My first look at the 2013 NFL Draft covers the AFC East, where the New England Patriots ruled as usual and no other team made any real waves. The Miami Dolphins could very well be on their way up, the New York Jets are definitely on their way down, and the Buffalo Bills are hard to gauge as always. The Patriots lost more than they added so far this offseason and need to make the best of their five draft picks in order to stave off a rapidly improving Miami team.
Buffalo Bills (Last Season: 6-10; First Pick: 8th Overall; Number of Picks: 6)
Is Kevin Kolb the quarterback of Buffalo’s future? The organization’s own answer to that question may determine whether the Bills take a chance on West Virginia QB Geno Smith or not. If they don’t, there is a very strong possibility that the Bills would draft Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib in Round Two. Nassib’s head coach at Syracuse, Doug Marrone, took the Bills’ job in January, and it isn’t every day a coach gets to train his quarterback in college and the pros. So if the Bills do pass on Geno Smith at number eight overall (or if Smith isn’t available), who will they draft there? They do have several other needs to fill besides quarterback. One of them is wide receiver, someone to play opposite Stevie Johnson; Tavon Austin, wideout buddy of the aforementioned at West Virginia, could be a fit. If not, the best available player might be a linebacker or Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson.
Miami Dolphins (Last Season: 7-9; First Pick: 12th Overall; Number of Picks: 11)
Despite losing OT Jake Long and RB Reggie Bush, Miami has had one of the league’s better offseasons thus far. The Fins finally filled their gaps at wide receiver and tight end by signing WR Mike Wallace and TE Dustin Keller, and got younger and better on their front seven by signing linebackers Dannell Ellerbee and Phillip Wheeler. QB Ryan Tannehill played much better than I had expected in his rookie campaign, too, but if the Dolphins want to compete with New England, they need to keep him upright. Losing Long doesn’t help that. Therefore, their two options are to trade up into the Top 10 to draft OT Lane Johnson (Oklahoma) or settle for OT/OG DJ Fluker (Alabama). There aren’t many other pressing needs Miami has, but they shouldn’t even think about passing up on Alabama RB Eddie Lacy if he’s available at number 42, their second-round pick. Secondary depth is also an issue for them.
New England Patriots (Last Season: 12-4; First Pick: 29th Overall; Number of Picks: 5)
The Patriots usually have more picks than this, and it’s unfortunate for them that they also usually have fewer needs than this. One of their biggest needs, however, continues to be the defensive secondary. They acquired CB Aqib Talib from Tampa Bay midseason in 2012, and last month re-signed him to a one-year contract. 33-year-old CB Adrian Wilson was also signed, but they should look for a cornerback who will start for them for years to come. The best corners expected to be available at the 29th pick are Washington’s Desmond Trufant and Boise State’s Jamar Taylor. The Patriots also will be looking for another wide receiver; they signed Danny Amendola, but he isn’t a perfect replacement for what they had in Wes Welker, and they also lost Brandon Lloyd. This should be their second pick, or at the very least their third. It has been reported that Louisiana Tech WR Quinton Patton is one of New England’s targets.
New York Jets (Last Season: 6-10; First Pick: 9th Overall; Number of Picks: 7)
The New York Jets need a lot of things, but a first-round quarterback is not one of them. Yes, Mark Sanchez will get one more chance to prove his worth as a starting quarterback in this league, and his main competition will be from veteran David Garrard. There are no sure things at quarterback in the first round, so they had better not reach for a guy like Matt Barkley. The Jets immediate focus needs to be on a pass rusher, preferably at the 3-4 OLB position, and luckily that’s a position this draft class is deep in. Oregon’s 6’7 LB Dion Jordan should be number one on their list; Ezekiel Ansah, Barkevious Mingo and Jarvis Jones would all be good picks if they were the best available OLB at number nine. Their other needs that should be addressed in the middle rounds include nose tackle, offensive line depth, tight end, and, yes, potentially a quarterback like Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib or NC State’s Mike Glennon. New GM John Idzik comes from a Seattle regime that often made trades for picks and players during the draft, so don’t expect the Jets to stick with the one pick per round they currently have.