NFL Draft Preview: AFC East

Read our complete 2006 NFL Draft Coverage!

Buffalo Bills
Current 1st Round Draft Position: 8th
Top Team Needs: DT, OT, S, CB, WR

DT: The Bills lost Sam Adams to the Cincinnati Bengals and Ron Edwards to the Kansas City Chiefs. Signing Larry Triplett from Indianapolis was a good move in free agency, but they clearly need someone who can clog running lanes in the middle as they ranked 31st vs. the run in 2005.

OT: Former 1st round pick Mike Williams was released after 4 years of disappointing play. Jason Peters seems to be adequate on the right side, but a left tackle is a priority as Mike Gandy was a disappointment last season.

S: The Bills let Lawyer Milloy go and Troy Vincent is entering his 15th NFL season. The signing of Matt Bowen from Washington provides some depth, but little in terms of a guy who can step in and be a solid starter.

CB: This area depends on whether the Bills re-sign franchise free agent Nate Clements. If they get a deal done, the Bills likely ignore the CB position until the second day of the draft. If they don’t get something worked out with Clements, they’ll be seriously thinking CB in round 1.

WR: The departure of Eric Moulds leaves a gap in the WR corps. Lee Evans steps in as the top target, but who will start opposite him? Andre Davis has the skill, but has been injury prone. Second year WR Roscoe Parrish is better suited in the slot. Josh Reed was re-signed, but has never lived up to expectations. With this draft class having little top end talent at WR, the Bills likely will wait until day 2 to address this position.

Miami Dolphins
Current 1st Round Draft Position: 16th
Top Team Needs: LB, DT, OT, WR,

LB: Between last year’s rookie Channing Crowder, and veteran Zach Thomas, the Dolphins have two pieces of the puzzle, but they really need another. Junior Seau was released and the signing of Sedrick Hodge is just a stopgap.

DT: While the Dolphins have a steady group of interior defensive linemen, there is a lack of star quality youth. Keith Traylor is nearly ancient in football years and Vonnie Holiday is steady, but unspectacular. There’s some decent depth, but again, little star quality.

OT: Gone are Damion McIntosh and Stockar McDougle. The Dolphins did sign L.J. Shelton and expect to plug him in at LT, but he’s had problems holding onto that job with two other teams. OT should be an area addressed by the team on day one.

WR: Chris Chambers is a star, but Marty Booker is only adequate and the signing of Kelly Campbell in free agency was a minor one at best. And behind them the Dolphins lack quality depth. While it’s more likely the Dolphins address a different position in round one, it’s conceivable they could decide to take a WR in round one if no other team has taken one before them.

New England Patriots
Current 1st Round Draft Position: 21st
Top Team Needs: CB, WR, S, RB, LB, K

CB: The Patriots were abysmal at stopping the pass in 2005 ranking 31st overall in pass defense. Even worse was an embarrassingly low 10 interceptions. Last year’s rookie, Ellis Hobbs was a surprise, but isn’t an elite talent. Singing former Chief Eric Warfield provides a proven starter on one side, but he’s not an elite CB. Given the problems defending the pass in 2005, a shut down style of CB is what this team needs first.

WR: The loss of David Givens to the Tennessee Titans leaves an opening opposite Deion Branch. Bethel Johnson and Troy Brown are decent depth guys, but neither is able to be a reliable starter. Reche Caldwell was signed away from San Diego, but his inability to stay healthy or be consistent means the Patriots should be looking to add a quality rookie to the mix.

S: Sure, some of the weaknesses in pass defense in 2005 can be attributed to the loss of Rodney Harrison in the secondary, but the fact the team struggled so badly after losing Harrison only points out the need for better talent behind him, especially since Harrison is entering his 13th NFL season. Eugene Wilson anchors at free safety, but the quality of the depth behind him is marginal. Signing Tebucky Jones was an excellent move, but given the health problems the Patriots have had in their secondary it’s still a good bet they draft at this position.

RB: Corey Dillon is still a great starting RB in the NFL, but he’s entering his 10th season and RB’s like Dillon, who has been a true workhorse throughout his career, don’t usually sustain continually playing at high levels this long. Kevin Faulk is an adequate change of pace RB, but not a guy who likely takes on a feature role if necessary. It’s likely the Patriots look to groom someone for the future sometime in this draft.

LB: Despite releasing Willie McGinest, the Patriots still sport an impressive group in Mike Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi, Roosevelt Colvin, and Monty Beisel, they could use some youth. The LB position is very important in Bill Belichick’s 3-4 defense and with this being a draft with some excellent LB depth, it would be hard to see the Patriots not selecting one somewhere.

K: Free agent Martin Gramatica didn’t kick in 2005 because of injury. His signing gives the Patriots a veteran presence at the position but it’s likely they also look to draft a kicker to compete for the job vacated by Adam Vinatieri as Gramatica had struggled in sunny Tampa before getting injured.

New York Jets
Current 1st Round Draft Position: 4th
Top Team Needs: OT, OG, LB, QB, DT

OT: The departure of Jason Fabini has left a glaring need for a tackle on the Jets offensive line. Adrian Jones took over at LT last season for Fabini, but is better suited on the right side. Marko Cavka is strictly a back-up. Unless Matt Leinart is still on the board at #4, the Jets would be hard-pressed to pass on Virginia’s D’Brickashaw Ferguson.

OG: With Pete Kendall likely moving to the Center position permanently to replace departed Kevin Mawae, and the loss of Jonathan Goodwin to the Saints in free agency, the Jets have a need at G. Brandon Moore is solid in one spot, but the team needs someone else to start and have no one capable at the present time. The Jets could also decide to go after a Center instead and move Kendall back to his more natural position of G. Either way, an interior offensive lineman is essential.

LB: Jonathan Vilma is very strong on the interior, but with Eric Mangini bringing the 3-4 defense with him, the Jets need someone who can get pressure on the QB from the outside. Eric Barton and Victor Hobson are both steady, but a 4th guy is needed. With this being a strong OLB draft the Jets will look to address the position sometime after round 1.

QB: Unless the Jets can repair the damage done to Patrick Ramsey’s confidence they really need a QB of the future. Chad Pennington, when healthy, was an accurate passer with limited arm strength. Well, two shoulder surgeries later and you have to wonder. Ramsey has a big arm, but questions abound about his ability to be a starter in the NFL. With Matt Leinart likely off the board before they pick, it’s unlikely they’ll take a QB in round 1. However they could definitely look to the position after it.

DT: Even though Dwayne Robertson has started to come along nicely, it’s unsure if he can be the NT in the 3-4. Even if he can, the need for quality depth behind him is huge. The Jets ranked 29th vs. the run in 2005 and need to make sure they have a big run stuffer to spell Robertson with.

See Russ's other 2006 NFL Draft articles:

Russ Bliss is FantasyFootballStarters.com's exclusive fantasy football expert, a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, and for 10 years has been the radio host of "The Red Zone, Talking Fantasy Football and the NFL," in Phoenix, Arizona.

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