AFC East: Jason Ferguson
The Dolphins gave him their franchise tag, a one-year guaranteed contract with an average salary of the five highest-paid players at his position. The franchise figure for a defensive lineman is about $12.4 million.
Soliai's base salary was $550,000 last season.
Soliai emerged as a solid 3-4 nose tackle in place of Jason Ferguson, who retired. Soliai started 13 games. He recorded 39 tackles, including eight for losses. Two of those were sacks. He recovered a fumble.
His agent, David Canter, said Soliai expected to sign the franchise tender "within a couple of days" and would like to work toward a long-term contract.
"He deserves credit for working hard," Canter said. "This is the culmination, the benefits and the reward. Some players view the franchise tag as a punitive thing, but this is a reward. Being named franchise player is something you can always hang your hat on, but with it comes the responsibility to prove you're worth it.
"That's a lot of money."
Now that we've gone through offseason workouts, minicamps, training camps and three preseason games, let's take a look at each AFC East need and determine whether it was addressed.
1. Outside linebacker: At the time of Horton's analysis, he didn't know Aaron Schobel would retire. Schobel would have been Buffalo's best pass-rusher in its new 3-4 defense. The Bills signed free agent Reggie Torbor and are hoping a group that also includes Chris Kelsay, Chris Ellis and Aaron Maybin will suffice. Need addressed? No.
2. Left tackle: The Bills chose to stick with Demetrius Bell. The Bills still haven't drafted a tackle earlier than the fifth round since 2002. Of the two they did draft, fifth-rounder Ed Wang is hurt and seventh-rounder Kyle Calloway already has been released. The Bills did sign Oakland Raiders free agent Cornell Green to play right tackle. Need addressed? No.
3. Quarterback: The Bills did next to nothing at quarterback, drafting long-term project Levi Brown in the seventh round and letting Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm shoot it out. Edwards won a not-so-open competition. Need addressed? No.
1. Wide receiver: Did the Dolphins address this need? Hmmm ... Let's see ... Oh, wait. That's right. They traded for Brandon Marshall, who has recorded triple-digit receptions in three straight seasons. Marshall was one of the most enormous transactions of the offseason. Need addressed? Yes.
2. Free safety: The Dolphins drafted Reshad Jones in the fifth round, but sophomore Chris Clemons has held down the position admirably. It won't be tough to outplay last year's starter, Gibril Wilson. Need addressed? Yes.
3. Nose tackle: The situation actually got worse and worse after Horton formed his analysis. Jason Ferguson was suspended eight games for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. The Dolphins re-signed Ferguson, but then he retired. The Dolphins didn't draft a nose tackle, choosing to convert defensive end Randy Starks instead. Starks is undersized for a traditional 3-4 nose tackle, but Dolphins coach Tony Sparano has claimed Starks' speed has upgraded the position. Need addressed? Yes.
New England Patriots
1. Outside linebacker: Horton wrote "This defense must generate pass-rush pressure from its outside linebackers, but the Pats are devoid of playmakers and have virtually no depth at this position." They've gotten shallower with the release of Adalius Thomas, who started their playoff game. Tully Banta-Cain and Derrick Burgess are back and penciled in as the starters. The Patriots drafted pass-rusher Jermaine Cunningham 53rd overall, but he has been too hurt to get on the practice field. Need addressed? No.
2. Wide receiver: Wes Welker was looking at a potentially long rehab at the time Horton wrote his offseason preview. Randy Moss' age also was a concern. But Welker's recovery has been quick. Moss has looked phenomenal. Emerging youngsters Julian Edelman, Brandon Tate and third-round draft pick Taylor Price should be more than enough. Need addressed? Yes.
3. Defensive end: Little did Horton know how badly the Patriots would need help here. Left end Ty Warren is done for the year because of a hip injury. Right end Jarvis Green split for the Denver Broncos. The Patriots signed free agent Gerard Warren and have moved last year's super reserve, Mike Wright, into the starting lineup. Need addressed? No.
New York Jets
1. Defensive end: Horton's concern was with the age of incumbents Shaun Ellis and Marques Douglas. Ellis is back. Douglas was a free agent who departed for the Dolphins. The Jets didn't draft any defensive linemen and didn't sign any notable free agents there. They did move Vernon Gholston from outside linebacker to defensive end. Need addressed? No.
