AFC East: NFL draft 09

Rookie signing woes still exist for Dolphins, Bills

July, 29, 2009
7/29/09
7:45
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

The checklist of unsigned AFC East rookies got marked up nicely Wednesday.

The New England Patriots signed long snapper Jake Ingram, a sixth-round pick. New England's lone unsigned draftee is outside linebacker Tyrone McKenzie, who suffered a season-ending knee injury at rookie minicamp.

The New York Jets locked up their three draft picks long ago.

The Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins are the only clubs left with notable concerns, and the Bills are in substantially better shape than they were a few days ago.

The Bills announced they've signed the 28th and 42nd picks, guard Eric Wood and defensive back Jairus Byrd. Sunday night, the Bills signed second-round pick Andy Levitre, who should start at guard with Wood.

That leaves only defensive end Aaron Maybin without a contract.

Maybin likely will take a while. He was the 11th overall pick, sandwiched between San Francisco 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree and Denver Broncos back Knowshon Moreno.

To maximize Maybin's contract, it's a safe bet his agent, Joel Segal, will wait until Crabtree and Moreno have signed. Both are expected to be contributors for their teams and don't appear on the verge of signing.

Bills fans are familiar with Crabtree's hardball-playing agent, Eugene Parker, who represents Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters. Parker's tactics forced the Bills into trading Peters to the Philadelphia Eagles this spring.

The Dolphins have three draft deals to hammer out, but their camp doesn't open until Sunday, the latest of any AFC club.

Still unattached are cornerback Vontae Davis (25th overall), quarterback Pat White (second-round) and safety Chris Clemons (fifth round).

Rookie on the hot seat: Mark Sanchez

May, 14, 2009
5/14/09
12:00
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

There's no question which AFC East rookie heads into 2009 most squarely on the hot seat.

New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez already is being promoted as the face of the franchise. He hasn't thrown an NFL pass. He hasn't even broken a practice huddle with the veterans.

 Sanchez

Yet he's one of New York's biggest celebrities, already drawing comparisons to Joe Namath as a leading man. Sanchez has been all over the back pages of the New York newspapers. He threw out the first pitch at a New York Mets game. He elicits applause when he walks down the street.

That's what happens when a team trades two draft picks and three players, moves up 12 spots and selects a star college quarterback who looks like he reported straight from central casting.

Add to that the fact the Jets drafted only two other players the whole weekend.

No other AFC East rookie has such expectations. The next-highest draft pick was Buffalo Bills defensive end Aaron Maybin, who will be given some leeway because he started only one season at Penn State and left early.

Rookies, Vets on the Hot Seat
ROOKIES ON THE HOT SEAT
• AFC: N | S | E | W
• NFC: N | S | E | W

VETS ON THE HOT SEAT
• AFC: N | S | E | W
• NFC: N | S | E | W

The Miami Dolphins took cornerback Vontae Davis with their first selection, but rookies rarely are projected to produce at that position. Pat White, the multitasking quarterback Miami took in the second round, has created significant buzz, but nobody's counting on a substantial impact.

Sanchez, meanwhile, is trying to box out veteran Kellen Clemens and assume control of a team with playoff aspirations.

Jets head coach Rex Ryan made it to the AFC Championship Game last season as Baltimore's defensive coordinator, and rookie Joe Flacco was the quarterback. That precedent would seem to eliminate NFL inexperience as an excuse if things go poorly.

Circumstances could give Sanchez more responsibilities than Flacco had.

The Jets don't have a true No. 1 receiver and didn't replace Laveranues Coles. Both of their running backs, Pro Bowlers Thomas Jones and Leon Washington, are involved in contract disputes.

Sanchez will have to find a way to make it work.

The media crucible that is New York will label Sanchez a demigod or a bum on a weekly basis.

Shonn Greene ready to get Jets reps

May, 14, 2009
5/14/09
8:20
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

With both of their top running backs declining to show for voluntary workouts this week, who has been taking handoffs for the New York Jets?

 
  Scott Boehm/Getty Images
  Shonn Greene rushed for 1,850 yards last season at Iowa.

Not Shonn Greene. He's not there either.

Thomas Jones and Leon Washington, both Pro Bowlers, want new contracts and have boycotted organized team activities so far. That could afford Greene a nice head start on his development once he waits out an NFL rule keeping him away.

"I don't know anything that's going on," Greene said Wednesday in reference to Jones and Washington. "I hear the news and stuff, but I don't really know what's tied into that.

