We are at the start of free agency on Tuesday. But there's always room to sneak the NFL draft into the discussion.
ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. provided his third mock draft of the offseason. There are some intriguing picks for the AFC East by Kiper to examine.
Pick: No. 8
Kiper’s selection: Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
Analysis: Despite medical concerns, Kiper believes the Bills will take the plunge with Jones. It seems like a natural fit. Buffalo will be using more 3-4 looks under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, and the Bills need playmaking linebackers. Jones has a history of spinal stenosis but was medically cleared by doctors. There are certainly safer picks available to Buffalo at No. 8. According to Kiper’s mock draft, Buffalo will just miss out on the chance to select West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. Quarterback is Buffalo’s biggest need, and I’m curious to see if the team would be willing to take Smith at No. 8 if he’s available.
Pick: No. 9
Kiper’s selection: Barkevious Mingo, LB, LSU
Analysis: Kiper predicts the AFC East will choose linebackers with back-to-back picks. Mingo is a good prospect who can add another pass-rusher to New York’s defense. But the Jets addressed their defensive front seven in the first round the past two years with defensive ends Quinton Coples and Muhammad Wilkerson. The defense will be fine. I think it’s time for the Jets to boost their struggling offense. They have needs at receiver, tight end, running back, offensive tackle and quarterback. New York will not be major players in free agency due to a tight salary cap. The draft is the best way for the Jets to get some offensive playmakers who can score points.
Pick: No. 12
Kiper’s selection: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Analysis: Two weeks ago this move made a lot of sense. Patterson is one of my favorite prospects in this draft and the Dolphins were thin at receiver. However, it now seems like overkill for Miami to use a first-round pick on a receiver after Miami re-signed Brian Hartline and is expected to land speedy No. 1 receiver Mike Wallace in free agency. The Dolphins should use their top pick on a player with the potential to start right away and make an immediate impact. If the Dolphins sign Wallace as expected, Miami’s top three receivers are Wallace, Hartline and Davone Bess. Miami has plenty of other needs to address in the first round, such as cornerback, safety, offensive tackle and tight end.
Pick: No. 29
Kiper’s selection: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Analysis: The Patriots are very thin at cornerback. Aqib Talib and Kyle Arrington are both unrestricted free agents and Alfonzo Dennard has legal issues. There is a chance New England could be without its top three cornerbacks from last season. That's why this Rhodes pick makes sense. Rhodes is not as refined at top cornerback prospect Dee Milliner. But Rhodes is a big, physical corner who is best in press coverage. The Patriots need those types of corners on their roster.