The draft will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday in New York. Times NFL writer Sam Farmer examines team needs by division. Today, the East divisions:
The Buffalo Bills are once again in search of a quarterback, and might reach for one with the eighth overall pick. An intriguing fit is Ryan Nassib, who played for new Bills Coach Doug Marrone and (new Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett) at Syracuse. Even though the franchise broke the bank on pass rushers last off-season, the Bills could use more help in that department.
Time is running out on Rex Ryan’s tenure with the New York Jets, and there’s still a lot of uncertainty at quarterback, although the team owes Mark Sanchez a truckload of money even if he’s not on the roster. The Jets have all sorts of vacancies and could use a pass rusher, defensive backs, a receiver or two, and offensive linemen who could at least give them a chance to implement the desired ground-and-pound attack.
The Miami Dolphins have five of the first 82 picks and a chance to build on the flickers of promise they showed last season. With Jake Long gone, the franchise will look into trading up to grab one of the premier offensive tackles. The team lost cornerback Sean Smith in free agency, so replacing him is a priority too. A sure-handed tight end would be a welcome addition to help quarterback Ryan Tannehill transition into his second season.
Once again, the New England Patriots were among the elite — underscoring the importance of Tom Brady. But even with the addition of Danny Amendola, it’s going to be hard to replace the productivity of Wes Welker, now in Denver. The Patriots have gotten better against the run, but the secondary is still vulnerable, and getting someone who can put pressure on passers is a priority.
No NFC team picks earlier than the Philadelphia Eagles, whose No. 4 selection is evidence of their terrible 2012 season. No one on the outside is quite sure how new Coach Chip Kelly will use that prime pick, whether he’ll spend it on a quarterback such as West Virginia’s Geno Smith, or bolster his defense, possibly with familiar Oregon outside linebacker standout Dion Jordan. Also, the Eagles are capable but graying at offensive tackle.
The Dallas Cowboys, who haven’t reached the postseason since 2009, have more work to do on both their offensive and defensive lines. They reshuffled the offensive line last season, making changes at four of five spots, but could use another tackle. On the other side of the ball, they need another big, disruptive wrecking ball of a defensive tackle for their new Tampa-2 scheme. A running back is also on their wish list.
Defensive line has been a strength of the New York Giants in recent years, but it’s time to restock that position, especially with Osi Umenyiora now in Atlanta. The team is average at linebacker, and the defense finished 31st in yards allowed last season. The Giants are vulnerable at cornerback. On the other side of the ball, the offensive line is badly in need of a youth infusion, with just about everyone on the wrong side of 30.
The Washington Redskins don’t have a first-round pick — they surrendered that and more to move up for Robert Griffin III last season — but they need to find a way to continue the reconstruction of their offensive line. On defense, they need help at both the safety and cornerback spots, seeing as they were 30th in the league against the pass last season.
NEXT: SOUTH DIVISIONS