Ted Sundquist's AFC East Draft Needs

The addition of a “Tuna” with the Dolphins turned the AFC East upside down in ’08.  Miami’s ten-game swing was remarkable to say the least and put the rest of the division on notice.  There were three teams with losing records chasing the Patriots just two seasons ago and this past year there were three teams with winning records, the other one only a game under .500.  Look for the competition to continue off the heels of Buffalo’s acquisition of T.O. and Rex Ryan taking over in New York.  The East most certainly will be drafting with their divisional rivals in the back of their collective minds.
Buffalo Bills
Primary need:  defensive line or offensive tackle.
The Bills were the aforementioned team that finished under .500, and the pressure is on to keep up within the division.   That “pressure” would be better applied on the likes of Chad Pennington or Tom Brady.  Instead, Buffalo finished with a 28th-ranked sack rate of 4.7% per pass play.  Success in third-down passing situations was a meager 24th, and 24th overall versus the pass as well.  The Bills must find a way to generate some rush and take the onus off their secondary.
A young specialist might add well to a mix of Aaron Schobel and Chris Kelsay (more of a run-stopping, two-down DE).  Picking at #11 will give them a good look at some explosive quickness off the edge where a number of teams are looking to project this talent pool as OLB’s in a 3-4 scheme.  The acquisition of Philadelphia’s 28th pick could have impact on this more pressing need and the Bills might shift focus to a franchise left OT if Alabama’s Andre Smith is still available.
Possible targets:  defensive end Everette Brown (Florida State), defensive end Brian Orakpo (Texas), defensive end Larry English (Northern Illinois).
Miami Dolphins
Primary needs:  wide receiver.
The Dolphins were able to reap the benefits of picking first in 2008 by drafting Jake Long, plugging him in at left tackle, and forgetting about it.  Miami finished 12th in offensive sack rate and QB Chad Pennington started all 16 games (no injuries) and had one of his finest seasons as a pro.
Though way ahead of schedule, the rebuilding continues as G.M. Jeff Ireland looks to upgrade his receiving corps.  The Dolphins’ offense finished in the middle of the pack on 3rd down passing (18th) and will need more production from the WR position to see any significant improvement in ’09.  Miami’s top-rated WR was part-time starter Davone Bess (43rd).  Greg Camarillo and Ted Ginn Jr. were 51st and 65th respectively.  In contrast, New England had two in the top 32, Buffalo two in the top 32, and New York with one at 27th and one at 34th.  As stated earlier, depth seems to be good with this crop of prospects and the Dolphins should benefit as such.
Possible targets:  receiver Percy Harvin (Florida), receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (Maryland), receiver Hakeem Nicks (North Carolina).
New England Patriots
Primary need:  outside linebacker.
The Patriots certainly didn’t start the 2008 campaign in defense of their AFC title in the fashion they had predicted.  Franchise QB Tom Brady went out in Week One with a knee injury and it was immediately thought by most that the offense would be forced to shift to Plan B.  But little-known backup Matt Cassel stepped forward and kept the “train on track” with admirable ranking of 17th.  Cassel avoided the big mistake and was able to spread the ball around to the likes of Wes Welker, Randy Moss, and Jabar Gaffney to keep the offense in the top 10.  Quietly it was the defense that struggled a bit.  Rated 20th overall by Football Outsiders, the Patriots’ defense really was middle of the road showing susceptibility to the power running game and generating limited success on 3rd downs.  The great New England defenses have always had playmakers on the edges and Bill Belichick will be looking to replace long time standout Mike Vrabel (traded to KC).  This has potential to be one of the surprise picks of the draft.
Possible targets:  defensive end Robert Ayers (Tennessee), defensive end Cody Brown –(Connecticut), defensive end Connor Barwin (Cincinnati).
New York Jets
Primary need:  quarterback.
It’s understood that the Jets were heavily interested in obtaining Jay Cutler from Denver.  The second retirement of Brett Favre has led to a hole at football’s premier position.  Erik Ainge, Kellen Clemens, and Brett Ratliff make up the list of current QB’s on the roster.  Ainge and Ratliff enter into their 2nd seasons, while Clemens goes into his fourth and appears to be the de facto starter at the moment.
Or is this where new head coach Rex Ryan shifts emphasis to the defense and plucks up a player to supplement his own 3-4 scheme?  It’s difficult to tell, with the bulk of the Jets’ free agent signings already committed there.
I don’t think USC’s Mark Sanchez falls this far, but if so look for New York to grab him.  Otherwise the Jets are probably staring at K-State’s Josh Freeman (more than likely a bit too high).  G.M. Mike Tannenbaum hasn’t been afraid to make a deal in the past and could fall back if given the opportunity.  WR might be an option as well.
Possible targets:  quarterback Mark Sanchez (USC), quarterback Josh Freeman (Kansas State), receiver Percy Harvin (Florida).

5 responses to “Ted Sundquist's AFC East Draft Needs

  1. Take brown at 11 and pettigrew at 28 or take andre smith at 11 and larry english at 28 (unless brown/maybin r there)

  2. I’ll give you the Bills, though I think LT is currently their top need. They really don’t have anyone who can cover this even as poorly as the departed Peters did. If they can’t get a top guy with the #11 (or by moving up), yeah, they could go DE and try again at #28.
    Everyone underestimates Bess, Ginn and Camarillo. They’ll be a fine core group in ’09. Parcells will draft WR, just not in Rd-1. The #25 pick will go either NT or OLB.
    The Jets don’t “need” a QB and they’re dumb if they think so. They do keep talkin’ it up that way, though. What they need is a #1 WR, followed by interior O-line guys. At #17, the pick will probably be WR.
    For the Pats, OLB/pass rush is (or will be) covered better than most folks seem to think. However, Belichick has been demonstrably concerned about the O-line since the Superbowl loss to the Giants. He will address this at the #23 or the #34 or both and may, as rumor has it, even trade up to take one of the top four LTs at #8 or #9 if “his” guy is still available. And he’ll follow that with either ILB or WR.

  3. As a dolphins fan, I know they have much more needs than wide receiver, so much more .
    What’s with the lousy evaluation? What about need at corner? Thats just as pressing as the wide receiver problem.
    Not to mention that they will likely try to draft a pass rusher

  4. I am thinking that Sunkist was only talking aboot round 1.
    We need DB’s, NT, WR, and more DB’s.
    I cannot wait to see the look on the Jet fans faces when they draft a punter in round 1.

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