Bowers, Solder to Patriots in blogger mock

April, 25, 2011
4/25/11
12:10
PM ET
ESPN.com's blog network assembled a mock draft.

As you might've guessed, I handled the AFC East's five selections. A couple players surprisingly slipped to the New England Patriots' slots, so I felt compelled to make decisions you probably won't see in very many other places.

But I had to play the board.

Here is the AFC East breakdown with my comments on why I mocked the way I did:

No. 3 Buffalo Bills: Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert. The Bills have a great opportunity to land a potential franchise quarterback and don't plan on drafting in this territory again. General manager Buddy Nix repeatedly has said the presence of Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starter means it's the perfect time to draft a quarterback and let him grow.

No. 15 Miami Dolphins: Florida center Mike Pouncey. The Dolphins' interior line has been chaotic for the past three years, and Pouncey is a versatile player who can line up at center or guard. If the Dolphins truly are sold on Ryan Mallett or another quarterback, then they might make a splash by taking him here because they don't have a second-round pick to address that position.

No. 17 New England Patriots: Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers. If he's still on the board here, the Patriots likely won't be deterred by Bowers' knee injury. Bill Belichick always is searching for value and isn't afraid to draft injured players and give them time to heal. The Patriots drafted Brandon Tate in the third round in 2009 even though he was healing from reconstructive knee surgery.

No. 28 New England Patriots: Colorado tackle Nate Solder. Another value pick for the Patriots if Solder still is on the board. The Patriots must stabilize their offensive line. Left tackle Matt Light went to the Pro Bowl as an alternate last year but is a free agent and will turn 33 in June.

No. 30 New York Jets: UCLA outside linebacker Akeem Ayers. The Jets' primary needs are to improve their pass rush and their defensive line. Ayers can rush the passer and help in coverage. That kind of versatility makes it easier for Rex Ryan to deploy his tricky and aggressive defensive tactics.

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