Wednesday, December 23, 2009
AFC East draft rewind
By Tim Graham
» NFC Draft Rewind: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South
» Draft class lists: Buffalo | Miami | N.Y. Jets | New England
Examining the draft classes of each division team:
Curses: The Bills declined to replace two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters through the draft and tabbed Penn State pass-rusher Aaron Maybin instead with the No. 11 selection. Sure, it was an area of need, but not for a project. The undersized Maybin hasn't started a game and has made eight solo tackles with zero sacks. Meanwhile, the Bills could've had Michael Oher.
Hallelujah: Because of the dire offensive line situation, most Bills fans were focused on their two first-round picks (Maybin and guard Eric Wood) and second second-round pick (guard Andy Levitre). Overlooked was their first second-round choice. Safety Jairus Byrd turned out to have the greatest impact of all. He has started 11 games and leads the NFL with nine interceptions. Byrd's season ended Wednesday when the Bills placed him on IR.
Tough break: Wood showed why the Bills grabbed him with the 28th pick, starting at right guard from opening night. But he suffered a grotesque broken leg in Week 11 and will be lucky if he's ready for the 2010 opener.
Corners covered: At the end of the season, barring injury, the Dolphins will have a pair of cornerbacks who started 25 NFL games between them as rookies. Sean Smith, the 61st overall pick, won the right-side job in training camp. Vontae Davis, the 25th pick, assumed the left side when top veteran Will Allen went down for the year. Davis and Smith have been beaten plenty of times, but they've also shown they're skilled enough to handle those jobs for a while.
What was the point? The decision to draft scrambling quarterback Pat White with the 44th selection hasn't panned out. White was identified as a player who could thrive in the Wildcat offense. White has played in 11 games, but doesn't have a completion. He has rushed 16 times for 54 yards and no touchdowns.
On the milk carton: Miami drafted tall receiver Patrick Turner in the third round with hopes he would be an attractive third-down and red zone target. He was Mark Sanchez's go-to guy at Southern California, but has dressed for only two NFL games. Turner doesn't have a reception yet.
New England Patriots
Not much to show: The Patriots traded out of the first round. Their first three picks -- all second-rounders -- haven't done much. Safety Pat Chung, nose tackle Ron Brace and cornerback Darius Butler have six starts among them, with Butler making four.
Pleasant surprise: Their last second-round pick, offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer, has been the best player of New England's draft class. The native of Germany generally was viewed as a reach, but he has started six games, filling in capably for Pro Bowl left tackle Matt Light. Vollmer was given the most credit for holding last year's AFC sack king, Joey Porter, without a tackle in Week 9.
Rolling the dice: The Patriots made a surprising pick in the third round, tabbing receiver and return specialist Brandon Tate, who still was recovering from a blown-out knee at the time. Tate was electrifying at North Carolina, but he wasn't healthy enough to play for New England until Week 7. He hurt his knee again and was placed on injured reserve after two games.
New York Jets
The first guy: The success of the 2009 draft will hinge on whether Sanchez develops into a franchise quarterback. Not only was Sanchez the fifth overall choice, but the Jets' entire class was three players. Sanchez's erratic performances -- four games with at least three interceptions -- will keep the Jets out of the playoffs. But the experience Sanchez gained as the starter could be worth it down the road.
The second guy: The Jets traded up to snag Shonn Greene, too. They called the Doak Walker Award winner the first pick of the draft's second day. Greene is a power runner expected to take over when Thomas Jones' tread wears thin. Greene has had fumble trouble, but he is averaging 4.8 yards a carry.
The third (and last) guy: Guard Matt Slauson was a sixth-round project who wasn't expected to contribute much this year. The Jets have one of the NFL's better offensive lines, a veteran unit that doesn't seem to get hurt. Slauson has played in three games.