AFC East

The AFC East has been a hotbed of activity this off-season, with just about every team upgrading its roster via trade or free agency. The only club that hasn’t done much is Buffalo, but they’re expected to make headway with their draft picks next week, so in the long run, every team in the division should be improved, on paper anyway.

With just a week left to go before the NFL Draft commences at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, it’s a perfect time to start our analysis of how each division is shaping up, and break down each team’s needs as it stands right now. Enjoy and feel free to let us know what you think via the comment section…

Buffalo Bills (6-10)

Analysis: The Bills have more than a few holes to fill with this draft, especially after they failed to do much of anything in free agency this off-season. The additions they did make are nice, and will likely help next season, but the players they’ve lost outweigh that group by a long shot, and as such, Buffalo’s brain trust will have their work cut out for them next week.

  • Players added: WR Chad Jackson, OT Cornell Green, DT Dwan Edwards, LB Andra Davis
  • Players lost: QB Gibran Hamdan, WR Terrell Owens, WR Josh Reed, WR Justin Jenkins, OG Seth McKinney, OG Richie Incognito, OG Kendall Simmons, OT Jonathan Scott, DE Ryan Denney, LB Chris Draft, S Todd Johnson

Major Needs:

  • Outside Linebacker - The Bills have switched to a 3-4 defense, and as such are in dire need of at least one quality rush linebacker early on in this draft class. Lucky for them, possibilities abound with plenty of prospects worthy of a selection likely to be available in both the second and the third rounds.
  • Offensive Line – This was the biggest problem for Buffalo last season, so bad that they took a flier on Richie Incognito, in spite of his troubles on the field, to fill in for a few games. Expect them to address this spot early and often through the draft.
  • Defensive Tackle – The defensive scheme change makes this position key as well, as a big space eater is absolutely vital to the 3-4 working as planned. The second round is the most likely spot to find a player to fill this role.
  • Quarterback – It’s hard to imagine that the Bills will stick with Trent Edwards for long this season, seeing as he’s not the type of quarterback the new head coach Chan Gailey prefers. That said, unless they somehow miraculously trade up to the #1 overall spot, there’s not a quarterback worthy of their first round pick. The second round or even later will be better spots to address things here.

2010 Draft Picks:

  • 1st (9)
  • 2nd (41)
  • 3rd (72)
  • 4th (107)
  • 5th (140)
  • 6th (178, 192)
  • 7th (209, 216)

Miami Dolphins (7-9)

Analysis: After a strong finish to last season’s campaign, and a solid off-season that culminated yesterday morning with the acquisition of Brandon Marshall, the Dolphins are expected to be serious contenders for the division crown at the very least next season. They still have some work to do in this draft, but they’re in position to be able to do just that and walk away with several key contributors in positions of need.

  • Players added: WR Brandon Marshall, OG Richie Incognito, LB Karlos Dansby
  • Players lost: LB Joey Porter, LB Akin Ayodele, DE Jason Taylor, CB Nathan Jones, S Gibril Wilson

Major Needs:

  • Inside Linebacker – The Dolphins added a solid pass rusher in Dansby, but as of right now they’re lacking in a big way in the middle, so the addition of a solid tackler to man the interior of their defense is going to be a must.
  • Safety – Miami was severely lacking at the free safety spot before the dumped Wilson, and after losing out on Ryan Clark, they’re still looking for an adequate player to fill that role. Look for them to address this position fairly early next week.

2010 Draft Picks:

  • 1st (12)
  • 3rd (73)
  • 4th (110)
  • 6th (173, 174, 179)
  • 7th (212, 219, 252)

New England Patriots (10-6)

Analysis: The Patriots made the playoffs last season, but you’ll be hard pressed to find any sense of pride surrounding that accomplishment, after they were crushed by the visiting Ravens in the first round. As is typical of the club, instead of going out and spending their cash on new free agents, New England wisely chose to lock up all of their key players, and will now look to use their bevy of draft picks next week to improve the areas that have been lacking as of late.

  • Players added: WR David Patten, LB Marques Murrell, TE Alge Crumpler, DT Damione Lewis, P David King
  • Players lost: TE Chris Baker, DE Derrick Burgess, DE Jarvis Green, P Chris Hanson, TE Ben Watson, RB Chris Taylor

Major Needs:

  • Outside Linebacker – Finding a few solid pass rushers will be a must for the Patriots in this draft, and given the multitude of picks in Bill Belichick’s back pocket, I have no doubt that he’ll find the player(s) he wants, and get them into the fold with little difficulty. This was a major issue all of last season, and fortunately there will be plenty of players capable of filling that role later in the draft.
  • Wide Receiver – Randy Moss is getting up there in age and Wes Welker could have difficulty coming back from the knee injury he suffered late last year, so a selection of a quality receiver has to be priority early on, unless they somehow obtain someone between now and next week.
  • Cornerback – Having Shawn Springs as a starter at corner for another season will be an utter disaster from day one, and as such there is no chance the Patriots go through this draft without finding at least one player capable of stepping in and handling the role immediately.

2010 Draft Picks:

  • 1st (22)
  • 2nd (44, 47, 53)
  • 4th (119)
  • 6th (190, 205)
  • 7th (229, 231, 247, 248, 250)

New York Jets (9-7)

Analysis: What more can be said about the Jets after their shocking run through the AFC Playoffs to the conference championship game? Their defense was dominant and the running game proved to be fierce enough to open up the field for rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez, but there were still enough question marks headed into this off-season that the team went to great lengths to address them in a big way. Anything short of a Super Bowl will be looked at as a disappointment.

  • Players added: CB Antonio Cromartie, RB LaDainian Tomlinson, WR Santonio Holmes, S Brodney Pool, DT Rodrique Wright, LB Lance Laury
  • Players lost: S Kerry Rhodes, LB Larry Izzo, LB Ryan Fowler, K Jay Feely, DE Marques Douglas, TE James Dearth

Major Needs:

  • Outside Linebacker – This need could be mitigated somewhat if the Jets are able to convince Jason Taylor to sign sometime in the near future, but for the time being, New York is going to need to use a draft pick or two to upgrade their pass rush.
  • Safety – They won’t be in all that much trouble next season if they ignore things here, but finding a quality player to run into the lineup as needed and learn from the current starters would be a wise maneuver, given their relative lack of need at other positions.

2010 Draft Picks:

  • 1st (29)
  • 2nd (61)
  • 4th (124)
  • 6th (198)
  • 7th (236)

Forward to Team Needs: AFC North


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