AFC East: Jabaal Sheard

AFC East draft analysis

April, 30, 2011
4/30/11
6:31
PM ET
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The 2011 draft was short on sensationalism for the AFC East.

Even the sexiest pick was easy to rationalize. The New England Patriots took Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, but the decision didn't seem out of whack in the third round.

Clubs went by the book. They bolstered need positions, concentrating on the trenches early. Very few red flags were raised.

But that doesn't mean the draft was dull.

Here are some draft highlights from the AFC East:

BEST MOVE

The AFC East's best decision of the draft was for the worst team to not get cute.

The Buffalo Bills didn't have to think when they filled out their draft card and sent it up to the commissioner. After the Denver Broncos selected Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller, the Bills rejected any thoughts about targeting a quarterback and pounced on Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus, perhaps the safest pick in the entire draft.

Dareus immediately improves Buffalo's pitiful run defense and will help their anemic pass rush, too.

In fact, all four AFC East teams made prudent first-round decisions by reinforcing the lines.

The Miami Dolphins also eschewed quarterbacks, tabbing Florida center Mike Pouncey. The Patriots went with Colorado tackle Nate Solder. The New York Jets added Temple defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson.

RISKIEST MOVE

Had Mallett been taken in the first round or by a team that needed him to play right away, he would've gone down as the riskiest decision. But in the middle of the third round, no expectations to play and a solid infrastructure mitigate the hazards.

The Jets waited a long time between their first and next picks. When they were back on the clock at No. 94, they took Hampton defensive lineman Kenrick Ellis, a player the Jets rated as one of the top two nose tackles in this year's class.

But Ellis was suspended at South Carolina and kicked off the team, reportedly for drug use. Ellis also is facing felony assault charges -- he allegedly broke a man's jaw and nose last April on Hampton's campus. He's scheduled to stand trial in July and could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.

MOST SURPRISING MOVE

[+] EnlargeRas-I Dowling
Lee Coleman/Icon SMINew England took cornerback Ras-I Dowling instead of drafting pass-rush help.
Again, some people would say Mallett was a surprise. I didn't think so in the third round. That's the kind of value selection the Patriots are prone to make -- similar to Texas Christian offensive lineman Marcus Cannon, who tumbled into the fifth round after a recent cancer diagnosis.

The biggest surprise to me was New England's decision not to address its need for pass rush help with the 33rd overall pick. With Pittsburgh's Jabaal Sheard and Arizona's Brooks Reed on the board, Bill Belichick took Virginia cornerback Ras-I Dowling instead.

The Patriots then drafted running backs with back-to-back picks. They went into the draft with backfield needs. They were old last year and had only two backs -- BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead -- under contract.

They drafted California's Shane Vereen in the second round and then Louisiana State's Stevan Ridley 17 picks later in the third round.

It's hard to imagine either Green-Ellis (the AFC East's only 1,000-yard rusher last year) or Woodhead (electrifying fan favorite) being on the outs. So how do the Patriots figure they'll use all these guys?

FILE IT AWAY

The two AFC East teams unsettled at quarterback didn't draft one. The Bills and Dolphins avoided that position.

Each of the two AFC East teams with clear-cut quarterback situations drafted another. The Patriots added Mallett, and the Jets took Alabama's Greg McElroy in the seventh round.

The Jets aren't starting a quarterback controversy. Mark Sanchez is the unquestioned starter, and veteran backup Mark Brunell has another year left on his contract.

But here's an interesting fact: McElroy wore No. 17 his first two college seasons. He switched to No. 12 because it was worn at Alabama by his father's hero, Joe Namath.

Video: Taking Ryan Mallett 'good business'

April, 30, 2011
4/30/11
12:41
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ESPN reporter Michael Smith evaluates the New England Patriots' first three rounds and calls the selection of Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett in the third round Friday night "good business."

Video: Thoughts on Patriots at No. 33

April, 29, 2011
4/29/11
3:30
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ESPN reporter Michael Smith is in Foxborough, Mass., and predicts the New England Patriots will hold onto the 33rd pick and concentrate on pass-rushers, namely Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed and Pittsburgh defensive end Jabaal Sheard.

Five to consider for Patriots and Bills

April, 29, 2011
4/29/11
9:57
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The New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills own the first two picks of the second round Friday night.

Let's take a look at five possibilities for each.

