East meets East
The draft will be held Saturday and Sunday in New York. The Times’ NFL writer, Sam Farmer, examines the needs of each team by division:
Philadelphia filled its need for a left tackle by trading for Jason Peters, a deal that cost the Eagles the 28th pick. They still have the 21st selection, and, although fans are clamoring for a big-time wide receiver, the need is greater at running back -- someone to lighten the load of Brian Westbrook. Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno is the back they’re targeting. Even when Westbrook is healthy -- and he takes a beating -- the Eagles need help in short-yardage situations.
The Cowboys had two picks in the first round last year but, barring a trade, will be spectators Saturday until midway through the second round. They have the 51st pick and probably will be thinking defense. They need help at linebacker, defensive tackle and safety. They don’t seem to be overly concerned about filling the void left by receiver Terrell Owens, now with the Buffalo Bills. Dallas could also use a good guard but should be able to get one in a later round.
With Plaxico Burress gone, the Giants will be taking a hard look at the available receivers with the 29th pick. The first tier of those will be gone -- Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree, Missouri’s Jeremy Maclin and Florida’s Percy Harvin -- but some good ones could still be around, namely Maryland’s Darrius Heyward-Bey, North Carolina’s Hakeem Nicks and Rutgers’ Kenny Britt.
The Redskins tipped their hand by making a hard run at Jay Cutler but fell short, leaving open the possibility they might trade up from 13 to grab one of the three top quarterbacks. They bolstered their defense in a big way with the signing of Albert Haynesworth, but could still use some help with an outside linebacker. USC teammates Clay Matthews and Brian Cushing are both interesting.
With left tackle Peters gone, the Bills have a gaping vacancy on the offensive line. They’ll probably move Langston Walker over from the right side and try to find someone to replace him. They have two picks in the first round -- 11 and 28 -- but aren’t in position at the moment to get one of the premier tackles. They might trade up, or possibly stay put to get an outside linebacker. They also have needs at defensive end and tight end.
Will the Jets trade up from 17 in a bid to land quarterback Mark Sanchez? It’s certainly a possibility. Kansas State’s Josh Freeman is interesting, too, for a team that bid farewell to the finally retired (apparently) Brett Favre. Like the Giants, the Jets are in the market for a receiver. But don’t rule out the possibility of new Coach Rex Ryan using his first pick on a player on the other side of the ball, perhaps Mississippi defensive tackle Peria Jerry.
New England’s great defense is getting old, and the Patriots could use help all over in that department, with the priorities being: 1) outside linebacker, 2) inside linebacker, and 3) cornerback. They have the 23rd pick and should be in the range to get a linebacker such as USC’s Matthews or Rey Maualuga, or a cornerback -- possibly Ohio State’s Malcolm Jenkins or Connecticut’s Darius Butler.
Even after using the No. 1 pick on tackle Jake Long last year, the Dolphins could use a talented rookie or two on the offensive line. But there’s a good chance they’ll use the 25th pick on a defensive player, maybe an outside linebacker or cornerback. They could also use a wide receiver, even though Greg Camarillo and Davone Bess have far exceeded expectations.
* Wednesday: North divisions.