Examining the 2008-12 Draft Success of AFC East Teams

Were the Jets the Most Successful Drafting Team in the AFC East Between 2008-2012?

Yes, if you look at pure percentages. The Jets are the only team in the AFC East that still has more 50 percent of their players drafted between 2008-2012 on their current roster.

That said, the Jets have only had 27 draft picks over the five seasons used in the study. The team traded picks for veterans like Kris Jenkins, Brett Favre, Antonio Cromartie, Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards. They also traded picks to move up for players like Mark Sanchez and Shonn Greene, neither of which panned out as the Jets had hoped.

Are the Jets truly the best drafting team in the division? Absolutely not. The team has not drafted a single Pro Bowl player over the last five seasons, and the team’s 15 draftees still on roster is lowest among all AFC East teams. The team also does not have any players remaining on their roster from the 2008 draft.

If I were to pick one team in the division with the bleakest future, the Jets would probably be my choice. The team has plenty of question marks across the board.

Were the Bills the Most Successful Drafting Team in the AFC East Between 2008-2012?

No. Among their division foes, the Bills have had the best opportunity to add talent to their roster via the draft. The Bills drafted within the first 11 picks every year from 2008-2012. What does the team have to show for their first round picks?

The team drafted one colossal bust, Aaron Maybin.

Leodis McKelvin recently resigned with the Bills for four more seasons, but he has not developed into the No. 1 cornerback that the team had hoped for.

Eric Wood has played very well at center, but he’s had trouble staying healthy during his Bills career.

Running back C.J. Spiller looks as though he’s ready to emerge as a superstar, but he has been underutilized in his short career.

Defensive lineman Marcell Dareus had a good rookie season, but his 2012 season did not follow. The death of his brother was understandably on his mind last season.

Stephon Gilmore will be the team’s first cornerback in 2013, and while he had an encouraging rookie season, the verdict is still out on him.

Buffalo should be commended for tying the Patriots for most draft picks still on their roster during this stretch, but a team that has consistently finished last hasn’t added enough talent to get out of the AFC East’s basement to this point.

Were the Dolphins the Most Successful Drafting Team in the AFC East Between 2008-2012?

The verdict is still out. If the 2012 draft class pans out and Ryan Tannehill becomes a franchise quarterback, then they deserve that recognition. When a team finds a franchise quarterback in the draft, they are set at the most important position on the roster, often for at least a decade.

But until we know how that class will pan out, the answer is no. The Dolphins have no members remaining from their 2008 NFL Draft class. Jake Long, the No. 1 overall pick in 2008, was their only Pro Bowl draftee between 2008-2012. No one should bash the selection of Long as he was a Pro Bowl offensive tackle, but the fact that he’s no longer with the team shows it was the wrong move. There’s no telling where the Dolphins would be if they selected Matt Ryan to be their franchise quarterback, but something tells me they’d already be vying for the division on a yearly basis with the Patriots.

The team itself has added some valuable pieces in the draft, but for the time being they are not the top drafting team in the AFC East.

Were the Patriots the Most Successful Drafting Team in the AFC East Between 2008-2012?

If I had to choose one team as most successful, it’d be the Patriots.

One could argue the fact that the Patriots had more picks than any other team in the division, and they’d have a point. The Tom Brady factor should also be considered. The Patriots were the only team in the division to have a franchise quarterback over the five seasons. Until Brady shows a decline in his play, the Patriots will compete in the AFC East regardless of their draft classes.

Why do I consider the Patriots the most successful drafting team in the AFC East between 2008-2012? The amount of talent the team added. New England added the most Pro Bowlers to their team with four.

Jerod Mayo has 648 total tackles in five years, 430 of which are solo tackles. He’s an impact linebacker.

Matthew Slater made the Pro Bowl as a special teams player, but he deserves praise as he is one of the league’s best special teams players.

Devin McCourty, who moved to free safety midway through the 2012 season, has also been rated as a top-10 cornerback twice in his three seasons (seventh in 2010 and eighth in 2012) according Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

Rob Gronkowski has emerged as one of the NFL’s top tight ends. He is an absolute game-changer of a player who was rated as Pro Football Focus’ top tight end in 2011 and 2012 (subscription required).

Another tight end from the 2010 NFL draft, Aaron Hernandez, also played a pivotal role with the Patriots the last three seasons. The Patriots recently released Hernandez (rightfully so) due to his current legal issues, but Hernandez was an important cog in New England’s offense between 2010-2012.

The Patriots also added two outstanding offensive tackles in Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer, and got two talented running backs from the 2011 draft in Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley.

2010 second-round pick Brandon Spikes has been a key addition to the Patriots defense at middle linebacker. Their first two draft selections of 2012, Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower, accounted for 10 total sacks in their rookie seasons.

There’s no denying that the Patriots had their fair share of duds among early draft selections, especially in 2008 and 2009, but overall, the Patriots have done the best job of drafting in the AFC East between 2008-2012.

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Tags: AFC East, Draft History, NFL Draft

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