Friday, July 12, 2013
Eight in the Box: Offseason regret
By James Walker
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A look at the one move each team in the AFC East needed to make but didn't:
Buffalo Bills: The Bills used the draft and free agency to address needs at wide receiver and linebacker. However, one position that was glossed over that could come back to haunt Buffalo is cornerback. Former 2012 first-round pick Stephon Gilmore could be a stud in the making. He's aggressive and consistent around the football, which is evident by his team-high 16 pass defenses last season. No other Bills player had more than eight deflections. But the Bills have uncertainty at corner after Gilmore. Former first-round draft bust Leodis McKelvin is competing with corners Justin Rogers and Crezdon Butler for a starting role. Former cornerback Aaron Williams is being moved to safety, which further weakens Buffalo's cornerback depth. With Gilmore coming into his own, look for opponents to attack Buffalo's other weak spots at corner this season.
Miami Dolphins: If you're a regular reader of the AFC East blog, you know by now that I think Miami is taking a risk by not adding a left tackle this offseason. The Dolphins let four-time Pro Bowler Jake Long walk in free agency, but Miami didn’t draft a starting left tackle or sign one in free agency. The Dolphins are going with 2012 second-round pick Jonathan Martin at left tackle instead. Martin did a serviceable job at right tackle during his rookie campaign but looked shaky in December when he switched to the left side for the injured Long. To his credit, Martin did a lot of work in the weight room to improve his size and strength, which are needed. But unless Martin makes significant strides in Year 2, left tackle could be a position of weakness in 2013.
New England Patriots: The Patriots took hit after hit in the passing game this offseason. They lost both starting wide receivers -- Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd -- in addition to tight end Aaron Hernandez after he was charged with murder and faces five additional gun charges. New England could have done more to help at wide receiver. The Patriots signed average veterans Michael Jenkins, Lavelle Hawkins and Donald Jones. They also drafted unproven rookies Josh Boyce and Aaron Dobson. Even the talented Danny Amendola has major injury questions. He has played just 12 games the past two seasons. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has the potential to make his receivers look better than they are, but this is really a mediocre group, especially if Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski misses time this season.
New York Jets: The Jets could use more talent in a lot of areas. But similar to the Patriots, their biggest regret could be not spending money to sign a veteran receiver. New York has questions at quarterback with Mark Sanchez and rookie Geno Smith. But whoever is under center needs quality weapons around him. The Jets did a smart thing to sign former Pro Bowler Kellen Winslow to solidify their tight end position. New York would be smart to do something similar at wide receiver. The good news is it's not too late for the Jets. Some options still available in free agency include veteran receiver Lloyd and former Jet Braylon Edwards.