"I do want to be a starter, but it does take time to develop. I just want to learn as much as I can and go from there. I want to go in and compete."

Greene, who the Jets selected with the first pick of the third round, plans to report for Monday's voluntary practice. Beyond rookie camp, NFL rules prohibit first-year players from reporting to their teams before May 16 or until their college holds final exams, whichever comes later.

Never mind that most prospects usually bag spring semester so they can concentrate on football. That's what Greene did after declaring for the draft with a year of eligibility left. He's nowhere near the University of Iowa campus.

In fact, while Danny Woodhead and Jehuu Caulcrick have been enjoying prime reps, the most Greene can do is study the playbook just 100 miles away in his hometown of Sicklerville, N.J.

"It's the rules," Greene said. "When there's things you can't control, there's no need to get frustrated about it. Why stress over it?

"I guess some people get frustrated, but you can take some positives from it. Just being drafted and having a chance to enjoy that with your family instead of going to work right away."

Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez is barred from the Jets' facility, too. Greene laughed and said "I'm pretty sure he's frustrated by the situation."

Greene has demonstrated considerably more patience before.

After two seasons as an Iowa backup, he was ruled academically ineligible for 2007. He attended Kirkwood Community College to improve his grades and worked for $8 an hour at a local furniture warehouse.

"I wasn't taking care of what I was supposed to," Greene said. "I wasn't being disciplined or doing the right thing.

"It was just being young and dumb."

But Greene apparently learns lessons quickly. He came back for his junior year, won the starting job and turned in the greatest rushing season in Hawkeyes history. He ran for 1,850 yards and 20 touchdowns, winning the Doak Walker Award as the nation's top running back.

"He's a big back with super vision," Jets coach Rex Ryan said soon after they drafted Greene. "He really does jump out when you watch that tape. That's what it takes in this league.

"He runs through arm tackles. He can see the hole and he hits it. He's not shy of hitting that hole. He's a downhill runner. I think the young man is going to be a tremendous player for us."

Undrafted through the first two rounds, the Jets had all night to think about Greene. They traded three draft picks (Nos. 76, 115 and 228) to the Detroit Lions to move up 12 spots and make Greene the initial selection of the second day.

"They made the move, and I greatly appreciate that," Greene said. "That shows how much interest and trust they have in me. So all I want to do is work hard and do what I can, follow directions.

"Expectations are there, but I can't worry about that. I just have to do what I can do."

Report: Patriots draft pick done for the year

May, 6, 2009
5/06/09
4:14
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Tyrone McKenzie's difficult road to the NFL has encountered another obstacle.

Boston Globe reporter Christopher L. Gasper reports McKenzie will be lost for the season because of a knee injury he suffered at rookie camp last week.

The New England Patriots drafted McKenzie in the third round, and it appeared he was on the verge of finally realizing his dream after years of sacrifice.

McKenzie played linebacker for three colleges. He started at Michigan State, transferred to Iowa State and was forced to transfer to South Florida when his mother was involved in a bad car accident and lost her home daycare business.

McKenzie worked the overnight shift at a Hampton Inn to help his recovering mother pay her bills. He kept working out and playing football.

But he will have to wait another year to play in the NFL.

McKenzie tore the anterior-cruciate ligament in his right knee on the second day of camp, ending his season before it began.

He hadn't even signed his contract yet.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick lauded McKenzie's character the day they drafted him.

"I would just say of all the players that I've talked to and we've interviewed this year and even through the years, that Tyrone is amongst the most impressive," Belichick said. "Maturity, intelligence, what he's done with the opportunities that he's had or that he's had to overcome, how he's approached them, how he's dealt with them, how he's made the most of them ...

"It hasn't been easy, yet he's continued to excel, jump over hurdles and overcome obstacles that I think would have derailed a lot of other people and/or football players. I think he's a very impressive, mature, humble young man."

Around the AFC East: Pats rookie wrestles NFL

May, 4, 2009
5/04/09
11:26
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

New England Patriots

Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

Jets rookie camp has been no layup for Bullock

May, 2, 2009
5/02/09
4:33
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

For the first time in five years, J'Nathan Bullock pulled a helmet over his ears.

"It messed with all sorts of things," Bullock said Saturday by phone from the New York Jets facility in Florham Park, N.J.. "My neck, my vision, my timing, everything was off. I'm still getting used to it.

"Today, I woke up with a sore neck and my head was banging."

While most participants in this weekend's rookie camp can strap on their equipment as easily as most folks slip into a pair of loafers, Bullock is relearning even the simplest routines.

