Last week, we started to unveil our preseason All-Division teams. They were compiled largely by a panel of one, though there was significant input from the writing and editorial staff at after I took an initial run at the rosters on my own. 

We began last week with the NFC, going through each of the NFC East, NFC North, NFC South, and NFC West. This week, it’s on to the AFC, with the divisions going in the same order (East-North-South-West). So today we start with the AFC East.

Offensive skill positions

QB: Cam Newton (NE)

RB: Le’Veon Bell (NYJ), [Insert Patriots RB] (NE)

WR: Stefon Diggs (BUF), DeVante Parker (MIA), Julian Edelman (NE)

TE: Mike Gesicki (MIA), Chris Herndon (NYJ)

You will absolutely not catch me predicting that Josh Allen or Sam Darnold will be better than Cam Newton when he gets Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels scheming him into position to succeed. All reports out of Patriots camp are that Cam looks great, and we know he has MVP-level talent. Health permitting, he will be the best quarterback in this division. 

Running back is where things start to get rough. Jordan Howard and Matt Breida seem likely to end up in a true time share. Same with Devin Singletary and Zack Moss, who is also getting good reviews out of camp. Bell was a disaster last season, but perhaps the Jets’ offensive line upgrades will get him back on track. He seems like the only back in the division who is a sure bet to reach even 200 carries. And then you can pretty much take your pick of the Patriots running backs. Who will be the best out of James White, Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris, and Sony Michel? Probably not Michel, given the injury reports we’ve seen during camp. White seems to have the most secure role as the pass-catching back, but teams also know the Patriots are passing more often than not when he’s out there. Burkhead brings versatility but has never really been able to stay healthy. Harris couldn’t get on the field last year, but is getting great reviews from camp. I suppose my bet would be on White, just because we know what he’s going to do. But it’s up in the air. 

Diggs is pretty clearly the best receiver in the division. But if he didn’t like Kirk Cousins ignoring him on deep shots down the field, he might like Allen over- or under-throwing him even less. Allen has a huge arm, but has been incredibly inaccurate so far. Still, Diggs is talented enough that he pretty much laps the field here. Parker finally had the breakout campaign so many had been predicting for him, and he enters this season as the clear top option on the Miami offense. None of the other New England receivers really distinguish themselves and the pecking order in New York is unclear, so Edelman gets the last wideout spot. Gesicki had a nice stretch run last season, and his ability to line up out wide and in the slot makes him a dangerous weapon. Herndon looked like he was ready for a big season last year, only to have it foiled by a suspension and then an injury. He’ll get another chance at it now. 

Offensive line

OT: Dion Dawkins (BUF), Isaiah Wynn (NE)

G: Joe Thuney (NE), Shaq Mason (NE)

C: Mitch Morse (BUF)

Dawkins has developed into a solidly above-average starting tackle, and is deserving of a spot on this team either way, but the tackle crop in this division is … not good. Wynn looked like a player in eight games last season, but he has also only played eight games in two years so it’s tough to put all that much stock in what we’ve seen. Thuney and Mason might be the best guard duo in the league. Thuney is playing on the franchise tag this year and could be in line for a big deal next offseason, cap issues permitting, while Mason continues to be one of the NFL’s best guards. Morse was an average-ish center during his time in Kansas City, but he has been a bit better than that in his two years in Buffalo. 

Defensive front

EDGE: Jerry Hughes (BUF), Chase Winovich (NE)

IDL: Ed Oliver (BUF), Steve McLendon (NYJ)

LB: Avery Williamson (NYJ), Kyle Van Noy (MIA), Tremaine Edmunds (BUF)

Two of the better pass rushers in this division changed teams within the division this offseason. One of them (Van Noy) is making this team as a linebacker because that’s his nominal position, but he has the ability to work as everything from an ILB to an edge rusher and even an interior lineman. The other, Shaq Lawson, isn’t quite as good as former teammate Hughes, though Hughes is coming off a year where he didn’t turn as many of his pressures into sacks as he usually does. Winovich, meanwhile, looks like a rising stud, and with all the changes in New England this offseason, could end up with far more opportunities in 2020. 

McLendon just keeps trucking along as a really solid interior player. He’s had himself a nice career, and with the Jets hemorrhaging talent on defense due to trades (Jamal Adams) and opt outs (C.J. Mosley), he should be one of the best players on that unit. Oliver had a solid if unspectacular rookie campaign, but the elite level talent that made him a top-10 pick is still there and I expect Sean McDermott to unlock it sooner rather than later. 

Williamson returned to practice earlier this week and while it might be a risk to take a player who missed all of last season, he’s a damn good player and he deserves it. Edmunds, hilariously, is still only 22 years old heading into his third season. He’s going to be good for a really long time. 

Defensive backfield

CB: Stephon Gilmore (NE), Tre’Davious White (BUF), Byron Jones (MIA)

SAF: Devin McCourty (NE), Micah Hyde (BUF)

Now we’re cooking with gas. This cornerback group is ridiculous. Gilmore might be the best corner in the league right now. White might be second-best. These guys simply do not get beat, and they erase their opponent on a weekly basis. Jones has similarly shown top-10 type of talent, and in Dallas the opposition almost never threw his way. In a more aggressive system, he should be able to play more press man, and to go after more picks and deflections. 

McCourty is the quintessential do-it-all safety, the backbone of this New England defense for years. He has not shown many signs of slowing down, and we don’t expect him to backslide this year. Hyde has become a much better player in Buffalo than he ever was in Green Bay — a quality starter year in and year out. His development is part of what has helped the Buffalo defense turn a corner. 


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