2. Safety: Compared to the Jets' banner acquisitions, Brodney Pool was a blip. The Cleveland Browns gave up on him because of recurring concussions, but the Jets' medical staff found his problem was related to migraine headaches. He's a multifaceted safety with a nose for the ball, interception four passes in 10 games last year. Need addressed? Yes.
3. Wide receiver: The Jets practically stole Santonio Holmes from the Pittsburgh Steelers for a fifth-round draft choice. Holmes was the MVP of Super Bowl XLIII and was coming off a 1,248-yard season. But character issues, underscored by a four-game suspension to start the season, made him a bargain. Need addressed? Yes.
However, there is more than one way to run a 3-4 defense and you don’t necessarily need a massive plugger like Vince Wilfork or Kris Jenkins on the nose to be successful. Many teams use a three-man front, but utilize 4-3 principles with an attacking style. The Cowboys’ Jay Ratliff is the best example of such a disruptive upfield nose tackle.
Neither Starks nor Williams is in Ratliff’s class though. Starks is the superior player of the two, but he doesn’t have Ratliff’s quickness or explosion. Starks could do an above-average job in this capacity, but Miami also has another massive nose tackle on the roster, Paul Soliai, who fits the more traditional space-eating mold. Soliai can play the run, but offers nothing as a pass-rusher. Of course, Starks was put in this position as a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. He is best suited for end, where he was exceptional in 2009.
As for Williams, he too has some upfield ability and could use his leverage and quickness to get penetration off the snap. He certainly is not a bad player. But I just can’t envision him holding up play after play with his physical dimensions. He might be effective in spurts, but Troup will need to contribute heavily to make Buffalo’s transition to a 3-4 successful. That is asking a lot from a rookie nose tackle -- adjusting to that position in terms of strength, stamina and reading blocking schemes is not easy on a rookie.
Never forget, the AFC East is probably the most physical division in the league. Being powerful -- like Wilfork or Jenkins -- on the nose is a must to keep up with the divisional rivals. With Starks, Miami might be able to hold its own, but I think Buffalo is in a lot of trouble.
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- Chad Henne was nothing short of great. Henne, despite drops by Ricky Williams and Brandon Marshall, completed 11 of 14 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns to tight end Anthony Fasano. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano should be ecstatic after Henne's lukewarm preseason debut.
- Fasano is a player who could use a little mojo. He seemed to have a breakthrough season of sorts in 2008 with 34 receptions for 454 yards and a team-high seven receiving touchdowns. He had an erratic 2009, catching 31 passes for 339 yards and two touchdowns.
- Great baseball players have a way of impacting games in the field when they're slumping at the plate. Marshall showed he can make a difference even when he's having trouble with drops with sensational downfield blocking on two touchdowns.
- Chad Pennington's recovery from reconstructive shoulder surgery appears nearly complete. Saturday was a psychological milestone for him. He played one series and connected on three of his four attempts for 54 yards and a touchdown. His longest completion was a fluttering jump ball to Marshall for 37 yards down the left sideline. Vintage Pennington -- and vintage Marshall.
- Bad news for backup quarterback Pat White. He didn't take a snap. So in two games he has handed off once and knelt down twice to run out the clock. What on earth can the Dolphins do with him?
- Nose tackles aren't supposed to get sacks. Then again, nose tackles aren't supposed to be as fast as Randy Starks. He shot up the middle to drop Luke McCown for a 10-yard loss in the second quarter. The Dolphins are going with an undersized player there in place of the retired Jason Ferguson.
- The Dolphins' pass defense has to be a concern. Maybe the biggest concern through two preseason games. First-team quarterbacks Josh Freeman and David Garrard went a combined 10 of 12 for 132 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
- Another worry: the backup offensive line. Tyler Thigpen, who's fairly mobile, was sacked four times.
- Yet another worry: penalties. The Dolphins have committed 14 for 117 yards through two preseason games. Only five teams have been flagged more frequently, and two of them have played three games.
- Rookie cornerback Nolan Carroll continued his strong preseason. He has been impressive on defense, and on Saturday night averaged 25 yards on four kickoff returns.
- Brandon Fields went into 2010 with zero punt blocks in 61 games, including the preseason, regular season and playoffs. So it's disconcerting he has had a punt blocked in back-to-back games. Saturday night's was in the end zone for a safety on Miami's first possession. Special teams coordinator John Bonamego better fix protection.