Bullock hasn't played football since high school. The Jets signed him as an undrafted rookie in hopes of turning him into a tight end.

Bullock was a 6-foot-5, 240-pound power forward at Cleveland State. He led the Vikings into the second round of the NCAA basketball tournament by averaging 15.2 points and 7.1 rebounds a game.

When he took off his football pads for the last time at Flint Northern High in Michigan, he figured it was forever.

"There weren't any thoughts about the NFL marinating," Bullock said.

Shortly after Cleveland State was eliminated from the tournament, he received queries from the Buffalo Bills and Chicago Bears.

That got him wondering.

"It caused some deep thought," Bullock said. "The idea resonated in my mind when actual teams started talking to me.

"I had aspirations to play in the NBA, but I took a turn. That's life."

Because Cleveland State doesn't offer football -- pro-football-reference.com lists no alumni in its database -- Bullock staged a workout for NFL scouts on the campus soccer pitch.

With visions of discovering the next Antonio Gates, a Kent State hoopster who went on to star for the San Diego Chargers, over half the league was represented at Bullock's workout. But Bullock said only the Jets sent a position coach. That won him over.

Bullock's goal is to make the 53-man roster. The Jets need help at tight end. Their depth chart consists of Dustin Keller and James Dearth, a long snapper with three catches in nine NFL seasons. The Jets released Chris Baker and haven't re-signed Bubba Franks.

The Jets didn't draft any tight ends. They brought in only Bullock, Utah State's Rob Myers and Arkansas' Andrew Davie as rookie free agents. Davie also is a long snapper. He caught eight passes for 71 yards and three touchdowns last year.

It would be interesting to see if he would clear waivers if the Jets tried to place him on their practice squad.

He insisted he isn't flippant about football, that he's not treating it as some fling before returning to the hardwood.

"Once something's on my plate, I go at it wholeheartedly," Bullock said. "I'm giving it 110 percent. I'm not going to cheat the Jets."

But Bullock admitted he had a rough time in his first two practices.

"I would want to make a better first impression because my expectations are high, probably too high," Bullock said. "I was fighting it all day [Friday]. I'm trying to learn the system and plays. It's hard to play naturally through all the mental parts.

"I haven't played up to my ability, but this is a different environment and we're at the beginning of the process."

Dolphins gathering afterthoughts

May, 2, 2009
5/02/09
3:11
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

DAVIE, Fla. -- At about this time last year, the sales pitch for undrafted rookies was pretty simple: Come to the Miami Dolphins and receive a glorious opportunity to make the roster.

The Dolphins were rebuilding after a 1-15 season. Bill Parcells came in and gutted the coaching staff and much of the locker room. There were holes to fill, and the Dolphins knew they needed to rely on rookie free agents.

Their scouting department found a pair of significant contributors. They convinced Hawaii receiver Davone Bess, popular around the league after being passed over, to give them a shot and unearthed Montana kicker Dan Carpenter.

"Last year, you're selling coming off of 1-15 and the opportunity to make the team," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said. "This year's a little bit different. People are looking at us a little bit different, first of all. All of a sudden, coming to Miami is not a bad thing to do."

The Dolphins brought 17 undrafted players to this weekend's rookie camp. They signed nine and invited eight more for tryouts. They have scoured the country for players from Mars Hill College, Shaw University and Central Washington University.

Sparano foresees two roster spots being available for undrafted rookies again this year.

"I would hope that," Sparano said. "I think every year you're hoping some of these undrafted guys make the team. That is our philosophy.

"We work hard on that part of the draft and trying to get some of these young guys that can come in here, these free-agent guys you're grabbing after the draft to help make your team.

"It's kind of like getting one for free. When you look at Carpenter or Bess, those things were really good finds for us. If we can find a couple of those people each year, that would be nice."

Miami WR Turner makes fine first impression

May, 1, 2009
5/01/09
7:35
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

DAVIE, Fla. -- Pat White's first Miami Dolphins practice didn't go well.

The West Virginia scat quarterback completed one of his six attempts in seven-on-seven drills Friday at Dolphins rookie camp. A couple passes were dropped, but he misfired on five straight. He threw an interception.

White ended his day with a long, arcing pass down the left sideline to practice squad receiver Anthony Armstrong, who got behind second-round pick Sean Smith in 11-on-11 drills.

White garnered most of the media attention because he represents so many fun possibilities for the Wildcat offense. The Dolphins drafted him in the second round last weekend and promptly cut John Beck, considered the future franchise quarterback a mere 24 months ago.

