Full AFC East Draft Recap

The 2012 NFL Draft is in the books.  I’m not going to give out grades because I think it’s pretty stupid to judge guys who have not even stepped on an NFL field yet.  Instead I will outline all of the picks for the AFC East and say what I liked and didn’t like about the 2012 NFL Draft.

Buffalo Bills

  1. 105th pick Nigel Bradham

    10th Overall – Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

  2. 41st Overall – Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia
  3. 69th Overall – A.J. Graham, WR, NC State
  4. 105th Overall – Nigel Bradham, OLB, Florida State
  5. 124th Overall – Ron Brooks, CB, Louisiana State
  6. 144th Overall – Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State
  7. 147th Overall – Tank Carder, MLB, Texas Christian
  8. 178th Overall – Mark Asper, OG, Oregon
  9. 251st Overall – John Potter, K, Western Michigan

WHAT I LIKED: Pretty much everything they did from Rounds 1-5 with the exception of A.J. Graham.  Gilmore was the 2nd best CB in the draft and Cordy Glenn was a 1st round talent drafted in the 2nd.  They added some guys with a lot of experience from big schools in rounds 4 and 5.  Ron Brooks could be a real steal coming from a stacked LSU secondary that included Patrick Peterson, Morris Claiborne, and Tyronn Mathieu.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:  This was a deep wide receiver draft and to end up with only Graham who had more of a mid round grade seems to be a bit disappointing.  The Bills could have used more depth at WR, TE, and LB but went with a guard in the 6th round after taking two offensive linemen earlier in the draft.

Miami Dolphins

  1. 42nd pick Jonathan Martin

    8th Overall – Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

  2. 42nd Overall – Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
  3. 72nd Overall – Olivier Vernon, DE, Miami
  4. 78th Overall – Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri
  5. 97th Overall – Lamar Miller, RB, Miami
  6. 155th Overall – Josh Kaddu, LB, Oregon
  7. 183rd Overall – B.J. Cunningham, WR, Michigan State
  8. 215th Overall – Kheeston Randall, DT, Texas
  9. 227th Overall – Rishard Matthews, WR, Nevada

WHAT I LIKED:  Martin is a good tackle prospect.  He can play right tackle and if the Dolphins continue the purge and dump Jake Long after next season he can move over to the left side.  Egnew will be able to catch the ball, just don’t ask him to block.  Cunningham was productive in college.  Lamar Miller is a low risk/high reward guy.  He could replace Reggie Bush if they decide to jettison him.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:  Ryan Tannehill.  I wasn’t enthralled by their front 7 picks.

New York Jets

  1. 202nd pick Terrance Ganaway

    16th Overall – Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

  2. 43rd Overall – Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
  3. 77th Overall – Demario Davis, MLB, Arkansas State
  4. 187th Overall – Josh Bush, S, Wake Forest
  5. 202nd Overall – Terrance Ganaway, HB, Baylor
  6. 203rd Overall – Robert T. Griffin, OG, Baylor
  7. 242nd Overall – Antonio Allen, SS, South Carolina
  8. 244th Overall – Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan

WHAT I LIKED:  Stephen Hill is a high risk/high reward pick in the 2nd round but at his best could be a poor man’s Randy Moss.  Davis will give them decent depth in the middle and provide for some Bart Scott insurance.  I LOVED the Ganaway pick in round 6, that guy is a little ball of fire.  Also loved the Antonio Allen pick in Round 7.  He was very productive in college, that seems like great value.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:  No one can talk me into liking the Coples pick.  Melvin Ingram, Chandler Jones, even Courtney Upshaw were better options that were still on the board to bring in to rush the passer.  I’m not sure a guy with a reputation of taking plays off is the best guy to add to the Jets locker room.  They also took the wrong Robert Griffin from Baylor.

New England Patriots

  1. 21st pick Chandler Joens

    21st Overall – Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse

  2. 25th Overall – Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
  3. 48th Overall – Tavon Wilson, FS, Illinois
  4. 90th Overall – Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas
  5. 197th Overall – Nate Ebner, DB, Ohio State
  6. 224th Overall – Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
  7. 235th Overall – Jeremy Ebert, WR, Northwestern

WHAT I LIKED:  Obviously the aggressive moves in the 1st round.  Belichick and co. picked up two huge pieces for their defense.  Jones was the sexy pick because he’s the sack guy and has a UFC fighting brother but Hightower is the meat and potatoes guy that can be the heart of your defense.  Jake Bequette is a solid pick, he’s your standard hard working, never give up defensive lineman.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:  Going way off the board for Wilson and Ebner.  I’m not sure what the point is?  I understand the Dennard pick but a guy doing something so stupid so close to a life-changing event just rubs me the wrong way (Dennard got arrested for assaulting a police officer last week).  Guys like that don’t usually stick.

