Thursday, June 13, 2013
AFC East Offseason Stock Watch
By James Walker
Minicamps are in full swing this week.
Let’s take a look at whose stock is rising and falling in the AFC East.
1. Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills safety: Buffalo's Pro Bowl safety was a no-show this week for mandatory minicamp. That certainly does not help his standing with the team and its coaching staff. Byrd was not fined because he has yet to sign his one-year franchise tag. He’s holding out for a long-term extension and both sides have until later this summer to work something out. Byrd is a very good player and deserving of an extension. But I’m not sure skipping the entire offseason is the best way to go about it.
2. Geno Smith, New York Jets quarterback: The highly-touted second-round pick has not created any separation with struggling incumbent quarterback Mark Sanchez, and that’s a bad thing. New York’s lukewarm quarterback competition this offseason hasn’t done much to inspire hope for the Jets this year. Smith is struggling with the difficult transition from a wide-open spread offense at West Virginia to a precise West Coast scheme in New York. Sanchez will enter training camp as the favorite, and if the season started today, Sanchez probably would be the starter. But the good news for Smith is the season doesn’t start for another three months.
Kellen Winslow caught 75 passes in 2011 with Tampa Bay, his last full season.
3. Miami Dolphins fullbacks: The Dolphins spent more than $200 million in contracts this offseason and $117 million in guaranteed contracts. However, the team is still looking to upgrade certain positions. It’s not good news for fullbacks Charles Clay and Jorvorskie Lane when Miami is exploring other options. The Dolphins claimed talented but troubled fullback Evan Rodriguez off waivers this week and also hosted a visit this week with Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin tried to put a good face on the fullback situation by saying it’s difficult to evaluate the position this time of year. But the actions of the front office speaks louder than words.
1. Kellen Winslow Jr., free-agent tight end: The Jets are desperate for playmakers, and first-year general manager John Idzik made a smart move to bring Winslow in for a three-day tryout at minicamp. By all accounts, Winslow looked impressive in practices and made an impact with the Jets this week. New York needs someone who can get open and make plays in its new West Coast offense. Winslow is a former Pro Bowler who caught 75 receptions in his last full season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2011. The Jets don’t have much at tight end or wide receiver and would be smart to sign Winslow to their roster.
2. Brandon Gibson, Dolphins receiver: About a month ago when organized team activities began, Gibson looked like a receiver unsure of himself and his role as a slot receiver. But several weeks later, Gibson looks smooth and confident. Due to need, Gibson is playing inside full-time for the first time in his career after Miami traded Davone Bess to the Cleveland Browns. He made numerous explosive plays this week in Miami’s minicamp, displaying good hands and good routes. Gibson had a solid week, which should provide momentum heading into training camp.
3. EJ Manuel, Bills quarterback: Manuel had a tall task of beating out two veteran quarterbacks in training camp. But the Bills did the No. 16 overall pick in April’s draft a small favor by getting rid of Tarvaris Jackson this week. Buffalo’s quarterback competition is now a two-man race between Manuel and Kevin Kolb. The rookie is still the underdog, but Manuel’s percentages for playing at some point this year just went up.