But the rookie who stood out most of all was the receiver who didn't appear on any mock drafts but was mocked as a reach by draft analysts.

Granted, it was the first day of a long NFL journey, but Southern California receiver Patrick Turner didn't do anything to show he wasn't worth the third-round pick Miami used on him.

My untrained eyes were drawn to Turner. While the other receivers seemed to be fending off nerves and bobbling passes -- Ohio State's Brian Hartline made a couple of great grabs, though -- Turner's soft hands caught everything so effortlessly.

"It goes all the way back to playing catch in the back yard with my dad," Turner said. "Something I always focused on was catching the football clean, focusing on the football and when the ball's in the air nothing else really matters."

Turner is a big target at 6 feet 5 and 220 pounds. The biggest question is his speed. He ran the 40-yard dash in a decent 4.58 seconds at USC's pro day.

"I'm a bigger-body receiver, a really good possession receiver," said Turner, who caught 49 passes for 741 yards and 10 touchdowns in Mark Sanchez's offense. "I adjust to the ball well, and even when there's good coverage feel like I can still make a play on the ball.

"For a bigger guy, I can get open with route running. I can help this team by being a consistent receiver on any down, but especially on third down."

The Dolphins were ridiculed for making Turner the 13th receiver off the board.

Scouts Inc. rated him the 38th best receiver in the draft. Pro Football Weekly's draft guide ranked Turner 30th, saying he "has no upside" and that he benefitted from facing single coverage because the Trojans offense was so loaded. Lindy's Pro Football ranked him 18th.

"Some of my friends told me about what was said," Turner said. "I don't pay too much attention to that stuff.

"I just go out and play football. That's what I love. I have a passion for it. I'm so fortunate to have it as a job. I'm going to take it as a job, be a professional and try to help this team and contribute in any way I can."

Dolphins coach Tony Sparano looks at Turner's big frame and sure hands and envisions another red-zone threat and a third-down option.

For now, Turner doesn't even have a logo on his white helmet. Rookies aren't given that honor.

That's another reminder he's just getting started. One day doesn't prove anything -- to the Dolphins or the draftniks.

"This is the first step to the dream," Turner said. "There's a lot more steps to go. To hear that phone ring on Sunday morning was an awesome feeling. You got a lot of people excited for you. I don't want to let those people down.

"It's a big deal to be in the NFL. This is the first milligram. There's a lot of work to be done, but I'm excited. This is what you play for, this opportunity."

Through pain and support, Maybin emerges

May, 1, 2009
5/01/09
1:40
PM ET
 
  Ned Dishman/Getty Images
  The Buffalo Bills hope rookie defensive end Aaron Maybin can provide a serious pass-rush threat that was missing in 2008.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The scene was typical for a teenage boy and his father.

Together in a van on a long drive, the father began to preach a little. In this particular case, he really was a preacher. With nowhere to escape, his son stared out the window and looked for anything amid the passing landscape to distract him from the lecture.

Only this wasn't some mundane interlude. The teen wasn't ignoring the speech or rolling his eyes. He was absorbing every word. The tears welled.

"It was a very pivotal time for me in my life," Buffalo Bills rookie defensive end Aaron Maybin said of the intimate talk he had four years ago with his father.

  Maybin arrives in Buffalo
  NFL.com Video
  Aaron Maybin talks about what he will bring to the table as a member of the Buffalo Bills.

Maybin was 17 and on his way to Penn State for a Nike camp. College football recruiters from across the country had begun to notice his athletic ability. He had the size, the speed, the explosiveness that made them slobber. He was on the verge of landing a full scholarship to practically any college in the East.

"Everything was really starting to come together," he said.

Michael Maybin reminded Aaron of what they had endured, shared some painful regrets. Aaron's mother died while delivering his little sister. He was 6.

Michael Maybin was the 12th of 14 children and the son of a steelworker. Nobody in the family earned a college degree. He attended Penn State for a while but didn't finish. That kept him from being the provider he wanted to be.

"Before we both knew it we both were looking out the window, trying not to make eye contact with each other because we were both crying," Aaron Maybin said. "He spent a lot of time relaying how badly he wanted to see his son be successful.

"That was a time when he allowed himself to be vulnerable and express to me how much he really loved me. We expressed to each other what our feelings were. We both put it out on the table how important it was for us to see that moment happen for us the right way."

One day after his father's seminal speech, Aaron Maybin was incandescent at that Nike camp. Penn State coach Joe Paterno offered him a scholarship that opened the door for all sorts of glorious possibilities.