No. 33 New England Patriots
  1. Trade: The Patriots' track record and added time to work the phones suggests they'll deal this pick for additional assets. Who knows? Maybe they collect a third 2012 first-round draft choice.
  2. Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers: Always on the lookout for value, Bill Belichick might be intrigued enough with Bowers to stash him on injured reserve for a year. Bowers once was considered a legitimate candidate to be the first pick overall.
  3. Pittsburgh defensive end Jabaal Sheard: The Patriots need to improve their pass rush and Sheard could be in their crosshairs. ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss predicts this should be the pick.
  4. UCLA outside linebacker Akeem Ayers: He's third on ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper's list of best-available players behind Bowers and Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea. Ayers is a versatile defender who can rush the passer and handle coverage.
  5. A running back: Only one has been drafted. The New Orleans Saints traded into the Patriots' spot to grab Alabama's Mark Ingram at No. 28. Scouts Inc. considers Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams the fifth-best player still on the board. Kiper has Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure seventh.
No. 34 Buffalo Bills
  1. Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph: The Bills are woefully inadequate at tight end. They haven't drafted one earlier than the third round since Lonnie Johnson in 1994. Head coach Chan Gailey could use a skilled tight end to diversify his offense and Rudolph is considered this year's best.
  2. Texas cornerback Aaron Williams: In a division that has Tom Brady, Brandon Marshall and a Jets squad that hopes to re-sign Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards, the Bills should solidify their coverage. Williams is considered by Kiper and Scouts Inc. to be the best defensive back on the board.
  3. Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett: He's considered the most pro-ready quarterback in the draft. If the Bills can rationalize Mallett's off-field issues, they could have their quarterback of the future.
  4. Illinois inside linebacker Martez Wilson: The Bills need help here, and Wilson is considered the best in this -- albeit weak -- draft class. Kiper predicts the Bills will make this pick.
  5. UCLA outside linebacker Akeem Ayers: The Bills have invested serious money in outside linebackers already. They gave Chris Kelsay a handsome new contract last season and extended Shawne Merriman in the offseason. They'd also love to get a return out of Aaron Maybin. But Ayers might be too talented to pass up.

Mockout: Ingram to Pats? Dalton to Fins?

April, 20, 2011
4/20/11
3:32
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In honor ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay releasing an updated mock draft Insider Wednesday, why not take a look at a bunch of them?

This roundup also includes the latest first-round forecast from ESPN expert Mel Kiper Insider, the National Football Post's Wes Bunting, NFL Network analyst Charles Davis, Sports Illustrated senior writer Peter King, Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly, CBSSports.com analysts Rob Rang and Chad Reuter and Buffalo News reporter Allen Wilson.

No. 3 Buffalo Bills

  • Kiper's pick: Von Miller, Texas A&M outside linebacker
  • McShay's pick: Blaine Gabbert, Missouri quarterback
  • Bunting's pick: Blaine Gabbert, Missouri quarterback
  • Davis' pick: Von Miller, Texas A&M outside linebacker
  • King's pick: Von Miller, Texas A&M outside linebacker
  • Nawrocki's pick: Cam Newton, Auburn quarterback
  • Rang's pick: Von Miller, Texas A&M outside linebacker
  • Reuter's pick: Blaine Gabbert, Missouri quarterback
  • Wilson's pick: Von Miller, Texas A&M outside linebacker

No. 15 Miami Dolphins

  • Kiper's pick: Mark Ingram, Alabama running back
  • McShay's pick: Mike Pouncey, Florida center
  • Bunting's pick: Mike Pouncey, Florida center
  • Davis' pick: Mike Pouncey, Florida center
  • King's pick: Andy Dalton, Texas Christian quarterback
  • Nawrocki's pick: Ryan Mallett, Arkansas quarterback
  • Rang's pick: Mark Ingram, Alabama running back
  • Reuter's pick: Mark Ingram, Alabama running back
  • Wilson's pick: Mike Pouncey, Florida center

No. 17 New England Patriots (from Oakland Raiders)

  • Kiper's pick: Cameron Jordan, California defensive end
  • McShay's pick: Anthony Castonzo, Boston College tackle
  • Bunting's pick: Cameron Jordan, California defensive end
  • Davis' pick: Anthony Castonzo, Boston College tackle
  • King's pick: Mike Pouncey, Florida center
  • Nawrocki's pick: Anthony Castonzo, Boston College tackle
  • Rang's pick: J.J. Watt, Wisconsin defensive end
  • Reuter's pick: Aldon Smith, Missouri defensive end
  • Wilson's pick: Cameron Jordan, California defensive end

No. 28 New England Patriots

  • Kiper's pick: Justin Houston, Georgia outside linebacker
  • McShay's pick: Mark Ingram, Alabama running back
  • Bunting's pick: Danny Watkins, Baylor guard
  • Davis' pick: Akeem Ayers, UCLA outside linebacker
  • King's pick: Trade out with the Tennessee Titans
  • Nawrocki's pick: Mark Ingram, Alabama running back
  • Rang's pick: Danny Watkins, Baylor guard
  • Reuter's pick: Cameron Heyward, Ohio State defensive end
  • Wilson's pick: Mark Ingram, Alabama running back

