FOR THE RECORD:
NFL draft preview: The On the NFL column in the April 26 Sports section previewing the pro football draft said that Von Miller is a linebacker from the University of Texas. Miller played at Texas A&M.; —
Coach Rex Ryan built his career around defense, and that's the way his New York Jets are leaning in this draft. They need an outside linebacker who can help pressure the passer and players to bolster their graying defensive line. This is a club that has relied heavily on trades and free agency to build its roster. Now, those things are in question.
Just as the Colts need to patch the wall around Peyton Manning, the New England Patriots need to improve the protection of Tom Brady. Offensive line is a priority, and there should be a good tackle available with one of their two first-round picks. Bill Belichick could also use a 3-4 defensive end, and a running back — maybe Alabama's Mark Ingram, the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner.
Florida center Mike Pouncey is the best interior lineman in this draft, and he might not have to leave the state. The Miami Dolphins are in need of a center, and might take him with the 15th pick (three ahead of where Pittsburgh took his brother, Maurkice, a year ago.) Miami also will have an eye out for a running back, as well as a pass-rushing linebacker to work opposite Cameron Wake.
Like a lot of teams, the Buffalo Bills are taking a long look at the quarterbacks. At least they have a pretty solid short-term answer in Ryan Fitzpatrick, so they can address another need with the third pick. The Bills were 32nd against the run last season and might take Alabama tackle Marcell Dareus. Texas linebacker Von Miller is another possibility, and would be a good fit in their 3-4.
The Philadelphia Eagles are looking for solid interior offensive linemen, although there aren't a lot worthy of a first-round pick. What they might do is draft a tackle and convert him to guard, something they have done in the past. Offensive tackle is an area of need too. The Eagles could use their top pick on a defensive end, seeing as Brandon Graham's knee injury puts his 2011 season in jeopardy.
With Shaun O'Hara and Rich Seubert coming off surgery, the New York Giants are looking for someone to snap the ball. That would make Pouncey a great fit, providing he's there when the Giants pick at 19. New York also is looking for help on the other side of the ball, both at outside linebacker and defensive tackle. This draft is rich with players in those areas.
The Washington Redskins have been known to make a splash in the draft, so it's not inconceivable they would trade up from their No. 10 spot to grab one of the two elite quarterbacks, Auburn's Cam Newton or Missouri's Blaine Gabbert. There's also a chance they stay put and take a different quarterback —such as Washington's Jake Locker — or a defensive end such as Wisconsin's J.J. Watt, who fits the new 3-4 scheme.
The Dallas Cowboys like Doug Free at left tackle, but could use some help on the other side. They are in prime position with the ninth pick to select USC's Tyron Smith, who played right tackle but is talented enough to move to the left side. The Cowboys arealso in the market for defensive linemen, as it is likely they will part ways with Marcus Spears. There are plenty of defensive tackles in this draft who would be appealing.