The tears returned Saturday. Aaron Maybin's dream of being in the NFL came true.

The Bills drafted him 11th overall. He left Penn State a year early, but he's looking at a contract that will pay him around $4 million a year and about $14 million in guarantees.

"This whole thing is mind-blowing," said Michael Maybin, a fire inspector and associate minister at Transformation Church of Jesus Christ in Baltimore. "He went into a press conference at his school as Aaron Maybin, a defensive end heading to Penn State and walked out a corporation."

(Read full post)

AFC East chat switched to noon Friday

April, 30, 2009
4/30/09
9:15
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Listen up, y'all.

My weekly AFC East chat will be moved up from its regularly scheduled time to noon ET Friday because I can't chat and watch Pat White at the same time. He's a multitasker. I'm not.

Miami Dolphins' rookie minicamp opens at 2 p.m. ET Friday and runs through the weekend.

White will be in his Dolphins gear for the first time, as will cornerback Vontae Davis, defensive back Sean Smith and receiver Patrick Turner, considered one of the biggest reaches in the draft.

Sanchez leads AFC East impact rookies for 2009

April, 30, 2009
4/30/09
12:13
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

The mathemagicians at WhatIfSports.com have ranked the top 100 rookies in terms of projected impact on their new teams.

Because I avoided math like the swine flu and delayed taking my one required collegiate course until the winter quarter of my senior year, I better let Paul Bessire of WhatIfSports.com explain how it works:

We run a very complex set of algorithms that factors collegiate performance, role in college, strength of collegiate competition, "measurables," likely NFL role, previous performance of a similar player in that NFL role for this coaching staff and trends of similar rookies in the past. This gives us the player's projected ratio stats (expected yards per carry, completion percentage, etc.), as well as his forecasted usage for the upcoming season. From there, we can compare all rookies based on who we think will make the biggest positive impact for his new NFL team in his first year.

In other words, they do a little more than break out a slide rule, some graph paper and a solar-powered calculator.

We have done pretty well with this approach. Leading into the 2008 season, not only did this methodology correctly rank first round draft choices like Jonathan Stewart, Jerod Mayo, Jake Long and Sedrick Ellis among the top ten, it helped to point out some steals like Steve Slaton, Charles Godfrey, Matt Forte, Trevor Scott, Jamaal Charles and Cliff Avril.

WhatIfSports.com also had Joe Flacco at No. 11 last year. Then again, it ranked James Hardy No. 8 and Vernon Gholston No. 20, too.

The Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions generated the most positive projected rookie impact for 2009. The New York Jets, with only three picks, have the least depth, but posted the highest-ranked player within the AFC East.

AFC East highlights from the rankings:

Arrington on Wake: 'He's like Cinderella Man'

April, 29, 2009
4/29/09
3:51
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Former Penn State and NFL star LaVar Arrington was knocking around the Buffalo Bills' facility Sunday with his protégé, Aaron Maybin.

Arrington has been mentoring him for years. Maybin was in middle school when he met the three-time Pro Bowler, so one could understand why Arrington was wearing a Bills T-shirt a day after they made Maybin the 11th overall pick in the draft.

 
  AP Photo/John Ulan
  Cameron Wake collected 31 sacks during two seasons with the CFL's BC Lions.

I'll have more on Maybin and his inner circle later this week, but I also had the opportunity to ask Arrington about another Penn State pass-rusher who's entering the AFC East this year.

The Miami Dolphins in January signed Canadian Football League sackmaster Cameron Wake, who played under the name Derek Wake at Penn State.

Wake arrived at Happy Valley with comparison's to Arrington, who turned pro the year Wake got there. Wake, however, left Penn State undrafted. He got into banking, then personal training and had to reinvent himself with the BC Lions, recording 31 sacks in two seasons.

The Dolphins signed him to a four-year, $5 million deal, the richest contract ever given to a CFL import.

"That's a heck of a story," Arrington said. "He's like Cinderella Man. That's one of those stories where you've got to say 'Man, if you don't believe that dreams can come true, then he's one of those you have to look at.'

"He has to say 'If I didn't go that extra mile, if I didn't work a little bit harder, I actually cheated myself out of possibly realizing my dream.' That personifies what he represents."

Arrington remains blown away by Wake's athleticism, but pointed to a lack of dedication that often drew Joe Paterno's ire.

"He went there and was athletic as all get-out," Arrington said. "There never was a question about his athletic ability. It was a question about his desire and his intensity.

