AFC East: Mike Richardson
Just three years later, one keeper is a lousy return.
But consider how the rest of AFC East drafted in 2007.
Only six of 30 AFC East draftees from 2007 still are with the team that drafted them: two New York Jets, two Miami Dolphins, one New England Patriot and one Bill. (See chart below.)
The Patriots were the least efficient on nine picks, but they had only two selections inside the first four rounds. Their lone keeper was Pro Bowl safety Brandon Meriweather in the first round.
The Dolphins made 10 selections in what was the final draft class for general manager Randy Mueller and the only one for rookie head coach Cam Cameron. They famously misfired on ninth overall pick Ted Ginn, who was traded for a fifth-round pick this offseason, and second-round quarterback John Beck. Still around are defensive tackle Paul Soliai and punter Brandon Fields.
The last man standing from Buffalo's seven-man 2007 draft class is second-round linebacker Paul Posluszny.
So that's a 20 percent retention rate for the AFC East on all draftees and a 40 percent rate for those selected in the top three rounds.
With help from ESPN researcher Keith Hawkins and the Elias Sports Bureau, I wanted to find out how those percentages compared leaguewide.
Poorly, it turns out.
Of the 225 players chosen in other divisions that year, 100 have remained with the teams that drafted them. That's 44.4 percent overall, more than twice the AFC East rate.
When narrowing the field to players taken within the first three rounds, 89 prospects were absorbed into other divisions, and 54 have stuck, a success rate of 60.7 percent.
A few notes turned up by the research:
- The Dolphins are the only team that has gotten rid of their top four picks.
- Twenty-six teams have parted ways with at least one of their picks from the first three rounds.
- Of the 19 teams that had at least one pick in each of the first three rounds, only the Pittsburgh Steelers retained all of them (Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley, Matt Spaeth).
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|The Dolphins unveiled the Wildcat formation against the Patriots, and wound up winning their first game of the year.|
To stay in the spirit, let's relaunch this season for the AFC East with tweaks to the script.
What do you think would've happened:
1. What if Tom Brady didn't get hurt?
The New England Patriots finished 11-5 with Matt Cassel at quarterback but needed one more victory to reach the playoffs. How much would their record change with Brady healthy? Would Cassel have remained anonymous his whole career?
2. What if Brett Favre stayed retired?
The New York Jets probably wouldn't have traded Chad Pennington, but would they have insisted Kellen Clemens be the quarterback? Do they win nine games without Favre? Could the Miami Dolphins have won the division without Pennington?
3. What if the Dolphins hadn't tried the Wildcat in Foxborough?
It took guts for Dolphins coach Tony Sparano and his staff to unveil their gimmick offense. He admitted he was worried because, if it failed, he would be ridiculed. But the Wildcat didn't fail, and the Dolphins detonated the Patriots. The Dolphins avoided a 0-3 start and all of a sudden had reason to believe.
4. What if the Patriots had brought back Asante Samuel?
The Patriots let the Pro Bowl cornerback hit the free-agency market and never saw him again. They used the likes of retread Deltha O'Neal, Lewis Sanders, Mike Richardson and rookies Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite.
|AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin|
|Trent Edwards didn't appear to be the same after suffering a concussion against the Cardinals.|
5. What if Trent Edwards hadn't suffered a concussion?
The Buffalo Bills quarterback was a popular subject in the national media for propelling the Bills to a 4-0 start with some fourth-quarter heroics. His confidence was soaring. Then Arizona Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson crushed him on a blitz. Edwards suffered a concussion, and while he looked sharp in beating the San Diego Chargers in his next game back, everybody wondered if the concussion contributed to the Bills' second-half collapse.
6. What if the Jets had drafted somebody other than Vernon Gholston?
The Jets had the sixth overall pick. They were infatuated with the Ohio State pass-rush specialist enough to snag him there even though many other teams had him slotted late in the first round or early second. Gholston proved to be a long-term project. He was invisible on Sundays and eventually deactivated. Might the Jets have been able to use Jerod Mayo? Sedrick Ellis? Derrick Harvey? Ryan Clady?
The Long selection was a successful one, but as great as Ryan was in leading the Atlanta Falcons to the playoffs, Dolfans will be wondering for years what path their team would have taken if Ryan was the quarterback for the next 10 years.
8. What if the Bills had held off a couple of weeks on that Dick Jauron contract extension?
They probably wouldn't have given him one based on losing eight of their last 10 games. The Bills might be going through a head-coaching search right now.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
If you happen to attend the New England Patriots' next game in Gillette Stadium, take a look around the stands at the jerseys fans are sporting.
Add fan favorite Tedy Bruschi to the list.
The Boston Herald and Boston Globe both are speculating Bruschi's season might be over because his bad knee could land him on injured reserve.
A source told the Herald that Bruschi's injury isn't serious from a medical standpoint, that he normally would miss only three to four weeks. But with only three games left in the regular season and the Patriots desperate to make the playoffs, they'll probably need to fill Bruschi's spot on the 53-man roster with a serviceable player.Junior Seau, last week. That gave the future Hall of Famer, who will turn 40 next month, a little more time to pick up the game after seeing his first action Sunday since the Super Bowl.
Even though they already were at the 53-man limit, the New England Patriots made compelling roster cuts for the second straight day.
But for the sake of bringing you the news ASAP, the Patriots also announced their practice squad:
Dillard, Green-Ellis and Redd are rookies. Spann, in his third NFL season, is the most experienced.