- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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The 2013 offseason is just about over with the NFL draft complete and free agency reaching a slow crawl.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at whose stock is rising and falling in the AFC East.
1. Tim Tebow, free-agent quarterback: Things are not looking good for Tebow’s NFL future. The popular backup quarterback was released by the New York Jets this week, and it’s questionable when he will get his next chance. Tebow didn’t get any trade interest with the Jets, and now we’re about to see if a team wants to sign him. Tebow simply isn’t a franchise quarterback and the distraction he brings is bigger than his talent. The CFL and Indoor Football League are both clamoring for Tebow, but he will most likely wait for his next shot in the NFL. But now there is talk that Tebow wouldn’t cut it in the CFL, either. Ouch!
2. Miami Dolphins’ left tackle: The Dolphins on paper had another solid draft, which we will get to later. But they failed to fill their biggest need at left tackle. The Dolphins explored both free agency and the draft and came up empty handed. Second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill has a lot of new toys at wide receiver and tight end, but he lost his blind-side protector when four-time Pro Bowler Jake Long signed with the St. Louis Rams. Talks with the Kansas City Chiefs for Branden Albert fell through, and now Miami is exploring options such as Bryant McKinnie, Eric Winston and Winston Justice. If the Dolphins can’t land a veteran, they will probably have to turn to 2012 second-round pick Jonathan Martin to play left tackle, which is a risky move.
3. Mark Sanchez, Jets quarterback: Despite a career-worst year in 2012, there was some optimism for New York’s incumbent starting quarterback. Sanchez has a new offensive coordinator under Marty Mornhinweg, 35-year old David Garrard was his biggest challenge and everyone knew Tebow was on his way out. But a lot of that optimism for Sanchez changed when the Jets drafted highly-touted quarterback Geno Smith in the second round. Smith is clearly the quarterback of the future, and he maybe the present if Sanchez struggles. Many believe Smith is the top quarterback in this draft. Fans will be clamoring for the rookie if the Jets lose a game or two early.
1. Dolphins’ pass rush: The Dolphins were looking for a defensive end to pair opposite Pro Bowler Cameron Wake, and they certainly found one in the draft. Miami traded up to No. 3 to take former Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan. He was the highest-rated defensive player in the draft and a tremendous athlete. Jordan first must learn to fit in Miami’s 4-3 defense. But once that happens, Jordan and Wake could provide headaches for opposing AFC East quarterbacks.
2. Buffalo Bills’ passing game: Despite the conventional train of thought that Buffalo could've drafted EJ Manuel in the second round, NFL people I’ve talked to this week understand why the Bills fell in love with the former Florida State quarterback. Manuel has a lot of things you look for in a quarterback and could pan out just fine if he’s coached well and puts it all together at the next level. Buffalo also improved its receiver position with the additions of rookies Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and Da’rick Rogers. All three rookies are talented and have a chance to make an impact with a group that already includes 1,000-yard receiver Steve Johnson.
3. Aaron Dobson, New England Patriots receiver: Dobson came from a small school but landed in the perfect place. Dobson, unlike most receivers drafted, gets to play with Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. Dobson has very good speed and athleticism, which is why New England made him a second-round pick. Dobson also has a chance to make an immediate impact with the Patriots doing a complete makeover at the receiver position. Dobson will compete with Donald Jones and Michael Jenkins for a starting job with the Patriots. That’s a long way from Marshall.