Over the next two weeks, we will unveil our preseason All-Division teams, as is our annual tradition around this time of year. As always, the rosters were compiled largely by a panel of one, though there was significant input from the writing and editorial staff at CBSSports.com after I took an initial run at the rosters on my own.
We'll begin today with the AFC East, then move through the rest of the conference this week. Next week, it's on to the NFC. Without further ado ...
Offensive skill positions
QB: Josh Allen (BUF)
RB: Rhamondre Stevenson (NE)
TE: Dawson Knox (BUF)
FLEX: Elijah Moore (NYJ)
The quarterback selection for this division was extremely easy. Over the last two seasons, Allen has totaled 8,951 passing yards, 73 passing touchdowns against 25 interceptions, as well as an additional 1,184 rushing yards and 14 scores on the ground. He is one of the small handful of best signal-callers in the NFL, and the most impactful player in the AFC East on either side of the ball.
The running back pick was quite a bit more difficult. Each of the division's four teams is expected to split snaps between at least two backs, with each of Stevenson, Damien Harris, Devin Singletary, Breece Hall and Chase Edmonds having reasonable arguments to come out on top. Ultimately, what Stevenson showed last year, plus his expected emergence as the Patriots' passing-down back, led us to settle on him.
Diggs remains Allen's clear-cut No. 1 target, and even in a "down" season a year ago he totaled 103 catches for 1,225 yards and 10 touchdowns. Better luck connecting on deep passes will lead to an even better season in 2022. Even after leaving Patrick Mahomes, Hill should still be one of the most explosive playmakers in the NFL, and Tua Tagovailoa's accuracy should play up as he attempts to get Hill the ball in open space. Davis is a popular breakout player pick, and with good reason. The last time we saw him on the field, he put together arguably the greatest playoff game in NFL history, catching eight passes for 201 yards and four scores in Buffalo's AFC divisional round loss to the Chiefs.
At tight end, there are several worthy candidates. Mike Gesicki is expected to be more of a blocker in Miami than he has been in the past, given the change to Mike McDaniel's Shanahan-style offense. Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, and Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah are expected to split snaps in some form or another. That leaves Knox, who emerged as one of Allen's most reliable red-zone targets last season and showed the ability to stretch the field as well.
Moore was putting together the best stretch of his rookie campaign when he suffered a season-ending injury last year, totaling 34 receptions for 459 yards and five touchdowns in his final six games. He should be Zach Wilson's top target in Year 2, and his versatility to line up inside, outside, or even in the backfield makes him a dangerous all-field weapon.
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C: David Andrews (NE)
The concern with Armstead remains injuries. When healthy, he is among the best left tackles in the NFL. Among 88 tackles who played at least 250 snaps last season, he earned the fifth-highest pass-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus. Dawkins was not far behind him, checking in 13th. Trent Brown could have been another pick at tackle, but swinging over to the left side of the line opens some questions about whether he will be quite as effective as in years past.
Tomlinson deservedly got a big payday this offseason and should team with Vera-Tucker to form one of the league's better guard duos. In Mike LaFleur's offense, the interior offensive line is quite important, and the Jets seem to have those two spots settled. Andrews is coming off a bounce-back season in which he looked to have regained his prior form. He was one of the most effective pass-blocking centers in the NFL last year.
Miller's stretch run with the Rams last season re-solidified his status as one of the NFL's premier edge rushers. He collected five sacks, eight quarterback hits and 12 tackles for loss in eight regular-season games, then added four more sacks, six more hits and six more tackles for loss during LA's run to the Super Bowl title. In Sean McDermott's defense, he should shine. Judon matched a career high by playing 81% of New England's defensive snaps last season, and Bill Belichick showed his typical ability to put Judon in position to succeed. There's no reason to expect a drop-off from one of the league's most consistent rushmen.
Williams is an emerging player on the interior of Robert Saleh's defense, and his ability to rush the passer from the inside puts him in rare company. He's collected 13 sacks over the past two seasons along with 26 quarterback hits. Oliver is seemingly on the verge of his own breakout, and with the Bills having added even more talent up front to play alongside him, that breakout may happen this year. (The good reviews of his performance from Buffalo's training camp are encouraging on that front.)
The linebacker group in this division is lacking in high-end talent. New England has seen its depth raided by other teams over the past several seasons, and none of the players the Dolphins have taken from the Pats have remained quite as effective in Miami. Therefore, we'll go with Buffalo's pair of athletic defenders who make their bones in pass defense, rather than betting on New York's C.J. Mosley turning back the clock to 2018.
FLEX: Jordan Poyer (BUF)
Howard got his new contract and delivered another Pro Bowl season with another bunch of takeaways. He remains an elite possession-changer on defense and should be the foundation of Miami's defense along with Jones. When that duo is in the lineup, it is extremely difficult to pass the ball against the Dolphins. With J.C. Jackson departing New England for Los Angeles, we'll be on Tre White making a successful return from ACL surgery, rather than assuming one of the Patriots' remaining corners or New York's hodgepodge of options at the position can outplay him.
Holland was a breakout star as a rookie, playing the same type of versatile role on the back end of the defense that Dallas' Micah Parsons did up front. He can line up just about anywhere and play just about any role on any given play, and that is incredibly valuable. Hyde and Poyer are both still wildly underrated, even after Poyer finally landed an All-Pro nod last year. They might be the best safety tandem in the NFL.
K: Tyler Bass (BUF)
P: Jake Bailey (NE)
RET: Braxton Berrios (NYJ)
I won't lie. ... I asked our resident kicking expert (John Breech) who he thinks are the best kickers and punters in each division, and copy/pasted those names onto each All-Division team. Meanwhile, Berrios was last season's first-team All-Pro return man, and he has been a dangerous playmaker with the ball in his hands since his days at the University of Miami.