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The Patriots are So Much Better at the Draft than the Rest of the AFC East

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The Patriots are head and shoulders ahead of their division when it comes to manipulating picks in the draft.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick started his Patriots tenure with one red paperclip. He now owns the entire league.

Well, at least when it comes to the draft and the AFC East, there's no competition.

The draft's compensatory picks were announced and the Patriots picked up an extra third round pick for their loss of cornerback Aqib Talib, as well as a seventh rounder for linebacker Dane Fletcher. If New England were a standard team that picked last in every round, they would expect to have the least amount of draft capital in the entire league. Instead, they rank 19th.

Grantland's Bill Barnwell ran through the 2015 draft picks to determine how much value each team held in the draft. The Cleveland Browns, with two first round picks, topped the list, while the Buccaneers with the first overall pick were a close second. Bad teams fill the top of the value chart, while the good teams are at the bottom; it makes sense and it's supposed to promote the parity the league desires.

Nine of the ten teams with the least amount of capital were playoff teams in 2015. The 10th team is the Buffalo Bills, ranking 32nd overall after having traded their first round pick to Cleveland in 2014.

The Bengals and Ravens rank 13th and 14th overall, with the former picking up a 3rd and 4th compensatory pick, while the Ravens picked up a maximum four compensatory picks, as well as two more for trading Haloti Ngata.

Barnwell compared the current draft capital of teams compared to their capital had they not traded any draft picks, in addition to dividing up the average value of all the compensatory picks pro rata across the 32 teams. Teams with more capital than expected were rated favorably, while those that blew all of their draft picks rated poorly.

Three AFC East teams ranked in the bottom five of his rankings. One AFC East team ranked in the top four.

The Jets rank 28th overall after sending away their fifth and sixth round picks for receivers Brandon Marshall and Percy Harvin, while receiving no compensatory picks in return.

The Dolphins rank 30th after trading their third round pick for receiver Kenny Still, as well as their seventh round pick for tackle Bryant McKinnie back in 2013. Miami also received zero compensatory picks.

The Bills rank 32nd, dead last, after trading their first and fourth round picks for receiver Sammy Watkins in the 2014 Draft. Buffalo received zero compensatory picks.

That's a whole lot of wide receivers to bring into the division, especially when the quarterbacks throwing the ball are so questionable.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Patriots rank 4th, just a nudge behind the Ravens (who have higher draft picks across the board) and the two teams who have multiple first round picks (Saints and Browns). New England received high marks for their third round compensatory pick, as well as for grabbing the Buccaneers' fourth round pick in the Logan Mankins trade.

The Patriots have done a fine job setting themselves up for more compensatory picks next season as the contract structures of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, and Vince Wilfork allowed the Patriots to decline their options for the upcoming seasons, while putting them in play as free agents for the 2016 compensatory pick calculus.

New England has managed to stay ahead of their divisional competition for the past fifteen years due to smarter personnel decisions and team management. Based on how free agency has played out and how this upcoming draft looks, things still haven't changed.