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Recapping the Draft – AFC East

With the draft all over with, now it’s time to take a look at what happened and how each team did. We’ll go in order of the divisions starting with the AFC East and break them down. This might be the last time we really get to talk serious NFL football if this lockout keeps holding on. Then again, that would put more emphasis on the COLLEGE GRIDIRON which is what I’m all about with this blog! Let’s get cracking!

BUFFALO BILLS

Rd #1 Pick #3 Overall #3 – Marcell Dareus/DT/Alabama
Rd #2 Pick #2 Overall #34 – Aaron Williams/CB/Texas
Rd #3 Pick #4 Overall #68 – Kelvin Sheppard/LB/LSU
Rd #4 Pick #3 Overall #100 – Da’Norris Searcy/S/North Carolina
Rd #4 Pick #25 Overall #122 – Chris Hairston/OT/Clemson
Rd #5 Pick #2 Overall #133 – Johnny White/RB/North Carolina
Rd #6 Pick #4 Overall #169 – Chris White/LB/Mississippi St.
Rd #7 Pick #3 Overall #206 – Justin Rodgers/CB/Richmond
Rd #7 Pick #42 Overall #245 – Michael Jasper/DT/Bethel (TN)
TEAM NEEDS: LT, TE, DE, DT, QB, RT, OLB, WR, S

Buffalo had to be absolutely thrilled that Marcell Dareus managed to drop through the cracks with Denver & Carolina to fall to #3. He’s big enough and strong enough and fast enough to play either the DT or the DE in a 3-4 scheme Buffalo runs. With Kyle Williams having an Pro Bowl season last year with the Bills, Dareus is likely to be a 3-4 DE who can rush the QB, giving Buffalo yet another dimension on defense. The Bills run defense was downright putrid in 2010 and Dareus immediately makes the team that much better. Easily the best pick of the top-3 taken……….The Aaron Williams pick is a good one. He was a top talent left on the board and could fit either at DB or S. Remember that the Bills have quite a bit leaving via free agency in their secondary. Don’t forget too that while the Bills ranked 3rd in passing yards allowed, they also ranked 26th in passing TD allowed and 28th in interceptions. This is telling us Buffalo doesn’t have a lot of ball hawks in the secondary that seems likely when you look at how great Buffalo did in not allowing passing yards. You can’t knock the Williams pick, but I do find it somewhat interesting that Buffalo passed on Kyle Rudolph. Rudolph is an obvious need and he could have been an outstanding weapon for Ryan Fitzpatrick to go along with Steve Johnson, Lee Evans and Fred Jackson. Remember that the Bills ranked 28th in points scored last year………..I really like the Kelvin Sheppard pick here. This isn’t necessarily a need pick, but it becomes one immediately if Paul Posluszny leaves as a free agent. The Bills were atrocious against the run last year ranking dead last. They are definitely doing things to address that concern. Dareus at DE, Williams potentially at SS and now Sheppard at ILB…………..Taking Searcy was a bit of reach in my opinion. You’d think at 5’11/223lbs that Searcy would be one of those Bog Sanders types of guys who comes down in the box and lays the wood, but he’s more of a cover sort of guy making him more of a nickel back. He’s not really physical enough to play SS, but not really fast enough to be a true corner. I thought potentially grabbing Christian Ballard here to go with Dareus at DE would have been a pretty slick move for the Bills. Maybe even Virgil Green at TE………..I really like the Hairston pick here in the 4th round. He’s huge at 6’6/326lbs and did the most bench press reps at the combine of any OT prospect benching 225lbs 33 times! Ideally the Bills would like to move Demetrius Bell off of LT and put Hairston there, but it’ll be interesting to see if Hairston can take over LT so Bell could move to RT. Hairston got away with a lot because of his massive size & strength while at Clemson, but we’ll have to see if he has the athleticism to play LT in the NFL. If not then Bell would likely stay at LT with Hairston going to RT. Hopefully it works out………….The Johnny White pick was a bit odd if only because the Bills have both Fred Jackson & CJ Spiller. He’s more of a between the tackles guy who can block and catch a pass. I suppose you can never have enough solid runners so maybe insurance here isn’t such a bad thing. Then again maybe this is my Colts fandom seeping through as our runners never seem to be healthy. I still wonder why no Virgil Green here………..White is another ILB guy. He’s got great size at 6’3/240lbs but he doesn’t read offenses well and is just adequate in zone coverage. He beefs up the ILB spot certainly and if he can develop into a better instinctual player, could give the Bills quite a player because of his physicality………Justin Rodgers is a 5’10/180lbs CB from Richmond who is probably a special teams player if he makes the squad. While he’s not huge and doesn’t have incredible speed, he’s sort of a ball hawk which is what Buffalo is lacking in their secondary……….The Michael Jasper pick is a feel good story worth watching. To say he’s massive is an understatement. Jasper is 6’4 and 394lbs! The Bills drafted him with the hopes of allowing him to try and play NT in their 3-4. He’s an INCREDIBLE athlete given his size and if he can find a way to get down to 360 or even 350 the Bills could have an incredible players on their hands. The odds are stacked against the guy, but how do you pass on a 6’4/400lbs behemoth who can dunk a basketball with two hands from a standing vertical position?

