The AFC East is an interesting microcosm, you have one team who is on top of the world, one who thinks they are playoff ready when they're clearly not, one team that IS almost playoff ready, and another that basically doing a reboot and starting over from scratch. For the most part the East had solid drafts, well three quarters of the division had a solid draft, the other quarter was merely an average draft that I found wanting.
NEEDS: WR, DL, CB, OL
Draft Picks: CB Leodis McKelvin, WR James Hardy, DE Chris Ellis, CB Reggie Corner, TE Derek Fine, LB Alvin Bowen, RB Xavier Omon, OT Demetrius Bell, WR Steve Johnson, DB Kennard Cox
Approved Picks: McKelvin, Hardy, Johnson, Bowen
Eventual Busts: Bell, Ellis
Review: Another very solid draft by the Buffalo Bills. Every since Marv Levy has returned to the team it has begun getting back on track through the draft. Now they added some key free agents this offseason in Marcus Stroud and Kawakia Mitchell, but this draft gave them some solid players and depth at positions of need. Leodis McKelvin was pretty much the consensus number one corner in the draft. Putting him opposite of McGee gives you some athleticism in the secondary which you're gonna need against the Patriots and Colts. I LOVE James Hardy, I thought he was the number one receiver in this draft. If you haven't seen a highlight film of him, go catch it on youtube, phe-nominal. If he had played at an Ohio State or USC he probably would have been a top ten pick. Buffalo, you now have your best wide receiver since Andre Reed. The rest of the draft seemed more like depth choices, I would have liked to see some interior offensive linemen taken. I think they missed the boat by not taking Steve Justice, then again 31 teams missed that boat. Alvin Bowen and Steve Johnson have the biggest upside. Bowen had the same problem as Hardy, and give him a year or two and he may end up in that starting lineup. Johnson could surprise people and move into that starting lineup even sooner. He has the size the Bills want and his hands seem very solid to me and compete with the existing wide receiving corps for playing time.
NEEDS: QB, WR, CB, DL, OL, S
Draft Picks: OT Jake Long, DE Phillip Merling, QB Chad Henne, DE Kendall Langford, G Shawn Murphy, RB Jalen Parmele, G Donald Thomas, RB Lex Hilliard, NT Lionel Dotson
Approved Picks: Long, Murphy, Thomas
Eventual Busts: Merling, Parmele
Review: In typical Parcells fashion, the Dolphins laid the ground work for their future. Their selected three players who will likely start day one on their offensive line. Long, Murphy and Thomas has solidified an offensive line that was almost if not worse then the Rams offensive line last year. All those yard Ronnie Brown got last year he got on his own. I'm not sold on Phillip Merling, to me he reeks of bust and could be out of the league in two to four years. Henne I think will be serviceable, but he never wowed me at Michigan, even when he had all the weapons around him. Some say it was Lloyd Carr's fault, then again time will tell. I think Langford could develop into one of those great Parcells defensive players, same goes for Lionel Dotson. They both need time to develop, but both could be studs in a year or two. I'm not sure about the Parmele pick, I think I would have gone wide receiver there. I'm intrigued by the Lex Hilliard from Montana. He's a bruiser and Parcells always needs at least one of those type backs on his team. In the end a very solid first draft by the Dolphins, you can build a house without a foundation.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
NEEDS: OL, LB, CB, S
Draft Picks: LB Jerod Mayo, CB Terrence Wheatley, LB Shawn Crable, QB Kevin O’Connell, CB Jonathan Wilhite, WR Matt Slater and LB Bo Ruud
Approved Picks: Wilhite, Crable
Eventual Busts: Wheatley, O'Connell
Review: I'm gonna get this off my chest from the get go, I'm not completely sold on the selection of Jerod Mayo. I'm giving the Patriots the benefit of the doubt because they have proven to know just what the hell they are doing, but I am not sold. I think his fundamentals are lacking severly but in college he was helped by being more athletic then most of the people on the field. This won't be the case in the NFL, luckily he will be on a team that will teach him these things. I'm also not sold on Terrence Wheatley. They say he was considered a shut down corner in his conference, but remember that is the Big 12 which isn't as pass happy as other conferences. He may help them more in the return game then anything else. What I do think is that their future starter at corner was taken later with Wilhite. He always seemed like a better corner then Patrick Lee. Yes, Lee was the one with the better athletic tools, but I think Wilhite is the better player. Remember, I'm not one of those people who will take athletic ability over the better football player. Terrell Owens wasn't the fastest wide receiver in his draft class, but he has by far been the best one. I also like the pick of Shawn Crabble, I think he fits their style of defense very well. They ask them to do many things, play different positions, and I think he can do that.
NEW YORK JETS
NEEDS: RB, WR, DL, LB
Draft Picks: LB/DE Vernon Gholston, TE Dustin Keller, CB Dwight Lowery, QB Erik Ainge, WR Marcus Henry, OT Nate Garner
Approved Picks: Keller, Lowery, Henry
Eventual Busts: Gholston
Review: Yes, add me to the list of people who think Vernon Gholston is going to be a bust in the NFL. For me it isn't the rumor that he takes plays off. Yes, that would bother me but Randy Moss did that and he was far from a bust. For me he just doesn't translate well into the NFL. When playing lesser opponents with inferior coaching Gholston looked like a god, against a team like LSU he looked mediocre, a run of the mill defensive end. Yes, he got a sack against Jake Long, but Michigan's offensive game plan wasn't exactly expansive. Dustin Keller I like as a player, I think he'll end up starting in New York, but I wouldn't have moved back up into the first round to take him. The two players that will probably do the most good for the Jets are Lowery and Henry. Lowery was recovering from a broken jaw all last season, hence why his numbers dropped. Henry has the size the Jets are lacking and has really solid hands. Is he a Chad Johnson, no. Is he a Reggie Wayne, very possibly. Erik Ainge, I've been on the fence with him. I'm not a fan of Tennessee football, never have been. I think Fulmer is a great recruiter who knows athletic ability, but as a coach himself I find him lacking. He relies too much on the athletic ability and not schemes, hence why they've only won one national title under him. Ainge I think can come in, compete for the job, and handle the pressure of being the Jets starter. It definitely will be interesting to see what he can do with weapons, something he lacked this year at Tennessee. Then again, he could be just a throw away pick.