The Pats made the biggest impact early by securing Jones and Hightower in the 1st.  The Bills I thought had the most consistent draft and really hit on their picks in rounds 4 and 5, which included a pick acquired for Lee Evans and Marshawn Lynch respectively.  In total the 4 AFC East teams made 33 picks.  Of those 33 picks 15 were on the offensive side of the ball, 17 on the defensive side, and 1 on special teams.  The ACC had the most picks to the AFC East with 9.  The SEC and Big 12 came in second with 5 each, the Pac-12 and Big 10 had 4 each, the Mountain West and MAC had 2 each and the Big East and Sun Belt Conference each had 1.  Ryan Tannehill was the only QB picked by any of the AFC East teams.  There was 6 WRs drafted, the most of any position.

Now all of these guys will get to work in the coming weeks with rookie mini-camps and OTA’s and then training camp.  Some of these guys will make an immediate impact, some will sit for a while before they hit their strides and then some will never pan out at all.  You never know what return you are going to get on any draft pick until they hit the field.  That’s the beauty of the draft – it’s a crap-shoot.  That said, I think it’s time for ESPN to give up their draft coverage because NFL Network was light years ahead of them in quality all weekend long.

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AFC East Draft Day 1 Review and Day 2 Preview

Day 1 of the NFL draft is in the books and day 2 looms tonight.  From a pure recap and review stand point the new draft format works a whole lot better.  You can spend all day analyzing the first round picks and then move on to what will happen on Friday night in Rounds 2 and 3.  Here’s a look at what I liked and didn’t like on Day 1:

  • The Pats got aggressive in order to acquire the uber-versatile Hightower

    I LIKED:  The Patriots’ aggressiveness in Round 1.  Their swindling pick system became obsolete with the new draft rules and so instead of finding trade partners to kick the ball down the road they reversed course and aggressively pursued their targets by trading up.  They got two good young defensive guys to add to their front 7 although I seem to be in the minority in liking the Hightower pick more than the Jones pick.  You just don’t find that versatility that Hightower possesses often.

  • I DIDN’T LIKE:  The pick of Ryan Tannehill from a football standpoint.  I get why they did it and I can’t honestly say that I wouldn’t have done it if I were in their shoes but this guy just doesn’t do it for me.  If he doesn’t pan out then it could set your franchise back for years.  Is it worth it to get a few months worth of fan support?  It certainly is desperately needed after the failures by Stephen Ross to woe coaches and quarterbacks to Miami.  The only benefit of the doubt I will give them in that Mike Sherman, who was Tannehill’s college coach, is now the Offensive Coordinator in Miami so that may help Tannehill’s transition.
  • South Carolina CB Stephon Gilmore fit the Bill for Buddy Nix and co.

    I LIKED:  Buddy Nix staying true to his draft board again and not reaching for need.  The Bills need a WR and LT the most but since they had Michael Floyd off of their board due to character issues there was no guy at those positions worth the #10 pick.  It happens every year…two years ago it was Jimmy Clausen and Bryan Bulaga.  If they took either one of those guys then they would still be looking at trying to find a QB and a LT since Clausen sucks and Bulaga plays the right side.  Gilmore should be a great player in time and will get veteran leadership from Drayton Florence and Terrence McGee in the meantime.

  • I DIDN’T LIKE:  The Jets picking Quinton Coples over Melvin Ingram, Chandler Jones, or even Courtney Upshaw.  Coples was seen as a top 10 pick during the college season but attitude and effort issues dropped him down the board.  He also seems big to play OLB in the 3-4 which is what the Jets needed.  The Ingram pass is the biggest mystery to me because I think Ingram is going to be a real player in the future.  I can’t fault them too much for passing on Upshaw because everyone else did too but I still think he’ll be a player in the right situation.
  • NON AFC EAST THINGS I LIKED ABOUT THE DRAFT LAST NIGHT:  Loved Pittsburgh’s pick of David Decastro at #24, best pick of the night in my opinion.  Just a perfect fit and there may not be a guy in the draft set up to contribute right away than DeCastro.  Dallas made out by moving up to get Morris Claiborne at #6.  Dre Kirkpatrick could be a steal for the Bengals if he pans out, his arrest helped Cincy with that one.  They also got a good player in guard Kevin Zeitler with their 2nd 1st rounder.  I think Melvin Ingram was a steal for San Diego at #18 as well.
  • I didn't like the Poe pick before he got up to the podium...

    NON AFC EAST THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE:  I’m not sure about Dontari Poe going #11 to the Chiefs.  Even factoring the systems I liked Fletcher Cox and Michael Brockers better.  Whitney Mercilus was a one year wonder so Houston going with him was a bit of a surprise.  I didn’t like the AJ Jenkins to San Fransisco pick although there is room for him to develop behind Moss and Manningham.

  • WHAT TO LOOK FOR TONIGHT:  What’s interesting is that the 3 AFC East teams that didn’t make the playoffs all have the same needs going into tonight.  The Bills, Jets and Dolphins all need receivers and offensive tackles.  The Pats have multiple picks and still need help in the secondary and could use some offensive line depth but they can add it anywhere, don’t necessarily need a tackle.  Buffalo is up 1st with the 9th pick of Round 2 however any 1 of the other 3 teams can move up.  As you saw last night that’s not hard to do these days.  There are plenty of wide receivers and tackles at the early stages of the 2nd round so look for a lot of action there.  The 3rd round seems so far away at this point but I’m sure the teams will be looking for whatever they didn’t get in Round 2.  I am not bold enough to mock the next two rounds especially after all the movement of last night.

