AFC East: Mark Ingram

Dan MarinoGetty Images
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This is the first of three plays nominated as the most memorable play in team history. In the next two days, we’ll also feature: Legendary coach Don Shula's “Hook and Lateral” play call in the 1982 divisional playoffs against the San Diego Chargers; and Greg Camarillo's 64-yard overtime touchdown catch in 2007 that prevented Miami from becoming the NFL's first 0-16 team. Please vote for your choice as the Dolphins’ most memorable play.

Score: Dolphins 28, Jets 24
Date: Nov. 27, 1994 Site: The Meadowlands

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Which is the most memorable play in Dolphins' history?

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    79%
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    16%
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    5%

Discuss (Total votes: 33,173)

Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino threw 420 total touchdowns as a member of the Miami Dolphins. But no touchdown pass was more clever and more memorable than his fake-spike play against the rival New York Jets in 1994.

In an important division game, the Dolphins fell behind 17-0 in the third quarter and looked out of it. But Marino rallied Miami with 28 second-half points to pull off the 28-24 win.

Marino's most important throw came on the final drive. Trailing by three points, the Dolphins were deep into New York’s territory. After the Dolphins made it to the Jets' 8-yard line with the clock running, Marino yelled on the field "Clock, clock, clock!" while motioning to spike the ball with his right hand. Jets players froze at the line of scrimmage. But instead of spiking the ball, wide receiver Mark Ingram ran a quick out and beat a confused Jets cornerback Aaron Glenn for the game-winning touchdown. Glenn was picked on and allowed three touchdown passes by Marino in this game.

At the time, this November game had first place on the line in the AFC East. The Jets collapsed after this loss and went winless in five straight games to end their season. The Dolphins went on to win the AFC East, advance to the playoffs and lost in the divisional round. The wily veteran Don Shula outcoached a young Pete Carroll in this game.

Ingram and Marino were in the zone together. Ingram caught nine passes for 117 yards and all four of Marino’s touchdowns. But the pair were especially in tune on the fake-spike play. This remains the defining play in the career of Marino, who is the best player in Dolphins history.

Dan MarinoSimon Bruty/Allsport/Getty Images
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This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in team history. In the next two days we'll feature: Jumbo Elliott's improbable touchdown against the Miami Dolphins in the 2000 "Midnight Miracle" and the infamous Butt Fumble on Thanksgiving night, 2012. Please vote for your choice as the New York Jets' most memorable play.

Score: Dolphins 28, Jets 24
Date: Nov. 27, 1994 Site: Giants Stadium

SportsNation

Which is the most memorable play in Jets' history?

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    14%
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    31%
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    55%

Discuss (Total votes: 37,787)

It was a once-in-a-lifetime play and it took the Jets nearly a lifetime to recover -- or so it seemed.

With 22 seconds remaining in a critical AFC East game, Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino fired an 8-yard touchdown pass to Mark Ingram for the go-ahead score -- but this was no routine touchdown. Marino used a sleight of hand to trick the Jets. Behind center, he called for a "clock" play, giving the spike motion. The Jets relaxed, thinking Marino was going to fire the ball into the ground to stop the clock. That's what 20 players expected -- all except Marino and Ingram, both of whom performed their own ad lib. The ball was snapped and, against an unsuspecting defense, Marino found Ingram in the end zone for the game winner. They picked on rookie cornerback Aaron Glenn.

For the Jets, it was devastating on a few levels. For one, they lost a game they should've won. They should've finished the day in a first-place tie, but they blew a 24-6 lead in the final 16 minutes. In one of the most memorable games of his legendary career, Marino tossed three late touchdowns to rally the Dolphins. The psychologically fragile Jets never recovered, losing their final four games to finish 6-10. Their coach, Pete Carroll, was fired after only one season. The losing didn't stop, as they dropped 28 of 32 games under Rich Kotite, a sorry era that made the Jets a national laughingstock.

The Fake Spike was one of the turning points in team history, a demarcation point that separated hope and hopelessness. Finally, after two-plus years in the dark, the Jets got it right, hiring Bill Parcells, who resurrected the franchise. But the Fake Spike lives on, haunting those who were duped by Marino's chutzpah and creativity. Carroll still is asked about the play, and he doesn't particularly care to reminisce. He vanquished the demon last February, winning the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium, the site of the old Giants Stadium -- wonderful symmetry. Sure enough, the Fake Spike came up in the Seahawks' post-celebration.

