AFC East off season report card/Draft preview part 2

Miami Dolphins:  A

Bill Parcells once again reminded the world that he is far and away the best personnel mind in the NFL.   Over the course of his short tenure in Miami he has drafted exceptionally well, bringing in the likes of Jake Long, Chad Henne and Vonte Davis and also  key free agents such as former CFL standout Cameron Wake.  This off-season was no exception as he has Miami looking like a serious contender in the AFC East.  The most notable move Parcells made was the recent trade for disgruntled Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall for a 2nd round pick this year and a conditional 2nd next year.  This savvy move has my vote for roster upgrade of the off-season.   Henne looks like he is going to be a very, very good quarterback but last season made it apparent that he needed some weapons.  Marshall is bona fide #1, game changing receiver who will be an immediate and substantial upgrade to their passing game.   Along side Davone Bess and Greg Camarillo in the slot Henne will have a fully stocked cabinet.  Richie Incognito was brought in on a one year deal which will help give them depth on the offensive line.

Defensively, the Dolphins made a splash by bringing in MLB Karlos Dansby from Arizona.  Dansby is a premiere talent at the position and they really needed an infusion of talent at the linebacking position.  The re-signing of NT Jason Ferguson to a one year deal was key as he will occupy blockers to free up the rushing lanes for the teams much improved linebacking corps.  Some notable departures were Gibril Wilson, who to date has been the Tunas only real miss in the free agent department.  Joey Porter, who had clearly worn out his welcome, signed with Arizona.

Draft Needs

The Brandon Marshall acquisition addressed the Dolphins only real need on the offensive side of the ball, so I would expect them to focus on defense in this years draft.  In the first round I believe Parcells will select Longhorn safety Earl Thomas, as safety is a glaring at the moment.  As I mentioned, Gibril Wilson left town and former first round pick Jason Allen has been a major bust.  Thomas would step in and be the free-roaming center field type safety that they need.  Another way that they could go with the #12 pick is nose tackle, as Jason Ferguson will likely call it a career after the 2010 campaign.  Dan Williams out of Tennessee would be a nice fit here as he has the bulk to play the 3-4 NT position.  Terrence Cody is an outside possibility here but questions about his work ethic and concerns of him eating his way out of the league will likely keep teams from taking him this high.  In the third round I would like to see the Phins take a take end, possibly local product and athletic freak Jimmy Graham from the U.  Dennis Pitta out of BYU and Aaron Hernandez would also be intriguing choices at that point in the draft.  In rounds four and beyond I would expect Parcells to try to add some depth at the outside linebacking position.  A guy who I would love to see at this point would be Ole Miss DE Greg Hardy.  There are questions about his intangibles but he’d be a great fit in the 3-4 scheme and would really provide them with great depth.  In the final rounds I would expect the Dolphins to try to add a running back, as Ronnie Brown is nearing free agency and Ricky Williams is expected to hang up the cleats after this season.

Buffalo Bills:  D-  

If there’s one thing that’s saving Al Davis and the Raiders from being the most poorly run franchise in the NFL it’s Ralph Wilson and the Buffalo Bills.  As the rest of the AFC east gets stronger and stronger the Bills somehow managed to regress again this off-season.  From an administrative standpoint the hiring of 70-year-old GM Buddy Nix and NFL retread Chan Gailey as the head coach were two head scratching moves.  In my estimation, the Bills should have targeted a young, up and coming talent evaluator, similar to what the Falcons did with Thomas Dmitroff.  From a roster standpoint, the Bills did little to nothing to improve a very mediocre 2009 team.  The only real noteworthy signing was that of defensive end Dwan Edwards, who will fit in well in the transition to the 3-4 defense.  Outside of Edwards, the Bills really did nothing.  Chad Jackson? Really?  From a schematic standpoint I also really do not like the transition to the 3-4 defense.  Former defensive coordinator Perry Fewell had implemented an effective 4-3 scheme and the Bills’ defense was actually pretty decent last year.  They certainly didn’t overhaul the roster to accommodate the scheme change and I think it will be a tough transition and another below average season for the Bills.

Draft Needs:

I believe that the Bills would have to be nuts to pass on Jimmy Clausen if he were to fall to the #9 pick.  Granted, they really woofed it last year by passing on Michael Ohere, and they need a good left tackle desperately, but this franchise needs a blue chip signal caller in the worst way.  It would give their fan base even the smallest bit of hope and would help fill Ralph Wilson stadium.  There are rumblings that their front office prefers Tebow over Clausen, and if this isn’t a smoke screen I think they would be absolutely insane to take Tebow at this spot.  He’s a project and he’s got average arm strength, which could be disastrous in the windy conditions that they play in.  In round two I think they will try to target an offensive lineman.  Roger Saffold out of Indiana or Charles Brown from USC would both be great picks.  In the middle rounds I think that the Bills will add a receiver, possibly Damian Williams from USC or Taylor Price from Ohio.  They also could use some help along the defensive line, so Cam Thomas from UNC would be a good selection in the 3rd or 4th round.

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