FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Checking in on the drafts for the rest of the AFC East teams, who hope that their newest additions can help narrow the gap between the Patriots and the rest of the division.
Rd. 1 - #10: Stephon Gilmore, cornerback, South Carolina
Rd. 2 - #41: Cordy Glenn, offensive line, Georgia
Rd. 3 - #69: T.J. Graham, wide receiver, North Carolina State
Rd. 4 - #105: Nigel Bradham, outside linebacker, Florida State
Rd. 4 - #124: Ron Brooks, cornerback, LSU
Rd. 5 - #144: Zebrie Sanders, offensive tackle, Zebrie Sanders
Rd. 5 - #147: Tank Carder, outside linebacker, TCU
Rd. 6 - #187: Mark Asper, guard, Oregon
Rd. 7 - #251: John Potter, kicker, Western Michigan
Take: Buffalo spent early (and heavily) during the free agency period to make sure that generating a pass rush would not again be a weakness during 2012. In the draft, the Bills worked hard to fortify their secondary and offensive line, adding Gilmore in the first round and Glenn next at pick 41. Both are considered candidates to start in 2012, and Glenn may slide into the left tackle vacancy created when Demetress Bell signed with Philadelphia this offseason. Those two players fill two of Buffalo’s remaining needs. Taking into account the additions made prior to the draft and the perceived strength of this year’s crop of draft choices, Buffalo looks to be improved after stumbling to 6-10 last season. Depth on the roster could prove to be the key in 2012.
Bottom Line: The Bills played it safe relative to their divisional counterparts, staying put at their top picks and drafting players in the vicinity of where they were projected to land. The rookie to watch is Glenn, as his ability to protect quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick may play a pivotal role in the team’s offensive success next season.
Rd. 1 - #8: Ryan Tannehill, quarterback, Texas A&M
Rd. 2 - #42: Jonathan Martin, offensive tackle, Stanford
Rd. 3 - #72: Olivier Vernon, defensive end, Miami
Rd. 3 - #78: Michael Egnew, tight end, Missouri
Rd. 4 - #97: Lamar Miller, running back, Miami
Rd. 5 - #155: Josh Kaddu, outside linebacker, Oregon
Rd. 6 - #183: B.J. Cunningham, wide receiver, Michigan State
Rd. 7 - #215: Kheestan Randall, defensive tackle, Texas
Rd. 7 - #227: Rishard Matthews, wide receiver, Nevada
Take: Miami landed the player they hope will become their franchise quarterback in Tannehill, and pairing him with offensive coordinator Mike Sherman (who coached Tannehill at Texas A&M), makes for an interesting storyline heading into 2012. The team appeared determined to surround 23-year old with a strong supporting cast, adding a top-rated tackle in Martin, Egnew (who was a first team All-American in 2010), and Miller, a local product who slipped further than many projected after shining at the Combine. It was surprising to see the team pass on the available wide receivers until the sixth round, given that the team traded Brandon Marshall this offseason.
Bottom Line: Miami is hitching its wagon to a quarterback prospect that some would contend is not ready to be a starter in the NFL. That being said, the NFL is a quarterback league, and the team has witnessed something of a turnstile at the position in recent seasons.
NEW YORK JETS
Rd. 1 - #16: Quinton Coples, defensive end, North Carolina
Rd. 2 - #43: Stephen Hill, wide receiver, Georgia Tech
Rd. 3 - #77: Demario Davis, outside linebacker, Arkansas State
Rd. 6 - #187: Josh Bush, safety, Wake Forest
Rd. 6 - #202: Terrance Ganaway, running back, Baylor
Rd. 6 - #203: Robert T. Griffin, guard, Baylor
Rd. 7 - #242: Antonio Allen, safety, South Carolina
Rd. 7 - #244: Jordan White, wide receiver, Western Michigan
Take: Jets general manager Mike Tannenbuam has shown in the past that he’s unafraid to act boldly on draft day, architecting previous trade-ups in the first round to land both quarterback Mark Sanchez (2009) and cornerback Darrelle Revis (2007). This year he stood pat in round one, but still demonstrated his audacious taste by drafting defensive end Quinton Coples from North Carolina, a player many believe to have boom-or-bust potential. Tannenbaum duplicated the strategy in round two, this time picking WR Stephen Hill from Georgia Tech. He flashed sensational athletic ability at the NFL Combine, although his production was mitigated by the Yellow Jackets’ triple option offense. Bush and Allen add bodies to a position the Jets have made a priority this offseason, while Robert T. Griffin from Baylor (not to be confused with RG3) adds flexibility to the offensive line, having played both guard and right tackle during his college career.
Bottom Line: Ultimately, this draft will be defined by the success of both Coples and Hill. Should those two live up to the lofty expectations associated with their physical abilities, the Jets will have landed two dynamic roster pieces. If not, Jets fans will express sentiments similar to their displeasure with the wholly underwhelming career of 2008 first-round pick Vernon Gholston, who failed to register a sack in three pro seasons.