"Is this vindication for the 'spike' play?" Carroll asked rhetorically at his news conference.

Looking into the cameras, he continued, "Hey, Marino, you got a lucky freaking play, all right? It happened. That was a long time ago."

Reggie Bush era over with Saints

July, 28, 2011
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The Reggie Bush era in New Orleans is over.

Bush
Bush
Adam Schefter reports Bush has agreed to a two-year contract with the Miami Dolphins, a deal that clears the way for the Saints to trade the player they drafted with the No. 2 overall pick in 2006. We don’t know all the details of what the Saints will receive as compensation yet (Miami defensive back Jonathon Amaya reportedly is part of the deal), but anything they get is better than nothing, which is what they would have received if they simply cut Bush.

Also of significant importance, the Saints don’t have to pay Bush the $11.8 million he was scheduled to make in base salary this season. Throughout the offseason, the Saints implied they would like to keep Bush with a restructured contract. But Bush began throwing out mixed signals about his desires from the moment the team drafted running back Mark Ingram in the first round.

Although some people have called Bush a flat-out bust, I don’t think that’s an accurate portrayal of his time in New Orleans. He never put up the kind of huge numbers that you would expect from a running back drafted so early.

Part of that was due to injuries. Part of that was because Bush just wasn’t big enough to handle 25 carries a game between the tackles.

But it’s unfair to say Bush’s time with the Saints was a waste. He had his moments. He made some game-changing plays and his presence on the field always drew the attention of defenses. He had an impact, but it just wasn’t as big as you’d expect from someone with his draft position.

Now, the Saints will move on. Bush’s departure clears room in what was a very crowded backfield. The Saints have Ingram, Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory.

Little love for AFC East running backs

May, 31, 2011
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The AFC East isn't a high-quality running back division.

That's not a new concept on this blog. When ESPN.com's Power Rankings panel voted on the NFL's best running backs in mid March, LaDainian Tomlinson was the lone AFC Easterner to get mentioned on a ballot -- at 10th, no less. Almost two months ago, we shared Scouts Inc. analyst Matt Williamson's evaluations of AFC East backfields, where he apologized for putting the Buffalo Bills on top.

NFL.com senior analyst Pat Kirwan took his turn at rating the best backs, breaking down the best 45 in five-man sets and giving them an up, down or even marker for 2011.

Kirwan couldn't name an AFC East player until Group D, listing New England Patriots battering ram BenJarvus Green-Ellis there and holding steady.

Buffalo running back Fred Jackson was in Group E and trending even. Kirwan ranked Jackson one group behind former mate Marshawn Lynch, now of the Seattle Seahawks. Tomlinson also was in Group E, but trending down.

Group F had Jets running back Shonn Greene, the only AFC East back to make the list and trend upward.

In Group G we find Miami Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown, declining. Kirwan stated Brown is best suited for a team looking for a backup who can provide 10 carries a game.

And that was it. No C.J. Spiller. No Danny Woodhead. No Ricky Williams.

But the likes of Tim Hightower, Mike Tolbert and rookie Ryan Williams made the cut. The Saints had four running backs on the list, including rookie Mark Ingram.

What do you think?

AFC East reader mock pretty much a failure

May, 2, 2011
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For six weeks leading into the draft, I compiled your votes for an AFC East reader mock that would be measured against ESPN experts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay.

We got crushed.

Mightily.

AFC East readers correctly predicted only three selections: Auburn quarterback Cam Newton first to the Carolina Panthers, Louisiana State cornerback Patrick Peterson fifth to the Arizona Cardinals and USC tackle Tyron Smith ninth to the Dallas Cowboys.

That's right. Shut out in the division.

Kiper delivered nine picks in the correct slots, although three of them went to wrong teams because of trades. McShay got eight slots right with two going to the wrong team.

Therefore, Kiper and McShay each had six bull's-eyes.