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Rd #1 Pick #15 Overall #15 – Mike Pouncey/OC/Florida
Rd #2 Pick #30 Overall #62 – Daniel Thomas/RB/Kansas St.
Rd #4 Pick #14 Overall #111 – Edmond Gates/WR/Abilene Christian
Rd #6 Pick #9 Overall #174 – Charles Clay/FB/Tulsa
Rd #7 Pick #28 Overall #231 – Frank Kearse/DT/Alabama A&M
Rd #7 Pick #32 Overall #235 – Jimmy Wilson/DB/Montana
TEAM NEEDS: QB-RB-OG-OC-S-OT-WR-TE-ILB

Most people had the Dolphins taking Mark Ingram at #15. It was a huge need especially with Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown both aging and being unreliable with regards to their health. Chad Henne has enough problems on his hands without having to worry about not having a running game to depend on. Still, the Dolphins felt like they wanted to stick it out with Chad Henne for another season and didn’t want to take Ingram. When you look at immediate needs and the talent still on board, it made sense to pull the trigger on Pouncey. He can play guard or center for the Dolphins, an area where the Phins need help. His versatility will allow Miami to see where he fits best and go from there. The Dolphins didn’t run very well last year and their only reliable offensive lineman is LT Jake Long. Their interior line is a mess so Pouncey will make an impact immediately. You have to be able to block before you can run right? We saw what sort of impact Maurkice Pouncey had for the Steelers. If Mike has that type of impact for the Dolphins, then Miami gets a lot better a lot faster with this pick. Maybe not as sexy as Ingram would have been, but a very prudent pick nonetheless………We know now that the Dolphins weren’t targeting a QB so despite Ryan Mallett still being on the board in the 2nd round, the Dolphins went with their 2nd biggest need and nabbed Kansas St.’s Daniel Thomas at RB. This was obviously a position of need and Thomas was the highest rated RB on the board. This pick really worked out well for Miami. Getting Mike Pouncey in Round #1 gave Miami some versatility at two positions of need at OC & OG. If they had taken Mark Ingram in Round #1 then Pouncey wouldn’t have been there in Round #2 and by this time Rodney Hudson was already taken. It was a very smart move for Miami to pass on Ingram and grab Thomas later. At 6’0/230lbs, Thomas has the potential to be a 25-carry guy with a little improvement………….I think grabbing Edward Gates in the 4th round was a great move for Miami. Brian Hartline isn’t really a game changer. Davone Bass is still sort of learning the position while Brandon Marshall acquires baggage by the truckload on an everyday basis. Gates is incredibly raw and played his college ball at Abilene Christian, but he’s got INCREDIBLE speed and has good size at 6’0/192lbs. Gates is a deep play threat on every pass and is outstanding after the catch. He’s as raw as they come, but if he refines his route running and separation skills, then Miami got a helluva WR here………..Clay is kind of an interesting pick. He’s more of an H-back type of player at 6’3/245lbs. He was listed as a FB, but he’s a little too tall for that position. H-Back is an interesting position and as a Colts fan you really learn to love the H-Back because you see Peyton Manning using them so well in the forms of Jacob Tamme & Brody Eldridge. Clay actually has some pretty good ball skills so this is a pick that could work out well for Miami if they can figure a way to make Clay a part of the offense…….Jimmy Wilson is an interesting pick in the 7th round. He spent 2-years in jail on a murder charge that took two years to resolve. The first trial ended up in a hung jury. The 2nd one ended in acquittal. Wilson was granted his senior year of eligibility and now he’s a member of the Miami Dolphins! CRAZY! Oh yeah, he’s a CB with OK size & speed. If he pans out he might add some depth to the defensive secondary and not be relegated to special teams status only. Still, that was a HUGE character red flag that the Dolphins seemed to think was an outlier. Crazy story.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Rd #1 Pick #17 Overall #17 – Nate Solder/OT/Colorado
Rd #2 Pick #1 Overall #33 – Ras-I Rowling/CB/Virginia

