Draft capsules for the AFC East
The Associated Press
Apr. 21, 2016
Draft capsules for AFC East teams:
13. MIAMI DOLPHINS (6-10)
LAST SEASON: For seventh year in row Miami failed to finish above .500, but season was even worse than usual — Dolphins were last in AFC East for first time since 2007. They fired Joe Philbin after four games, and following season replaced popular interim coach Dan Campbell with Adam Gase, who had been Bears offensive coordinator. Dolphins ranked 25th on defense — worst since 1997 — and 26th on offense, an indication upgrade needs are widespread. It may be impossible for Dolphins to dig out of their hole in AFC East in one draft. They went 1-5 in division last year and were outscored 185-92 by Patriots, Jets and Bills.
THEY NEED: CB, RB, LB, WR, G.
THEY DON'T NEED: QB, C, TE.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: CB Eli Apple, Ohio State; CB Mackensie Alexander, Clemson; RB Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State; CB William Jackson III, Houston; DE Shaq Lawson, Clemson; CB Vernon Hargreaves, Florida.
OUTLOOK: Second-year executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum will have final say on draft decisions, with input from Gase and new general manager Chris Grier, who was promoted after nine years as director of college scouting. Dolphins traded down from eighth spot in deal that brought cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso from Eagles. They may trade down again, because draft is deep in cornerbacks, their biggest need. Miami lost Brent Grimes in free agency after allowing 4,000 net yards passing in 2015, highest total in franchise's 50 seasons.
19. BUFFALO BILLS (8-8)
LAST SEASON: Buffalo's high-priced defense underperformed in playing significant role in extending NFL's longest active playoff drought to 16 seasons — and in Rex Ryan's first year as coach, no less. DE Mario Williams went public in complaining that personnel didn't fit Ryan's defensive scheme. On bright side, offense showed signs of progress under first-time starter Tyrod Taylor, who went 8-6, and LeSean McCoy-led running attack that topped NFL in yards rushing. After opening 5-4, Bills were undone by 1-4 stretch that knocked them out of contention.
THEY NEED: LB, DL, WR, S.
THEY DON'T NEED: CB, RB.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama; DT Jarran Reed, Alabama; DT Shaq Lawson, Clemson.
OUTLOOK: After spending last season stocking up on offensive players, GM Doug Whaley is focused on overhauling defense. Bills have immediate holes to fill after releasing Williams and failing to re-sign starting LB Nigel Bradham. Buffalo is particularly thin at linebacker, with newly signed free agent Zach Brown only one listed at weak-side position. DT Kyle Williams, 10-year veteran, showed signs of wear and tear missing final 10 games with knee injury. Ryan vows defense will be better despite player losses, and has revamped defensive staff by hiring twin, Rob (assistant head coach/defense), former All-Pro safety Ed Reed (secondary), and John Blake (linemen). Plenty of focus on Taylor to prove 2015 was no fluke entering final year of contract.
20. NEW YORK JETS (10-6)
LAST SEASON: Jets barely missed making playoffs in first season for coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan. Facing win-and-in scenario in regular-season finale, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw INTs on Jets' final three drives in loss to former coach Rex Ryan's Bills. Despite lousy finish, Fitzpatrick tossed franchise-record 31 TD passes after getting starting job when Geno Smith's jaw was broken by punch from teammate during training camp. After being traded by Chicago, Brandon Marshall re-established himself as playmaking WR with Jets-record 109 catches for 1,502 yards and 14 TDs. Eric Decker also had big year with 80 catches and 12 TD grabs.
THEY NEED: QB, OL, pass-rushing OLB, CB, P.
THEY DON'T NEED: WR, C, K.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: QB Paxton Lynch, Memphis; OLB Leonard Floyd, Georgia; OT Taylor Decker, Ohio State; LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama; OLB Darron Lee, Ohio State.
OUTLOOK: Jets entering draft with some major questions, including unsettled QB situation with Fitzpatrick still unsigned and DE Muhammad Wilkerson mentioned in several trade rumors after receiving franchise tag. Could move up in draft-day deal, using Wilkerson as trade bait, if they badly want one of top QBs. Otherwise, offensive line and linebacker could be targets.
60. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (13-5)
LAST SEASON: Patriots made it back to AFC championship game, but injuries on offensive line, in backfield and to receiving group left them with more to address than usual entering offseason. They've gone back to work quickly, extending Tom Brady and by already filling some needs early in free agency.
THEY NEED: RB, OL, WR.
THEY DON'T NEED: QB, DE, CB.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: New England forfeited its first-round pick as part of "Deflategate" scandal.
OUTLOOK: New England holds 11 picks, including four in first three rounds (60, 61, 91 and 96). Its five picks in sixth round are most in single round since Dallas had five in Round 7 in 2014. On offensive line it added G Jonathan Cooper by trading DE Chandler Jones to Arizona. But there is some need at tackle. Sebastian Vollmer and Nate Solder are back, but Vollmer is set to enter free agency in summer of 2017. Patriots re-signed RB LeGarrette Blount. Dion Lewis is working his way back from left knee surgery, so it's also position that could benefit from draft addition.
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