Thursday, May 7, 2009

Optimist/Pessimist - AFC East Draft Review


New England Patriots:

OPTIMIST
The way these guys work the rest of the league like a speed bag is ridiculous. Six picks in the second and third rounds? Let me translate: They get to restock talent without having to pay first round salaries to players that aren’t worth the price tag anyway. What’s more, nobody addresses key positions quite like the Pats. A hard nosed, run stopping safety who plays with an aggressive streak? Great, just what I needed, ANOTHER Rodney Harrison (albeit with the more delightful name of Patrick Chung). A safeguard against the mild retardation of Ellis Hobbs? Yes, the quickest corner in the draft who now has a chip on his shoulder for being passed in the first round will do quite nicely. Throw in the fact that this team found one of the toughest positions to fill (3-4 NT) in the second round, and it’s another year of the rich getting richer.

PESSIMIST
For the first time in a couple of years, this draft didn’t see the addition of some physical monster to the ranks of the NFL’s great villain. Last year Defensive Rookie of the Year LB Jerod Mayo seemed to magically appear wherever the ball was, using his speed to prevent plays from developing and his strength to overpower offensive schemes. In 2007, S Brando Meriweather brought frightening centerfield speed to a position that, thanks to the addition of valuable secondary players, will be free to make use of his natural ability as a ball hawk. Even 2006’s addition of Lawrence Maroney added a tantalizing element of quick strikes to the backfield, and despite disappointing returns Maroney is still too gifted to overlook. So when this draft went by without an big, splashy players coming on board, one had to wonder whether or not it was former GM Scott Pioli who was the think-big half of the Patriots “think-big, win-small” front office. A petty weakness, but also a potential crack in the armor of the most stable franchise in the league.

Buffalo Bills:

OPTIMIST
In a division that is reliant on either stalwart consistency (Pennington), potential greatness (Sanchez), or definite greatness (Brady), it’s interesting to see the Bills select Aaron Maybin in the first round, who has the speed to make nightmares for any offensive backfield. Furthermore, if they’re really behind the Trent Edwards experiment, taking a strong center in Eric Wood is another smart decision, and along with OG Andy Levitre should also bolster the interior of the line for RB Marshawn Lynch. In other words, screw the quarterback. While it’s certainly not the sexiest draft on the board, it is the kind of counter-divisional thinking that will either leave the Bills in surprising contention for the top, or once again woefully at the bottom. Oh, and don’t sleep on Shawn Nelson, and not just because, unlike Robert Royal, he’s not made of slow moving granite.

PESSIMIST
I’ve been asking this for two years running now, but are we really so sure about Trent Edwards that not a single QB needed to be drafted in a draft with at least three interesting prospects within the Bills’ grasp? It’s saying something that every single team was in the running for the division last season with the exception of Buffalo, and a lot of the blame for that has to fall on Edwards, especially with Lee Evans and Roscoe Parrish to throw to, and James Hardy potentially a red zone behemoth. Now that the team has chosen to invest in TO, it’s sink or swim time for the young quarterback, who will not recover if things start to go south and Owens turns on his signal caller. Even if you don’t believe that Edwards is a bland, talentless echo of a game manager (and I do, I so do), a little preparing for the worst couldn’t have hurt.

Miami Dolphins:

OPTIMIST
PAT WHITE!!!



PESSIMIST
Um…maybe they reached for CB Vontae Davis. And Patrick Turner, though big…um…No, screw it, I’m too happy about this pick. Henne is going to get rocked early, meaning that we’re all living in the age of PAT WHITE!!!!!!



New York Jets:

OPTIMIST
I like Mark Sanchez. There’s a reason he emerged as my second favorite QB in our draft previews this year, and on a team where he’ll be given the chance to learn without the threat of replacement, his cool under pressure and ability to throw on the run could find unique use in Brian Schottenheimer’s system (that’s right Schotty, I’m giving you ONE more year to get back to 2006 form). In short, he’s a much needed shot in the arm at a position that has needed one since the team gave up on Handsome Chad in 2007. Additionally, Shonn Greene is the perfect addition to a backfield that needs a between the tackles RB to take some pressure off of Thomas Jones (easy with the contract talk, Joneses…one good season does not a franchise player make…). Rotating in with Jones and Neon Leon Washington, the Jets may have suddenly created a dangerously versatile backfield with the ability to keep fresh legs on the ground at all times.

PESSIMIST
Mark my words, Tannenbaum: If not drafting a WR means that we’re running Brad Smith out there as a number two option, I am going to throw batteries at the field at whatever home games I am able to attend. Would it have killed us to at least give our rookie quarterback an experimental number one option? I love Cotchery, but he’s not a number one, and nobody else on the team has proven themselves, with the mentioned exception of Brad Smith, who has proven himself to be very, very, very bad. I hate that I’m going to have to drastically change my stance on gun control to root for Plaxico Burress to wind up on Gang Green…

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