AFC East: Defensive Line
Now that we are done with the offense, we go to the defensive side of the ball, starting with the line.
4) New England Patriots
In the 1st round, the Patriots drafted Dominique Easley from that school that produces only busts. The big headscratcher was that Easley is coming off a couple of knee surgeries and has had trouble staying healthy; plus whenever he did play, he was turrible. To add on, Vince Wilfork, their starting DT, is recovering from an Achilles injury and there are questions about him too. The interior of the Pats d-line is godawful, maybe their ends are better? Think again! Their star defensive end is Chandler Jones, who according to one Pats expert is the most overrated player in the NFL. Ninkovich is an alright pass rusher and he could hold his own on one end. Backing both those guys up is Will Smith and I assume his son. Overall, the Patriots’ front four is not that great, and they really didn’t upgrade it in the offseason.
3) Miami Dolphins
Last year, the Fins traded up to #3 and get special teams ace Dion Jordan. He was a project coming to the NFL and hardly got much playing time. The good news is when he was playing, he did a very good job covering tight ends. Now the hope is he will develop as a pass rusher and help getting to the QB. At the DE position with Jordan is Cameron Wake, who is still legit (especially with extra O2 tanks), and Oliver Vernon, who broke out last year with a 11.5 sacks. On the interior, they have a threesome of Earl Mitchell, Randy Starks and Jason Odrick, all above-average players. The Dolphins have a good front four, though they do struggle against the run. The reason they aren’t ranked higher has more to do with the teams above them being so much better.
2) The Buffalo Bills
Last year the Bills had three guys with 10+ sacks on their defensive line, those being Jerry Hughes, Super Mario Williams and Kyle “Meatball” Williams. Those three give the Bills a pretty good group that causes mayhem for opposing offensive lines. The guy who makes the group elite is Marcell Dareus, who is a dominating presence in the interior and one of the better defensive tackles in the game. The problem is that Dareus is kind of a knucklehead, and has done a lot of unwise things in the offseason, such as drag racing and getting caught with some drugs in Alabama. Those kind of actions are the reason why he will be suspended for at least the first four games (unless he is Marshawn Lynch, who apparently will never get suspended for a crime just as bad). That reason alone is why the Bills aren’t #1; the other reason is they lack depth at the end position with only Jerry Hughes, Mario Williams and Manny Lawson, who I still doubt will play end full-time. While the Bills have one of the best defensive lines in the game, the thing keeping them from #1 is Dareus possibly missing the first part of the season.
1) New York Jets
To the shock of some on here, I have the Jets ranked as the best defensive line in the AFC East. Leading the group is Muhammad Wilkerson, who is underrated at his position. Next up is Sheldon Richardson, who for some reason beat out a legend for Rookie of the Year. Those two guys, along with a guy named Snacks gives the Jets a ferocious trio that lets no one pass. Last year they finished 1st in yards allowed per attempt and 3rd in rushing yards allowed per game. What is really good about the Jets line is they are able to cause havoc with just their front four, and when they blitz, it causes mass doom; look at Brady whenever he plays the Jets. Overall the Jets have two young dominant guys in Wilk and Sheldon who can only get better, and in Sheldon’s case can play offense too.