Procedural circumstances hurt the AFC East reader mock draft a little. We started back in March, choosing a player every weekday until we were done. Once a selection was made, it was locked in.

Kiper and McShay, meanwhile, had the ability to constantly tweak. At one point, each predicted Alabama running back Mark Ingram to the Miami Dolphins at No. 15 -- just like readers of the AFC East blog. But Kiper and McShay eventually switched to the winning pick, Florida center Mike Pouncey.

But the competition was so one-sided, I doubt tweaking would've helped much.

I came up with this scoring system to give credit for picks that were close and to account for trades:
  • 5 points: bull's-eye (player and team)
  • 4 points: player to right team/different slot or player in right slot/different team
  • 3 points: player taken within one slot of projected pick
  • 2 points: player taken within two slots of projected pick
  • 1 point: player taken within three slots of projected pick

That gave the AFC East blog 26 points with three bull's-eyes, two players within a slot, two players within two slots and one player within three slots.

Of the 24 remaining guesses, six of them weren't taken in the first round at all. The good news is that Kiper and McShay also whiffed on four of the same ones: Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed, UCLA outside linebacker Akeem Ayers and Texas cornerback Aaron Williams.

Kiper racked up 48 points, powered by having the first six picks slotted correctly.

McShay accumulated 50 points with my system. He couldn't match Kiper's hot start, but caught him in the second half. McShay nailed the Cameron Heyward to the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 31st pick.

When considering the worst miss, AFC East blog readers had Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder going to the Buffalo Bills at No. 34 (we allowed two bonus predictions because AFC East teams had the first two picks of the second round). Ponder went 12th to the Minnesota Vikings. The 22-spot differential was the largest of any player in the three mocks.

Readers also failed to include Washington quarterback Jake Locker in the first round, and he went eighth overall to the Tennessee Titans.

Five to consider for Patriots and Bills

April, 29, 2011
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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.

Patriots turn No. 28 into 2012 first-rounder

April, 28, 2011
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The New England Patriots couldn't sit still for both of their first-round draft choices.

The Patriots took their turn by drafting Colorado tackle Nate Solder at No. 17, but then they spun No. 28 into more assets.

Bill Belichick peddled the pick in exchange for the New Orleans Saints' 2012 first-round pick and their second-rounder Friday night. The Saints used the pick to select Alabama running back Mark Ingram.

New England now has three picks Friday night -- Nos. 33, 56 and 60 -- and could end up with more.

Over the next 19 hours, the coveted lead-off spot that will draw trade attention from teams that want to swoop in and snag a player still on the board.

One last look at AFC East mocks

April, 28, 2011
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With the start of the NFL draft hours away, let's take a final glance at AFC East projections.

The last roundup includes ESPN experts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, Sports Illustrated writer Don Banks, the National Football Post's Wes Bunting, Dallas Morning News writer Rick Gosselin, CBSSports.com senior writer Clark Judge and NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock and Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly.

