Quarterback: Tom Brady (Patriots)
Look no further than Tom Brady, and that goes for any quarterback in all of football. Brady has ruled the AFC East throughout his career. The future Hall of Famer is seeking his 4th Lombardi Trophy, and yet again, he made his teammates better in their respective roles. You can’t really say that any player in his supporting cast is a star, or even a standout, aside from Rob Gronkowski. Ryan Tannehill would rank second, almost by default, considering the rebuilding offenses in Buffalo and New York. Tannehill, a former college receiver, the former first round pick continues to take forward strides with the mobility to scramble too. Geno Smith is also a former first round pick. He got a taste of what it’s like to be a starter before getting benched. He will get an opportunity to compete for the starting role next season. E.J. Manuel was the first signal caller in the division to get benched, after four games. This former first round pick has the support of the front office, and new offensive coordinator Greg Roman will install some things he did with Colin Kaepernick.
Running Back: Knowshon Moreno (Dolphins)
Again, the Patriots have role players in LeGarrette Blount, Shane Vereen, and whoever else gets the call on any given week. Even Jonas Gray went off for a couple of games. The Jets have a pair of backs that excelled within the hot-hand approach, Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson. CJ once ran for 2K, he has had the best career of all the AFC East backs, but Ivory is the better back on the Jets these days. I’m one of the biggest Fred Jackson fans. He always flies below the radar because there’s nothing flashy about him, he’s another do-it-all back that plays in a timeshare. His backfield mate is usually C.J. Spiller, who missed the last half of the season. Spiller is elusive with the speed to beat defenders around the edge, but his size and durability issues have relegated him to a timeshare role. That’s also a credit to Jackson, who is very tough to take off the field, and he’s a better receiver too. The Dolphins had to lean on Lamar Miller more than they wanted to. Miller has some shake but they want to keep him fresh with max touches in the low teens. Despite his injury, Knowshon Moreno as the best running back in the division. Hopefully next season is healthier for the do-it-all back. Moreno produced in elite fashion for the Broncos in 2013, racking over 1,000 yards rushing and 400 yards receiving.
Wide Receiver: Sammy Watkins (Bills)
Ironic to say, but the best veteran receivers in the AFC East are on the New York Jets. Eric Decker and Percy Harvin were both brought on board in 2014, although the Jets offense didn’t excel, hence the front office and coaching changes. The best overall receiver just might be rookie Sammy Watkins, who instantly replaced Stevie Johnson in Buffalo to become the top target. Watkins is a physical freak with all the features and skills you can hope for in a wide out. Miami has a deep threat in Mike Wallace, but it was rookie Jarvis Landry that stormed from 4th on the depth chart to garner the most targets down the stretch. The Patriots have some good wide outs in the shifty Julian Edelman, and rekindled Brandon LaFell, but that team is certainly Rob Gronkowski or bust.
Tight End: Rob Gronkowski (Patriots)
Gronkowski is by far the best tight end, not only in the division, but across the entire league. It took a few games for him to find the speed of the game again, but once he did the Patriots offense was nearly unstoppable, a big reason they are in the Super Bowl. Charles Clay is now a free agent, he plays in the mold of a verstile H-back, his injuries have limited his receiving opportunities. Scott Chandler is more of a blocker and we just haven’t seen enough of Jets rookie, Jace Amaro.
Defensive Lineman: Cameron Wake (Dolphins)
This division has several D-linemen that rank up there, better than most divisions actually. Cameron Wake translated from the CFL to the NFL in a Pro Bowl way. This man rushes the passer with the best of them, and is no slouch when it comes to making a tackle or sealing the edge against the run. Chandler Jones is an absolute beast for the Patriots. He makes sure that his presence is felt on special teams too, where he already has a few blocked field goals in his young career. New York has a pair of bad boys that want to punch you in the mouth, Muhammed Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson. Any week they are on the schedule, it’s going to be a tough week for the backfield. Kyle Williams, Mario Williams, and Marcel Dareus are all Pro Bowlers, you really cannot go wrong with any one of these seven studs. They all bring their A-game and get dirty. So, sometimes with a few standouts on the same team, it makes someone else with less help look like they could do even more if they were in a more favorable position.
Linebacker: Kiko Alonso (Bills)
Unfortunately, Jerod Mayo and Kiko Alonso got injured and missed the season. Mayo is reliable in every aspect for New England, but Alonso was an instant standout as a rookie that did everything for the Bills. Alonso was special in coverage and that separates him. David Harris and Brandon Spikes are solid inside linebackers.
Defensive Back: Darrelle Revis (Patriots)
Darrelle Revis played his way to the best cornerback in the game, got hurt, and is back at an elite level. Far from the easiest cover corner to throw on, Revis has shadowed top wide outs and took away the quarterback’s strong side of the field. Teammate Devin McCourty is a good safety getting better in the backend of an improved Bill Belichick secondary. Rookie Calvin Pryor should be taking strides over the next few years for the Jets.
Coach: Bill Belichick (Patriots)
All this man does is win football games. He coaches sound football, the intangibles, and puts his players in the best position to make plays. He’s not afraid to bench a player, or as the general manager as well, to let a player go. The Patriots have been the class of the NFL since the early 2000s, when Belichick became head coach in New England. Unlike most, I think Joe Philbin has kept Miami even keeled. They had the Richie Incognito situation to deal with, along with a slew of injuries and the outspoken Mike Wallace. Rex Ryan is great defensively, it just doesn’t seem that he cares about the other side of the ball. That is one reason the Jets let him go and the Bills picked him up. The new coach in the Big Apple is Todd Bowles, a first-time head coach.