Needs Addressed: Buffalo played the draft board correctly, tabbing corner Leodis McKelvin in round one and still having essentially their choice of big wide receivers 30 picks later. The Bills found value at every stop along their draft board: depth in the secondary, a pass rusher with upside, a speedy linebacker, another bigger wide receiver, a quality backup for Marshawn Lynch, and a tight end who can fill an immediate need as well.
Fantasy Impact: James Hardy should move quickly into the lineup to provide a taller alternative to Lee Evans on the opposite side of the field, while seventh-round pick Steve Johnson is 6-2 and adds another bigger option to the receiving corps. Xavier Omon could end up relieving some of Lynch’s short-yardage work, and tight end Derek Fine has a relatively obstacle-free path to playing time.
Overall Grade: A
Needs Addressed: Hail to the Dolphins, who first inked Jake Long to protect the blind side and then added another ex-Wolverine, Chad Henne, to compete with John Beck and Josh McCown for the right to provide that blind side. In between the Fins selected pass rusher Phillip Merling, then landed more defensive line help in Kendall Langford in round three. Long will have help protecting Henne with the additions of Shawn Murphy in round four and Donald Thomas in round six. When you consider Bill Parcells turned a fourth-round pick into tight end Anthony Fasano and linebacker Akin Ayodele, it’s difficult to think how you could have asked Miami to have come out of the draft with more help.
Fantasy Impact: Can Long do for Ronnie Brown and Ted Ginn what Joe Thomas did for Jamal Lewis and Braylon Edwards? If so, then maybe Beck or Henne will be this year’s Derek Anderson. While Henne is the only “skill” position player the Dolphins used a top-175 pick on, there’s no question the stock of Miami’s fantasy players is climbing based on Big Tuna’s draft day haul.
Overall Grade: A
New England Patriots
Needs Addressed: Thanks to the Joe Staley trade from the 2007 draft the Pats held a first-round pick despite the Spygate punishment. After a little draft-board maneuvering, Bill Belichick’s squad got younger at linebacker with Jerod Mayo and Shawn Crable and added cornerbacks Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite to replace the departed Asante Samuel and Randall Gay. New England didn’t address an offensive line that was exposed in the Super Bowl or find an heir to safety Rodney Harrison, but they did tab a developmental quarterback in Kevin O’Connell and a receiver/returner with NFL bloodlines in Matt Slater.
Fantasy Impact: The master plan certainly doesn’t call for O’Connell to see the field any time soon, and Slater’s contributions will limited to special teams for the foreseeable future. Does the lack of a running back selection mean Laurence Maroney will get to see a larger share of the carries… or just mean we’ll be treated to more Heath Evans, Kevin Faulk, and Sammy Morris?
Overall Grade: B-
New York Jets
Needs Addressed: While the Gang Green faithful at Radio City Music Hall may have wanted Darren McFadden, Vernon Gholston is a more than adequate consolation prize. The Jets traded back into the first round to add athletic tight end Dustin Keller, a move that won’t make Chris Baker happy but should give Gang Green quarterbacks a complementary intermediate target. Speaking of quarterbacks, in a move that clouded the situation more than clarified the Jets added Erik Ainge to the Chad Pennington-Kellen Clemens mix.
Fantasy Impact: Keller joins Bubba Franks to give the Jets an intriguing pair of pass-catching tight ends; just keep in mind that first-round tight ends this millennium have averaged 303 yards and less than two touchdowns in their rookie campaign. Wide receiver Marcus Henry has plenty of potential and will have an opportunity to develop behind Jerricho Cotchery. No McFadden means Gang Green will roll with Thomas Jones and Leon Washington behind a retooled offensive line.
Overall Grade: C+
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