Print and Go Back ESPN.com: AFC East [Print without images]

Thursday, September 4, 2008
Preseason All-AFC East offense


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

I'm not above stealing a good blog idea when I see one. So with props to AFC North reporter James Walker and NFC South reporter Pat Yasinskas, here is the inaugural preseason All-AFC East offense.

The defense and special teams -- all the way down to the holder -- will be unveiled Friday and Saturday.

QUARTERBACK: Tom Brady, Patriots.

Even if Brett Favre, the NFL's greatest statistical passer, were 31 years old, Brady still would get the nod. Brady has won three Super Bowls. He won with a pedestrian receiving corps, and once he had elite targets, he rewrote the season record book.

RUNNING BACK: Marshawn Lynch, Bills.

Of all the backs in the division, Lynch possesses the best combination of talent, toughness and youth. Ronnie Brown would be the choice if he weren't coming off a reconstructed right knee and showing a proclivity for appearing on injury reports.

FULLBACK: Tony Richardson, Jets.

The 14-year vet still has it. Richardson went to the Pro Bowl last season after blocking for his sixth 1,000-yard rusher. He has cleared pathways for Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor, Larry Johnson and Priest Holmes.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Randy Moss, Patriots, and Lee Evans, Bills.

The first selection was simple, to say the least. Moss is the greatest receiver in the game and maybe the best ever. Laveranues Coles, who has grabbed 90 passes twice and rolled up 1,000 yards thrice, would be the other selection if not for his injury problems. Wes Welker's gaudy stats as a slot receiver make him an interesting candidate. But Evans is a special talent who has been overlooked. He's coming off a down year because a sputtering offense allowed opponents to double cover him. But Evans is a Pro Bowl talent and the second-best No. 1 receiver in the AFC East.

TIGHT END: Chris Baker, Jets.

This was a tough one. Ben Watson might be the most physically gifted, but the Patriots' red-zone target can't seem to stay on the field because of injuries.. Baker is coming off a career season of 41 catches for 409 yards and three touchdowns for a team that scored 14 points or less in games. But by the end of 2008 his teammate, rookie Dustin Keller, might emerge as one of the NFL's more dangerous receiving ends. Anthony Fasano could have a breakout year for the Dolphins now that he's no longer behind Jason Witten in Dallas.

LEFT TACKLE: Matt Light, Patriots.

Put an asterisk on this one. Bills holdout Jason Peters would be the pick if he weren't twiddling his thumbs. Light is one of the NFL's elite blindside protectors. He has made the past two Pro Bowls and was a first-team All Pro last year.

LEFT GUARD: Alan Faneca, Jets.

Every AFC East team has an imposing left guard. Derrick Dockery (Bills), Justin Smiley (Dolphins) and Faneca were among the most coveted players in their free-agent classes. Logan Mankins (Patriots) is a budding star. But Faneca has played in seven straight Pro Bowls. He was a first-team All Pro last season.

CENTER: Dan Koppen, Patriots.

Nick Mangold (Jets) and Samson Satele (Dolphins) can be franchise keystones, but Koppen is more established. Koppen went to his first Pro Bowl last season as a key member of a line that allowed only 21 sacks.

RIGHT GUARD: Brandon Moore, Jets.

The most anonymous AFC East position is right guard. Donald Thomas (Dolphins) is a rookie who didn't start until his senior year at UConn, where he walked on. Brad Butler (Bills) became a starter last year. Billy Yates (Patriots) wasn't drafted and has five career starts in five NFL seasons. Moore wasn't drafted either, but he has started 57 straight games for the Jets.

RIGHT TACKLE: Vernon Carey, Dolphins.

Jets newcomer Damien Woody is the most decorated player among this year's AFC East right tackles, but he has barely played the position, going to one Pro Bowl as a center and winning three Super Bowls with the Patriots as a center and guard. Carey is moving back to his natural right side after a season on the left. He's the most established of the bunch.