No. 3 Buffalo Bills
  • Kiper's pick: Marcell Dareus, Alabama defensive tackle
  • McShay's pick: Marcell Dareus, Alabama defensive tackle
  • Banks' pick: Blaine Gabbert, Missouri quarterback
  • Bunting's pick: Marcell Dareus, Alabama defensive tackle
  • Gosselin's pick: Marcell Dareus, Alabama defensive tackle
  • Judge's pick: Marcell Dareus, Alabama defensive tackle
  • Mayock's pick: Marcell Dareus, Alabama defensive tackle
  • Nawrocki's pick: Marcell Dareus, Alabama defensive tackle
No. 15 Miami Dolphins
  • Kiper's pick: Mike Pouncey, Florida center
  • McShay's pick: Mike Pouncey, Florida center
  • Banks' pick: Mike Pouncey, Florida center
  • Bunting's pick: Mike Pouncey, Florida center
  • Gosselin's pick: Mike Pouncey, Florida center
  • Judge's pick: Mike Pouncey, Florida center
  • Mayock's pick: Mike Pouncey, Florida center
  • Nawrocki's pick: Mike Pouncey, Florida center
No. 17 New England Patriots (from Oakland Raiders)
  • Kiper's pick: Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple defensive lineman
  • McShay's pick: Cameron Jordan, California defensive end
  • Banks' pick: Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson defensive end
  • Bunting's pick: Cameron Jordan, California defensive end
  • Gosselin's pick: Cameron Jordan, California defensive end
  • Judge's pick: Mark Ingram, Alabama running back
  • Mayock's pick: Cameron Jordan, California defensive end
  • Nawrocki's pick: Christian Ponder, Florida State quarterback
No. 28 New England Patriots
  • Kiper's pick: Mark Ingram, Alabama running back
  • McShay's pick: Brooks Reed, Arizona defensive end
  • Banks' pick: Mark Ingram, Alabama running back
  • Bunting's pick: Mark Ingram, Alabama running back
  • Gosselin's pick: Danny Watkins, Baylor guard
  • Judge's pick: Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin tackle
  • Mayock's pick: Jake Locker, Washington quarterback
  • Nawrocki's pick: Danny Watkins, Baylor guard
No. 30 New York Jets
  • Kiper's pick: Phil Taylor, Baylor nose tackle
  • McShay's pick: Akeem Ayers, UCLA outside linebacker
  • Banks' pick: Phil Taylor, Baylor nose tackle
  • Bunting's pick: Phil Taylor, Baylor nose tackle
  • Gosselin's pick: Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State tackle
  • Judge's pick: Adrian Clayborn, Iowa defensive end
  • Mayock's pick: Akeem Ayers, UCLA outside linebacker
  • Nawrocki's pick: Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple defensive lineman

Kiper evaluates our AFC East reader mock

April, 27, 2011
4/27/11
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Mel KiperHoward Smith/US PresswireMel Kiper largely agreed with AFC East readers and the blog's mock draft.
U.S. Department of Labor analysts have confirmed Mel Kiper is the second-busiest man in the country this week and would have been first had the president not felt compelled to hold a weird news conference Wednesday.

Even with Kiper's heavy workload -- imagine how much care must go into crafting his final notes and hair the night before the draft -- he took the time to share his thoughts on our AFC East reader mock draft.

We verified our first round Wednesday with a long-form certification process: a six-week, pick-a-day reader vote.

Kiper's intrepid editor, Chris Sprow, caught up with him to go over the AFC East reader mock draft.

Here are Kiper's thoughts:

  • It's hard to argue with any of the top three picks here. If the trade domino doesn't fall, no reason this couldn't happen.
  • I'm going to stick with A.J. Green to the Bengals. Blaine Gabbert makes some sense, but if they still believe there's hope they can somehow hold onto Carson Palmer, they don't make that pick. But this could be one they are still undecided on, which is a theme this year.
  • If Green isn't there for Cleveland, I don't expect them to pass on Julio Jones, which means I don't think he's still there at No. 10 for the Redskins.
  • I like the pick of tackle Anthony Castonzo to Detroit because my gut says they know protecting Matthew Stafford is priority No. 1. I just think they might still see Tyron Smith there.
  • Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will love Robert Quinn if he's around with the 11th pick. If Quinn is not, Aldon Smith could go that high. His tape is phenomenal in spots.
  • J.J. Watt and Cameron Jordan are perhaps the most interchangeable picks, so these picks don't seem off at all for the Patriots and Chargers. Could play out that way.
  • I'm not as high on Derek Sherrod as some, but would love to be proven wrong. I just think he's there past Philly at No. 23. Slight reach for me.
  • Danny Watkins is a definite possibility at No. 28, but I think New England can go in so many different directions because of how many picks they have.
  • No Jake Locker? No Andy Dalton? I wouldn't count on it.

The last point lends itself to the nature of our project. We began six weeks ago, and quarterback buzz always ramps up as we draw closer to the draft.

Mock drafts also can't accurately factor trade scenarios, and those kinds of draft-day maneuvers will dictate where quarterbacks are drafted after Cam Newton and Gabbert.

It was nice of Kiper and Sprow to share some bonus analysis for us. Much thanks.

It won't be long until we find out how well we did.

Patriots, Bills on clock together in our mock

April, 27, 2011
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With the 32nd pick in the 2011 AFC East reader mock draft, the Green Bay Packers select ... Akeem Ayers, outside linebacker, UCLA.

