AFC East Mock Draft: Patriots get their QB at No. 3, Jets add Bowers; Dolphins, Bills go defense

Top talent headed to the AFC East in this division focused NFL Mock Draft

Georgia tight end Brock Bowers
Georgia tight end Brock Bowers / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

How has NFL free agency impacted the needs of AFC East teams entering the 2024 NFL Draft?  The Patriots are still in need of a franchise signal caller, the Jets filled a couple of their needs which could sway them in a different direction with their first-round pick and the Dolphins and Bills have key departures defensively they will be looking to replace in the draft.

There are still some intriguing names available in free agency, but the landscape of the AFC East will take shape with the draft.  How do these teams fill holes of some of the key positions on their squads.  That will be the emphasis of the first round of the draft as the teams will use the rest of the draft to find quality players, add depth and set the tone for their 2024 NFL season.

2024 NFL Mock Draft: AFC East teams add game changers and difference makers on Day 1

Who will each AFC East target in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft?  Here’s a look at each team’s prize target.

Jayden Daniels. . 3. Jayden Daniels. . . 47. NFL Combine. QB, LSU.

The signing of veteran quarterback Jacoby Brissett to a one-year deal confirms the Patriots will be selecting a quarterback with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.  Who that QB will be is the bigger question, but with their position they are assured at least one of the top 3 quarterback prospects in the draft.

With needs in other areas like left tackle and wide receiver, the Patriots will be enticed with trade offers to move back in the draft, but they will ultimately stay pat and select LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels with Drake Maye going No. 2 to the Washington Commanders.


While it may come down to Daniels or Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy, the 2023 Heisman Trophy winner is a dual-threat option at QB who will remind Patriots fans of the quarterback they could’ve drafted in Lamar Jackson.  It is a comparison that isn’t fair for Daniels, but his ability to move the pocket and make plays with his legs will inject some excitement in a Patriots’ offense that didn’t do much to solve their lack of explosive playmakers in free agency.

. 30. 10. NFL Combine. . Brock Bowers. TE, Georgia. . . Brock Bowers

The potential signing of a free agent receiver like Mike Williams and the signing of top free agent left tackle Tyron Smith could allow the Jets to set their attention on other areas of need.  While they can still decide to select one of the top wide receivers in the draft, they will jump at selecting Georgia tight end Brock Bowers who will still be available at No. 10 given the quarterback needs of teams in the top 10.


In surrounding Aaron Rodgers with another playmaker, the Jets will look vastly different in 2024.  With Garrett Wilson and Allen Lazard at receiver and Breece Hall at running back, the Jets would form an interesting tight end duo by selecting Bowers and pairing him up with Tyler Conklin.  With what Bowers can do in the passing game, Rodgers and the Jets will be as dangerous offensively as they are defensively.

DT, Texas. . 59. NFL Combine. Byron Murphy II. . . Byron Murphy II. 21.

The loss of key players like Christian Wilkins, Raekwon Davis and outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel in free agency will obviously turn the Dolphins focus in the draft to the defensive line if the top offensive lineman are off the board at No. 21.

2024 NFL Draft prospect Byron Murphy II
NFL Combine - Byron Murphy II / Todd Rosenberg/GettyImages

While it will be tough for any player to replace Wilkens, the Dolphins select Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy II at No. 21.  A bit undersized for the position, the quickness and ability to create pressure up the middle will fill some of the void left by Wilkens.  The Dolphins would then need to use the rest of the draft and even free agency to strengthen their offensive line. 


Although important, the Dolphins have the offensive firepower to cover up any offensive line deficiencies.  Defensively is where they need to get tougher and Murphy II will provide some of that toughness and give the Dolphins another first round talent to make the loss of Wilkens sting a little bit left.

. Cooper DeJean. CB, Iowa. 29. . Cooper DeJean. . NFL Combine. . 16

*Bills trade No. 28 overall to Green Bay Packers for No. 29 and No. 91*

2024 NFL Draft prospect Cooper Dejean
Iowa CB Cooper DeJean / Matthew Holst/GettyImages

The Bills select the best available player at No. 29 in Iowa cornerback Cooper DeJean.  With the release of Jordan Poyer and CB Tre'Davious White, the Bills will need to fill that void in the secondary, and they will get that with DeJean, a competitive defensive back is who could come in and start right away.

The Bills could potentially have some other key needs as the offseason moves forward, but as of now, the defensive secondary is an area of focus with the offense the Dolphins have and what the Jets are building with the return of Aaron Rodgers.  With his athleticism and instinctiveness, DeJean will be an instant fan favorite in Buffalo and a player who could make some noise in the AFC East.