March , 2009

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Team Needs - AFC East

Posted by Administrator On February - 27 - 2009

The AFC East is as competitive a division as there is in the NFL but with Tom Brady returning to the gridiron for the Patriots in 2009, could it return to a one-horse race?

Free agency and the NFL Draft always have an impact, whether it is a positive or negative one. In this edition of Team Needs, Pete Dymeck breaks down every need, not just the top two or three, for all four teams in the AFC East.

Buffalo Bills
Team Needs - Center, Tight End, Cornerback, Wide Receiver, Defensive End, Outside Linebacker
It is now official, the Bills released guard Derrick Dockery after signing him to a sizable deal in 2007. Now, with issues surrounding center Duke Preston, the Bills have two large holes on the offensive line. One thing that is likely to happen is for Duke Preston, the starting center in 2008, to move to guard and replace Dockery, opening up the competition at center. Melvin Fowler is the leading candidate for that job but look for the Bills to nab a center in the upcoming draft.

Robert Royal, the leading receiver at tight end has officially been waived. He was incredibly horrid at catching the ball and his yards after reception was terrible. He blocked decently but was a non-factor for the Bills. What Buffalo needs is a tight end that can be reliable over the middle, get yardage after the catch, and be a reliable blocker. Asking for a prospect like Jason Witten may be too much though.

The Bills spent a first round pick on cornerback Leodis McKelvin a year ago, plus roster Terrence McGee. McKelvin has showed flashes but struggled beating out Jabari Greer. McKelvin will likely overtake him this summer as the starting cornerback opposite of McGee but McGee himself may be a better nickelback than starting corner.

The Bills have a legit All-Pro in Lee Evans but his speed can only do so much, especially when he is double or even triple teamed. Acquiring a wide receiver that is ready today rather than tomorrow should be high on their priority list. James Hardy may not be ready for the kickoff of the 2009 season after shredding his knee. Maybe free agency will help in this area more than the draft but then again, Buffalo has been reluctant to spend the big bucks when it matters.

The Bills lacked a serious pass rush last year. Defensive end Aaron Schobel is effective but only when healthy, a problem he had last year. Ryan Denney and Chris Kelsay are just band-aids right now.

As for outside linebacker, see above. The Bills need one that can help in stopping the run but more importantly pursuing the quarterback. They signed Kawika Mitchell last season but he faded quickly after winning a Super Bowl with the New York Giants.

Miami Dolphins
Team Needs - Center, Offensive Tackle, , Offensive Guard, Cornerback, Linebacker, Defensive End, Wide Receiver
Samson Satele is an adequate center but he had some rough moments last year, especially when going against the 3-4 defense and the bigger nose tackles it comes with. Like Buffalo, the Dolphins are expected to address this issue in the draft rather than free agency. Alex Mack comes to mind.

Yes, the Dolphins first overall pick in 2008 went to left tackle Jake Long, and the pick was well spent but the right tackle position is a flimsy one. Vernon Carey is expected to be back and while he has had his moments in the sun, he has spent some days in the doghouse as well. Grooming a young right tackle behind Carey is part of getting back to the basics, something VP Bill Parcells does well.

Justin Smiley, the starting left guard, has played above his head when healthy but he has missed ample amount of time due to injuries, including missing eight games in 2008. Quite frankly, the Dolphins would not miss him if he was gone, and getting rid of him seems to be in the plans for Miami.

The cornerback position is okay but less than marginal. While Yeremiah Bell is a very solid playmaker, the ‘Phins lack an Asante Samuel-type of ballhawk.

Channing Crowder came to terms with the ‘Phins but they have some big question marks behind the starters. While Joey Porter is getting old, he is not showing any signs of slowing down. Quentin Moses, Reggie Torbor, and Kelvin Smith pose as journeymen.

We do not think that defensive end is as pressing of a need as some make it out to believe, as they have two very young and promising prospects in Kendall Langford & Phillip Merling, two draft picks from 2008. Still, Vonnie Holliday’s job is not as secure as before and the staff in Miami has not been shy about the fact that they lack quality depth at this position.

The situation at wide receiver is good for Miami, as long as Greg Camarillo rehabs well and returns to full form for 2009. With Camarillo, and two stars in the making with Ted Ginn and Davonne Bess, the Dolphins have plenty of depth with speedy playmakers that have no problems with dropping passes. What they need now is a big, physical wide-out that can break the jam at the line and make the tough, seven yards out receptions.

New England Patriots
Team Needs - Safety, Cornerback, Linebacker, Running Back, Offensive Tackle
Rodney Harrison is on the verge of ending his career as a Patriot. While the debate may rage on about whether or not he is Hall of Fame-worthy, one debate that is short and simple is the fact that the Patriots have a glaring weakness at safety. Antwain Spann is set to replace Harrion. Yes, you may need to Google Spann.

Cornerback, another problematic area for the Patriots, cost them dearly at times in 2008. Things got so bad for Bill Belichick & staff that they had to hire veteran Deltha O’Neal, whom was cut from the Cincinnati Bengals of all teams.

As for the linebacker position, the Patriots need to fill a spot on both the inside and outside. They have two potential budding stars in Jerod Mayo & Gary Guyton. Mayo was a first round pick in 2008 while Guyton went undrafted out of Georgia Tech, how ironic. Still, Mike Vrabel and Adalius Thomas, the starting outside linebackers, are closer to forty than they are to twenty while inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi will likely see his role diminish to backup Eric Alexander, whom by the way is not starter material.

The need at running back may be filled via free agency, as this organization has already talked with former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor. Still, Laurence Maroney can hardly stay healthy plus he is not an every down back. Also, sources close to Foxboro believe that Sammy Morris is more of a flash in the pan. Kevin Faulk on the other hand is close to retirement.

Matt Light and Nick Kaczur are solid starting tackles but Kaczur could be moved inside to replace Ryan O’Callaghan at guard and Light should be sent to the right tackle position, therefore opening up a spot at left tackle.

New York Jets
Team Needs - Quarterback, Running Back, Cornerback, Defensive End, Linebacker
Brett Favre retired and that left another controversy at quarterback. Will the Jets front office have faith in either Kellen Clemens, Erik Ainge, or Brett Ratliff as the franchise quarterback? Probably not but the early favorite is Ratliff, the big kid from Utah.

Thomas Jones had an incredible comeback season a year ago but we all are too familiar with what happens to running backs in their 30s. Backup Leon Washington is a great returner and change of pace back but he can not carry the ball every down. Jones will likely be a cap casualty after the 2009 season unless he restructures his deal while Washington is close to being a free agent.

Darrelle Revis, a former first round pick at cornerback is an up-and-coming All-Pro type of player but he needs some help in the secondary. The lack of depth at this position is worrisome and will pose problems for the Jets when they have to face Tom Brady twice a year.

Finding the right defensive end for Rex Ryan’s 3-4 defense may be tricky, as it appears that most defensive ends in this years draft would play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Still, Shaun Ellis will be 33 soon enough and Kenyon Coleman is a flop on the other side.

An inside linebacker to pair up with stud David Harris should be mandatory for the Jets and already their are talks of Ray Lewis coming to the Big Apple to team up with former defensive coordinator Rex Ryan.

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