We wrapped up the first round with another slim margin. Ayers, a strong candidate for several previous spots, finally found a home -- but by one vote over Georgia outside linebacker Justin Houston.

We have a complete first round, but with two more picks still to make Wednesday(read below).

First, here's our rundown ...
  1. Carolina Panthers: Auburn quarterback Cam Newton
  2. Denver Broncos: Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus
  3. Buffalo Bills: Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller
  4. Cincinnati Bengals: Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert
  5. Arizona Cardinals: Louisiana State cornerback Patrick Peterson
  6. Cleveland Browns: Georgia receiver A.J. Green
  7. San Francisco 49ers: Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara
  8. Tennessee Titans: Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley
  9. Dallas Cowboys: USC tackle Tyron Smith
  10. Washington Redskins: Alabama receiver Julio Jones
  11. Houston Texans: North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn
  12. Minnesota Vikings: Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers
  13. Detroit Lions: Boston College tackle Anthony Castonzo
  14. St. Louis Rams: Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget
  15. Miami Dolphins: Alabama running back Mark Ingram
  16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith
  17. New England Patriots: Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt
  18. San Diego Chargers: California defensive end Cameron Jordan
  19. New York Giants: Florida center Mike Pouncey
  20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan
  21. Kansas City Chiefs: Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi
  22. Indianapolis Colts: Colorado tackle Nate Solder
  23. Philadelphia Eagles: Mississippi State tackle Derek Sherrod
  24. New Orleans Saints: Temple defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson
  25. Seattle Seahawks: Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith
  26. Baltimore Ravens: Miami cornerback Brandon Harris
  27. Atlanta Falcons: Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn
  28. New England Patriots: Baylor offensive lineman Danny Watkins
  29. Chicago Bears: North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin
  30. New York Jets: Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed
  31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Texas cornerback Aaron Williams
  32. Green Bay Packers: UCLA outside linebacker Akeem Ayers

Upon the suggestion of a couple readers, I made the call to extend our mock by forecasting the Patriots' and Bills' picks at Nos. 33 and 34.

Reader mrf042579 made an excellent observation about that decision:
Tim, anyway you could make the Bills pick on Thursday end before the actual draft starts? I think if votes are still being allowed after the start of the real draft, it could potentially mess up the last pick of our mock (as in people voting after the draft starts for a player the Bills wouldn't pick if they don't actually take Miller at #3).

Consider it done. I'll ask for both selections here.

Please place your nominations in the comments section below this article, and make it clear which player you're sending to which team.

The Patriots and Bills are on the clock together. And then we're finished.

Pack up the reader mock? Think again ...

April, 26, 2011
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With the 31st pick in the 2011 AFC East reader mock draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select ... Aaron Williams, cornerback, Texas.

Slim pickings, for this one.

Only two prospects were nominated, Williams and Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor. Williams won by a vote.

But what caught my attention in the comments section were requests from readers frankb1031 and yehya. They asked to extend our mocktastic project to include the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills with the 33rd and 34th picks.

What a great idea that works out perfectly. We can maintain our daily pace and reveal the Bills' selection Friday, when the second round takes place.

Yonder reads our up-to-date mock draft board ...
  1. Carolina Panthers: Auburn quarterback Cam Newton
  2. Denver Broncos: Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus
  3. Buffalo Bills: Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller
  4. Cincinnati Bengals: Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert
  5. Arizona Cardinals: Louisiana State cornerback Patrick Peterson
  6. Cleveland Browns: Georgia receiver A.J. Green
  7. San Francisco 49ers: Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara
  8. Tennessee Titans: Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley
  9. Dallas Cowboys: USC tackle Tyron Smith
  10. Washington Redskins: Alabama receiver Julio Jones
  11. Houston Texans: North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn
  12. Minnesota Vikings: Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers
  13. Detroit Lions: Boston College tackle Anthony Castonzo
  14. St. Louis Rams: Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget
  15. Miami Dolphins: Alabama running back Mark Ingram
  16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith
  17. New England Patriots: Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt
  18. San Diego Chargers: California defensive end Cameron Jordan
  19. New York Giants: Florida center Mike Pouncey
  20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan
  21. Kansas City Chiefs: Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi
  22. Indianapolis Colts: Colorado tackle Nate Solder
  23. Philadelphia Eagles: Mississippi State tackle Derek Sherrod
  24. New Orleans Saints: Temple defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson
  25. Seattle Seahawks: Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith
  26. Baltimore Ravens: Miami cornerback Brandon Harris
  27. Atlanta Falcons: Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn
  28. New England Patriots: Baylor offensive lineman Danny Watkins
  29. Chicago Bears: North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin
  30. New York Jets: Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed
  31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Texas cornerback Aaron Williams

The Green Bay Packers are on the clock with the final selection of the first round.

