The AFC East is always a competitive division, with all four teams playing each other hard every single game. Last year, after starting 0-5 in the division, the Miami Dolphins, sitting with a 5-11 season record heading into the final week of the year, beat the division champion New England Patriots, continuing the recent streak of the two teams splitting the season series. That is just how this division works.
It also means, whenever things happen, there is always a competition between the fans of each of the teams. Last year, when the Buffalo Bills signed tight end Charles Clay to an offer sheet, one that Miami could not match, the Bills won that battle and the fans made sure Miami fans knew it. When Chad Pennington was released from the Jets in 2008, he signed with the Dolphins and lead the team to an 11-5 record and their first and only Playoff appearance since 2001, and Dolphins fans remind Jets fans of the success of "CP10." When the Patriots forced Miami to trade them Wes Welker, who went on to become a Pro Bowl receiver, Dolphins fans were hurt while New England celebrated.
The rivalry is real and fans use an excuse to brag.
Unfortunately for the other three teams in the division, the Bills have the newest reason to gloat. According to SB Nation's NFL Draft grades from this weekend, Buffalo came away with the top performance in the league's annual selection meeting. Buffalo scored an A- grade for the selections of Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson, Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland, Ohio State defensive tackle Adolphus Washington, Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, Arkansas running back Jonathan Williams, TCU wide receiver Kolby Listenbee, and USC cornerback Kevon Seymour.
The Dolphins were second in the division, coming away with a B- grade. Miami picked Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, Baylor cornerback Xavien Howard, Alabama running back Kenyan Drake, Rutgers wide receiver Leonte Carroo, Texas Tech wide receiver Jakeem Grant, Penn State safety Jordan Lucas, Western Kentucky quarterback, and UCLA tight end Thomas Duarte, during the three-day Draft. Dan Kadar explains the B- grade:
When offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil dropped in the draft, the Dolphins pounced. He may start his career inside at guard, but if his off-field stuff isn't an issue, he can be a star. The Dolphins had to get a cornerback early, and did with Xavien Howard in the second round. He's inconsistent, but has size and pure ability. The same can be said for third-round pick Kenyan Drake. He can do a lot of different things, but has trouble holding onto the ball. Carroo at times looked like a future No. 1 wide out at Rutgers, but they had poor quarterback play and he had some off-field issues. The Dolphins got a burner in Grant in the sixth round. He's a touchdown waiting to happen on special teams.
The Patriots and Jets tied for third in the division grades, each with a C from SB Nation. New England's draft included selections of Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones, North Carolina State offensive tackle Joe Thuney, North Carolina State quarterback Jacoby Brissett, Nebraska defensive tackle Vincent Valentine, Georgia wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, Eastern Illinois safety Kamu Grugier-Hill, Houston linebacker Elandon Roberts, Illinois guard Ted Karras, and Arizona State wide receiver Devin Lucien.
The Jets picked Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee, Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg, Georgia linebacker Jordan Jenkins, North Carolina State cornerback Juston Burris, South Carolina tackle Brandon Shell, Sam Houston State punter Lac Edwards, and Clemson wide receiver Charone Peake.
The next set of bragging rights will be based on actual, on-field events when the four teams start their annual home-and-home division rivalry games. Until then, the Bills appear to have an early edge on the rest of the division.