"What happened from that time when he left Penn State to when he started playing in Canada, I don't know. But it wasn't the same man. It's not the same guy. That's pretty awesome that he's getting an opportunity to play in the NFL after all that."

Amish draft expert nails pre-draft predictions

April, 29, 2009
4/29/09
2:44
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

As I wrote Friday, I visited my parents in rural Ohio before driving to the Buffalo Bills' headquarters for the NFL draft.

My folks are surrounded by Amish families. One of their neighbors is emerging Amish draft expert Eli Yoder. He trotted his buggy up the driveway just before I hit the road Saturday and imparted some predictions I shared before the draft began.

I thought it would be fun to review his prophecies. Yoder is a carpenter by trade. I think it's fair to say he nailed them.

Next year, I'll start hitting him up for info a lot earlier.

  • The New England Patriots won't find a willing trade partner to move into the top 10 picks in the draft. He gave an over/under on Patriots trades this weekend at 3 1/2. (While Yoder was way under on the number of trades, he nailed the first part.)
  • The Bills won't get a tackle they want with the No. 11 pick and it shouldn't be a surprise if they do not draft Jason Peters' replacement with either of their first-round picks. (Nailed it.)
  • Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis will be the steal of the draft. (Impossible to say for at least a couple years.)
  • Twitter won't catch on. (Impossible to evaluate this prediction now, but Yoder has been saying the abacus will make a comeback.)
  • Connecticut cornerback Darius Butler will be an early second-round pick for the Patriots. (Nailed it.)
  • The Tony Gonzalez trade will cause Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew to slip to the Bills at No. 28. (Yoder's only clear miss. Pettigrew went No. 20 to the Lions.)
  • The Miami Dolphins will ignore their need for another receiver and go defense in the first round. (Nailed it.)
  • The New York Jets will not draft Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman. (Nailed it, although Freeman did go at No. 17, the Jets' original pick.)
  • Neither the Dolphins nor the Jets will select a receiver in the first round unless they trade up. (Nailed it.)

Your AFC East mailbag delivered

April, 29, 2009
4/29/09
8:45
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

John in Tampa Bay, Fla., writes: Tim, do you think that Chad Henne is on his way out of the Dolphins? He was drafted pre-wildcat whereas Pat White would fit in better with the new scheme. Another important thing is that number of starts is one of the few general indicators of a QB's potential in the NFL and Pat White started a ton of games. With the number of starts in mind, I think that the Jets' Sanchez is going to end up a bust.

Tim Graham: Henne is Miami's quarterback of the future. The Dolphins drafted White to be their third-string quarterback for now. They can groom him while also getting him onto the field in Wildcat formations. I envision Henne will be Miami's starter in 2010 with White backing him up.

As for Mark Sanchez projecting as a failure because he started only 16 games, I disagree. His learning curve is different, but he can be a star. It's not like he was a backup at DeVry Institute.


LeRoy from Parts Unknown writes: So how does this work do you just open up the mailbag and then never comment on what the bloggers call you out on??

Tim Graham: No comment.


Zack in Sunderland, Mass., writes: I believe that the Vikings did steal Percy Harvin from the Patriots. The Pats could really use a true number two receiver (I love Galloway but he is not a long term solution) to open things up from the Slot Machine that is Wes Welker and allow Moss to never have to go though the middle of the field so that he never has to be hit. He could also do a little bit of running out of the back field so it would have helped in a lot of ways. Oh and I am so sure that Harvin is much more excited about catching passes from Tavaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfelds compared to Mr. (Soon to be) Two Time MVP Tom Brady. Thanks for listening (reading) I enjoy your work and frequent updates!

Tim Graham: Thanks for stopping by, Zack. I'm not so sure Brad Childress swiped Harvin from the Patriots, but it was interesting to hear Childress crow about it. And I agree with your statement that, if Childress is correct, he coach-blocked Harvin from joining one of the most prolific pass offenses in NFL history. I wonder how thrilled Harvin was about that.


Mark in Tucscon, Ariz., writes: Im suprised and excited of the incoming cb's to the dolphins, but are they really considering Pat White and Turner the Wide Recievers of the future? How are they going to address this need, through free agency?

Tim Graham: The Dolphins still need help at receiver, but at this point they'll need to swing a trade or wait for a player to get cut if they want to add a veteran. They insist White will be a quarterback for them who occasionally lines up at receiver. Patrick Turner wasn't considered much of a prospect by most draft experts, but the Dolphins used a third-round pick on him. Turner is 6-foot-5. He at least has the size the Dolphins have been missing.


