Friday, October 7, 2011

NFL Draft Revisited: AFC East

Over the course of the season I will take a look at how each draft class is progressing for each NFL team. Since this is an ambitious undertaking, it will be done division by division. I will also include some small snippets from my instant draft analysis.

Patriots
17  Nate Solder: Starting right tackle in place of Sebastian Vollmer
33  Ras-I Dowling: 3 tackles in two games played.
56  Shane Vereen: Injured
73  Stevan Ridley: 148 yards on 18 carries (8.2YPC) and 1 TD
74  Ryan Mallett: 3rd String Quarterback
138 Marcus Cannon: Injured (PUP)
159 Lee Smith: Cut
194 Markell Carter: Cut
219 Malcolm Williams: Cut

What I said in April:  "In addition to the trading mastery, the Pats also picked six players who we are confident will be rotation players eventually....Solder is a franchise left tackle, he is a man mountain with great arms and hands....Dowling is great value at pick 33 considering he would have been a top 15 pick if he wasnt injured this past season....Vereen is a young Kevin Faulk while Ridley will be a solid first and second down power back...We did not rate Mallett very high, but the more information coming out about him, the better he seems...Maybe the best pick for the Pats was Cannon at 138. He was slated to be a top 50 pick before a cancer diagnosis."


What has happened so far: Solder continues to show us that he can one day step in for Matt Light and become the teams next left tackle. During the first four games he has struggled at times, but has also shown some flashes of dominance in pass protection. His performance in week one against Cameron Wake should excite Pats fans about the future. Injuries have taken a toll on the depth of this draft class. Neither Vereen or Dowling have been healthy hardly at all either during the pre-season or regular season. Due to this, their performance deserves an incomplete. Ridley could end up being the gem of this class. As RFH contributor John Hendrie noted in a past article, he has the ability to step into a pretty awesome situation. With Danny Woodhead going down, look for Ridley's numbers to explode. Cannon, as expected, will sit this season. One sizable disappointment was Lee Smith. Expected to fill the blocking tight end role, Smith never lived up to expectations and was cut.



Jets
30  Muhammad Wilkerson: Starting End, 6 Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 TFL
94  Kenrick Ellis: Backup nose tackle, no stats available
126 Bilal Powell: 4th string running back, no stats available
153 Jeremy Kerley:4th Wide receiver, no stats available
208 Greg McElroy: Injured reserve
227 Scotty McKnight: Practice Squad


What has happened so far: The strength of this draft was upgrading the front seven with young talent. Wilkerson has done a solid job filling in the starting slot left by Shaun Ellis. Kendrick Ellis, however, has not had much of an impact as a reserve nose guard. Powell and Kerley have both not made an impact, but could be pieces in the future since the Jets roster is aging at both running back and wide receiver. McElroy should compete for a spot once he gets healthy. It would be a massive shock if he didn't find his way into a clipboard holding job in the NFL for a significant period of time.
What we said in April: "The Jets hit their two top 100 picks out of the park. Getting Wilkerson and Ellis should keep every guard in the AFC East up at night. These two guys win every battle....Powel and Kerley dont overwhelm us at 126 and 153.....Future Republican Congressman Greg McElroy is good value at 208, but in general the Jets didn’t have an especially deep draft." 

Bills
3   Marcell Dareus:Starting at Defensive end, 11 Tackles, 1 Sack
34  Aaron Williams: Reserve Cornerback, 11 Tackles
68  Kelvin Sheppard: Reserve Middle Linebacker, 4 Tackles
100 Da'Norris Searcy: 3rd String Strong Safety, 1 Tackle, 1 INT
122 Chris Hairston:2nd String Right Tackle
133 Johnny White: 3rd String Running Back, 8 Carries, 26 Yards
169 Chris White: 3rd String Linebacker, 6 Tackles, 1 FF
206 Justin Rogers: Reserve Defensive Back, 1 Tackle
245 Michael Jasper: Cut


This class has contributed a lot to a suprisingly good Bills team. Dareus has been spectacular as expected, but Williams, Sheppard, Searcy, and Chris White have all contributed. The combination of elite talent at the top and depth in the later rounds makes this a surprisingly strong draft so far for the Bills.


What we said in April: "Dareus is a monster Hippo who will be a force for years to come. After that, however, the Bills didnt bring much to the table. Williams isn’t a good 34th pick, and will be a nickle back at best. Sheppard could be OK, but again, is not a good pick at 64. Non of their late picks are impressive."



15  
Mike Pouncey: Starter at Center

62  Daniel Thomas: 2nd string Running Back, 41 Carries 202 Yards
111 Edmond Gates: Reserve Wide Receiver, 1 Catch, 8 Yards
174 Charles Clay: Starting Fullback, 2 Receptions, 34 Yards
231 Frank Kearse: Cut
235 Jimmy Wilson: Reserve DB, 5 Tackles, 1 INT


Pouncey is the only starter out of the group, by Thomas has also become a solid contributor. Look for these two to carry the torch for this draft class going forward. Clay is a solid pick up as a starting fullback.

What we said in April: "Pouncey is a monster and will help the Dolphins right away. After that, only Thomas has the ability to be a difference maker. Thomas runs hard but will never be a great back. Gates, Clay, Kearse, and Wilson just made me throw up in my mouth."

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