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Patriots pull reverse course and trade up for two defensive studs

The Patriots have made a habit in recent years of collecting draft picks and rolling them over year after year like they were an IRA or a mutual fund.  That practice came to an end last night when instead of moving back for more picks the Pats actually moved up in the draft to get players that they targeted.  The change in philosophy makes a lot of sense due to the new NFL draft structure and rookie salary pool.  With all the salaries tied so close together the value of picks have deteriorated,  The old NFL draft value chart made by Jimmy Johnson back in the late 80’s has turned obsolete.  Gone are the days where you can net a 1st round pick in the next draft for someone to move up in the 2nd round.  Belichick and his staff adjusted accordingly and used their own chips as currency to get the players that they wanted.  Here’s a look at the two players that the Patriots drafted:

New Patriots DE Chandler Jones

21st pick overall Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse – Jones is a guy that really flew up the draft boards in recent weeks.  The pick has gotten a lot of publicity but hopefully fans temper their expectations a bit, at least at the outset, because Jones is a bit of a project guy.  He’s at 266 right now but will probably develop into a playing weight of about 280-285 in 2 or 3 years.  That’s when he should really hit his stride as a player.  He’s got 10 sack potential and will be a versatile lineman with the ability to excel against both the run and the pass but he will probably be a work in progress for the first few years.  The Pats are probably going to run a more hybrid scheme this year, mixing the 3-4 in with the 4-3.  I think Jones will see the majority of his action in the 4 man front replacing Mark Anderson in a platoon with another DE, either someone picked today in the 2nd round or a veteran, perhaps even Andre Carter when he is healthy from his knee injury.  Long term Jones will be looked at as a cornerstone for the defensive line that will likely be running primarily out of a 4-3 base defense.  The 3-4 players that the Patriots used in their hey day are pretty much all gone with the exception of Vince Wilfork who can play both schemes anyway.  With the spread offense en vogue in the NFL these days defenses are using a ton of nickel packages and that means 4 down linemen which is why the 3-4 is sort of fading away again.  Jones is a great pick to develop during the transition.  He probably couldn’t have gotten drafted into a better situation, with Bill Belichick and Pepper Johnson and the rest of the defensive staff in New England as good as any in the league at developing defensive players, particularly defensive linemen.  I would give this pick a B+ with the only red flag being that he was a late riser which I am always weary of.  That means that his game film is not as good as some other guys but his workouts were better, which doesn’t always translate to a better player on the field.  However with Belichick and his staff ready to develop him he could not have found himself in a better situation.

 

New Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower

25th pick overall Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama – In a move that should shock no one Belichick moved up in the 1st round again (ok maybe that should shock you) to take a player from a Nick Saban coached defense.  Dont’a Hightower is as versatile a linebacker as they come.  In a 3-4 he is strictly an inside guy but in the 4-3, which I suspect the Patriots will be moving towards, he is a guy that can play all 3 LB spots if need be.  He’s got great size (6’2″, 265 lbs.) and good speed and can move sideline to sideline but can also rush the passer if need be.  I would imagine that the Pats will use a heavy rotation involving Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Rob Ninkovich, and Hightower this season with only Mayo getting more snaps than Hightower.  Brandon Spikes will probably get the most snaps in the middle this season but I can see Hightower playing with Mayo in the nickel packages.  Spikes is good when he is on but he is inconsistent.  I can see Hightower eventually usurping Spikes in the middle if he plays as good as he has the potential to.  Right now I see the guys mixing and matching in spots, Belichick loves to be creative and he can get plenty creative with the top 4 linebackers he has on the field now.  Hightower came from a Nick Saban coached team so he knows what it’s like to be well coached and how to play in a complex scheme.  His transition into the Belichick defense should be smoother than most and he should be ready to contribute right away.  Again this is a good long term pick for the Pats but unlike Jones Hightower will be there on opening day ready to make an impact.  I give this pick an A all things considered.  Hightower is the prototype for a Bill Belichick defense and he possesses a versatility that you don’t often see in a linebacker.

The Pats pick two more times today.  Again a trade UP wouldn’t be out of the question but I can see them trading down with one of their picks to grab a few for Saturday.  Alabama DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw looks mighty intriguing sitting there and there is a good chance that Baltimore will be able to snatch him up here.  The Pats do still need a lot of help in the secondary.  Janoris Jenkins will probably go early 2nd round but the Pats would probably have to move up to the first 2 or 3 picks of the night to get him.  Jenkins is by far the best CB on the board and would have been a 1st rounder if he didn’t have character issues.  The Pats would find a ton of competition if they tried to move up for Jenkins so maybe staying put would be the best option.  Belichick loves picking guys in the 2nd round and has had success in the past few years with Rob Gronkowski and Brandon Spikes among others.  I would expect today to be secondary day as they worked on the front 7 yesterday but don’t rule out another front 7 player or an offensive lineman.

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