Four AFC East draft sleepers

April, 30, 2012
4/30/12
2:00
PM ET
The NFL draft isn't all about the first or second round. Just ask the New England Patriots, who are still riding the wave of drafting quarterback Tom Brady in the sixth round in 2000.

Who has a chance to be this year's sleepers in the AFC East? My definition of a sleeper is someone who is drafted in the fourth round or later. Here is one possibility for each team:

Buffalo Bills

Player: LB Nigel Bradham

Round: Four

Thoughts: Buffalo needs impact linebackers, and Bradham is athletic and built like a truck. At the very least, Bradham should immediately help on special teams. He's fast enough (ran a 4.64 in the 40-yard dash) to get down the field, and a good enough open-field tackler as a linebacker. Bradham also could be an option in sub packages, where his athleticism can be used to guard tight ends on third down. Keep an eye on Bradham in Buffalo.

Miami Dolphins

Player: WR B.J. Cunningham

Round: Six

Thoughts: Dolphins fourth-round pick and tailback Lamar Miller would be too easy. So I'm digging a little deeper with Cunningham. This is an intriguing pick for several reasons. First, the Dolphins need receivers in the worst way. Their leading receiver from last season, Brian Hartline, caught just 35 passes for 549 yards. Anyone who can produce at this position will get a chance in rookie coach Joe Philbin's new West Coast offense. Cunningham is productive. He caught 129 passes the past two seasons at Michigan State. The mystery is how does he do it? Cunningham is not fastest or quickest receiver. But he's competitive, and that may give Cunningham a fighter's chance for early playing time.

New England Patriots

Player: CB Alfonzo Dennard

Round: Seven

Thoughts: Scouts Inc. rated Dennard as the 14th-best corner in the draft. He has the talent of a third-round pick. But the reasons Dennard fell to the seventh was due to a recent arrest and a long injury history. The Patriots feel a seventh-round pick is worth the risk to see if Dennard gets his act together and stays healthy. Any new player in the secondary will get a chance to compete in New England. Dennard is no exception.

New York Jets

Player: RB Terrance Ganaway

Round: Six

Thoughts: The Jets will ground and pound all season on offense. If there's an injury in the backfield, Ganaway could get a shot. Ganaway looks like a Shonn Greene clone, and apparently the Jets seem to like those type of running backs. Like Greene, Ganaway is a big back who can't take it the distance, but Ganaway can power through the pile and get tough yards. But he needs an opportunity to play.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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