Drop your suggestions in the comments section below or vote under the link on my Facebook page.

Readers like Reed to Jets in AFC East mock

April, 25, 2011
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With the 30th pick in the 2011 AFC East reader mock draft, the New York Jets select ... Brooks Reed, defensive end, Arizona.

Readers came through with a flurry of suggestions that evolved into an interesting race.

UCLA outside linebacker Akeem Ayers was the early leader. Baylor nose tackle Phil Taylor generated slower, steadier action.

But Reed proponents came on late for a convincing victory. Others to get attention were UCLA safety Rahim Moore and Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea.

A lot of Pac-10 love there.

Regular voter zack10bearden weighed the options:
Akeem Ayers is probably the best pass rusher left, but I don't think he is angry enough for a Rex Ryan defense. They need Phil Taylor to make their current pass rushers better. The key to these 3-4 type defenses is the nose tackle and DEs making the OLBs better.Phil Taylor is a better value at 30

Reader willparuta21 wrote:
Brooks Reed is a monster. He has to be the pick here. Fastest split 10 time out of any DE at the combine. Everyone know that the only way to win the AFC East is if you can pressure Tom Brady. Brooks Reed will help the Jets do that from both the down lineman and outside linebacker position!

Our weeks-long project almost has reached its conclusion.

This is where we stand ...
  1. Carolina Panthers: Auburn quarterback Cam Newton
  2. Denver Broncos: Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus
  3. Buffalo Bills: Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller
  4. Cincinnati Bengals: Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert
  5. Arizona Cardinals: Louisiana State cornerback Patrick Peterson
  6. Cleveland Browns: Georgia receiver A.J. Green
  7. San Francisco 49ers: Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara
  8. Tennessee Titans: Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley
  9. Dallas Cowboys: USC tackle Tyron Smith
  10. Washington Redskins: Alabama receiver Julio Jones
  11. Houston Texans: North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn
  12. Minnesota Vikings: Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers
  13. Detroit Lions: Boston College tackle Anthony Castonzo
  14. St. Louis Rams: Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget
  15. Miami Dolphins: Alabama running back Mark Ingram
  16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith
  17. New England Patriots: Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt
  18. San Diego Chargers: California defensive end Cameron Jordan
  19. New York Giants: Florida center Mike Pouncey
  20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan
  21. Kansas City Chiefs: Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi
  22. Indianapolis Colts: Colorado tackle Nate Solder
  23. Philadelphia Eagles: Mississippi State tackle Derek Sherrod
  24. New Orleans Saints: Temple defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson
  25. Seattle Seahawks: Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith
  26. Baltimore Ravens: Miami cornerback Brandon Harris
  27. Atlanta Falcons: Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn
  28. New England Patriots: Baylor offensive lineman Danny Watkins
  29. Chicago Bears: North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin
  30. New York Jets: Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed

The Pittsburgh Steelers are on the mock clock with the 31st pick.

Even though we've gone through all the AFC East clubs, let's sprint through the finish line on these last two choices. Please submit your Steelers recommendation in the comments section below this article or in the underneath the link on my Facebook page.

Jets finally up in AFC East reader mock

April, 22, 2011
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With the 29th pick in the 2011 AFC East reader mock draft, the Chicago Bears select ... Marvin Austin, defensive tackle, North Carolina.

Similar to the New England Patriots' selection at No. 28, there was a wide variety of nominations. Eight players were mentioned for the Bears. The first seven ballots cast named six players.

Austin barely beat out Maryland receiver Torrey Smith, with readers reasoning the Bears will need a replacement for Tommie Harris.

That brings us to the New York Jets with the 30th selection.

