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Monday, April 2, 2012
AFC East mock draft recap

By James Walker

ESPN.com's NFL blog network held its first 2012 mock draft. Last week, we made a mock draft board in the AFC East to help with the proceedings.

Here is how things turned out for the division:

Miami Dolphins

No. 8 pick: QB Ryan Tannehill

Analysis: Am I fully comfortable with this pick? Not exactly. But Miami needs a future at quarterback in the worst way. David Garrard and Matt Moore both have one year left on their contracts and may not be on the roster next year. Tannehill at least provides hope beyond 2012. This is a classic case of over-drafting, because Tannehill is not the eighth-best prospect. But if you're going to overdraft, it's best to do it for a quarterback. Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman coached Tannehill in college and thinks he's legit. Miami has to trust Sherman and hope this pick works out long-term.

Buffalo Bills

No. 10 pick: OT Riley Reiff

Analysis: Bills fans in our AFC East community wanted Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd at No. 10. But we took the best player available at a more important position: left tackle. Reiff edged Floyd on our final board, and we stayed true to it. Buffalo needs someone to protect quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's blindside. The Bills played three different players at left tackle last year. The result was inconsistent pass protection, hurt ribs and shaky play by Fitzpatrick. Reiff was coached up very well at Iowa and has the look of an NFL-ready starter. Buffalo can add to its receiving corps later in the draft.

New York Jets

No. 16 pick: WR Michael Floyd

Analysis: Despite the first two players -- Alabama's Courtney Upshaw and Mark Barron -- taken off our board, the Jets still got solid value at No. 16. Floyd is one of the hottest prospects in this draft, and he could fit in well opposite receiver Santonio Holmes. Jets head coach Rex Ryan probably wants to add to his defense in the first round. But a run of five straight defenders with picks No. 11-15 took away many of New York's top targets.

New England Patriots

No. 27 pick: DE Andre Branch

No. 31 pick: CB Janoris Jenkins

Analysis: With two picks at the end of the first round, I knew anything could happen with the Patriots. It turns out we landed two athletic prospect to help New England's 31st-ranked defense. The first pick went according to form. Branch was the second player on our draft board. He provides another outside pass-rusher to help replace the 20 sacks lost from the departures of defensive ends Mark Anderson and Andre Carter. But the 31st pick was interesting. I was surprised Jenkins made it this far. I thought some team in the 20s would take him by now. Yes, Jenkins has off-the-field issues that must be taken into account. But New England has a strong locker-room culture, and the team badly needs help in the secondary. Jenkins has the physical capability to develop into a legit No. 1 corner if he keeps his act together. This is the only time I went against our draft board in this mock draft. I thought the talent, combined with New England's need, was worth the risk at No. 31.