NFL draft preview: What the AFC and NFC East teams need
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 looking to fortify the supporting cast around second-year quarterback EJ Manuel. Most pressing of Buffalo’s needs is a new right tackle. The Bills also could use another tight end, and a big receiver who can do damage in the middle of the field. A lot of the team’s needs already have been addressed this spring, with a trade for receiver Mike Williams, and the acquisition of free-agent middle linebacker Brandon Spikes, and cornerback Corey Graham.
Eric Decker was a solid acquisition for the New York Jets, but he’s not a No. 1 receiver. The Jets might look for another sure-handed target in the first round, somebody who can stretch the field for whichever quarterback starts, Michael Vick or Geno Smith. Help in the secondary is also a high-ranking priority, and the Jets are probably in good position with the 18th pick to grab a quality defensive rookie.
For the Miami Dolphins, it’s time to take the next step in addressing the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin mess. With the two main characters in that bizarre bullying scandal gone, he offensive line needs to be rebuilt. They might be picking too late in the first round (No. 19) to get one of the top tackles. Miami had high hopes for Dustin Keller last season, but the tight end was sidetracked by a knee injury.
Help along the defensive line is a big need for the New England Patriots, as nose tackle Vince Wilfork is nearing the end of his career, and defensive ends Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich wore down at the end of last season. The addition of All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis is huge. On offense, the Patriots could use a tight end and running back, seeing as both Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen are in the final year of their respective contracts.
Eli Manning needs a safety valve and a big target who can catch the ball over the middle, so the New York Giants would be hard-pressed to pass on tight end Eric Ebron if he’s on the board when they pick at No. 12. Manning absorbed a beating last season, so the Giants might be looking to upgrade at left tackle, too. On defense, it’s time to fortify that line, which was so effective in the last two Super Bowl runs.
The offensive line is still a work in progress for the Dallas Cowboys, who in recent years have used first-round picks on tackle Tyron Smith and center Travis Frederick. If one of the top tackles is remaining on the board when the Cowboys pick at 16, he could be Dallas bound. On the other side of the ball, the team will look to address the loss of DeMarcus Ware. In fact, any help on that defensive front would help.
The Philadelphia Eagles need to ramp up their pass rush, so finding a bookend to outside linebacker Connor Barwin would be a big plus. With DeSean Jackson in Washington, Coach Chip Kelly could use another field-stretching receiver who can be a playmaker on special teams. There were repeated breakdowns on the back end of the defense last season, and the Eagles need a safety.
New Washington Redskins Coach Jay Gruden doesn’t have a first-round pick, thanks to the trade that allowed the team to draft Robert Griffin III, but the club won’t have to wait long on Day 2. The Redskins have the No. 34 pick, and might look to fortify the interior of their offensive line. Also need depth at cornerback, and youth infusion at linebacker.
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