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2011 NFL Draft Recap - AFC East
John Tuvey
May 17, 2011
 

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BUFFALO BILLS

NEEDS FILLED — The Bills got better defensively, spending their first four picks on that side of the ball and specifically adding bodies at linebacker (3.4 Kelvin Sheppard and 6.4 Chris White) and cornerback (2.2 Aaron Williams and 7.3 Justin Rogers). They also picked a pair of offensive linemen to add much-needed depth to that position.

NEEDS IGNORED — Buffalo didn’t necessarily need a quarterback, but they were expected to add a QB of the future in this draft; didn’t happen. They also failed to add any pass catchers, where they weren’t overly stacked last season and are particularly thin at tight end.

BEST PICK — Marcell Dareus fell to the Bills with the third overall pick; he may pick up where Bruce Smith left off at the defensive end position in Buffalo’s 3-4.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY — Ryan Fitzpatrick is a nice stopgap, but it’s unlikely he’s the guy who will take Buffalo to the next level. So it was somewhat odd that the Bills passed not only on Blaine Gabbert and Jake Locker in Round 1 but also Andy Dalton and Cole Kaepernick in Round 2 and strong-armed Ryan Mallett in Round 3. Additionally, the Bills still have plenty of question marks along their offensive line, but they didn’t address the position until late in the fourth round—a round in which they had already passed on the likes of Clint Boling and James Brewer.

FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Unless you’re in an IDP league the Bills did nothing to draw your attention. The only “skill” position player they took was RB Johnny White in the fifth round; at best he’ll work his way into a backfield committee with C.J. Spiller and/or Fred Jackson.

MIAMI DOLPHINS

NEEDS FILLED — The Dolphins made improvements to their offense, but not the way many expected. First-round selection Mike Pouncey solidifies the interior of the line, while fourth-rounder Edmond Gates gives Miami a field-stretching deep threat at wide receiver.

NEEDS IGNORED — Many expected Miami to look for a replacement to Chad Henne, but the Dolphins completely ignored the quarterback position. They appeared to do the same at running back, passing on their pick of ball-carriers in round one; however, the Dolphins traded back into the bottom of the second round to pick up a potential replacement for Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams

BEST PICK — Miami may have an “under the table” agreement with potential free agent running back DeAngelo Williams, but there are enough carries in South Beach to necessitate more than just one workhorse. Trading back into the second round allowed them to draft Daniel Thomas, who right now would be in line to start ahead of Lex Hilliard and Patrick Cobbs.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY — You could bemoan the backs Miami left on the board (Mark Ingram, Ryan Williams, Mikel Leshoure) in Round 1, but ultimately they upgraded their blocking and still snagged a quality runner. However, they did pass twice on Ryan Mallett and evidently decided to give Chad Henne another crack at the job; worse, Mallett went to division rival New England.

FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Free agency could still jumble Miami’s backfield, but at present Thomas looks to be the rookie back with the clearest path to significant carries. Even if he winds up in a job share there are still 200-plus touches to be had; few fellow first-year backs will see that type of opportunity. Gates also has upside, though he’ll have to battle Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess for looks.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

NEEDS FILLED — New England needed to get younger on their offensive line, and they wound up with a pair of helpers: Nate Solder in the first round and Marcus Cannon, whose stock dropped when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma shortly before the draft, in the fifth. Viewed as a possible second-round pick prior to the diagnosis, Cannon is expected to recover fully and could be the steal of the draft for the Patriots

NEEDS IGNORED — With six picks in the first three rounds entering the 2011 Draft, the assumption was that at some point New England would find an edge rusher; instead, they didn’t address the need until late in the sixth round. The Patriots also passed on adding wide receivers to a stable that isn’t particularly threatening now that Randy Moss is out of the picture.

BEST PICK — Solder is the best combination of need and value among the Patriots’ picks, but snagging Ryan Mallett in Round 3 is a potential coup. Mallett offers at least some degree of Tom Brady insurance and at some point New England could parlay him into a higher pick in a future draft, like the Falcons did with Matt Schaub or the Pats themselves pulled off with Matt Cassel.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY — Bill Belichick has built enough draft cred that we’re not going to question his picks, but opting for cornerback Ras-I Dowling with the first pick in Round 2 certainly suggested the big board in the New England draft room looked significantly different that everybody elses--especially with rush linebackers such as Akeem Ayers, Bruce Carter, and Brooks Reed still on the board.

FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Mallett is the big name but he’s at best a dynasty stash in a league with very large rosters. Shane Vereen (2.24), on the other hand, could move directly into backfield touches vacated by the aging Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, and Fred Taylor. You know how New England likes to spread the carries around, so even with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead still around, Vereen should be on dynasty radars.

NEW YORK JETS

NEEDS FILLED — The Jets needed defensive linemen, and that’s exactly what they got with their first two picks: DE Muhammad Wilkerson at 1.30 and NT Kenrick Ellis at 3.30. They also snagged a solid late value with wide receivers Jeremy Kerley (5.22) and Scotty McKnight (7.24), who could be factors depending on what free agency brings for Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, and Brad Smith.

NEEDS IGNORED — Rex Ryan apparently believes he can squeeze one more season out of his veteran linebacking corps, as the team didn’t use any of its six selections to get younger at the position.

BEST PICK — Funny how the Jets’ draft bears remarkable similarities to the Patriots. Like their AFC East rival, the Jets added a late value at quarterback--Greg McElroy in the seventh round--despite being relatively set at the position.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY — The Jets’ hands were somewhat tied, picking late in each round and missing a second-round selection. But with youth at linebacker such a glaring need, it was surprising to see Gang Green opt for a running back and a wide receiver in Rounds 4 and 5 when Chris Carter (who later went to the Steelers) was available.

FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — If the Jets don’t retain their free agent receivers, Kerley and McKnight will have to step up. And while the Jets are still predominantly a running team, someone will need to replace Holmes’ game-breaking downfield ability.

NFC North  |  NFC South  |  NFC East  |  NFC West  |  AFC North  |  AFC South  |  AFC East  |  AFC West


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