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Monday, February 20, 2012
Second-round options in AFC East

By James Walker

Everyone talks about the first round leading up to the NFL draft. But the second round can be just as important to building a successful franchise.

What positions could AFC East teams look at in Round 2? Let's examine.

Buffalo Bills

Needs: DE, OLB, OT, WR

Analysis: Nearly everyone has the Bills addressing their pass rush in the first round. Buffalo holds the No. 10 overall pick and should be able to get a good defensive end or linebacker who can get to the quarterback. But the second round could be where Buffalo gets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick help. The Bills could use another offensive tackle to protect Fitzpatrick. Injuries created a rotating door at that position last season. Receiver also is a great position to fill in the second round. No. 1 receiver Steve Johnson is a pending free agent and both sides continue to be at odds over Johnson's worth. If Johnson doesn't sign, this may be a first-round need. But if Johnson returns, a deep-threat receiver could be an option in the second round.

Miami Dolphins

Needs: QB, S, RT, WR

Analysis: Unless you haven't read the AFC East blog in months, you know that Miami is searching for a quarterback. That will be the aim in free agency (Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn) or the first round of the NFL draft (Robert Griffin III). But similar to Buffalo, I think getting the quarterback some help could be Miami's focus in the second round. That could come in the form of an offensive lineman -- starting right tackle Marc Colombo and guard Vernon Carey are both free agents -- or receiver. Pro Bowl MVP Brandon Marshall is a legit No. 1 receiver. But the team lacks a true No. 2. Brian Hartline and Davone Bess both have skills that can help any offense. But neither player is dynamic enough to take the pressure off Marshall.

New England Patriots

Needs: CB, S, OLB/DE, DL, WR

Analysis: The Patriots are in a good spot, because they have plenty of cap room and two first-round picks. By the time New England gets to the second round, the team will have the luxury to go in a lot of different directions with those two picks. I anticipate the team going defense here. You can't have enough good secondary players in the pass-heavy NFL, so a good safety or cornerback would be an option. Pass-rushers fly off the draft board, so the Patriots may have trouble finding one in the second round. Depth on the defense line also could help.

New York Jets

Needs: S, RT, WR

Analysis: The Jets need to nail the draft, because they don't have cap space to do much in free agency this year. New York needs two safeties, so you can't rule that out in any round. Right tackle also is a huge need for the Jets. Last year's season, Wayne Hunter, was not the solution. It seems like every team in the AFC East could use help at receiver, and the Jets are no different. The Jets are expected to lose starting receiver Plaxico Burress to free agency and need someone else to fill the role opposite Santonio Holmes. New York did a nice job of landing receiver Jeremy Kerley and may need to come away with another receiver in this draft.