Between the quarterback drama in New York, the rebuilding projects in Miami and Buffalo, and the never-ending reign of the Patriots at the top of the AFC, there's rarely a dull moment in the AFC East. That was true during the draft as well, as both the Bills and the Jets made some surprising moves that shake up the division for years to come.
How did each of these teams do during the draft? Jared Counterman examine's each of the AFC East draft classes.
New England Patriots
2nd round #52 – Jamie Collins DE/OLB, Southern Miss
2nd round #59 – Aaron Dobson WR, Marshall
3rd round #83 – Logan Ryan CB, Rutgers
3rd round #91 – Duron Harmon S, Rutgers
4th round #102 – Josh Boyce WR, TCU
7th round #226 – Michael Buchanan OLB/DE, Illinois
7th round #235 – Steve Beauharnais LB, Rutgers
Analysis: As always, Bill Belicheck was able to wheel and deal his way into a more significant role with this draft while turning 5 selections into 8. With their first selection, New England took a shot on one of the draft’s highest upside players in Jamie Collins. He’s simply a freak athlete that has stood out on tape since he first stepped on Southern Miss’ campus. They’ll be able to move him around their defensive front and remain a dominantly multiple defense. Aaron Dobson was one of the only later round WRs with true “X” or #1 WR potential. This was a huge area of need going into the draft and the Dobson pick fits perfectly.
3rd round CB Logan Ryan can make an impact in run support early but he’ll have to overcome fairly stiff hips to be a long term player. S Duron Harmon was a huge head stretcher and a player that not many had seen in an extensive setting. The selection comes with strong ties to the Rutgers program, which could mean Mr. Belicheck knows something others don’t. TCU WR Josh Boyce started to rise up in the process with stellar workout numbers, but the lack of consistent production is a concern.
Michael Buchanan has the length and twitch ability to be a huge steal in the 7th round. He’s got starting OLB upside in this defense and could be a sub-package guy day-1. Steve Beauharnais marks the third Rutgers player drafted by New England in 2013 and should look to get on the field in special teams situations.
1st round #3 – Dion Jordan OLB, Oregon
2nd round #54 – Jamar Taylor CB, Boise State
3rd round #77 – Dallas Thomas OT, Tennessee
3rd round #93 – Will Davis CB, Utah State
4th round #104 – Jelani Jenkins LB, Florida
4th round #106 – Dion Sims TE, Michigan State
5th round #164 – Mike Gillislee RB, Florida
5th round #166 – Caleb Sturgis K, Florida
7th round #250 – Don Jones S, Arkansas State
Analysis: The Dolphins 2013 haul will likely go down as the favorite for many experts. GM Jeff Ireland made a huge splash by getting up on the ladder for OLB Dion Jordan, and passing on the assumed selection in Lane Johnson. Jordan has the ability to be a defensive force in the NFL, something the Dolphins needed opposite the explosive Cameron Wake. In that trade up, they only surrendered a 2nd round pick to jump from out of the top-10 to #3 overall. 2nd round CB Jamar Taylor is a starting caliber NFL corner with all the necessary movement and identification skill one would need. He’s going to play in the spot for a long time.
Dallas Thomas in the third round doesn’t solve the OL ailments in south beach, but he’s certainly not going to hurt them. Much like Taylor, Thomas projects to be a solid, consistent professional. Will Davis was a small reach in the 4th round for some, but he’s got the upside to be a #2 corner in the NFL. Davis’ poor Senior Bowl week left people questioning some positive tapes. LB Jelani Jenkins should give Miami some depth on the inside behind new acquisition in Ellerbe. Both Jenkins and former teammate Jon Bostic were run and hit linebackers that asked questions later. Dion Sims is widely regarded as a blocking TE with movement skills that were shown inconsistently on tape. He’s somewhat of a reach in the 4th round.
RB Mike Gillislee could find a home in a backfield in Miami that lacks a sure thing. He’s going to bring his lunch pail week in and week out in the power running game. Specialist Caleb Sturgis started the run in the later part of the draft, he was a consistent player in the kicking game at Florida. Don Jones was a highly targeted UDFA guy, big and fast type, that Miami wound up securing in the draft. He jumps off the Arkansas State tape as an elite athlete.
