Recap of AFC East in 2006 NFL Draft-
New England Patriots- The best team in the 21st century, the New England Patriots have been a wounded team in the past year. The Patriots have lost coordinators to the Cleveland Browns (Romeo Crennel), The University of Notre Dame (Charlie Weis) and the New York Jets (Eric Mangini). They have also lost a clutch kicker in Adam Viniateri and Willie McGinest to the Cleveland Browns. The 2006 NFL Draft gave the Patriots an opportunity to reload for another Super Bowl push, which is a luxury many teams do not have. Running back Laurence Maroney, the 21st selection in the 2006 NFL Draft, gives them a great young back behind veteran Corey Dillon. The Patriots also got receiver Chad Jackson in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft to replace David Givens and give them a deep threat for Tom Brady. While kickers in the NFL draft are typically risky business, their selection of Stephen Gostkowski in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft gives them a strong legged kicker who can develop into a great kicker.
2006 NFL Draft grade: B
New York Jets- The cavernous Radio City Music Hall was filled with boos when the New Orleans Saints took Reggie Bush with the second pick of the 2006 NFL Draft, not because of any animus towards Bush but because he was a fan favorite since the end of last season. However, Jets fans should be thrilled with their 2006 NFL draft class because it does what good football teams do: build up from the line and build outward. D’Brickshaw Ferguson, the fourth selection in the 2006 NFL Draft, and Nick Mangold, the 29th selection in the 2006 NFL Draft, provide an offensive line for the future (and one that may save Chad Pennington from further harm). Quarterback Kellen Clemens of Oregon, if healthy, could prove to be a good solid pickup for the Jets in the not-too-distant future. The Jets also mixed projects like quarterback Brad Smith of Missouri (who will play wide receiver) and solid defensive reserves like safety Eric Smith and linebacker Anthony Schlegel to provide promise for a winning future in the Big Apple.
2006 NFL Draft grade: B+
Miami Dolphins- The Dolphins have been able to utilize both free agency and a good NFL draft in 2005 to make the burden on fulfilling potential on the field in 2006 rather than on picking perfectly in the 2006 NFL Draft. Defensive back Jason Allen, the sixteenth pick overall in the 2006 NFL Draft, should provide great corner play and versatility in the Dolphins’ backfield. Receiver Derrick Hagan, taken in the third round of the 2006 NFL Draft, should give Dante Culpepper another weapon in the open field. The Dolphins did a lot to improve in the early NFL free agent market and this draft, while limited in picks, was adequate to filling out positional needs.
2006 NFL Draft Grade: B-
Buffalo Bills- Marv Levy apparently hasn’t watched much college football in the past decade because his selections in the 2006 NFL Draft do not appear to be very well informed. Safety Donte Whitner, the eight overall selection in the 2006 NFL Draft, was a pick from out of nowhere and several more qualified defensive backs were available at that spot. Their second pick, defensive tackle John McCargo with the 26th pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, was adequate but underwhelming considering some of the other names on the board at that time (Mathias Kiwanuka, Nick Mangold, Kelly Jennings, etc.). However, the Bills redeemed their first round failures with some good value picks in the third round of the 2006 NFL Draft (cornerback Ashton Youbouty) and the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft (safety Ko Simpson). However, Levy should not be exonerated for failing to use two first round picks in the 2006 NFL Draft in order to fill pressing needs with good players.
2006 NFL Draft grade: D+
2006 NFL Draft Division Winner- The New York Jets did a great job in the 2006 NFL Draft by getting terrific lineman in the first round and a good mix of polished players and projects in the rest of the draft.