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Tom Brady, Ndamukong Suh front All-AFC East Team

When it comes to highlighting top NFL talent, league-wide evaluations are the norm -- meaning some of the better players in each division are often overlooked. With his divisional all-star series, Dave Dameshek will be taking a deeper dive into the NFL's elite, putting together the best squad possible from each division -- continuing with the All-AFC East Team below.

For additional analysis on this topic -- and a whole lot more -- listen to The Dave Dameshek Football Program.


Kidding, of course. But it should be sad and worrisome to Jets and Bills fans that, when you take the man ahead of Garoppolo on the Pats' depth chart out of the equation, only Ryan Tannehill keeps this from being true. (By the way, I think it's a mistake to close the book on EJ Manuel in Buffalo. And the by the way-way, Gregg Rosenthal and others weren't wrong last year about Tannehill becoming a really good QB. They just jumped the gun by a season.)

Best of the Super Bowl era? It's down to him and Joe Montana. (How funny would it be -- to non-Patriots fans, at least -- if Commish Goodell were to add two more games to Brady's four-game suspension?)

Running back: Shady McCoy, Buffalo Bills

There's not a close second in the division. (For the record, the second-best RB is probably McCoy's new Bills teammate, Fred Jackson.)

In the space of two offseasons, the Jets have added two receivers -- Marshall and Eric Decker -- better than any in the AFC East in 2013. Both guys have made some thoroughly mediocre QBs look good over their respective careers. For their next act: doing the same with Geno Smith.

Wide receiver: Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills

He didn't quite keep pace with superstar first-year pros Odell Beckham and Mike Evans last season, but Watkins showed enough to validate the Bills' affection for the Clemson burner -- and to edge out yet another fellow rookie dynamo from 2014, Miami's Jarvis Landry, for this spot.

Attention, NFL broadcasters: You can't continue to refer to him as underrated when he's referred to as underrated on every single broadcast.

Among non-quarterbacks, Gronk is the most valuable Jenga piece -- as in, if you remove him from the game, the whole team collapses -- in football.

Rookie Ja'Wuan James had to fill in at left tackle for the injured Albert in 2014. Assuming the former Pro Bowler is good to go this year, the Dolphins' offense should be ready to take a leap.

After four years of banging heads with NFC West defenders, the former first-rounder out of 'Bama moves from Seattle to New Jersey to face the AFC East's own nasty collection of D-linemen.

While almost everything else at Jets HQ has been in flux over the last few years, Mangold has served as one of the very few items the team wisely bolted to the floor.

A collective lack of good guard options forces us to slide the versatile Pouncey -- who will move back to center after spending time last season at right guard -- over to this spot.

The 6-foot-8, 320-pound specimen from Germany has emerged as a dependable member of the gang assigned one of pro football's most important responsibilities: keeping Tom Brady clean.


Defensive end: Cameron Wake, Miami Dolphins

He's averaged almost 12 sacks per season since 2010. And, like the 3.2 million other dime-store analysts who've already said it, I have to point out that Wake will now have more room to operate with Suh eating up blockers. Also, it'd be great if there were actually still dime stores. Ten cents is so cheap!

Defensive tackle: Ndamukong Suh, Miami Dolphins

2015's literal and figurative biggest free-agent score obviously will make an impact, but can he and his new teammates kick the Pats out of first place? (Yes, they can -- and will.)

Defensive tackle: Marcell Dareus, Buffalo Bills

This large person might not be as good as Suh -- he might be better. But is he as good as teammate Kyle Williams?

Forget what I just said -- this former Defensive Rookie of the Year is the best of the bunch. Wait; I forgot to mention Jerry Hughes in Buffalo. And Muhammad Wilkerson in New York. And Chandler Jones in New England. And how 'bout can't-miss Jets rookie Leonard Williams? Yikes. This is a scary division in which to be a QB.

Outside linebacker: Mario Williams, Buffalo Bills

We had to find room for Williams, who has been better than ever since moving to Buffalo three years ago; luckily for us, it seems he'll likelyserve as an outside linebacker under new coach Rex Ryan after functioning as a 4-3 defensive end for the Bills last season. (Almost a decade after he went ahead of Reggie Bush and Vince Young in the 2006 NFL Draft, Williams is the clear-cut best of that trio.)

Inside linebacker: Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots

At one point not so long ago, Mayo looked like the best player on New England's D. Now, after two straightseason-ending October injuries, the team would be happy just to see him stay on the field throughout the year.

Outside linebacker: Jamie Collins, New England Patriots

Some big-name guys have moved out of Foxborough, but the team's best defender (this side of the recently departed Revis Island, at least) remains. The rangy Collins consistently stands out when you watch the Pats.

He's now back in New York, of course, but Revis was the biggest difference between the Super Bowl-winning 2014 Pats and the preceding nine Lombardi Trophy-less editions of the team.

The former Shippensburg Red Raider is one of the best corners of the decade -- and I'm not just saying that because I fear his loved ones tweeting bad words about me.

Given the state of New England's decimated secondary, it's not hyperbole to say McCourty's play this season will go a long way toward determining whether the team can stave off its division rivals for another year.

He led all NFL safeties in snaps in 2013. That alone doesn't make him good, of course -- but as it happens, he is.


He's so underrated.

Stephen Gostkowski made a league-leading 35 field goals for the Pats last year. Carpenter made just 34 ... but he hit a remarkable 6 of 8 from 50-plus yards out.

You could flip a coin between him and the Jets' Ryan Quigley.

Follow Dave Dameshek on Twitter @Dameshek.

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