AFC East: Ryan Williams

Little love for AFC East running backs

May, 31, 2011
5/31/11
9:13
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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?

Five to consider for Patriots and Bills

April, 29, 2011
4/29/11
9:57
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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.

One last look at AFC East mocks

April, 28, 2011
4/28/11
3:17
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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

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