1st round #16 – EJ Manuel QB, Florida State
2nd round #41 – Robert Woods WR, USC
2nd round #46 – Kiko Alonso LB, Oregon
3rd round #78 – Marquise Goodwin WR, Texas
4th round #105 – Duke Williams S, Nevada
5th round #143 – Jonathan Meeks S, Clemson
6th round #177 – Dustin Hopkins K, Florida State
7th round #222 – Chris Cragg TE, Arkansas
Analysis: It was pretty clear all along that Buffalo had to make a move at the QB spot. If Manuel was the guy all along, trading down and gaining extra draft capital while still getting your potential franchise guy is a savvy draft day move. I question his ability and mechanics when fitting the football in windows, but the tools otherwise are there in a strong way. Robert Woods was a homerun as he’ll be a productive NFL WR for the next decade. He’s simply got a complete game with a splash of quiet explosion.
Kiko Alonso will replace the departed ILB Kelvin Shepard although the two are very different. Alonso plays like a bull in a china shop, he’s in 5th gear all the time. In a trade up scenario, expect him to start day-1. In another effort to make Manuel a success, Bills GM Buddy Nix supplied his offensive coaching staff with a serious chess piece in Marquise Goodwin. The best football from this guy hasn’t been seen. Goodwin will open things up for a longtime with his world class speed. Again, we see a front office exercise the double dip, this time at the safety position with Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks. Meeks could have been had later by most evaluations, but Williams is an athlete in the back half that’s going to stick in this league.
Specialist Dustin Hopkins was a part of a huge run on specialists in the 6th round, drafted kickers have high expectations. TE Chris Cragg is also a guy that probably hasn’t played his best football after being criminally misused in Arkansas’ offense last year.
New York Jets
1st round #9 – Dee Milliner CB, Alabama
1st round #13 – Sheldon Richardson DT/DE, Missouri
2nd round #39 – Geno Smith QB, West Virginia
3rd round #72 – Brian Winters OG/OT, Kent State
5th round #141 –Oday Aboushi OG/OT, Virginia
6th round #178 – William Campbell DT/OG, Michigan
7th round #215 – Tommy Bohanon FB, Wake Forest
Analysis: For any team picking twice in the top-15 and 3 times in the top-40, it’s hard to “mess up a draft”. With his first selection, new GM John Idzik essentially replaced the departed Darrelle Revis with the 2013 draft classes’ top corner prospect in Dee Milliner. At Alabama, Milliner was an exclusive boundary type corner and it’s hard to imagine Rex Ryan taking him out of that comfort zone.
The pick at #13 overall can easily be knocked and praised. There are looming questions are a possible poor scheme fit, but at the same time Richardson was widely viewed as the best talent on the board. He’s added to an already over-talented defensive line in New York. Quinton Coples, Mo Wilkerson, and Sheldon Richardson could be something truly special very soon. Watch for more exotic fronts with those three in the mix.
Geno Smith is going to be pulled apart and talked about to no end all the way until the first whistle is blown in 2013. Then he’ll be talked about more. When it comes down to the basics, a Geno fan or not, the Jets new front office was still able to select a potential franchise QB with their 3rd pick of the draft. There’s no reason why he couldn’t have been a top-10 pick. Smith has the competitive nature and passions for the game to turn his draft day fall into an ESPN 30 for 30 special down the road.
Brian Winters projects to use his nasty nature on the inside and could be an early starter for the Jets. With that selection already in place, it was odd to see a double dip go down with another probable OG convert in Aboushi. He’s less physical than Winters and lacks some basic techniques that are required in a long term starter. 7th round pick William Campbell was selected as an offensive lineman after playing this past season at Michigan on the defensive line. FB Tommy Bohanon is an absolute bowling ball that projects to make the roster.
It should also be addressed that the Jets were able to swing their 4th round selection for former New Orleans Saints RB Chris Ivory, which could prove to be a big time move.