- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Every team in the AFC East could use help at wide receiver.
The Miami Dolphins and New York Jets lack dynamic players on the outside. The Buffalo Bills will lose depth with David Nelson and Donald Jones heading for free agency. And the New England Patriots, at the end of the first round, need to get younger.
Could the Dolphins, Bills and Jets all have their eye on Cordarrelle Patterson? The University of Tennessee receiver wowed scouts this weekend with his freakish athleticism and fast 40 time of 4.42. Patterson has been linked to Miami, Buffalo and New York in various mock drafts, and he only improved his stock at the NFL combine.
The Bills, Jets and Dolphins are only four picks apart in April’s draft. Buffalo has the first pick in the division at No. 8 overall. New York is next with the No. 9 pick and Miami holds the No. 12 selection.
Patterson is in play for all three teams. It could simply be a matter of which team is willing to jump on the draft’s top receiver first.
Buffalo currently is the only team with a No. 1 receiver. Steve Johnson has had three straight 1,000-yard seasons and is Buffalo's main option. The Bills also drafted T.J. Graham in the third round last year and has plenty of other needs to fill with the eighth pick.
The Jets don't have much around their quarterback. Starting tight end Dustin Keller is a free agent, as well as 1,000-yard tailback Shonn Greene. Veteran receiver Santonio Holmes is returning from a season-ending foot injury, but the Jets have to hope Holmes didn't lose a step. New York also drafted inconsistent receiver Stephen Hill last year in the second round.
Miami is perhaps the most needy team for a wide receiver. The Dolphins must build around quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Right now the top receiver under contract is slot player Davone Bess, and that’s not good enough. The Dolphins will be aggressive in free agency and go after receivers like Mike Wallace or Greg Jennings. However, they must decide if they will spend more money to bring back a player like Brian Hartline or look to the draft if Patterson is available.
With the exception of the Patriots, no AFC East team had a passing offense ranked higher than 25th in 2012. This is a division in need of dynamic receivers, which means Patterson is a player to watch for nearly every AFC East team.