With the draft out the door and mandatory minicamps getting started, we thought it would be a good idea to get back on the phone with our buddy Greg Cosell of NFL Films and ESPN's "NFL Matchup," and talk about the NFL by division. Who did themselves the most favors in the draft, and who came up short when addressing their roster deficits?
We started off with the NFC West, jumped to the hyper-competitive AFC North last week. then focused on the NFC South, and now, it's time to look at the AFC East. We asked Greg how he believed the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and New York Jets bolstered their rosters.
On Buffalo Bills first-round DB Stephon Gilmore: "I really liked Gilmore's physicality. In college, he played to the boundary -- to the short side of the field. Because of that, he was a run defender, and he was able to blitz. He did both extremely effectively, and I also think he's a good man corner. He probably doesn't have the pure quickness of Morris Claiborne, but he's still a very good man corner. So, he gives the Bills' defense great versatility. You can line him up outside, you can line him up in the slot ... I like Gilmore a lot."
On Miami Dolphins first-round QB Ryan Tannehill: "He has a good arm -- I think he spins it pretty well. He throws the ball very well on the move, and in fact, I said this and it bears repeating, that I thought he threw the ball on the run better than Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. Now, that's a positive if it enhances what you do in the pocket. You can't make a living in the NFL as a quarterback solely by throwing on the run. I thought he had a little technique flaw when he threw the football -- he tended to lock his front leg, and that causes some of the inaccuracy. That can be coached, but we'll see if he truly gets coached out of it."
On New England Patriots first-round LB Dont'a Hightower: "Hightower was a guy I struggled with a little -- there were some games I watched when I thought, 'Oh, this guy has a chance to be a good player,' and there were other games in which I thought he just didn't move quite that well. If they played a 3-4 and [Brandon] Spikes and Hightower were their inside linebackers ... to me, neither guy moves quite well enough. But obviously, Bill Belichick knows more than I do, and what Hightower does give you is versatility. He played almost every linebacker position, and in addition, he put his hand on the ground when they went to their sub-packages, and rushed the quarterback. There's a versatility element with this kid. He's had some injuries that he's coming back from, so maybe he improves."
On New York Jets first-round defensive lineman Quinton Coples: "I can see some similarities to the player they drafted last year -- Muhammad Wilkerson out of Temple. With Coples, you could make the argument that he could become a better pass rusher down the road, although Wilkerson was pretty athletic. The question becomes, how is Coples used? How does Rex Ryan see him? Rex Ryan does a lot of stuff with the Jets, and I'm curious to see that. I don't think anybody would say he's a pure pass-rusher, per se. I talked to a lot of people, and I watched him myself. Now, he has enough speed and movement, combined with strength, that there were times when he did show the ability to rush the quarterback. But he's not a 'get-low/bend-the-edge' guy."
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