Buffalo has long-running problems in their scouting department, and this draft didn’t change that image. Let’s start with the good stuff. The selection of running back C.J. Spiller at No. 9 was the perfect antidote to an offense without playmakers. The draft went off the rails afterward.
Where’s the quarterback? Buffalo waited until the seventh round to take a developmental pick in Levi Brown from Troy. The Bills have to sell their fans on Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick for another year.
Where’s the offensive line help? With only a fifth-round pick added (Ed Wang), perhaps the worst group in football hasn’t improved all offseason. A lot of energy was spent on picks for the team’s transition to a 3-4 defense (DT Torrell Troup, DE Alex Carrington). We’re unconvinced this transition is worth the trouble for their group of players. This team had too many needs to fill them all, but it doesn’t look like a franchise with a plan.
A savvy trade down from No. 12 to 28 allowed the Dolphins to recoup assets given up in the Brandon Marshall trade. First-round defensive end Jared Odrick was one of our favorite players available. He’s a safe, smart pick. Miami can play more four man fronts with him in the mix. After that, the Dolphins took massive, lunch pail grinders that won’t make headlines. They believe in building strengths and that did that on the defensive line.
When you include Marshall in the mix, this was a rock solid draft.
New England Patriots
The team finally rebuilt their sagging linebacker group. Inside linebacker Brandon Spikes could be the next Tedy Bruschi. The Patriots will be happy if he’s the next Ted Johnson. Wideout Taylor Price was a sticky-fingered steal in the third round. New England got the two values at tight end in the draft in Rob Gronkowski (second round) and Aaron Hernandez (fourth round.) Bill Belichick hopes first-round cornerback Devin McCourty does better than their recent picks at cornerback.
New York Jets
The Jets have a history of targeting specific players and trading up. They’ve done well with it. They deserve the benefit of the doubt in this regard, which saves their grade. We hate the Leon Washington trade. They wasted resources to get a low-rent replacement for him (USC running back Joe McKnight) and took a fullback with the pick they got for Washington. First-round cornerback Kyle Wilson will fit right in, and offensive line coach Bill Callahan will make second-round pick Vlad Ducasse a keeper. Santonio Holmes was a steal for a fifth-round pick.
Still, the Jets didn’t address their defensive line, which is old. This was an uneven draft made by a team that thinks it is only a few pieces away from a title. That’s a dangerous approach.
G.M. Ozzie Newsome is always happy to take talent that drops because of perceived shortcomings. Sergio Kindle could be the next great Ravens linebacker and only cost a second-round pick. His slide reminds us of Todd Heap’s fall in 2001.
“Mount” Terrance Cody found the perfect home in the late second round. The Ravens will use the Alabama product as a rotational player to help their rush defense. The rest of the collegiate picks were sensible, and the team smartly used two mid-round picks to acquire Anquan Boldin earlier in the offseason. Baltimore got those picks back by extracting a bounty from Denver in the Tim Tebow trade. These pieces help make Baltimore a Super Bowl contender, though we’re still worried about their secondary.
The Bengals are the guy at your fantasy draft that takes boom-or-bust players with every single pick. Most of the Bengals picks are swing for the fences picks. That approach sometimes results in a lot of strikeouts.
First-round tight end Jermaine Gresham fills a huge need, but has some injury concerns. We still like the pick. Second-round defensive end Carlos Dunlap’s talent isn’t worth his trouble. It’s telling that Urban Meyer’s buddy Bill Belichick wanted no part of him. Third-round wideout Jordan Shipley is a similar player to current Bengal Andre Caldwell. They needed an outside speed receiver. It’s not good when Antonio Bryant is their best option. Defenders Brandon Ghee (cornerback) and Geno Atkins (defensive tackle) were good middle-round picks, but the Bengals didn’t address a safety need.
Running back Montario Hardesty is a nice second-round complement to Jerome Harrison. Safety T.J. Ward looks like a reach early in the second round, and the team didn’t address their glaring lack of a pass rush. The front seven on Cleveland’s defense should have been a priority, but they continued to stock up in the secondary with Larry Asante, another safety in the fifth round. Carlton Mitchell could be a sleeper in the sixth around at receiver. This wasn’t a draft to restart a franchise.
Center Maurkice Pouncey in the first round was perhaps the most predictable pick outside of the top four overall selections. He can help the team immediately by moving to guard. Pittsburgh is the best at identifying players to convert to outside linebackers, so we like the chances of second rounder Jason Worilds and fourth-round pick Thaddeus Gibson. Running back Jonathan Dwyer is a bruiser that was a great value in the sixth round.
This is an organization that doesn’t value cornerbacks that highly, but the Steelers still need secondary help. That said, the Steelers have a philosophy and stick to it. It’s hard to argue with what works.
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