Every year the draft comes and goes with analysts and draftniks alike rushing to put a letter grade on each teams draft, despite the overwhelming fact that it will take years to determine their level of success. Instead of attempting to predict the future, the goal is to analyze various aspects of each divisions draft class. Focusing on which players are in the most advantageous positions and which players could be looking at struggles. First up, the AFC East:
Top Contender for Offensive Rookie of the Year
EJ Manuel – QB, Buffalo Bills #16 Overall
After new HC Doug Marrone selected EJ Manuel in the first round to be his quarterback of the future, Manuel enters a 3 way competition for a job that is his to lose. Manuel is slated to be featured in the Bills new offense and has been surrounded by weapons to aid in his development. With so much attention on wide receiver Stevie Johnson and running back CJ Spiller, the dual threat from Florida State could be in for a big year.
Top Contender for Defensive Rookie of the Year
Jamie Collins – DE/OLB, New England Patriots #52 Overall
Collins has off the charts athleticism and brings position and scheme versatility to a Bill Belichick defense that utilizes multiple fronts. Collins will be brought along slowly, but will be a 3rd down pass rushing presence opposite 2012 first rounder Chandler Jones. They form one of the most athletic and explosive edge rushing duo’s in the league and will be a nightmare for opposing tackles and quarterbacks. Once Tom Brady and the explosive Patriotsoffense get a lead, Collins will be pinning his ears back leading to what could be a double digit sack season.
Best Schematic Fit
Sheldon Richardson – DE, New York Jets #13 Overall
As one of the most explosive interior rushers available in the 2013 NFL Draft, Richardson landed in a perfect situation. Richardson will line up as a 5-technique defensive end in Rex Ryan’s base 3-4 defense on early downs, while moving inside to rush from a 3-technique defensive tackleon passing downs when the team goes to a 4 man front. Ryan’s aggressive blitz happy defense will take full advantage of Richardson’s disruptive ability to penetrate.
Dee Milliner – CB, New York Jets #9 Overall
It is hard to imagine a young cornerback heading into a more difficult situation than the one facing Dee Milliner in New York. It is hard enough for young players to get used to the speed of the NFL and the intricacies of NFL defensive schemes, but Milliner will have to do that while also recovering from shoulder surgery. On top of that, he will be replacing the best cornerback in football Darrelle Revis who was traded to Tampa Bay in early April. To make matters worse, the Jets open their season against Revis, the Buccaneers, and their emerging passing offense featuring wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. It could be a long year for Milliner in the league’s biggest market and it’s most ruthless media contingent.
Under the Radar Impact Player
Aaron Dobson – WR, New England Patriots #59 Overall
With little standing in Dobson’s way of becoming the Patriots #2 wide receiver opposite Danny Amendola, the former big play threat for the Thundering Herd should receive plenty of targets from quarterback Tom Brady. The tall and rangy deep threat brings a skillset the Patriots offense has been lacking in recent years. Teams are going to have to pick their poison with New England and their slew of receiving weapons, with most of the defensive attention focused on Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and Amendola. Dobson is in an excellent position to get plenty of one on one looks in an offense which throws the football as much as any team in the league.
Duron Harmon – S, New England Patriots #91 Overall
Not unlike 2012 2nd rounder Tavon Wilson, the Patriots and Bill Belichick again reached on what appeared to be a late round safety prospect. While Harmon was a solid player for the Scarlett Knights, he was a surprise as a 3rd round pick and faces an uphill climb for playing time. Harmon is well built and was a strong run defender for Rutgers this past year, but he is behind both Adrian Wilsonand Tavon Wilson at strong safety. His impact as a rookie could be minimal as he appears relegated to special teams duty. Not a bad player, but poor value where he was selected.