- Jason Allen is a bust as a defensive back and certainly hasn't been worth the 16th overall pick the Dolphins used on him in 2006. But he might be the best special-teams player in the AFC East. He forced a fumble on the free kick following the safety.
New coach Chan Gailey wondered out loud why the Bills couldn't get to the playoffs.
I proposed if the Bills reached the postseason this year, then it might be considered a more miraculous feat than the Miami Dolphins rebounding from a 1-15 record to win the AFC East in 2008.
Allow me to explain my thinking and then feel free to share your opinion in the comments section below.
I understand the Bills weren't as bad last year as the abysmal '07 Dolphins were on the field.
Still, the Dolphins winning the AFC East is more plausible to me because (other than the fact they actually did it) the organizational cultures were significantly different for the Dolphins at this time in 2008 compared to where the Bills are today.
The main reason is Bill Parcells, who was given complete control over football operations. The Dolphins already had a few incumbent stars on their roster: running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams and outside linebacker Joey Porter. They drafted franchise left tackle Jake Long with the No. 1 pick.
Parcells drew proven coaches and free agents to the club. The Dolphins also made trades. They acquired quarterback Chad Pennington, tight end Anthony Fasano, guard Justin Smiley and nose tackle Jason Ferguson.
People wanted to be Dolphins.
Compare that to the Bills, who haven't been to the playoffs for a decade and have one winning season in that span. The Dolphins have four seasons of double-digit victories since the Bills last appeared in the playoffs.
I like what Gailey and general manager Buddy Nix are doing to rebuild the program, but they don't have the automatic credibility Parcells brings.
The Bills have little star power or drawing power. Their most-accomplished player, two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Aaron Schobel, apparently wanted out. They aren't entirely sure who their quarterback will be -- or their offensive tackles. Their top free-agent signings were defensive end Dwan Edwards and inside linebacker Andra Davis, nice players but not course-changers.
While the Dolphins had Long under contract before the draft, the Bills still haven't signed rookie running back C.J. Spiller, the ninth overall pick, a week into camp.
The competition is tougher for Buffalo this year than it was for Miami in 2008. Miami had an amazingly easy schedule, playing the soft AFC West and NFC West. Miami's combined opponents went 118-138 for a .461 win percentage that season. Aside from Bill Belichick, the AFC East coaches Tony Sparano had to match wits with were Eric Mangini and Dick Jauron.
The Bills' schedule strength is tied for 14th based on last year's records at 128-128. They will have to play the rugged AFC North and NFC North in cross-division games. Gailey has to face Belichick, Rex Ryan and Sparano in the division.
That's why I look at the Bills' chances to make the playoffs and think it can be debated their road ahead is tougher than what the Dolphins had in 2008.
Among their chief concerns:
Can the New York Jets deal with the expectations?
How will the New England Patriots generate a pass rush?
Will the Miami Dolphins' defensive be enough to compete for the division title?
Do the Buffalo Bills have three quarterbacks or none?
Palm Beach Post writer Ben Volin reported the development Monday. Merling's pregnant girlfriend claimed he hit her "about five times" in the face. Merling, the 32nd overall pick in the 2008 draft, is listed at 6-foot-4 and 295 pounds.
To illustrate how the Dolphins' offseason has gone, look no further than the club's four most recent news links on NFL.com. All pertain to arrests, suspicious behavior or a player suspended half the season for violating the league's drug policy.
"Dolphins DE Merling officially charged with felony battery"
"Dolphins' Ferguson calls it a career"
"Lawyer: DUI won't keep Brown away from Dolphins"
"Car registered to Dolphins' Hartline abandoned after crash"
The Boston Globe's Albert Breer scouts the Bills.
Terrell Owens' agent Drew Rosenhaus says his client is talking to five teams and "interest is really picking up."
BuffaloRumblings.com's Brian Galliford writes that Marshawn Lynch is the Bills player with the most to prove.
The Sun-Sentinel's Mike Bernadino sorts through the conspiracy theories surrounding Jason Ferguson's retirement.
Fifth-round draft pick safety Reshad Jones signed a four-year deal worth $1.95 million Friday.
Linebacker Channing Crowder expects to be ready in time for the start of training camp. Crowder has been recovering from a foot surgery to repair a Lisfranc fracture.
New England Patriots
It's safe to say that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is keeping an eye on the contract situation of No. 1 draft pick Sam Bradford.
Wes Welker stopped for a photo op with Adam Schefter while filming a commercial for ESPN.
