2015 Draft Needs: AFC East
The 2015 NFL draft is finally at hand and here at PFF we are more prepared for it than we’ve ever been. In tallying a full season of FBS data we’ve been able to present you with tons of info at our College Football Focus home page on the soon-to-be NFL rookies that will soon be appearing at training camps across the league.
Armed with this information we’re suggesting viable targets at key positions of need for all the teams, here for the AFC East:
Early Round Target: T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh
With just two picks in the first three rounds after the Sammy Watkins trade, the Bills can only look to solve two of their needs before Saturday. With Richie Incognito and Chris Williams tentatively penciled in as starters at guard, the need here should be obvious. T.J. Clemmings provides the potential to start right away at guard and be a road grader. He also has the athleticism to transition to tackle down the road if he improves his hand usage.
Early Round Target: Shaq Thompson, Washington
The Bills let Da’Norris Searcy walk to Tennessee and Aaron Williams hasn’t been the ringing success they thought he’d be when they signed him to an extension before last season. We viewed Thompson as more of a safety, but he could step in day one and allow the Bills to run ‘big nickel’ packages as a hybrid safety/linebacker. Thompson allowed only 0.3 Yards Per Coverage Snap last year, fourth best among inside linebackers.
Early Round Target: Brandon Scherff, Iowa
Another team with just two early selections, the Dolphins are currently without an established player at guard. They’ll likely move forward with last year’s third-round pick Billy Turner at one of the spots, but the other is a serious need. Dallas Thomas has been a complete liability in any action he’s seen. Brandon Scherff might not be there at 14, but if he is it’s a perfect match. Scherff is one of the most athletic guards in the class and would fit perfectly in the Dolphins’ scheme.
Early Round Target: Byron Jones, Connecticut
The Dolphins had one of the best pass rushes in the league, but still struggled to get production across from Brent Grimes last season. The two early picks from 2013, Jamar Taylor and Will Davis, haven’t shown anything yet to think they can be above average starters in the NFL. Byron Jones could step in right away and compete for a starting position. The Connecticut corner will be coveted early because of his rare athleticism, but he also produced on the field. His 26.3 quarterback rating against was the second best in the FBS.
New England Patriots
Early Round Target: Laken Tomlinson, Duke
Ryan Connolly and Jordan Devey were nothing more than replacement level players when they saw the field last year in New England. The left guard position could use a revival and Laken Tomlinson is just the man to do it. Tomlinson is probably the most polished guard in the class and would fit will in the Patriots multiple rushing schemes. The Duke guard allowed a total of three pressures all last season.
Early Round Target: Steven Nelson, Oregon St.
Losing two starters at a position in one year makes this a glaring need and one they could even address multiple times in the first three rounds. Kyle Arrington and Logan Ryan don’t inspire much confidence on the back end. If they are looking to fill the need after the first round, Steven Nelson could fill the physicality void left by Brandon Browner. The Oregon St. corner didn’t miss a tackle a year ago on 55 attempts, but also committed nine penalties, second most in the draft.
Early Round Target: Louis Trinca-Pasat, Iowa
Outside of Dominque Easley there’s not a lot to get excited about at defensive tackle for the Patriots. Even with Easley the knee soreness that put him on the IR is a serious concern going forward. They need something better than Alan Branch, Chris Jones, and Sealver Siliga to get disruption in the middle. Louis Trinca-Pasat is that kind of player. The Iowa defensive tackle did it all against the run and pass for the Hawkeyes and had more total pressure (41) than teammate Carl Davis (37).
New York Jets
Early Round Target: Randy Gregory, Nebraska
The Jets have been without a legitimate edge rushing threat for a long, long time now. Quinton Coples has had his chances and he still hasn’t had a positively graded season. With the sixth pick in the draft there could be a number of edge defenders there, but we think Gregory’s fluid athleticism is one of the best fits for a 3-4. Recent rumors suggest he could be dropping out of the first round altogether, but we certainly think he has Top 10 talent.
Early Round Target: Maxx Williams, Minnesota
Jeff Cumberland has been a liability as a blocker and receiver of late. Even with Jace Amaro drafted in the second round last year, the Jets could benefit from a true inline blocking tight end with receiving skills. Williams is just that and is our sixth-graded run blocking tight end in the draft.
Early Round Target: Brett Hundley, UCLA
With Geno Smith floundering in Year 2, the Jets would be wise to take a developmental player that can be groomed for the future. Marcus Mariota is unlikely to fall to the Jets in the first round so taking a high upside player like Brett Hundley in the second or third would give them options. The UCLA quarterback’s 76.9 Accuracy Percentage led the FBS last year.
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