AFC East: Tye Hill

Draft Watch: AFC East

April, 7, 2011
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Each Thursday leading up to the NFL draft (April 28-30), the NFL blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: history in that spot.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills' top pick is No. 3 overall. Here are the past seven players taken in that spot, with their NFL teams in parentheses:

2010: DT Gerald McCoy (Buccaneers)

2009: DE Tyson Jackson (Chiefs)

2008: QB Matt Ryan (Falcons)

2007: T Joe Thomas (Browns)

2006: QB Vince Young (Titans)

2005: WR Braylon Edwards (Browns)

2004: WR Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals)

ANALYSIS: Some sexy picks have been made in this spot. None of the players have been out-and-out busts, although character concerns have overshadowed a couple. Only McCoy and Jackson haven't been selected for at least one Pro Bowl. Fitzgerald is an elite receiver, arguably the best in the business. Edwards can be a dangerous playmaker when not dropping passes, which he didn't do last year. Ryan is an emerging star. Young has been a lightning rod, but he did win rookie of the year and has gone to a pair of Pro Bowls. Thomas is a star blocker with four Pro Bowls on his résumé already.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins' top pick is No. 15 overall. Here are the past seven players taken in that spot, with their NFL teams in parentheses:

2010: DE Jason Pierre-Paul (Giants)

2009: LB Brian Cushing (Texans)

2008: G Branden Albert (Chiefs)

2007: LB Lawrence Timmons (Steelers)

2006: CB Tye Hill (Rams)

2005: LB Derrick Johnson (Chiefs)

2004: WR Michael Clayton (Buccaneers)

ANALYSIS: This is a region of the first round where picks can break either way. There have been solid players drafted here, but no superstars. Cushing was a rookie of the year, but his career has been tainted by performance-enhancing drug usage. Clayton made an immediate impact with 80 catches for 1,193 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie but hasn't caught more than 38 passes since. Johnson has been a solid linebacker for Kansas City, while Timmons has been an influential member of Pittsburgh's defense the past two seasons. Hill has been the biggest disappointment. He has been with four teams, starting 25 games.

New England Patriots

The Patriots' first-round picks are Nos. 17 and 28 overall. Here are the past seven players taken in those spots, with their NFL teams in parentheses:

2010: G Mike Iupati (49ers) and DE Jared Odrick (Dolphins)

2009: QB Josh Freeman (Buccaneers) and G Eric Wood (Bills)

2008: T Gosder Cherilus (Lions) and DE Lawrence Jackson (Seahawks)

2007: DE Jarvis Moss (Broncos) and T Joe Staley (49ers)

2006: LB Chad Greenway (Vikings) and TE Marcedes Lewis (Jaguars)

2005: LB David Pollack (Bengals) and DE Luis Castillo (Chargers)

2004: LB D.J. Williams (Broncos) and CB Chris Gamble (Panthers)

ANALYSIS: Results have been mixed with these slots, but the 28th pick actually has found more starters than the 17th in recent years. Freeman showed signs of developing into a future star last year, and Cherilus has started 40 of his 43 games at right tackle. Williams and Greenway have been regular starters. But Moss and Pollack didn't work out. In the 28th slot, Odrick is the only one who hasn't been a regular starter. Injuries detonated his rookie season.

New York Jets

The Jets' top pick is No. 30 overall. Here are the past seven players taken in that spot, with their NFL teams in parentheses:

2010: RB Jahvid Best (Lions)

2009: WR Kenny Britt (Titans)

2008: TE Dustin Keller (Jets)

2007: WR Craig Davis (Chargers)

2006: RB Joseph Addai (Colts)

2005: TE Heath Miller (Steelers)

2004: RB Kevin Jones (Lions)

ANALYSIS: What strikes me is that all seven selections not only are offensive players but also ball handlers. Perhaps teams in the back of the draft feel they can gamble a little bit and try to hit big on a skill position. Whatever the reasoning, it seems to have worked. This has been a successful spot. Jones and Addai rushed for 1,000 yards as rookies. Best appears to be the Lions' running back of the future. Miller and Addai have gone to Pro Bowls. Britt was the Titans' leading receiver last year. Keller is one of the NFL's better tight ends.

Wrap-up: Lions 34, Dolphins 27

December, 26, 2010
The Detroit Lions defeated the Miami Dolphins 34-27 in Sun Life Stadium.

What it means: The Dolphins blew a 10-point lead with about five minutes left in the game and lost to the feeblest road team of the past three years. The Dolphins finished the season 1-7 at home, tying the worst record in franchise history.

Home finale: Such a humiliating defeat to punctuate such a humiliating home schedule might mean the end for head coach Tony Sparano. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross predicted his team would reach the Super Bowl this year, indicating where his head was after offseason acquisitions such as receiver Brandon Marshall and inside linebacker Karlos Dansby. ... Running backs Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown might have walked off the field for the last time as Dolphins. Williams rushed 14 times for a game-high 71 yards. Brown had 12 carries for 37 yards and a touchdown.

Davone intervention: The football gods giveth, and they taketh away. With 31 seconds left in the first half, Dolphins receiver Davone Bess caught a touchdown pass that went through the hands of Lions defensive back Tye Hill. But earlier in the game, Bess fumbled on a punt return that set up a Lions field goal, and with a little more than two minutes left in a tie game, Bess fell down on a route, allowing Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy to intercept Chad Henne and return it 30 yards for the winning score.

Offensive implosion: The Dolphins amassed 425 yards and held the ball for nearly 15 minutes more than the Lions. Henne had a decent game until crunch time. The Dolphins led by 10 points with about five minutes left, but Henne threw his only two interceptions on third down in Dolphins territory inside the final four minutes. The first allowed the Lions to kick a game-tying field goal. The second left Sparano shaking his head.

Fins firsts: Popular fullback Lousaka Polite, who is virtually automatic in converting short-yardage third downs, finally scored his first NFL rushing touchdown in his seventh season. Mickey Shuler Jr., son of the former New York Jets tight end, caught his first NFL pass, a 28-yarder to set up a field goal.

What's next: The Dolphins will have the chance to punctuate their disappointing campaign with a victory against the New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium.