NFL Draft Preview: AFC East
The AFC East is still a division dominated by the Patriots and the Bills, and the Jets show little evidence of being able to alter that dynamic even with a stellar draft performance. The Dolphins, however, could make a big leap this year and the Patriots will have few picks to be able to keep up. Once again, analysts from DraftTek.com provide additional insights.
Buffalo Bills (6-10 in 2012)
Picks: #8 (1), #41 (2), #71 (3), #105 (4), #143 (5), #177 (6)
Needs: QB, WR, OG, TE, OLB, S
Outlook: Perhaps no other team in the NFL has a bigger need at quarterback than the Buffalo Bills who are currently looking at Kevin Kolb as their starter. In turn, “GM Buddy Nix brought in 9 QBs as part of his allowed 30 visits to One Bills Drive” according to Dean Kindig, Buffalo Bills Analyst for DraftTek.com. Kindig believes that points to a lack of conviction that new head coach Doug Marrone will automatically select his former collegiate signal caller, Ryan Nassib and that West Virginia’s Geno Smith could be a good fit as well at #8. Kindig also said that the Bills need an offensive guard and wide receiver which could make Alabama’s Chance Warmack or West Virginia’s Tavon Austin a top target. He also mentioned the team could look to trade back, and that he has “heard discussions of trades with Minnesota, San Diego, San Francisco, and Cincinnati.” Regardless of the direction they go at #8, the Bills better make it count. Kindig added that “the 13 year playoff drought needs to end sooner rather than later for the Bills, and fans are growing impatient.”
New York Jets (6-10 in 2012)
Picks: #9 (1), #13 (1), #39 (2), #72 (3), #106 (4), #141 (5), #178 (6), #215 (7)
Needs: QB, WR, TE, OG, OLB, CB, S
Outlook: With two top 13 picks, the Jets will certainly be heard from early on the draft. One of the more intriguing storylines will be whether the Jets will go with a quarterback to begin to replace Mark “Butt Fumble” Sanchez. Geno Smith and Ryan Nassib could be targets there. If the Jets target a replacement for Darrelle Revis, as most expect, Alabama’s Dee Milliner and Houston’s D.J. Hayden could be the targets. At the top of their board, however, could be LSU outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo who could be an outstanding pick up for Rex Ryan at #9. Many also believe the Jets could go guard in Chance Warmack of Alabama or Jonathan Cooper of North Carolina. At the opposite end of the spectrum are some who think the game-changing ability of West Virginia’s Tavon Austin could be too much to pass up. Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert could be a compromise selection at #13. In Round 2, the Jets could opt for a quarterback if the declined to take one in Round 1 with Matt Barkley of USC and E.J. Manuel of Florida State potentially being available at #39. Kentucky’s Larry Warford could be a great pick at guard if available in Round 3. The secondary could be addressed in later rounds if the hole left by Revis is addressed early. What is clear is that the Jets are a team with a lot of needs, and this draft will likely be insufficient to bring them back to relevancy. More than individual selections, however, Rich Tinley, the Jets Analyst of DraftTek.com will be looking at the overall product. “The real issue for me,” said Tinley, is “how differently our new GM approaches the draft. A new mindset needs to be introduces that will hopefully give us a better foundation to build our team. Regardless of who we actually pick, I see this as one of the most important drafts in the history of the team.”
Miami Dolphins (7-9 in 2012)
Picks: #12 (1), #42 (2), #54 (2), #77 (3), #82 (3), #111 (4), #146 (5), #166 (5), #217 (7), #224 (7), #250 (7)
Needs: TE, OT, DE, CB
Outlook: It looks pretty certain that the Dolphins will be making a draft day trade. What remains to be seen is whether the Dolphins give up a second rounder for Kansas City offensive tackle Brandon Albert or if they attempt to trade up in Round 1 to take a franchise tackle. Regardless of their strategy, the Dolphins are poised to be one the league’s more improved teams after an active free agency and a real opportunity in the draft. Joseph Mays, DraftTek.com’s Dolphins Analyst, said that “the Dolphins currently own five of the first one hundred picks and eleven overall. Expect an OT, CB, and DE to be selected before the end of Round 3.” Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert, Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes, and Florida State defensive end Tank Carradine could be Round 1 targets. For the next round, Mays added that “if Miami passes on an OT in the first round” and a trade does not get done to bring in Albert “they could target the likes of North Carolina’s Brennan Williams, Arkansas Pine-Bluff’s Terron Armstead, or Florida State’s Menelik Watson in the second round.” Mays also noted that the cornerback position will need to be addressed early and will be a focus for the team.
New England Patriots (12-4 in 2012)
Picks: #29 (1), #59 (2), #91 (3), #226 (7), #235 (7)
Needs: WR, DE, CB
Outlook: The Patriots have made a living by making draft day moves, trading down and accumulating picks. With so few picks, this could be a year that New England utilizes that tactic once again. Although the team will likely have solid corners available at #29, defensive ends Margus Hunt of SMU and Datone Jones of UCLA could prove very tempting. If they go that route, the franchise could lock down a secondary and receiving help in later rounds. Even though they are currently not a major factor, the Patriots always manage to walk away with stellar prospects and make some noise in the draft.