By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The New England Patriots were sifting through potential picks when the Los Angeles Chargers came calling one pick before the Patriots’ scheduled selection at No. 23 overall, prompting the Patriots to opt out of the first round in favor of a second- and third-round selection.
What the trade means for the Patriots remains to be seen, of course, and won’t be known until the Patriots use that No. 37 overall pick to draft a guy they seemingly believed would be there at No. 23. (And that’s assuming that the Patriots choose not to trade down once again, which is absolutely not a certainty given this team.)
But with the AFC East no longer a certainty for the Patriots given some of their offseason departures and draft picks yet to slot in the numerous vacancies on this New England roster, it’s probably worth actually paying attention to what the Patriots’ AFC East brothers did with their four total picks from their virtual war rooms.
Here’s what the rest of the AFC East did on the first night of the 2020 NFL Draft…
Much like the Patriots, the upstart Bills enjoyed the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft as spectators.
Unlike the Patriots, however, the Bills began the night without a first-round pick to their name, as Buffalo shipped their 2020 first-round pick to Minnesota as part of the trade package for star wideout Stefon Diggs earlier this offseason.
The 26-year-old heads to Orchard Park after a career-high 1,130 receiving yards and 75.3 yards per game with the Vikings last year. Diggs totaled 365 catches for 4,623 yards and 30 touchdowns in 70 games during a five-year run in Minnesota.
Barring a trade-up higher into the second round, the Bills will not have a pick until the 54th overall pick on Friday night.
The only team with three first-round picks to their name, the Dolphins began their night with the drafting of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the No. 5 overall pick, which made him the second quarterback selected this season (Cincinnati took Joe Burrow with the first overall pick). It’s been long-believed that the lefty will successfully recover from the major hip injury that ended his final season with the Crimson Tide and return to form (he was also given an excellent medical), and Dolphins executives were reportedly comfortable with T.T. at No. 5 overall.
Tagovailoa turns pro after a collegiate career that included 7,442 passing yards and 87 passing touchdowns in 32 games. He enters a Miami quarterback competition with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen. Poor Rosen, by the way. This was the second straight year his team used their top pick on a quarterback. Rosen was drafted 10th overall in 2018, but is now probably the third quarterback on the Dolphins’ depth chart. Life comes at you fast.
Back on the clock with the No. 18 overall pick (the Dolphins acquired this pick from the Steelers in the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade), the Dolphins decided to get Tagovailoa some help with the selection of offensive tackle Austin Jackson from USC. A 6-foot-5 tackle, Jackson is considered a bit of a project (“raw” seems to be the word you find on most scouting reports), but he does hit the pro ranks after being named to the First-Team All-Pac-12 squad in 2019.
But it really wouldn’t be a Miami first round without Brian Flores getting his hands on some defensive help, and he got exactly that in the team’s third and final pick of the round with the selection of Auburn’s Noah Igbinoghene. A wideout-turned-corner, Igbinoghene totaled 92 tackles, 18 passes defended, and one interception over his final two seasons.
It may be a bit of a puzzling pick when you consider what the Dolphins already have committed at the corner position with the one-two of Xavien Howard and $82.5 million free agent addition Byron Jones, but that depth will allow the Dolphins to be plenty patient with a high-end prospect who will need to learn the nuances of playing cornerback at the highest level.
The Dolphins will continue their high-end load-up of tomorrow with two second-round picks, too.
New York Jets
On the clock at No. 11 overall, the Jets focused on shoring up their offensive line, and did that with the drafting of Louisville’s Mekhi Becton. At a monstrous 6-foot-7 and over 360 pounds, Becton will be tasked with protecting New York franchise quarterback Sam Darnold’s blindside after a 2019 season that saw Gotham surrender the second-most sacks in football.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.