The 2013 NFL draft is in the books, so it’s time to take a look back at how NFL teams did. There are few conferences that share the rivalries that the AFC East does. So when it comes to the draft, you know that these teams make a point to draft with an eye on what the other three teams are doing and to counter them. This conference has belonged in recent history to the New England Patriots with nine playoff appearances in the past 10 seasons, and the rest of the conference working to get to that level. The question is, did the 2013 NFL lose the gap for any of the other teams? Or, are they still the top of the heap?
Buffalo Bills — The big move of the draft might have been the Bills trading down, stockpiling some extra picks, and still drafting their quarterback of the future with EJ Manuel of Florida State. Whether or not the Manuel pick was too early is secondary to the fact the Bills felt the need for a new signal caller and they did it. That gets big points from me. They also get points for adding some playmakers in the passing game for Manuel, but their choices to bolster their defense come up a little flat for me.
Sleeper Pick — Dustin Hopkins, K Florida State. In a league where scoring is at a premium, I like the idea of using a pick on the best kicker in the draft. There will be plenty of players taken before Hopkins who won’t see the field, but he will likely be a difference maker from the first week of the season.
Miami Dolphins — The Dolphins made a huge trade up to the No. 3 pick, and I think most Dolphins fans were at the edge of their seat for them to draft an offensive tackle. But instead, they drafted hybrid defensive end Dion Jordan from Oregon. His role in the Dolphins is yet undefined, and should they move to a 4-3, I’m not sure Jordan was a good value. I do like the addition of offensive lineman Dallas Thomas from Tennessee and cornerback Jamar Taylor from Boise State. Both should play right away.
Sleeper Pick — Mike Gillislee, RB Florida. The Dolphins needed a running back, and they got a real dandy with Gillislee. Even with the other running backs on the roster, don’t be at all surprised if Gillislee isn’t getting the bulk of the carries by mid-season.
New England Patriots — When it comes to the Patriots you always expect then to draft well, even if it doesn’t appear so at first. I think that’s the case this year as well. Southern Miss linebacker Jamie Collins isn’t well known, but he’s a very athletic and versatile player who can really rush the quarterback. I also like how the Patriots went with a big bodied wide receiver as well. They understand the league is changing and are adapting to that. The rest of the draft primarily addresses depth on an aging and less than athletic defense.
Sleepers Pick — Michael Buchanan, defensive end Illinois. Buchanan took a step back in 2012 as he became the focus of the Illinois defense, but he has the talent and athleticism to be an excellent pass rusher.
New York Jets — I want to give the Jets a great grade for this draft as they got one of the best defensive linemen in this draft in the first round with Sheldon Richardson from Missouri and a top quarterback with West Virginia signal caller Geno Smith. But if there was an area where this team was seriously lacking, it was offensive playmakers and they did nothing to add any weapons either as a rusher or receiver to help out whomever is under center. Not doing that was a bad miss for a team who made a trade to get an extra first round pick.
Sleeper Pick — Brian Winters, offensive guard Kent State. I love Winters’ game. He can play left or right guard at a high level might even be able to start at right tackle in a pinch. Excellent value pick and fills a legitimate need.