Rd #2 Pick #24 Overall #56 – Shane Vereen/RB/California

Rd #3 Pick #9 Overall #73 – Stevan Ridley/RB/LSU

Rd #3 Pick #10 Overall #74 – Ryan Mallett/QB/Arkansas

Rd #5 Pick #7 Overall #138 – Marcus Cannon/OT/TCU

Rd 5 Pick #28 Overall #159 – Lee Smith/TE/Marshall

Rd #6 Pick #29 Overall #194 – Markell Carter/OLB/Central Arkansas

Rd #7 Pick #16 Overall #219 – Malcolm Williams/DB/TCU
TEAM NEEDS: OLB-DE-OT-OG-RB-WR-S-OC

The Patriots at #17 turned a few heads when they took gargantuan Colorado LT Nate Solder at #17 overall. I’m not going to lie. If I could have taken any OT prospect in the entire draft it would have been Solder. He has insane size at 6’8/320lbs and fantastic athleticism. As a die hard Colts homer, I was hoping and praying that Solder would fall to Indianapolis at #22. Instead, I think Belichick took him just to spite Colts fans around the world. The reason why the pick was so interesting is because New England has obvious needs at DE and Cameron Jordan was there for the taking. At this point you could argue that Jordan was the highest rated player left on the board and fell to #17 for the Patriots. We know Belichick is a defensive guy so the pick made sense. On the other hand, this could be indicative of Belichick clearly understanding that while defense is king, those Patriots championships teams had outstanding offensive lines which can’t be ignored as a huge reason for success. Frankly this is an outstanding pick for the Patriots. What else is new…….The Ras-I Dowling pick was interesting because it wasn’t a need for New England, but Dowling will combine with Devin McCourty to give the Patriots a couple of nice corners on defense. Dowling might have actually been a 1st round talent, but injuries at Virginia hampered his draft status. Even with that he still was the first pick of the 2nd round. Give credit to New England for believing it got a 1st round talent here……..I didn’t get the Shane Vereen pick at all. Mikel Leshoure was still on the board here who could have given the Patriots a workhorse back if they don’t think BenJarvis Green-Ellis was that guy. Even more worrisome is that the Patriots passed on Brooks Reed which made absolutely no sense. There was no value in Vereen who at 5’9/199lbs is hardly big enough to be a 25-carry RB in the NFL. Sort of odd………..Keeping with RBs, the Patriots used their 1st 3rd round pick on LSU Stevan Ridley. Ridley is 5’11/225lbs so this actually does give the Patriots a runner who can take the rock 20-25 times a game which is what Vereen probably can’t do. Still, this is an odd pick. There was tons of talent available such as OG Clint Boling and OT James Brewer which would have filled bigger needs. To me the Patriots could had Brooks Reed & Clint Boling at this point along with Ras-I Dowling and Nate Solder. Instead they got a couple of running backs that don’t look so hot……..The Ryan Mallett pick was interesting. If Peyton Manning has another 5-6 years left then does Brady have another 7-8? That puts Mallett into his 30s and riding pines for a LONG TIME! One thing that is interesting about this pick is that it’s certainly possible that Brady has went to New England and told them he doesn’t expect to play as long as he’s said he might in the past. Also this potentially gives the Pats a big time trade piece as they certainly have quite a track record in developing QBs………Marcus Cannon is a MONSTER at 6’5/360lbs! This pick reminded me a little bit of the Ras-I Dowling pick. Cannon graded out as a 2nd round pick on talent alone, but was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. If he makes a full recover (which is expected) then the Patriots give themselves the RT to go along with Nate Solder. This obviously would potentially be the bookend OTs the Patriots would need for the next 8-10 years. Great value here with the potential to be a massive steal…………..The Lee Smith pick was another confusing pick to me. The Patriots used high picks last year to grab Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. Now they take another TE? Smith is a bit different than the other two. Whereas Hernandez & Gronkowski are big play targets, Smith at 6’6/270lbs is a big time blocker first with rudimentary pass catching skills. Gronkowski is big too at 6’6/265lbs so who knows? This pick was an odd one unless maybe they think they can convert Smith to OT and give themselves some depth on the O-Line…………Carter is 6’3/240lbs so he’s moving to OLB in New England’s 3-4 scheme. Carter was a DE at Central Arkansas who showed a pretty good nose for the football. Clearly this is a pick the Patriots will try to develop and hope to strike gold with………Malcolm Williams was basically a throw in pick. If he makes the team he’ll be mostly expected to help out on special teams.

