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NFL Draft: Team Needs - AFC East
John Tuvey
March 28, 2008
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Buffalo Bills

Primary Needs
The Bills added Marshawn Lynch and Trent Edwards last season; now their new backfield could use some help. A bigger wide receiver to complement Lee Evans is atop the list, and a pass-catching tight end factors into the mix as well. The Bills addressed their defensive needs amongst the front seven via free agency and the trade with Jacksonville, but the trio of d-backs from their Class of 2006—safeties Donte Whitner and Ko Simpson and corner Ashton Youboty—hasn’t exactly erased the memories of either Nate Clements or Antoine Winfield. And while the offensive line was dramatically improved, the Bills could most certainly pluck a wide body or two from this year’s draft class for depth and/or grooming purposes.

Fantasy Impact
Rookie receivers usually disappoint, and when you factor in a sophomore quarterback and an offense focused on the ground game it’s tough to see oodles of upside in whomever the Bills add to their receiving corps. That said, Lee Evans still draws a little bit of attention and it’s tough to see a first- or second-round selection being stuck in the queue behind Roscoe Parrish and Josh Reed. Buffalo tight ends caught five of the team’s dozen touchdown passes, and Robert Royal hardly has a lock on the job. If the Bills use a pick in one of the first three rounds at the tight end position, said rookie could be a fantasy sleeper or at minimum worthy of a bye-week plug-in at some point during the season.

Potential Targets
To complement Evans expect the Bills to pursue a wideout with size: Oklahoma’s Malcolm Kelly or Devin Thomas of Michigan State early, or if they wait a round perhaps Limas Sweed of Texas or Indiana’s James Hardy. Plenty of talented tight ends will be available in rounds two or three, but the Bills actually ask the position to block so they may focus on John Carlson of Notre Dame, Tennessee’s Brad Cottam, or later on perhaps Craig Stevens of Cal.

Miami Dolphins

Primary Needs
Where do we begin? Part of the reason there’s so much mystery to the 2008 draft is that Miami has so many gaps to be addressed that three or four players could fit their No. 1 bill. The key to the draft may be if Bill Parcells believes John Beck (or Josh McCown, for that matter) is his quarterback of the future. Once that question is answered, the Fins can move on to other holes: their defensive front seven, their offensive line, a receiver to replace Chris Chambers, running back insurance behind the injured Ronnie Brown and the iffy Ricky Williams… Yeah, they need plenty of help.

Fantasy Impact
Again, who Big Tuna puts under center impacts everything else. Adding offensive line help will aid Brown and Beck—and, by extension, perhaps Ted Ginn—but selecting Matt Ryan and failing to put big boys in front of him is a recipe for disaster all the way around. Aside from Brown it’s unlikely anyone on the Dolphins roster will be more than a dim outer blip on the fantasy radar, and even he has plenty of question marks.

Potential Targets
The Dolphins hold four of the first 64 selections, so they have the arsenal to address their many needs. Will they pursue Ryan or wait on Brian Brohm? Do they plug in Jake Long at left tackle or hope Gosder Cherlius of Boston College or USC’s Sam Baker slides? Is Glenn Dorsey too talented to pass up? There is depth at each of the positions the Dolphins are most likely to address, so in essence the world is their oyster.

New England Patriots

Primary Needs
The Patriots don’t draft for need, remember? Of course, if it should happen that the best player on the board when they use the 49ers’ first-round pick (seventh overall) is a linebacker to help replace their aging corps or a cornerback who can step in for the departed Asante Samuel… well, it’s unlikely Bill Belichick will complain. The Pats might also start addressing their offensive line, look for a complement to Laurence Maroney, and find an athletic tweener they can plug in to rush the passer. 

Fantasy Impact
There simply isn’t a spot in the New England lineup for a rookie to step in and make a fantasy impact. The possible exception would be if the Pats end up with a bigger back whom they choose to feature at the stripe in lieu of LoMo or Tom Brady-to-Randy Moss jump balls. Hey, it never hurts to expect the unexpected when it comes to Belichick and the Patriots.

Potential Targets
Rest assured that New England has plenty of video on all of their potential draftees. Sitting seventh could yield Ohio State end/linebacker Vernon Gholston or cornerback Leodis McKelvin, and the direction the Pats go in round one will obviously influence what they do with the three picks they hold from 62 to 94. They could find help at right tackle in the form of UTEP’s Oneil Cousins or Anthony Collins of Kansas; linebacker depth could include Oklahoma’s Curtis Lofton or Purdue’s Cliff Avril; and corners such as Virginia Tech’s Brandon Flowers, Indiana’s Tracy Porter, or Charles Godfrey of Iowa may be tabbed to fill Samuel’s roster spot.

New York Jets

Primary Needs
The Jets couldn’t wait until draft day to improve their squad, so they opened up the vault and went to work. Two offensive linemen, a tight end, a fullback, a nose tackle and a rush linebacker later Gang Green now appears to have the luxury of drafting the proverbial best player available. A running back to complement (replace?) Thomas Jones is a distinct possibility, as is younger offensive line depth and playmakers on the defensive side of the ball.

Fantasy Impact
If it’s Darren McFadden in green, the fantasy impact will be pretty large; maybe not Adrian Peterson in Minnesota large but it’s certainly a similar circumstance. Aside from that type of pick—or perhaps snagging a second-tier back in round two—it’s tough to see someone from this draft class cracking the Jets’ lineup in a manner that would help a typical redraft fantasy team.

Potential Targets
The Jets will find it difficult to bypass McFadden if he’s on the board when they make the sixth overall pick. They’d also be hard-pressed, if they did skip on the Razorback runner, not to add Jonathan Stewart if his toe surgery drops him into their laps early in Round Two. The Jets are truly in a position of being able to take players rather than fill needs, though they’ve already traded away their third- and fifth-round picks so the Class of 2008 will be a smallish one.


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