AFC East: Andrew Levitre
The mathemagicians at WhatIfSports.com have ranked the top 100 rookies in terms of projected impact on their new teams.
Because I avoided math like the swine flu and delayed taking my one required collegiate course until the winter quarter of my senior year, I better let Paul Bessire of WhatIfSports.com explain how it works:
We run a very complex set of algorithms that factors collegiate performance, role in college, strength of collegiate competition, "measurables," likely NFL role, previous performance of a similar player in that NFL role for this coaching staff and trends of similar rookies in the past. This gives us the player's projected ratio stats (expected yards per carry, completion percentage, etc.), as well as his forecasted usage for the upcoming season. From there, we can compare all rookies based on who we think will make the biggest positive impact for his new NFL team in his first year.
In other words, they do a little more than break out a slide rule, some graph paper and a solar-powered calculator.
We have done pretty well with this approach. Leading into the 2008 season, not only did this methodology correctly rank first round draft choices like Jonathan Stewart, Jerod Mayo, Jake Long and Sedrick Ellis among the top ten, it helped to point out some steals like Steve Slaton, Charles Godfrey, Matt Forte, Trevor Scott, Jamaal Charles and Cliff Avril.
The Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions generated the most positive projected rookie impact for 2009. The New York Jets, with only three picks, have the least depth, but posted the highest-ranked player within the AFC East.
AFC East highlights from the rankings:
- 3. Mark Sanchez, Jets quarterback
- 27. Eric Wood, Bills offensive lineman
- 35. Jairus Byrd, Bills defensive back
- 36. Sean Smith, Dolphins defensive back
- 50. Darius Butler, Patriots cornerback
- 58. Vontae Davis, Dolphins cornerback
- 67. Andrew Levitre, Bills guard
- 73. Aaron Maybin, Bills defensive end
- 75. Myron Pryor, Patriots defensive tackle
- 79. Pat White, Dolphins quarterback
- 87. Shawn Nelson, Bills tight end
- 93. Patrick Chung, Patriots safety
|Rich Kane/US Presswire|
|If Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin slips to No. 11 in the draft, you could see Buffalo taking advantage.|
Team needs: Offensive line, pass rusher, tight end.
Dream scenario: Buffalo's situation is fluid. Positional needs today might not match their wish list when the front office gathers in Orchard Park, N.Y., for the draft on April 25.
The Bills have holes on their interior line, at tight end and with their pass rush. They cut high-priced left guard Derrick Dockery and tight end Robert Royal early in free agency, but didn't replace them.
The Bills' biggest weakness on their 4-3 defense was their inability to pressure quarterbacks, especially when Pro Bowl defensive end Aaron Schobel went down with a foot injury. There was no help. They registered a paltry 24 sacks.
But the Bills have a brewing situation at left tackle. Jason Peters, a two-time Pro Bowler, held out of all offseason workouts, training camp and preseason games last year because he wants a new contract. He's expected to do so again, with the sides far apart in negotiations. The Bills might be forced to trade him, meaning they could need to fill the second-most important position in football at the draft.
For the second straight year, the Bills own the 11th overall pick. Unless they make a trade, they'll have to wait until the 42nd slot to select again and then 75th. The New England Patriots, meanwhile, will have drafted six times when the Bills have drafted thrice.
But the Bills will conduct a successful draft if they can come away with a pass rusher and a couple of starting offensive linemen. Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin could slip to No. 11, but if he's not there, then Florida State defensive end Everette Brown should be there for the taking.
The Bills should have opportunity to draft a top-three center at No. 42 and move versatile free-agent signee Geoff Hangartner to left guard. California's Alex Mack and/or Oregon's Max Unger probably will be off the board, but the other could be available and too tough to pass up. Louisville's Eric Wood also projects as a second-round talent.
The Bills also have a chance to snag the best guard in the draft. None are expected to be taken in first round. The best of the bunch include Oregon State's Andrew Levitre and Oklahoma's Duke Robinson.
Plan B: Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew is the best player at his position in this year's draft class. He's a strong run blocker, has prototypical size at 6-foot-5 and 263 pounds and has soft hands.
Consensus among scouts, though, is that Pettigrew is not worth the 11th pick. If the Bills want him, they have a valuable asset they can dangle to a team in need of a quarterback, especially if Southern California's Mark Sanchez still is on the board. The Bills can move back a smidge, select Pettigrew and gain a later pick or two.
Scouts Inc. take: "The defensive end need has been put on the back burner by some people, but I think it's huge. This defense is one prominent pass rusher away from being a pretty strong group. I think they'll move that direction on draft day. A guy like Everette Brown will be hard to pass up." -- Matt Williamson, Scouts Inc.
Who has final say: Owner Ralph Wilson signs off after input from chief operating officer Russ Brandon, top college scout Tom Modrak and head coach Dick Jauron.
Now On the Clock: San Francisco 49ers, April 7.