The Boston Herald's Ian Rapoport spoke with Patriots owner Robert Kraft about "challenges" before training camp.
New York Jets
The Jets have announced their training camp schedule.
Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com reviews the Bills' unsuccessful efforts over the years to find a long-term solution at quarterback since Jim Kelly retired 14 years ago.
Speaking of Bills quarterbacks, Trent Edwards is among the professional athletes competing at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe Friday.
Paul Miller of NFL Gridiron Gab has a profile of coach Chan Gailey.
The Miami Dolphins announced the retirement of 13-year veteran defensive tackle Jason Ferguson.
The Dolphins are going to miss Ferguson's calming influence, writes Mike Berardino of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
The Dolphins say they aren't threatened by all the attention the NBA's Miami Heat are getting -- in fact, the Dolphins say they welcome it.
Cornerbacks Vontae Davis and Sean Smith reflect on their rookie season together.
New England Patriots
Randy Moss hired Joel Segal to be his agent. Segal, who replaces Tim DiPiero, also represents Chris Johnson, Darren Sharper, Reggie Bush and Michael Vick.
Frank Bauer, the agent for guard Logan Mankins, told the Boston Herald that "we haven't heard from [the Patriots]," but he didn't rule out reaching a deal before training camp starts in two weeks.
NESN.com's Jeff Howe asks, "What can we expect from Jerod Mayo in 2010?"
New York Jets
Darrelle Revis said he was "clueless" about the status over negotiations over his contract.
The team's website has a Q&A about tickets and PSLs at the new stadium.
In a promo for the upcoming season of "Hard Knocks," which features the Jets, coach Rex Ryan says, "The buzz is this is the team to beat."
The Dolphins, coming off an AFC East title, went into 2009 with the most rookie and first-year players on their 53-man roster. The NFL average was 9.6, but the Dolphins carried 14.
They were the sixth-youngest team in the NFL at 26.09 years (league average 26.61 years). Only two teams were less experienced than Miami's average of 3.83 seasons per player (league average 4.48 seasons).
Miami is trending young again for this year. As Boston Globe writer Albert Breer points out, the Dolphins have a division-low seven players on their roster who will be 30 or older on opening weekend.
The New York Jets and Buffalo Bills have 10 apiece, while the New England Patriots have 16.
But of the Dolphins' seven tricenarians, only four likely will be in the starting lineup. One is long-snapper John Denney. Another is third-string quarterback Chad Pennington. The other is suspended nose tackle Jason Ferguson.
What I find even more remarkable about the Dolphins' average age is that, after trading Ted Ginn, they have only two players remaining from their 2007 draft class: backup defensive tackle Paul Soliai and punter Brandon Fields.
That's a one-year famine they seem to have compensated for with their past three classes, undrafted free agents and waiver pickups.
Paul Soliai, Dolphins nose tackle: Next on the depth chart at nose tackle, Soliai was in position to be the starter until Jason Ferguson returned from his eight-game suspension. But the Dolphins made moves that will make it much more difficult for Soliai, a fourth-year pro, to assume the gig. The Dolphins drafted defensive lineman Jared Odrick with the 28th pick and announced afterward they would move defensive end Randy Starks to the nose. In fact, Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland didn't even mention Soliai's name when breaking down what their plans were at nose tackle after drafting Odrick.
Trent Edwards, Bills quarterback: Edwards enters his fourth pro season on shaky ground. He was Buffalo's opening-day starter the past two seasons but lost his job last year to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Now Edwards is in an open competition, but at least he knows the Bills haven't added an immediate threat. Edwards over the weekend learned a lot about what lies ahead when the Bills declined to draft Jimmy Clausen or Colt McCoy but selected Levi Brown in the seventh round. Bills GM Buddy Nix called Brown a "developmental" quarterback, and head coach Chan Gailey all but confirmed the Bills wouldn't sign a veteran free agent. That gives Edwards the greatest odds possible of winning his job back.
Alan Faneca, Jets left guard: Rumblings out of Florham Park indicate the Jets are trying to trade the perennial Pro Bowler and his contract, which pays him a $7.5 million base salary. Faneca could be on the verge of being dealt from one of the NFL's best offensive lines to, well, to who knows where?
Trent Edwards, Bills quarterback: Buffalo's former quarterback of the future might get another shot, but not if the Bills draft a prospect with the ninth or 41st overall selection. Edwards will breathe a sigh of relief if the Bills take other positions instead.
