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Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Teams atop AFC East have pass-rush need

By John McTigue

Stats & Information gets you ready for the NFL Draft at the end of the month with a look at the biggest need for each team. Today, we take a look at the AFC East.

Buffalo Bills
Needs: Offensive line, wide receiver

The Bills had five different offensive line combinations play at least 100 snaps last season, tied for most among any NFL team. Their most-used group played 184 plays together, the fewest of any team’s most-used unit. They also lost tackle Demetress Bell via free agency to the Philadelphia Eagles

The Bills could also look for a wide receiver. They used sets with at least three wide receivers 81 percent of the time, the highest rate in the NFL, but their 6.5 yards per pass attempt in three-wide formations ranked only 19th-best.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

Miami Dolphins
Need: Offense

The Dolphins missed out on Peyton Manning, and also traded away wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears. They also have an aging right tackle in Marc Colombo. The Dolphins averaged 5.3 yards running to the left last season, but only 3.9 when running to Colombo’s side.

In terms of quarterback, Miami’s weakness last season was that it threw 10 touchdowns and completed 56 percent of passes when the opponent used at least five defensive backs. Those ranked 21st and 25th in the NFL respectively.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

New York Jets
Need: Pass rush

The Jets used five-or-more pass rushers 43 percent of the time under Rex Ryan, the second-highest rate over the last three seasons. But they recorded only 7.5 sacks from players lined up as outside linebackers (standing off the line of scrimmage), fifth-worst among the 15 teams that play a 3-4 defense.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama

New England Patriots
Need: Pass rush/defensive line

The Patriots picked up 23.5 sacks from defensive ends last season, 20 of which came from Mark Anderson (signed with Bills) and Andre Carter (free agent).

They sacked or put opponents under duress on 20 percent of their drop-backs last season, the fifth-worst rate in the NFL. They also allowed 2.9 yards per rush prior to contact, the fourth-worst rate in the league.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State (27th) and Derek Wolfe, DL, Cincinnati (31st)
McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse (27th) and Kendall Reyes, DT, Connecticut (31st)