What direction will they go? Outside linebacker? Defensive line? Safety? Tackle? Wide receiver?

They can have anybody except these 29 prospects ...
  1. Carolina Panthers: Auburn quarterback Cam Newton
  2. Denver Broncos: Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus
  3. Buffalo Bills: Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller
  4. Cincinnati Bengals: Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert
  5. Arizona Cardinals: Louisiana State cornerback Patrick Peterson
  6. Cleveland Browns: Georgia receiver A.J. Green
  7. San Francisco 49ers: Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara
  8. Tennessee Titans: Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley
  9. Dallas Cowboys: USC tackle Tyron Smith
  10. Washington Redskins: Alabama receiver Julio Jones
  11. Houston Texans: North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn
  12. Minnesota Vikings: Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers
  13. Detroit Lions: Boston College tackle Anthony Castonzo
  14. St. Louis Rams: Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget
  15. Miami Dolphins: Alabama running back Mark Ingram
  16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith
  17. New England Patriots: Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt
  18. San Diego Chargers: California defensive end Cameron Jordan
  19. New York Giants: Florida center Mike Pouncey
  20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan
  21. Kansas City Chiefs: Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi
  22. Indianapolis Colts: Colorado tackle Nate Solder
  23. Philadelphia Eagles: Mississippi State tackle Derek Sherrod
  24. New Orleans Saints: Temple defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson
  25. Seattle Seahawks: Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith
  26. Baltimore Ravens: Miami cornerback Brandon Harris
  27. Atlanta Falcons: Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn
  28. New England Patriots: Baylor offensive lineman Danny Watkins
  29. Chicago Bears: North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin

Now it's up to the Jets with the AFC East's final draft choice.

Please tack your suggestion in the comments section under this article and provide your reason. I'll pull out a few of the more compelling thoughts and reprint them when I reveal the pick on Monday morning.

Draft Watch: AFC East

April, 21, 2011
4/21/11
12:00
PM ET
NFC Draft Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Each Thursday leading up to the NFL draft (April 28-30), the ESPN.com NFL blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today's topic: dream scenario/Plan B.

Buffalo Bills

Dream scenario: The Bills went 4-12 last year and haven't made the playoffs in 11 years. They're entering their second season under general manager Buddy Nix and head coach Chan Gailey. They're still laying an organizational foundation. As such, there are holes all over the place. So many, in fact, the Bills can go almost any direction and not make a misguided pick. Their dream player would be Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, but his availability at No. 3 isn't within their control. I believe if Newton is there, the Bills will pounce.

Plan B: If Newton's gone, then Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert almost certainly will be on the board for them. At least two of the top three defensive players -- Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller and Louisiana State cornerback Patrick Peterson -- would be there, too.

Miami Dolphins

Dream scenario: The Dolphins' dream scenario would be to get a draft-day phone call from another team desperate to move into the middle of the first round. The Dolphins own the 15th pick, and none of their most pressing needs matches up favorably with that spot. The top two -- maybe three -- quarterbacks will be gone. The Dolphins also need interior line and backfield help, but No. 15 seems too early for those top prospects: Florida center Mike Pouncey and Alabama running back Mark Ingram. But the Dolphins cannot afford to pass on a player they really like and hope he falls to them in the second round because they don't have a second-rounder. They traded it to the Denver Broncos in the Brandon Marshall deal. So the Dolphins would love to trade back in the order a little, snag Pouncey or Ingram or a quarterback such as Ryan Mallett, Christian Ponder, Andy Dalton or Jake Locker and collect another draft choice in the process.

Plan B: If they can't trade back, then they'll be stuck with reaching a little for a player they identify as the best fit for their team.

New England Patriots

Dream scenario: The Patriots hold three of the top 32 picks and two selections in each of the first three rounds. They'll gladly listen to every trade offer and definitely will field some calls. Bill Belichick's dream scenario is to have maximized value when they've made their final selection. If that means collecting more picks and still landing players they like, then so be it. If that means moving up in the order for a specific player and not having to give up much to do so, then so be it. If that means standing pat and making the best pick off their in-house draft board, then so be it.