Laurence Maroney, Patriots running back: Other than Maroney, the Patriots backfield is up in years. Kevin Faulk, Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris each will be at least 33 this season. That gives Maroney an edge, but he'll become marginalized if the Patriots select a running back with one of their four picks inside the first 53 slots.
Paul Soliai, Dolphins nose tackle: With nose tackle Jason Ferguson opening the season with an eight-game suspension, Soliai projects to be the opening-day starter. That would change in a hurry if the Dolphins snag a nose tackle within the first couple rounds.
Adalius Thomas, Patriots outside linebacker: Unlike the others on this list, Thomas wants his team to draft a player at his position. That would push him that much closer to a departure from the Patriots' roster, and that would make him happy.
» Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)
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.
New England Patriots
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.
Their schedule would seem to be quite forgiving in November and December and should allow them to make up ground in the standings -- or pull away if they're able to get off to a quick start.
In Weeks 12 through 16, the Dolphins will play the Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions, teams with a combined 27-53 record last year. The Jets are the lone team in that group with a winning record last year, and the Dolphins defeated them twice.
That said, the Dolphins face a grueling start. Of their seven opponents in Weeks 2 through 9, six of them went to the playoffs last year. The only one that didn't won the Super Bowl two seasons ago.
The Dolphins also will be without nose tackle Jason Ferguson through that stretch. He will serve an eight-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
Complaint department: By virtue of their geographical separation from the rest of the division, the Dolphins will log the most roundtrip miles. Their odometers will roll up 21,200 miles -- more than twice the Buffalo Bills (9,310 miles, including their "home game" in Toronto) and New York Jets (9,996 miles).
4 on the floor: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross expressed his desire to play more 4 p.m. games at Sun Life Stadium to make the oppressive South Florida weather more tolerable for fans. The Dolphins were granted zero 4 p.m. kickoffs at home this year.
But the Dolphins will host back-to-back games under the lights against the New York Jets on Sunday night in Week 3 (Jason Taylor's first game there in a different uniform) and the New England Patriots on Monday night in Week 4.
Dolphins Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 12, at Buffalo, 1:00 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 19, at Minnesota, 1:00 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 26, NY Jets, 8:20 PM
Week 4: Monday, Oct. 4, New England, 8:30 PM
Week 5: BYE
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 17, at Green Bay, 1:00 PM
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 24, Pittsburgh, 1:00 PM
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 31, at Cincinnati, 1:00 PM
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 7, at Baltimore, 1:00 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 14, Tennessee, 1:00 PM
Week 11: Thursday, Nov. 18, Chicago, 8:20 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 28, at Oakland, 4:05 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 5, Cleveland, 1:00 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 12, at NY Jets, 4:15 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 19, Buffalo, 1:00 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 26, Detroit, 1:00 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2, at New England, 1:00 PM
Each of us selected for the four teams we cover, passing the list around and choosing from the players left on the board when a team went on the clock.
Every pick includes the blogger's rationale for making it.
9. Buffalo Bills: Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame quarterback. There was a run on offensive tackles. Three already were off the board. The Bills will have the option to take the best player at several positions, including nose tackle and wide receiver. But they're so lost at quarterback, they might not be able to pass up on Clausen.
12. Miami Dolphins: Dan Williams, Tennessee nose tackle. This was an easy one. The Bills might take Williams, but if he's there when the Dolphins get their first turn, then he'll be attractive. Now that the Dolphins have Brandon Marshall, nose tackle is a glaring need. Jason Ferguson will be suspended for the first eight games, and reserve Paul Soliai isn't talented enough to handle such a crucial position.
22. New England Patriots: Sergio Kindle, Texas outside linebacker. The deeper you get into the draft, the more you're taking stabs in the dark. Every spring, a prospect the experts figured to be long gone seems to slide into this area. But I went with Kindle because he fits the Bill Belichick prototype for this position. ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi, who knows how the Patriots think more than almost anybody, made a compelling case for Kindle.
29. New York Jets: Taylor Mays, USC safety. Mays will be tough to pass up if he's still on the board, and he was in our mock exercise. The Jets need a safety after trading Kerry Rhodes to the Arizona Cardinals. Aside from getting younger on the defensive line, they've addressed almost every other need via trades or free agency. But Mays is a position they can insert into the lineup right away.