The Buffalo Bills are the defending champions of the AFC East and enter the 2021 NFL season as the team to beat in the division once again. New England would love to reclaim its throne and the Patriots went on a record-setting spending spree in free agency after missing out on the playoffs last season. Miami is hoping that Tua Tagovailoa is ready to take the next step after the Dolphins just missed the playoffs while the New York Jets are starting over (again) with rookie head coach Robert Saleh and No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson at quarterback.
In order to get an accurate assessment of the AFC East heading into 2021, Athlon asked NFL scouts to talk anonymously about the Bills, Dolphins, Patriots, and Jets.
Note: These scouting reports come directly from NFL scouts and do not necessarily reflect the views of Athlon's editorial staff.
"Josh Allen is a dynamic, big-time football player. He’s much more than a quarterback. He’s like a running back out there. He’s special. He has a strong arm. He can run. He’s a gunslinger."
"Stefon Diggs is a big-time talent. He can hurt you all over the field."
"Emmanuel Sanders showed he could still be a reliable possession receiver with New Orleans last season. I think signing Sanders was a smart move."
"I like their offensive line, especially Dion Dawkins and Mitch Morse. It’s good enough to protect Allen and create holes for Devin Singletary. He’s got plenty of wiggle and a lot of all-around skills."
"They get enough good plays out of Dawson Knox at tight end."
"On defense, they’re pretty strong. They keep putting a lot of resources into their front seven: Matt Milano’s contract, drafting Greg Rousseau and Boogie Basham to go with Jerry Hughes, Ed Oliver and Tremaine Edmunds."
Related: Buffalo Bills Depth Chart
"I like their safety tandem a lot. Both Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde are excellent football players. Tre’Davious White is an elite shutdown corner."
"This is a potential Super Bowl contender. The teamwork between Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott and the support from ownership is impressive. You don’t see that everywhere around the league. Beane gets the right kind of guys that fit the blue-collar culture in Buffalo. They’re building something and have a deep bench of front office guys in Dan Morgan, Malik Boyd, Joe Schoen and Brian Gaine."
"Miami is doing everything right. It’s so nice to see a longtime football guy, Chris Grier, doing this. This is what you want to see as a scout."
"At receiver, DeVante Parker is a solid player who can’t stay healthy."
"Will Fuller V has improved his hands. He’s a hard-working guy and a very dangerous deep threat. Both he and Parker will play second fiddle to Jaylen Waddle. If he stays healthy, he’s Tyreek Hill. He’s that explosive and dynamic. It’s unbelievable how good he is."
"Their offensive line is still coming together. I’m not a huge fan of all of them, but Austin Jackson and Robert Hunt are solid. I expect Liam Eichenberg to start right away, he’s that good."
"Mike Gesicki is just OK. He’s athletic, not a very polished guy. I could see Hunter Long passing him on the depth chart. He’s more versatile."
Related: Miami Dolphins Depth Chart
"I think Tua Tagovailoa is going to get better and better. I loved him coming out of the draft. For the people who want to rip Tua, he was a rookie. He was conservative. He didn’t try to force things. He did his job. He’s going to get better this year. I expect a big jump from Tua."
"I love Jacoby Brissett as the backup. Myles Gaskin and Malcolm Brown are a great 1-2 punch."
"Defensively, it’s a real mixed bag. They’ve got some talent. Emmanuel Ogbah impressed me last year. Christian Wilkins is powerful. If they can motivate Jaelan Phillips, he can be a special player. NFL people feel like he’s the best pure pass rusher to enter the league in years."
"Benardrick McKinney is a big, physical guy who’s never going to be productive in space."
"It’s a really good secondary with Byron Jones and Xavien Howard."
"I really like this team, and they’re going to get better and better."
"I think people will be surprised this year when they do better than expected."
"There isn’t a ton of talent at wide receiver. Nelson Agholor has had one productive year. Jakobi Meyers has some ability."
"Their line is okay. I like Shaq Mason. David Andrews returning helps. Isaiah Wynn is progressing. He’s solid, but not elite."
"Jonnu Smith is a great talent. Hunter Henry is one of the more overrated players in the league. He never stays healthy."
"They have good running backs for what they want to do."
"If Cam Newton doesn’t play like Cam Newton, they should start Mac Jones. I like this kid. I think he fits the mold of what they want to do. He can slide in the pocket and doesn’t make errors."
Related: New England Patriots Depth Chart
"They spent a fortune on Matt Judon. He was really good in Baltimore, but he was surrounded by a lot of guys. Deatrich Wise Jr. is a good pass rusher."
"They drafted Christian Barmore in the second round, and he’s really a first-round talent. Chase Winovich is also a good pass rusher. Henry Anderson is a lunch-pail guy."
"Kyle Van Noy is a great addition, and having Dont’a Hightower returning from sitting out gives them another good guy."
"Their secondary is very good. Overall, they’re good on defense. Having Matt Patricia back on the coaching staff should provide some smart input."
"Zach Wilson, it’s a gamble. I don’t think he’s as polished and ready as you would want or hope he is."
"I really believe with their GM [Joe Douglas] and head coach [Robert Saleh], they will get this kid as good as he can be. I think his rookie year is going to be rough. I like their receivers: Corey Davis, Jamison Crowder, Denzel Mims."
"Mekhi Becton is going to be a star. He was really good last year."
"OT George Fant is never going to be as good a player as he is an athlete. I would be stunned if Alijah Vera-Tucker doesn’t win a starting job. He’s far better than other guys they have returning."
Related: New York Jets Depth Chart
"Their tight ends are just guys, nothing special."
"Joe Douglas is adding tough, physical football players. In two years, I expect them to be one of the more intimidating teams."
"Defensively, I think they’re OK. I like Quinnen Williams. When healthy, Sheldon Rankins is a really good player."
"The sleeper on defense is Carl Lawson. He’s going to be really productive. He can rush off the edge. He’s a really good pass rusher. He could be a breakout guy. Jared Davis is a solid linebacker."
Note: Carl Lawson tore his Achilles tendon during a joint practice with the Packers on Aug. 19 and is out for the season.
"Their secondary is a work in progress, although Marcus Maye is the real deal at safety."