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Thursday, April 25, 2013
Final look at AFC East draft needs

By James Walker

The NFL draft is finally here!

After months of projections and speculation, the NFL will take center stage in just a few hours for the first-round of the 2013 draft. The AFC East will be busy with five picks on Thursday night.

With that in mind, here is a final reminder of draft needs in the division:

Buffalo Bills, No. 8

Needs: QB, G, WR, CB

Analysis: The Bills can go in a lot of different directions at No. 8. Many feel the Bills will take former Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib in the first round, but I think it’s risky to take any quarterback this year in the top 10. Nassib has strong ties to Buffalo because he played under Bills rookie head coach Doug Marrone in college. Buffalo also could fill a hole at guard left by Andy Levitre, who signed with the Tennessee Titans in free agency. Receiver and cornerback are two additional needs.

New York Jets, No. 9 and No. 13

Needs: OLB, WR, G, TE, QB

Analysis: New York has one of the thinnest rosters in the NFL after free agency. This is a team in store for a major rebuild under first-year general manager John Idzik, and the Jets can take a major step Thursday by nailing their two first-round picks. New York has so many needs that it can afford to take the best available player. I took LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo and West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin in this week’s blogger mock draft. This pairing or something similar would be great for the Jets. New York won’t become a playoff team after this draft, but filling two needs in the first round would be a good start.

Miami Dolphins, No. 12

Needs: LT, CB, DE

Analysis: The Dolphins filled a lot of needs in free agency. That affords Miami the opportunity to zero in on a few spots in the draft. The Dolphins have five picks in the first three rounds, which provides a lot of flexibility to move up if needed. Miami desperately needs a left tackle. The top three left tackles at the position are all expected to be gone by No. 12, so the Dolphins most likely would have to move up to get a top left tackle. Miami’s pass defense also was shaky last season. There is speculation that former Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner could fall down the draft board because of injury concerns. Milliner, if healthy, would fill a big need at cornerback.

New England Patriots, No. 29

Needs: WR, CB, DE

Analysis: New England is coming off another appearance in the AFC title game. The Patriots had some turnover in free agency. However, this is still a good team. New England must address its need at receiver. The passing game is too important for the Patriots to have a questionable group of receivers, which includes Danny Amendola, Michael Jenkins, Donald Jones and Julian Edelman. New England needs another playmaker on the outside, especially with injury concerns with tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. New England also could use another cover cornerback, and someone to get to the quarterback. Both would improve the Patriots’ 29th-ranked pass defense.

The AFC East blog will be live at Dolphins headquarters for the first round on Thursday night. Be sure to check back for all the latest draft news and analysis for the Dolphins, Bills, Patriots and Jets.