AFC East: mock draft
ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. recently provided his latest mock draft . Here are his projections for the AFC East:
Pick: No. 8
Kiper selects: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Analysis: I haven't seen a mock draft recently that doesn't have Tannehill going to Miami. It would be an upset if the Dolphins don't get the former Texas A&M quarterback. Miami needs a quarterback, and the coaching staff likes Tannehill. Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman coached Tannehill in college and is a huge supporter. Tannehill also fits the West Coast system, so it's a match in many ways. The downside is Miami is reaching a bit at No. 8, and Tannehill most likely wouldn't see the field until 2013. The Dolphins need top draft picks who can make an impact next season.
Pick: No. 10
Kiper selects: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Analysis: This is also a common projection for the Bills. The AFC East blog also tabbed Reiff to Buffalo in ESPN.com's mock draft. There have been questions about Reiff's ability to play left tackle at the next level. His best asset might be his run blocking, not pass protection. But Buffalo currently has no answer at left tackle, and Reiff probably could be a starter there from Day 1. Will Reiff develop into an elite, Pro Bowl left tackle? Most experts don't think so. But Reiff is solid across the board, and can help the Bills.
New York Jets
Pick: No. 16
Kiper selects: Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama
Analysis: Upshaw is the type of player Jets coach Rex Ryan likes. He's a physical, aggressive linebacker who can rush the passer. The Jets could use all of those traits. Upshaw would be a good fit in New York. He also would add youth to the Jets' group of linebackers, which already includes aging veterans Bart Scott, Calvin Pace and David Harris.
New England Patriots
Picks: No. 27 and No. 31
Kiper selects: Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State; Derek Wolfe, DL, Cincinnati
Analysis: The players projected to go to New England have been all over the place -- McClellin, Wolfe, Chandler Jones, Andre Branch, Peter Konz, this list goes on. I think this is a combination of being at the end of the first round, which makes it unpredictable, and New England being very tight with information. It's difficult to get any pre-draft secrets from behind the Patriots' walls. We do know New England doesn't need help on offense. So expect the Patriots to take players early who they think can make an impact on the defense.
Let’s take a look at both experts and see where they think teams in the division are leaning.
Pick: No. 8
Kiper: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
McShay: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Analysis: These are two names that constantly come up with the Dolphins, and I don't like either selection. Reiff is versatile but in Miami he would play right tackle. Is it smart to take a right tackle with the No. 8 overall pick? I would get a pass-rusher here who can make more of an impact or consider trading down. The AFC East blog listed some trade possibilities for Miami last week. Tannehill's stock is rising fast to the point where McShay thinks he's a top-eight pick. I don't think Tannehill is worth such a high a pick and don't see Miami taking him here, especially if the Dolphins land Manning or Matt Flynn in free agency.
Pick: No. 10
Kiper: Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
McShay: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
Analysis: I like the thinking of both Kiper and McShay here. Buffalo should look for the best pass-rusher available with this pick. Quinton Coples would be ideal, but he's probably off the board at No. 10. Both Ingram and Upshaw have good motors and can get sacks. But Buffalo is switching to a 4-3 defense this year and would have to decide which player would be the better fit.
New York Jets
Pick: No. 16
Kiper: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
McShay: Mark Barron, S, Alabama
Analysis: I think the Jets would be fortunate if either player fell to No. 16. The Jets need a safety badly, and Barron is the best of the bunch. He has some health ailments he's working through during the pre-draft process and that could place Barron in the teens. But his game tape shows he's an aggressive player the Jets would like. Upshaw is probably a top-10 pick and I don't see him falling this far. But if he does, Upshaw could bring the aggressive pass rush the Jets need.
New England Patriots
Picks: No. 27 and 31
Kiper: Kendall Reyes, DT, Connecticut; Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
McShay: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois; Devon Still, DT, Penn State
Analysis: Defense, defense, defense, defense. This is perfect for New England. Although I think New England attacks its secondary -- either corner, safety, or both -- it's hard to argue with three defensive linemen. The Patriots need help at all three levels. New England, the reigning AFC champ, has the luxury of taking the best player on the board. As long as it helps the 31st-ranked defense, there shouldn't be any complaints. By the way, I would be surprised if Jenkins nearly falls out of the first round.
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ESPN.com's eight divisional bloggers put our heads together for a first-round mock draft, and I'd like to think I served the AFC East quite well.
Although I have to admit I screwed up the process because I didn't realize nobody had taken Davis, the Illinois cornerback, when the New England Patriots were on the clock at No. 23.
Assuming he was long gone, I gave them Cincinnati outside linebacker Connor Barwin -- until I realized Davis was sitting there like Napoleon Dynamite at the prom.
The rest of my selections were straightforward. If the Buffalo Bills can get out of the first round with Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin and Pettigrew -- can the Oklahoma State tight end really slide to No. 28? -- then Ralph Wilson will do cartwheels.
I did have some mulling to do for the New York Jets at No. 17. Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree and Missouri's Jeremy Maclin were the only receivers off the board, giving the Jets several options there. But I had to go with Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman.
My selection for the Miami Dolphins' at No. 25 was a pure hunch, but in my mind it seems like a great fit. Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis would've been a top-10 pick had he entered the draft after his junior season. He has the potential to be explosive.