Highest Bust Potential
Dion Jordan – DE/OLB, Miami Dolphins #3 Overall
Dion Jordan is a remarkable athlete, there is no denying that. The question is where do you play him? The Dolphins reportedly want to develop him as their starting right end, which is a position he certainly has the frame to grow into. The problem is that Jordan is a space player. He struggles to shed blocks and does not hold up well at the point of attack in run defense. Jordan is expected to fill the pass rushing void opposite of Cameron Wake, but with only 5 quarterback sacks his last season at Oregon the question remains whether or not Jordan is simply a great athlete without a true position. After giving up a 2ndround pick to move up into the top 3 to select Jordan, the pressure will be on for early production. Considering he will be spending the majority of his off-season rehabbing shoulder surgery, Jordan is going to be behind the 8-ball.
Best 2nd Round Pick
Robert Woods – WR, Buffalo Bills #41 Overall
It is not very common for a young wide receiver to be a good route runner coming into the NFL. Factor in Wood’s game breaking athleticism and it is easy to see why he is such a strong 2ndround pick. Woods is a perfect fit opposite the physical Stevie Johnson, while having the soft hands and ability to separate to make life easier for EJ Manuel. Woods should be an early starter in Buffalo.
Best 3rd Round Pick
Brian Winters – G, New York Jets #72 Overall
The Jets have been hurting for line help ever since Vlad Ducasse failed to produce as a 2nd round pick in 2010. Winters, a bruising run blocker from Kent State is penciled in as the starting right guardheading into training camp. The Jets expect Winters to be a long term starter on the line.
Best 4th Round Pick
Dion Sims – TE, Miami Dolphins #106 Overall
Sims figures to be the main back up behind starter Dustin Keller, while also serving as the Dolphins blocking tight end and redzone target. Sims lacks deep speed and has trouble getting separation, but fits exactly what the Dolphinswere looking for and should play a key role as a rookie.
Best 5th Round Pick
Mike Gillislee – RB, Miami Dolphins #164 Overall
Mike Gillislee has been put into a pretty advantageous situation for a 5th round pick. A steady and productive runner at Florida, Gillislee will be the #3 running back in Miami behind unproven starter Lamar Miller and top back up Daniel Thomas. Thomas was in head coach Joe Philbin’sdoghouse a year ago and could be over taken for the back-up job if Gillislee has a strong camp.
Best 6th Round Pick
Dustin Hopkins – K, Buffalo Bills #177 Overall
Since being selected Hopkins was thrust into a competition with Rian Lindell to be the Bills placekicker. If the competition is even remotely close the decision will go to Hopkins and he should be a fixture in Buffalo for the next decade.
Best 7th Round Pick
Chris Gragg – TE, Buffalo Bills #222
Buffalo is lacking downfield threats at the tight end position and Gragg is one of the most explosive tight end prospects in the draft. Returning starter Scott Chandler has been injury prone and back up Lee Smith is a blocking specialist, Gragg could be in line to contribute as a move tight endin certain packages.
UDFA Most Likely to Earn a Roster Spot
Da’Rick Rodgers – WR, Buffalo Bills
The troubled wide receiver from Tennessee Tech has already been singled out by Head Coach Doug Marrone for being on a short leash with his attitude. Rodgers has been his own worst enemy and despite a world of talent, went undrafted because of off the field character concerns. The Bills have Stevie Johnson, 2012 3rd round pick TJ Graham, and 2013 2nd and 3rd rounders Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin locked into roster spots. Rodgers will be competing with Brad Smith and Marcus Easley for the 5th and potentially 6th WR spots. Due up Next: NFC East
Topics: 2013 Nfl Draft, Aaron Dobson, AFC East, Bill Belichick, Brian Winters, Buffalo Bills, Dee Milliner, Dion Jordan, Dion Sims, Doug Marrone, Duron Harmon, EJ Manuel, Kevin Kolb, Miami Dolphins, Mike Gillislee, New England Patriotrs, New York Jets, NFL, Robert Woods, Sheldon Richardson, Tom Brady