Over the past few days, we have gone over the Buffalo Bills' 2009 NFL Draft class pretty much ad nauseam - and given our favorite franchise a B+ for their efforts. Before we start digging deeper into the Bills' roster with our semi-annual 'State of the Roster' series, I thought it would be prudent to discuss three other draft classes relevant to Buffalo: those of our division rivals, the Dolphins, Patriots and Jets.
MIAMI DOLPHINS: B
The Dolphins brought in a total of nine rookies, including three first-day prospects. The only surprise, to me, was that of their nine selections, none of them came on the defensive line - particularly at nose tackle, where NT Jason Ferguson is rapidly approaching the close of his career. For now, it appears that Paul Soliai will continue to spell him at nose tackle - and considering the fact that this draft class was weak in the NT area, I guess it shouldn't be that much of a surprise. Outside of their top pick (see 'Worst pick' below), the Dolphins had a stellar draft, netting anywhere from three to five instant contributors.
Best pick: CB/FS Sean Smith, Utah
Where they got him - No. 61 overall - and what they could get out of him made this pick one of the better value selections on the first day of the draft. Smith is one of the more unique talents to emerge in this draft class, standing over 6'3" and possessing the ability to play either corner or safety. He's got good ball skills, and in Miami's defense, he has a chance to establish himself as a playmaker from the safety position right out of the gate.
Worst pick: CB Vontae Davis, Illinois
You can imagine my curiosity when the Dolphins, with the No. 25 overall pick, took a player that, in my opinion, was one of the most overrated in the draft. He's obviously got a lot of talent - but so does his brother Vernon. For a kid with his attitude and character risk, Miami probably isn't the best destination for him to grow as a player. He'll probably start next year and he's got some potential, but Tony Sparano has a battle on his hands to get Davis to where he needs to be as a teammate and a cornerback. I'd have taken Darius Butler; now he's in New England. Risky move, though it does have the potential to pay off in a big way.
Sleeper pick: WR Brian Hartline, Ohio State
Miami desperately needed help at WR, and they added two tall dudes with potential in the third and fourth rounds; Hartline was the fourth-rounder. He only had 21 catches in his last year at Ohio State and he's very raw. But he's tall (6'2"), long, and most importantly, he can help the Dolphins out in the red zone on jump ball situations - something the offense didn't have prior to last weekend. He's not going to be a fantasy monster or anything, but he's going to help Chad Pennington and the Dolphins' offense out in the red area.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: A-
loved hated New England's draft. Not just because of the players, either - they got some good ones, as they do every year. I just can't help but be impressed with irate at the way this team can move up and down the draft board at will, collecting future picks along the way. There are two reasons this team is competitive every year: Tom Brady (or, in last year's scenario, a weak schedule) and their steadfast approach to finding cheap, talented players in the draft, having them for a few years, and then trading them for more picks (see: Hobbs, Ellis). Stupid Patriots.
Best pick: CB Darius Butler, Connecticut
I thought he was the best corner in the draft. Naturally, I was happy when the Dolphins passed on him at 25, and pulling my hair out when the Pats took him with their third pick at No. 41. The Pats signed Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden during free agency and have a promising talent in Terrence Wheatley, but Butler is their best cornerback - right now.
Worst pick: OT Sebastian Vollmer, Houston
This pick was weird. I thought New England's offensive line was terrible last season, particularly at tackle. So naturally, it didn't surprise me to see the Pats take a tackle - it just surprised me which player they chose. Clearly, the Pats had Vollmer rated higher than UConn product William Beatty (who went two picks later to the Giants), but I don't see how Vollmer helps them this year. Tom Brady better be ready to throw the ball quickly... and, yeah, I'm gonna stop giving advice to Tom Brady now.
Sleeper pick: LB Tyrone McKenzie, South Florida
I was a big fan of McKenzie's entering draft weekend - he's an outstanding athlete with a good deal of potential. He'll work on the inside in New England - and the fact that he doesn't need to play right away is scary. Down the line, McKenzie could team with 2008 first-round pick Jerod Mayo to give the Pats one of the more devastating 3-4 ILB combos in the NFL. Sigh...
NEW YORK JETS: C+
This one should go quickly, as the Jets only had three picks (and one mega-trade, if you're keeping score).
Best pick: QB Mark Sanchez, USC
Unlike most Armchair Scouts this year, I was actually a fan of both Matt Stafford and Mark Sanchez - in particular Sanchez, who is now the toast of New York after becoming the Jets' new "Franchez" quarterback. (Yuck.) If Sanchez can have the same type of success that rookie quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco had last season, we're in trouble. But it's not going to be as easy for Sanchez as it was for last year's dynamic duo because those two had nearly triple the amount of playing experience as Sanchez does. There will be growing pains.
Worst pick: RB Shonn Greene, Iowa
After making one mega-trade to move up 12 spots in the first round, the Jets moved up to the top spot on day two to take... a third running back? The Jets had one of the better RB tandems in the league last year, featuring Thomas Jones and Leon Washington. Yes, both have contract issues they're trying to get addressed - but chances are good that both will play despite those issues. Greene just seemed like a luxury pick, particularly when the Jets have zero depth at the receiver position.
Sleeper pick: OG Matt Slauson, Nebraska
Slauson gets the nod by default as the Jets only picked three players... so he kind of had to be listed here. That doesn't mean I don't like the pick, though - Nebraska linemen are generally gritty players, and he's got experience on both sides of the line. He'll be a solid swing reserve for the Jets.