The 2021 season is kicking off, which means every franchise is undefeated and every fan base is full of excitement.
Given all that excitement, it’s easy to forget that only a handful of teams can truly argue their spot as the NFL’s top franchise.
But, what if we took a step back and analyzed divisions by their top-end talent?
With the majority of major roster moves set, the Sprint decided to do just that, taking the best players at each position to make eight super teams.
Today is the first of the eight day series, where we’ll unveil a different division’s roster each day. But first, a few ground rules.
Each team was put together by a panel of one, but there was input from the braoder Sprint team. I’ve tried my best to maintain a 13 man set (3 WR, 1 RB, 1 TE) on offense and a 4-2-5 set (4 linemen, 2 LB, 5 DB’s) defensively, but have flexed some of the rosters to best fit the strength of each division. I’ve also strayed away from rookies, where possible, as they’re unproven in the professional environment.
Today we’ll cover the AFC East, where three teams (not the Jets) are battling for a playoff berth.
*Additional note: injury status was taken into account on the day of this post (Sorry Ravens), so some players may miss the team due to status.
Quarterback: Josh Allen (BUF)
- Allen’s 2020 emergence as one of the league’s best dual threat signal callers made him a no-brainer. With Cam Newton’s release, the Bills QB is the oldest starting signal caller in the division and the only one who is proven to win.
Running Back: Damien Harris (NE)
- Harris looks like the best bet to lead the division in carries this year. But, like the rest of the committee running backs in the East, he’s far from a lock to be the division’s top rusher.
- Also receiving consideration: Can Frank Gore and the Jets have a reunion?
Wide Receiver: Stefon Diggs (BUF), DeVante Parker (MIA), Corey Davis (NYJ)
- While Parker and Davis are strong players, Diggs is the true gem of the group. The Buffalo wideout led the league in receiving yards last year and has a great connection with Josh Allen.
- Also receiving consideration: Cole Beasley (BUF), Jaylen Waddle (MIA)
Tight End: Mike Gesicki (MIA)
- Just like the RB group, tight end is a position of weakness in the division. Luckily, Gisecki’s route running makes him more of a receiver than a tight end, providing a high upside and ability when he’s targeted.
Offensive line: Mekhi Becton (T - NYJ), Michael Onwenu (G - NE), Mitch Morse (C - BUF), Shaq Mason (G - NE), Morgan Moses (T - NYJ)
- The offensive line provides a group of above average starters, although no true stars, without any serious weak links.
Defensive Line: Matt Judon (DE - NE), Quinnen Williams (DT - NYJ), Emmanuel Ogbah (DT - MIA), Jerry Hughes (DE - BUF)
- The group takes the best of each team’s defensive front to make a group of undervalued but respectable players. The Jets’ Carl Lawson would have been a lock before his injury, but in his place is solid veteran Hughes.
Linebacker: Matt Milano (BUF), Dont’a Hightower (NE)
- Chalk full of linebacker talent in the East, the choice at the position is not an easy one. But, the young standout (Milano) and the faithful veteran (Hightower) get the selection.
- Also receiving consideration: Tremaine Edmunds (BUF), C.J. Mosley (NYJ)
Cornerback: Stephon Gilmore (NE), Tre’Davious White (BUF), Xavien Howard (MIA)
- With three of the top five cornerbacks in the league, the division's biggest strength is in the secondary. We’d be hard pressed to find a group of wideouts who could score on these three.
- Also receiving consideration: J.C. Jackson (NE)
Safety: Marcus Maye (NYJ), Jordan Poyer (BUF)
- Another position of strength for the division, Poyer and Maye are two young guys primed for big years. Paired with the CB crop, the back five could be the best opin the league.
- Also receiving consideration: Devin McCourty (NE)
The division, outside of the defensive backfield, is well above average but lacks true star power. The bulk of the talent in the division on the offense relies on the Josh Allen to Stefon Diggs connection.
Cornerback has to take the cake, with three of the top players at the position. I'm not sure if there is a trio of receivers who could have success against this group.
Running Back and Tight End, and I’m not sure which one is worse.
Devin McCourty - S, NE. The old Patriots stalwart is on the wrong side of 30, but he’s far from slowing down. He’ll likely help make the New England defense one to fear again in 2021 along with the addition of a few 2020 opt outs.