NEW YORK JETS

Rd #1 Pick #30 Overall #30 – Muhammad Wilkerson/DE/Temple
Rd #3 Pick #30 Overall #94 – Kenrick Ellis/DT/Hampton

Rd #4 Pick #29 Overall #126 – Bilal Powell/RB/Louisville

Rd #5 Pick #22 Overall #153 – Jeremy Kerley/WR/TCU

Rd #7 Pick #5 Overall #208 – Greg McElroy/QB/Alabama

Rd #7 Pick #24 Overall #227 – Scotty McKnight/WR/Colorado
TEAM NEEDS: DE-WR-OT-OLB-NT-S-OG-OC

Like Jimmy Smith going to Baltimore, this pick simply doesn’t seem fair. It’s not enough that the Jets have a great defense led by the best defensive mind in the game, they also get an uber-talent at pick #30 in the first round. Wilkerson is a beast at 6’4/320lbs with the athleticism and range to not only hold down a 5-technique 3-4 DE position, but to also make plays outside of the normal range and put pressure on the QB. The Jets have struggled at DE so Wilkerson will immediately step in and start and make an impact. You could easily make an argument that Wilkerson was the best 3-4 DE in the entire draft. Wilkerson played in in a 4-3 defense in college and he also played at Temple so the increase in competition will be something to get used to, but no matter how you slice it, this was a great pick for the Jets & Rex Ryan………Absolutely love the Kenrick Ellis pick. The Jets nabbed the 6’5/350lbs NT who has the PERFECT size to be a true 3-4 NT. Ellis is actually athletic enough to play the 3-4 DE even with the bulk he’s carrying, but with Kris Jenkins out of the picture, Rex Ryan was looking to either add an immediate starting NT or else give himself some exceptional depth behind Sione Pouha. I know you have to run your organization based on it’s own needs, but giving Ryan two guys like Muhammad Wilkerson & Kenrick Ellis to start a draft is just ridiculous! If you are running a 3-4 and have those needs at all you have to draft them simply to keep them away from Rex Ryan. I don’t see how teams can allow this guy to draft guys tailor made for the kind of ridiculously good defense he’s capable of putting together. This was Rex Ryan at his best……….Taking Bilal Powell in the 4th round was an odd pick to me. I thought the Jets might have pulled the trigger on Marcus Cannon here seeing how Damian Woody is getting old and Cannon could have stepped in at RT almost immediately. Powell had a solid career at Louisville, but the 5’9/209lbs back is at best the #3 RB here behind Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson. I suppose Tomlinson is at the end of his career and right now Joe McKnight is a bust so Bilal could be the RB2 soon. Still, this seems like a luxury pick. With Cannon sitting right there, it looks iffy to me…………The Jets had a need at WR and they got Jamie Kerley here in the 5th round. Kerley lack size at 5’9/189lbs but he’s pretty fast and can help return kicks. Kerley isn’t a difference maker on offense and I wondered why the Jets were passing on guys like Cliff Matthews & Jeremy Beal as potential OLB in their 3-4 scheme but also guys like Lee Ziemba, Demarcus Love and Andrew Jackson would have possibly been OG. Like the Bilal pick this was sort of interesting. If the Jets wanted RBs & WRs I can understand it, but those guys seem like wasted picks given what was out there at the time……….Drafting Greg McElroy in the 7th round was an interesting call. The Jets don’t have much back up behind Mark Sanchez and McElroy could come in and be an excellent #2. He’s a winner pure and simple and you know the guy’s character and intelligence are off the charts. He has absolutely no shot to unseat Sanchez as the starting QB, but it wouldn’t surprise me here to see the Jets front office potentially bringing in a guy like McElroy to light a fire under Sanchez in order for the USC product to get better. Let’s not forget that over his first two seasons in the NFL, Sanchez has yet to complete at least 56% of his passes and he has more picks than TD passes……….McKnight is a 5’10/182lbs possession receiver with average speed. I actually think guys like this are a bit underrated as possession receivers seemingly have a great ability to move the chains. The Jets do have a need at WR and with guys like Santonio Holmes & Braylon Edwards on the roster, having a possession receiver is a solid option.

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May 6, 2011 - Posted by | AFC East, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets, NFL Draft

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