they will be back in the mix sooner rather than later. Here are the power rankings taking into account draft performances for each team:

Post 2024 NFL Draft power rankings: AFC East

1. Buffalo Bills 

The Bills looked dead to rights last season at 6-6 before reeling off five consecutive wins to close the season and win their fourth-consecutive AFC East title. After losing wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis, Buffalo made a big swing by drafting Florida State's Keon Coleman at the top of the second round (pick 33).

They also addressed a big need on the defensive line by selecting Duke DT DeWayne Carter in the third round (pick 95). Running back depth was also a big necessity for Buffalo, and Kentucky's Ray Davis (round 4, pick 128) will look to fill that void along with undrafted free agent signing Frank Gore, Jr.

It may be a new-look roster, but Josh Allen is still the captain of the ship and is poised to help Buffalo maintain its stranglehold on the AFC East.

2. Miami Dolphins

While Buffalo went one way, Miami went the other to close the 2023 season. It appeared the Dolphins were set to take the AFC East throne away from the Bills, but injuries derailed their season as they wobbled to the finish line.

Miami closed the year with a humbling 56-19 loss to Baltimore, followed by a 21-14 heartbreaker to Buffalo that gave the Bills the tiebreaker for the division title. The Dolphins failed to address the loss of defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, but they did use their first-round pick (No. 21) on Penn State edge Chop Robinson and added another edge in the fifth round (pick 158) in Colorado State’s Mohamed Kamara.

They also added a needed offensive lineman in the second round (pick 55) with Houston’s Patrick Paul.

Will Mike McDaniel’s offense regain its peak form in 2024? One would assume so, but the Dolphins’ 40 combined points in their final three games (including a 26-7 Wild Card loss to Kansas City) is cause for concern in an ever-improving division.

3. New York Jets

The Jets’ 2023 campaign didn’t go as planned, to say the least. They lost Aaron Rodgers after just four plays and faded into being a similar Jets’ team that has lived towards the top of the draft for the last decade. They still managed to win three of their last five games en route to a 7-10 record, and there is reason to believe Rodgers’ return will help them win a few more.

New York looked to the draft to help bolster Rodgers’ surroundings, selecting Penn State offensive tackle Olumuyiwa Fashanu with the 11th overall pick and adding Western Kentucky wide receiver Malachi Corley with the first pick of the third round (No. 65 overall).

An intriguing pick of Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis in the fifth round (pick 171) could potentially keep the Jets in position to compete in a division loaded with talented QBs, but 2024 should be Rodgers’ season, barring another travesty.

How good can the Jets be this year? It’s going to be tough to earn a coveted spot in the top half of the division and compete for a wild card spot in the playoffs.

4. New England Patriots

While the Patriots got their quarterback of the future in Drake Maye with the No. 3 overall pick and addressed virtually every other need in the draft, it’s going to take a little bit of time to turn the franchise around from a 4-13 season in 2023 and into AFC East contenders, especially considering the competition within the division.

Wide receivers Ja'Lynn Polk from Washington (round 2, pick 37) and Javon Baker from UCF (round 4, pick 110) are two young weapons to help Maye ease into the Pats’ leadership role. Offensive linemen Caedan Wallace (Penn State - round 3, pick 68) and Layden Robinson (Texas A&M – round 4, pick 103) will lay the groundwork for bolstered protection up front.

Add in Florida State Swiss army knife tight end Jaheim Bell (round 7, pick 231), and Patriots Nation has many reasons to be excited about the future of the franchise.

While these power rankings might not be what Patriots fans want to see, there is no need to fret. First and foremost, the NFL is a quarterbacks’ league. And New England may just have a guy competing for the top quarterback spot in the division within the next five years.

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