Richard in Edinburg, Texas, writes: Maybe Turner reminded Parcells of another big, possession USC receiver, Keyshawn Johnson.

Tim Graham: Perhaps, but the resemblance must be vague. Keyshawn Johnson was a No. 1 overall draft pick.


Jim in New York writes: Tim, Everywhere I look I read about what a great draft the Bills had - except from you. 3 of the DBs are designed to fill needs on the team (one will be a FS, another an OLB and the last guy - if he makes it will cover kicks). In addition a bunch of our guys are in their last year. Not sure which OT we should have taken but none of the guys out of the top 3 are sure things the way Wood and Levitre are.

Tim Graham: The reason you don't see me raving about the Bills' draft is because I haven't raved about anybody's draft. I haven't slammed any either. If you're going to force me to grade a draft class before it has taken an NFL snap, I'll have to give them incompletes across the board. To grade a draft within hours of its completion is folly.


Christian from Parts Unknown writes: You clearly need to do more research before writing these articles. Nic Harris is going to be switched to an OLB position, he isn't fast enough to be in the secondary. Jairus Byrd will probably be our starting FS. Cary Harris is going to add great depth to a sketchy CB situation, McKelvin will start alongside McGee but Mcgee is aging and will eventually need a replacement. Harris was said to be a great sleeper pick anyway. Lankster is going to be an ST and possibly a punt returner because of his good speed. Walker will be moved to LT and Chambers (who saw action at RT last year) will be there. LT could also be addressed in FA. Seriously. Get facts, then report. Thank you.

Tim Graham: The point of the blog entry you're referring to, in which I noted the positions of the players the Bills drafted, was that none of them were tackles. Regardless of where the Bills intend to use the defensive backs they drafted, how they hope to convert them to other defensive positions or whether they'll be on special teams, zero will be lining up at left tackle.


Dylan from Parts Unknown writes: I am a big dolphins fan. Now that the draft is over. Do you think that Miami has a shot to win the division again. I think they filled their biggest two holes (WR and CB). So why not the Dolphins being AFC East champs two years straight. Your thoughts please. Thank you.

Tim Graham: Sure, it's possible the Dolphins will repeat as division champs. I doubt they will, though. The Patriots won just as many games last year and have Brady coming back. They also have upgraded their roster with running back Fred Taylor, tight end Chris Baker and a couple of veteran cornerbacks.


Joe in Philadelphia writes: Dear Tim, love checking the blog several times a week. I don't understand all the praise from many of the ESPN analysts regarding the Bills' draft. They passed on a 4 year proven pass rusher (Orakbo), still lack a true LT and a good OLB. While they continue to pad their secondary, they ignore other spots. Any chance they get Levi Jones or Leroy Hill to address the aforementioned openings? On a side note, who do you like winning the Cup?

Tim Graham: Thanks for coming back, Joe. I'm sure Jones
is on Buffalo's radar. He's a solid left tackle who can help steady the offensive line. I'm not sure what will happen with Hill now that the Seattle Seahawks have rescinded his franchise tender. He'll be a popular man in the coming days.

My pick to win the Stanley Cup is Detroit. I liked the Red Wings before the playoffs began, and after seeing some shaky play in the first round, I like their chances even more.


Landry in Casey, Ill., writes: Hey Tim, read your columns all the time. I listened to you on ESPN and your deep voice doesnt match your 12 year old face. Whats up with that??? Anyways, do you think Miami did the right thing in drafting Pat White? I love the pick but a lot of people dont think its that great. No doubt in my mind that Vontae Davis and BIG Sean Smith are great picks. But dont you think it might be good to put Henne in to pound the ball in certain situations and have Pat White in, in "Lets spread them out and put points on as soon as possible" situations? I love Miami's draft and after they didnt get their pash-rusher they're going to get Jason Taylor. Thanks.

Tim Graham: Boy, do I need to get a new picture. I get razzed all the time for looking like Opie Cunningham or, according to my old boss at the Palm Beach Post, Eddie Haskell. The photo is from my days at the Buffalo News, but it's maybe only 6 years old.

Anyway, I do like Miami's decision to draft White. He's a fun player. When he comes off the sideline, the crowd will buzz in anticipation. Defensive coordinators will be anxious. The Dolphins reached on some of their draft picks, but they landed some potentially great players, especially Davis.


Richard in Edinburg, Texas, writes: About the Bills. Perhaps they drafted a lot of DBs to keep up with the AFC east, especially with the Patriots. By drafting DB's, the Bills are able to use different Nickel, Dime, and Quarter packages to cover all of New England's weapons. Plus, they drafted Maybin to put some pressure on Brady.

