NFL Nation: Kyle Calloway

Were big AFC East offseason needs filled?

August, 31, 2010
On the day the New Orleans Saints held their Super Bowl parade, long before the free-agency period opened and the draft took place, Scouts Inc. analyst Gary Horton examined the top three needs of every NFL team heading into the offseason.

Now that we've gone through offseason workouts, minicamps, training camps and three preseason games, let's take a look at each AFC East need and determine whether it was addressed.

Buffalo Bills

1. Outside linebacker: At the time of Horton's analysis, he didn't know Aaron Schobel would retire. Schobel would have been Buffalo's best pass-rusher in its new 3-4 defense. The Bills signed free agent Reggie Torbor and are hoping a group that also includes Chris Kelsay, Chris Ellis and Aaron Maybin will suffice. Need addressed? No.

2. Left tackle: The Bills chose to stick with Demetrius Bell. The Bills still haven't drafted a tackle earlier than the fifth round since 2002. Of the two they did draft, fifth-rounder Ed Wang is hurt and seventh-rounder Kyle Calloway already has been released. The Bills did sign Oakland Raiders free agent Cornell Green to play right tackle. Need addressed? No.

3. Quarterback: The Bills did next to nothing at quarterback, drafting long-term project Levi Brown in the seventh round and letting Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm shoot it out. Edwards won a not-so-open competition. Need addressed? No.

[+] EnlargeMarshall
Jonathan Brownfield/US PresswireThe acquisition of Brandon Marshall filled a huge void in the Dolphins' passing game.
Miami Dolphins

1. Wide receiver: Did the Dolphins address this need? Hmmm ... Let's see ... Oh, wait. That's right. They traded for Brandon Marshall, who has recorded triple-digit receptions in three straight seasons. Marshall was one of the most enormous transactions of the offseason. Need addressed? Yes.

2. Free safety: The Dolphins drafted Reshad Jones in the fifth round, but sophomore Chris Clemons has held down the position admirably. It won't be tough to outplay last year's starter, Gibril Wilson. Need addressed? Yes.

3. Nose tackle: The situation actually got worse and worse after Horton formed his analysis. Jason Ferguson was suspended eight games for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. The Dolphins re-signed Ferguson, but then he retired. The Dolphins didn't draft a nose tackle, choosing to convert defensive end Randy Starks instead. Starks is undersized for a traditional 3-4 nose tackle, but Dolphins coach Tony Sparano has claimed Starks' speed has upgraded the position. Need addressed? Yes.

New England Patriots

1. Outside linebacker: Horton wrote "This defense must generate pass-rush pressure from its outside linebackers, but the Pats are devoid of playmakers and have virtually no depth at this position." They've gotten shallower with the release of Adalius Thomas, who started their playoff game. Tully Banta-Cain and Derrick Burgess are back and penciled in as the starters. The Patriots drafted pass-rusher Jermaine Cunningham 53rd overall, but he has been too hurt to get on the practice field. Need addressed? No.

2. Wide receiver: Wes Welker was looking at a potentially long rehab at the time Horton wrote his offseason preview. Randy Moss' age also was a concern. But Welker's recovery has been quick. Moss has looked phenomenal. Emerging youngsters Julian Edelman, Brandon Tate and third-round draft pick Taylor Price should be more than enough. Need addressed? Yes.

3. Defensive end: Little did Horton know how badly the Patriots would need help here. Left end Ty Warren is done for the year because of a hip injury. Right end Jarvis Green split for the Denver Broncos. The Patriots signed free agent Gerard Warren and have moved last year's super reserve, Mike Wright, into the starting lineup. Need addressed? No.

New York Jets

1. Defensive end: Horton's concern was with the age of incumbents Shaun Ellis and Marques Douglas. Ellis is back. Douglas was a free agent who departed for the Dolphins. The Jets didn't draft any defensive linemen and didn't sign any notable free agents there. They did move Vernon Gholston from outside linebacker to defensive end. Need addressed? No.