Plan B: The Patriots have so many picks that they have more than a Plan B. However the draft shakes out, they'll have a Plan Z, Article XXXIV, Section 16, Subsection vii -- and an appendix with 23 more sets of instructions. No other front office enters the draft process with such flexibility.

New York Jets

Dream scenario: The Jets don't seem to be worried much about a dream scenario. Head coach Rex Ryan has laughed and shrugged when discussing the No. 30 slot. They don't have much control over who will be available. Their trade options are severely limited. The Jets don't have a second-round pick to dangle because they lost it in the trade for cornerback Antonio Cromartie. The NFL lockout allows clubs to trade draft choices only, preventing the Jets from packaging players like they did to move up and draft quarterback Mark Sanchez fifth overall in 2009. The Jets probably will be forced to await their turn and hope another team wants to jump in at the end of the first round. Maybe then they can turn their 30th pick into multiple picks.

Plan B: If no one wants their 30th pick, then they'll check out players such as Baylor nose tackle Phil Taylor or UCLA safety Rahim Moore.

Patriots snag Watkins in AFC East mock

April, 21, 2011
4/21/11
8:09
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With the 28th pick in the 2011 AFC East reader mock draft, the New England Patriots select ... Danny Watkins, offensive lineman, Baylor.

Despite a surprisingly low number of votes, this was the most varied nomination process of our project. Ten players were presented for the second of New England's first-round draft picks. The first eight ballots cast named six different prospects.

Watkins, who can play guard and tackle, emerged as the choice ahead of Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed and Georgia outside linebacker Justin Houston. Others to get multiple votes were Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward, Texas cornerback Aaron Williams and even Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett.

Many predicted the Patriots would trade out of this slot.

Reliable mock voter zack10bearden wrote:
No question they trade this pick. Too many teams will want to give up too much to get back into the late 1st for a reach at QB. Then they will use the 1st overall pick in the second round on Justin Houston. If by some freakish miracle they actually take this pick it will likely be Houston which only means they will have traded the 33 overall pick instead.

Patriotslove12 liked the idea of Watkins to bolster a line with a couple question marks. Right guard Stephen Neal retired. Pro Bowl left guard Logan Mankins is unhappy.
If they don't trade down from this spot, I can see them selecting Danny Watkins from a value standpoint. He is most likely rated behind only Pouncey at his position on the Patriot's board, whereas there has already been a run on OT's.

Watkins has a great story. He's a Canadian who used to be a firefighter and didn't start playing football until 2007 at Butte Junior College.

With three picks to go, here's our rundown so far ...
  1. Carolina Panthers: Auburn quarterback Cam Newton
  2. Denver Broncos: Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus
  3. Buffalo Bills: Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller
  4. Cincinnati Bengals: Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert
  5. Arizona Cardinals: Louisiana State cornerback Patrick Peterson
  6. Cleveland Browns: Georgia receiver A.J. Green
  7. San Francisco 49ers: Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara
  8. Tennessee Titans: Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley
  9. Dallas Cowboys: USC tackle Tyron Smith
  10. Washington Redskins: Alabama receiver Julio Jones
  11. Houston Texans: North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn
  12. Minnesota Vikings: Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers
  13. Detroit Lions: Boston College tackle Anthony Castonzo
  14. St. Louis Rams: Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget
  15. Miami Dolphins: Alabama running back Mark Ingram
  16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith
  17. New England Patriots: Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt
  18. San Diego Chargers: California defensive end Cameron Jordan
  19. New York Giants: Florida center Mike Pouncey
  20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan
  21. Kansas City Chiefs: Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi
  22. Indianapolis Colts: Colorado tackle Nate Solder
  23. Philadelphia Eagles: Mississippi State tackle Derek Sherrod
  24. New Orleans Saints: Temple defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson
  25. Seattle Seahawks: Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith
  26. Baltimore Ravens: Miami cornerback Brandon Harris
  27. Atlanta Falcons: Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn
  28. New England Patriots: Baylor offensive lineman Danny Watkins

The Chicago Bears hold the 29th selection. For those unfamiliar with their needs or the players still hanging around our imaginary draft board, feel free to do some research on ESPN.com's draft page.

Once you've done that, drop your choice in the comments section below this article.

We're almost done, folks.

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