Tim Graham: The Bills also play the Jets and Dolphins two times a year. That means their offensive line needs to account for a Bill Belichick defense, a Rex Ryan defense and a Bill Parcells defense two times each. I'm not saying the Bills' draft was bad. We won't know that for years. I just found it curious they didn't draft a tackle.


Pat in State College, Pa., writes: your analysis of the bills was completely wrong

Tim Graham: So I hear.


Joe in Wichita, Kan., writes: This is the worst draft I've ever seen from the Bills. Do they realize they've traded Jason Peters? Because they're drafting like they have an LT. And I hope Maybin doesn't get thrown around by tackles. I don't understand, with E. Brown available at #42 they pick a corner. Do they remember Leodis McKelvin? Their #11 pick from 2008? I need a drink.

Tim Graham: If you're still feeling disconsolate, I can get you together with Pat in State College. Maybe he can talk you back onto the wagon by explaining how wrong you are.


Matt in San Antonio writes: Does the CB the Bills just wasted their 2nd round pick on play LT as well? Because it seems like we need one of those alot more than a CB. Why do the Bills do this to their fans every year with such garbage drafts?

Tim Graham: Based on my mailbag feedback, the Bills either had a fabulous draft or a disastrous draft. Do you see now why I don't grade them?


Allie from Parts Unknown writes: Hi Tim! I was just wondering with one of the hardest NFL schedules, what do you expect of the Patriots this season? Thanks!

Tim Graham: In a recent chat, I predicted the Patriots would win the division with an 11-5 or 12-4 record. I don't see two AFC East teams reaching the postseason because the AFC North and AFC South are so strong and won't be facing the rugged schedule the AFC East will.


Zak in Orlando writes: Were the Dolphins interested in Brown from FSU or would they have taken White anyway? Also do you believe White was a reach at the 44th selection especially when the Dolphin's quarterback of the future is supposed to be Henne? Thanks for your time.

Tim Graham: I believe the Dolphins had their eye on Pat White the whole way. As for whether or not he was a reach with the No. 44 pick, I don't believe so. He was projected to be a second-round pick by several draft evaluators.


Steve in New Jersey writes: Tim, Did Miami resign Patrick Cobbs? I am hearing that he was signed to an extension but everywhere I look he is listed as a RFA. Thanks.

Tim Graham: You are correct. The Dolphins signed Cobbs to a three-year contract extension in October. His name still occasionally appears on some free-agency lists because his contract would have been up had he not extended his deal.


James in Hamilton, Ont., writes: While you were too busy swooning over Belichick and Parcells, not to mention over the top coverage of the Jets (would any other market be worthy of the same coverage for a relatively decent QB) and their Sanchez pick, your analysis of the Bills draft fell way short. Your focus was all wrong. The Bills selected three (3) DBs, two of whom were in the last two rounds. Did you even bother to notice the Bills have a huge number of current DBs heading into free agency in the next two years? Or perhaps the team figures they can shore up the entire secondary, which is in dire need of improvement. Whitner is not a game breaker I might add. What about Shawn Nelson, who was a great value pick for a position they desperately needed to fill? I also don't think Wood's potential removal from his usual centre position is as apocalyptic as you describe. Very disappointing analysis, sir, of what many insiders call a pretty good draft by Buffalo, including your colleague, the established Mel Kiper. By the way, I think the coverage of Sanchez is ridiculous. Not surprising since it's the Jets and ESPN loves its New York bias. I think we'll find he is the product of Pete Carroll's successful system and nothing more. See Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart. He's also going from one coast to the other, one climate to another. That's my admittedly simple take on Sanchez but I think he is much less than what he's touted to be.

Tim Graham: Let's see ... So I was swooning over the Patriots and Dolphins' drafts, ESPN went overboard on the Jets' draft and I reported from the Bills' facility on Saturday and Sunday, blogging more about them than any other team. Then I would say we had it covered pretty well. Thanks!

Around the AFC East: Burress not a bad Jets fit

April, 28, 2009
4/28/09
11:30
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

New York Jets

  • New York Times reporter Judy Battista writes Plaxico Burress would be the "tall, defense-stretching threat the offense needs."
  • Now that the Jets have their quarterback of the future, New York Post reporter Brian Costello asks "Whom [Mark Sanchez] is going to throw to?"
  • Newsday's Erik Boland reports Harvard quarterback Chris Pizzotti is clarifying his post-draft comments.

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