2. Safety: Compared to the Jets' banner acquisitions, Brodney Pool was a blip. The Cleveland Browns gave up on him because of recurring concussions, but the Jets' medical staff found his problem was related to migraine headaches. He's a multifaceted safety with a nose for the ball, interception four passes in 10 games last year. Need addressed? Yes.

3. Wide receiver: The Jets practically stole Santonio Holmes from the Pittsburgh Steelers for a fifth-round draft choice. Holmes was the MVP of Super Bowl XLIII and was coming off a 1,248-yard season. But character issues, underscored by a four-game suspension to start the season, made him a bargain. Need addressed? Yes.

Draft Watch: NFC East

March, 3, 2010
NFC Schemes/Themes: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)

Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: Schemes and themes.

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys safety Ken Hamlin showed some improvement in '09, but the club will continue looking for his replacement. The Cowboys were very pleased with Gerald Sensabaugh's performance last season and would like to find another safety who has similar cover skills. The Cowboys are taking a long look at South Florida safety Nate Allen, who has the ball skills of a cornerback. USC's Taylor Mays might make Cowboys fans remember Roy Williams at safety -- and that's not a good thing. On offense, the Cowboys have to keep trying to draft and develop linemen. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett seems to prefer enormous linemen who can engulf defenders. Maryland offensive tackle Bruce Campbell turned heads at the combine with his 4.8 speed and 32-inch vertical, but the Cowboys rarely call plays for left tackles to leap into the air. It's more likely the Cowboys would go after a big right tackle such as Iowa's Kyle Calloway later in the draft. NFL scouts and coaches swarm to Iowa because head coach Kirk Ferentz keeps delivering such technically sound players. A player such as Calloway could be developed as Marc Colombo's eventual replacement.

New York Giants

I asked general manager Jerry Reese to describe a Perry Fewell defense. He simply indicated that the Giants will be much more aggressive under Fewell and that you'll see a lot of creative alignments with an emphasis on getting to the quarterback. Reese also said he wouldn't enter the season on a wing and a prayer that Kenny Phillips will be fully healed. That's of course what the Giants are hoping for, but that won't keep them from potentially selecting Texas safety Earl Thomas at No. 15 overall. Thomas needs to get stronger, but he's excellent in coverage. I think he'd be a great fit for the Giants. There's also a chance the Giants could try to land inside linebacker Rolando McClain out of Alabama. Will he slip to No. 15? I have a hard time believing that. But I do think the Giants love his intelligence and playmaking ability. He'll start in the league for the next 10 years or so.

Philadelphia Eagles

The theme of the offseason will be closing the gap with the Cowboys. So you need a safety who can cover Jason Witten and a linebacker who can help account for Felix Jones. A cornerback who can cover Miles Austin would also be nice. I think the Eagles would be better off finding a safety via trade or free agency. We've seen how the defense works with a rookie safety. And even if you land Mays or Allen, there's no guarantee it will be a huge upgrade. A veteran safety who can make plays would be perfect. Darren Sharper anyone? I think new general manager Howie Roseman is also on the hunt for another pressure player to go along with Trent Cole. After doing some research during the combine, I think Roseman's much more adept on the football side than I'd realized. Keep your eye on Michigan's Brandon Graham. He's a little undersized but the guy has 29 sacks over the past three seasons in the Big 10.

Washington Redskins

Even though Mike Shanahan wouldn't confirm the Skins are transitioning to a 3-4, you know it's coming. That's what new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett feels the most comfortable doing. Everyone will talk about quarterback and offensive tackle this offseason, but the Redskins need to be on the lookout for 3-4 defensive tackles. As we saw with the Cowboys, transitioning to a 3-4 isn't always smooth. There's no guarantee that linebacker London Fletcher can hold up in a 3-4 because he'll have to take on enormous guards and centers on a regular basis. You'll see a big transformation with this team over the next couple years. If Sam Bradford's already gone, look for the Redskins to zero in on left tackles Russell Okung and Bryan Bulaga. Either one of those players could end up anchoring the offensive line for nine or 10 years. Tremendous college players who both have a high ceiling. The Skins have taken a long look at Campbell out of Maryland, so they'll be looking to see if he slips into the second round.


Roster Advisor


Sunday, 12/28