Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: dream scenario/Plan B.
The Bills have so many needs, they can go any number of directions and land the right player in the ninth slot. As ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay has forecasted, the Bills will make a pivotal pick that affects the rest of the draft. They could have the option of taking the third- or fourth-best offensive tackle on their board, Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen, Tennessee nose tackle Dan Williams or maybe even Clemson running back C.J. Spiller or Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant. Whomever they've identified as the player who can help them most would be their dream scenario. If stuck with any of the above names, he would make a fine Plan B. The dilemma, however, is if the Bills pass on Clausen, another quality quarterback prospect might not be around when they pick again at No. 41.
The Dolphins needed help before Jason Taylor split for the New York Jets. The Dolphins' indifference toward Taylor would suggest they'd already identified a player to handle that job. The Dolphins would love to see Georgia Tech pass-rusher Derrick Morgan still on the board with the 12th selection. If Morgan isn't there and Williams hasn't been picked up yet, then the Dolphins wouldn't be upset to settle. They need a young nose tackle to hold down the middle of their 3-4 defensive line for the future. Veteran Jason Ferguson will open the season with an eight-game suspension.
The Patriots own four picks from the 22nd through 53rd slots. That affords them flexibility to go after any number of positions with their first-round pick and then concentrate on others in the second round. The Patriots need to bolster their pass rush. Sergio Kindle from Texas and Brandon Graham seem like great fits for a Bill Belichick outside linebacker, but both could be gone by the time the Patriots are on the clock. USC defensive end Everson Griffen would be another prudent option here. Griffen has been generating some late buzz.
New York Jets
In many ways, the Jets already have held their draft. They've picked up a running back (LaDainian Tomlinson), receiver (Santonio Holmes), pass-rusher (Taylor), cornerback (Antonio Cromartie) and safety (Brodney Pool). The Jets still have needs, but none of them critical. They have the luxury of taking the best player available, and it won't be the wrong choice. But if the Jets want to draft a player who will start on opening night, then a safety would appear to be the position -- as the roster looks Wednesday morning -- to target. USC's Taylor Mays would look good in Jets gear. Of course, general manager Mike Tannenbaum has a penchant for trading up to grab the prospect he believes will make an impact. By Thursday night, a veteran on the roster could be traded to make room for a position that looks filled now.