No. 30 New York Jets

  • Kiper's pick: Cameron Heyward, Ohio State defensive end
  • McShay's pick: Phil Taylor, Baylor nose tackle
  • Bunting's pick: Justin Houston, Georgia outside linebacker
  • Davis' pick: Phil Taylor, Baylor nose tackle
  • King's pick: Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple defensive lineman
  • Nawrocki's pick: Akeem Ayers, UCLA outside linebacker
  • Rang's pick: Phil Taylor, Baylor nose tackle
  • Reuter's pick: Jabaal Sheard, Pittsburgh defensive end
  • Wilson's pick: Justin Houston, Georgia outside linebacker

Three-round mock stocks AFC East rosters

April, 6, 2011
4/06/11
5:18
PM ET
First-round mock drafts are ubiquitous.

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay dares to go deeper. He released a three-round projection Wednesday.

Here's McShay's forecast for the AFC East:

Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins
New England Patriots
New York Jets

Scratching your AFC East mock itch

March, 28, 2011
3/28/11
4:48
PM ET
We haven't compiled a mock roundup in a while, but several of the notable analysts updated theirs on Monday.

So let's take a spin around cyberspace to see who has what drafting whom.

Let's take a look at the latest projections from ESPN's Mel Kiper Insider and Todd McShay Insider, the National Football Post's Wes Bunting, NFL.com senior analyst Pat Kirwan, Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly, CBSSports.com analysts Rob Rang and Chad Reuter and a computer simulation from Draft Tek.

No. 3 Buffalo Bills
  • Kiper's pick: Marcell Dareus, Alabama defensive lineman
  • McShay's pick: Blaine Gabbert, Missouri quarterback
  • Bunting's pick: Marcell Dareus, Alabama defensive lineman
  • Kirwan's pick: Patrick Peterson, Louisiana State cornerback
  • Nawrocki's pick: Von Miller, Texas A&M outside linebacker
  • Rang's pick: Cam Newton, Auburn quarterback
  • Reuter's pick: Blaine Gabbert, Missouri quarterback
  • Draft Tek's pick: Nick Fairley, Auburn defensive tackle
No. 15 Miami Dolphins
  • Kiper's pick: Mark Ingram, Alabama running back
  • McShay's pick: Mark Ingram, Alabama running back
  • Bunting's pick: Mark Ingram, Alabama running back
  • Kirwan's pick: Prince Amukamara, Nebraska cornerback
  • Nawrocki's pick: Jake Locker, Washington quarterback
  • Rang's pick: Mark Ingram, Alabama running back
  • Reuter's pick: Mark Ingram, Alabama running back
  • Draft Tek's pick: Anthony Castonzo, Boston College tackle
No. 17 New England Patriots (from Oakland Raiders)
  • Kiper's pick: Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue outside linebacker
  • McShay's pick: J.J. Watt, Wisconsin defensive end
  • Bunting's pick: J.J. Watt, Wisconsin defensive end
  • Kirwan's pick: Tyron Smith, USC tackle
  • Nawrocki's pick: Mark Ingram, Alabama running back
  • Rang's pick: J.J. Watt, Wisconsin defensive end
  • Reuter's pick: Cameron Jordan, California defensive end
  • Draft Tek's pick: Aldon Smith, Missouri outside linebacker
No. 28 New England Patriots
  • Kiper's pick: Leonard Hankerson, Miami receiver
  • McShay's pick: Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue outside linebacker
  • Bunting's pick: Danny Watkins, Baylor guard
  • Kirwan's pick: Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple defensive tackle
  • Nawrocki's pick: Nate Solder, Colorado tackle
  • Rang's pick: Danny Watkins, Baylor guard
  • Reuter's pick: Danny Watkins, Baylor guard
  • Draft Tek's pick: Christian Ballard, Iowa defensive end
No. 30 New York Jets
  • Kiper's pick: Rahim Moore, UCLA safety
  • McShay's pick: Phil Taylor, Baylor nose tackle
  • Bunting's pick: Akeem Ayers, UCLA outside linebacker
  • Kirwan's pick: Akeem Ayers, UCLA outside linebacker
  • Nawrocki's pick: Phil Taylor, Baylor nose tackle
  • Rang's pick: Brooks Reed, Arizona outside linebacker
  • Reuter's pick: Jabaal Sheard, Pittsburgh defensive end
  • Draft Tek's pick: Phil Taylor, Baylor nose tackle

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