The Dolphins traded up to get Dion Jordan with the #3 pick. (Credit)
The teams of the AFC East were active in this year’s NFL Draft. This was evident early on, as three of the five draft day trades that saw first round picks change hands involved teams in this division. Below you’ll find recaps of the trades, picks, and players involved in that first round and beyond.
So the Bills keyed in on E.J. Manuel as their “guy” at quarterback, but he clearly wasn’t worth the eighth overall pick, so they moved back eight spots to get St. Louis’ second, third, and seventh round picks to grab someone valuable in the middle of the first round, and then use that extra second round pick to get Manuel later, right? (I know that you already know how this ends, just play along with me.) Right?
Wrong! They drafted Manuel with the No. 16 pick and the Rams laughed as they gladly took Tavon Austin. Now, Manuel could prove people wrong and become a great quarterback. That’s entire possible (read: pretty unlikely). But it doesn’t change the fact that at the time, the Bills picked him far too early, regardless of how badly they needed a quarterback.
Bills fans can’t hate the rest of the draft, though, especially the second round. They nabbed wide receiver Robert Woods and linebacker Kiko Alonso, both of whom should help Buffalo’s weak passing attack and run defense, respectively. Still, people will look back and judge the success of this draft based on what Manuel does.
Projected Starters: WR Robert Woods, LB Kiko Alonso
Surprising Impact Player: S Duke Williams – The Bills are already set at free safety with Jairus Byrd, but adding a guy like Williams can’t hurt. He has the top end speed to keep up with opposing receivers, even in man coverage, and is aggressive in run support. He should find a way to contribute when the defense brings in extra defensive backs for nickel and dime packages.
New York Jets
We already covered how the Jets botched the first round. I’d just like to add the following, with full disclosure that I am a Jets fan: when those two first round picks came, I thought it was pretty clear who they should’ve taken each time. Chance Warmack at nine and Jarvis Jones at 13 seemed like perfect fits to me, but of course, things never work out perfectly. Instead, Dee Milliner has to live in Darrelle Revis’ shadow and Sheldon Richardson has to deal with a defensive line full of tackles and lacking and outside pass rush.
Drafting Geno Smith threw a giant wrench into the equation, one that was only partly cleared up with the release of Tim Tebow. If the Jets were clever (which they aren’t) they’d start Sanchez one more year, assuring another good draft pick, cut him after the season ends when the cap hit isn’t as bad, and use that draft pick to get an offensive weapon to help usher in the Smith era. Of course, they’ll probably switch back and forth between the two indecisively, which I’m sure will also be fun to watch.
The other move the Jets made that could pay dividends was trading for Chris Ivory. He’s more of a sure thing than anyone they could’ve drafted in the fourth round and should be an upgrade over the departed Shonn Greene.
Projected Starters: CB Dee Milliner, DT Sheldon Richardson
Surprising Impact Player: FB Tommy Bohannon – The Jets will hope one of their three drafted linemen pans out (could’ve just drafted Warmack instead…) but the run blocking may actually come from fullback Bohannon. He’s also shown the ability to catch passes and line up all over the field, which is a good sign for a Jets offense that sorely needs a tight end after losing Dustin Keller. Also, how great would it be if they start calling him T-Bo?
The Dolphins gave only their second round pick in order to move up nine spots and get Dion Jordan, a sweet deal if you ask me. Ideally, you’d like to see him put on just a little bit of weight without sacrificing his speed, which would help his cause in stopping the run. But the thought of him playing opposite Cameron Wake has to be a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks.
Other than Jordan, the Dolphins weren’t particularly flashy with their picks: they just grabbed guys at positions they needed. I like cornerback Jamar Taylor in the second round; he’s only 5’10”, but he has great speed, agility, and balance. That being said, picking corner Will Davis in the third with Taylor already on board and Brent Grimes brought in through free agency was overkill, and a bit of a reach.
Dallas Thomas and Jelani Jenkins were two other solid picks for Miami. Thomas is a good pass blocking guard who should help Ryan Tannehill stay upright, and if Jenkins stays healthy he can develop into a solid weak side linebacker.
Projected Starters: DE Dion Jordan, G Dallas Thomas
Surprising Impact Player: RB Mike Gillislee – The Dolphins lost Reggie Bush, and neither Lamar Miller nor Daniel Thomas has shown enough consistency to be a true number one back. At 5’11” 208 lbs, Gillislee is far from a power back, but he’s extremely tough, visible both in his ability to fight for yards at the end of runs and to play through multiple injuries last year at Florida.
New England Patriots
Last year New England didn’t do things the “Patriot Way,” trading up not once, but twice, in the first round, leaving people wondering whether or not Bill Belichick had changed his draft strategy. This year, he shocked everyone…by doing what he usually does: trading out of the first round.
It was very good deal for New England, giving up the 29th overall pick in exchange for Minnesota’s second, third, fourth, and seventh round selections, the last of which, incidentally, ended up back with Minnesota after two more trades.
The first trade was New England packaging the pick with running back Jeff Demps for LeGarrette Blount. Patriots fans better hope Blount finds his rookie year form quickly, because he’s the only exciting short-term prospect to come out of this draft. Jamie Collins, Logan Ryan, and Duron Harmon could all be factors on defense in the future, but they're just on the roster to pad New England’s depth for the time being.
I’d say receivers Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce have a chance to make it with Tom Brady throwing to them, but Belichick, for all his greatness, has not been able to draft decent receivers. We’ll see if the trend continues.
Projected Starters: None
Surprising Impact Player: DE Michael Buchanan – Buchanan has shown flashes of talent, but hasn’t been able to put together a solid performance over a significant period of time. His off-field problems, which include an arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence and a broken jaw from an altercation, have hindered his on-field performance. If a coaching staff can get a guy on the right track, it’s New England’s.
By: Joe Diglio