Draft Trends: AFC East
The National Football Post Draft Trends series began last Friday with an in-depth look at the New York Giants. Today, we’re breaking down the AFC East.
Note: This is a team by team study based on NFL Draft results from 2001-2010.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (14-2, first in AFC East)
Head Coach: Bill Belichick (12th season)
2011 Draft Picks: 9 (1.17, 1.28, 2.1, 2.28, 3.10, 3.28, 4.28, 5.28, 6.24)
Total Selections Since 2001: 92 (47 on offense, 45 on defense)
The Patriots have used six of their last nine first-round picks on defenders, addressing virtually every defensive position in the process. Take note that New England did not have a first-round selection in 2009 (traded down).
Over the last decade, Bill Belichick has selected just one offensive lineman (Logan Mankins, 2005) and zero wide receivers in the first round. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned about the Patriots since 2001, it’s that you never know what they’re going to do come draft day. Trading down and stocking up is a front office favorite, but take note that this team has drafted nine different positions with their last nine first-round picks.
Good luck trying to predict what these guys are going to do.
Since 2001, New England has used 10.9% of their 92 draft picks on defensive tackles, which is tops for any position. 16 selections (17.4%) have been used on both offensive linemen and a combination of cornerbacks and other defensive backs.
Here’s how the Patriots’ selections break down by position:
1. The Patriots have had eight or more draft picks in seven of the last ten drafts. To put that in perspective, as of the current moment only seven NFL teams have eight or more picks in this year’s draft.
ICONBelichick's system has led to three Super Bowl wins.
2. From 2001-2007, New England drafted only one linebacker prior to the start of the sixth round (Ryan Claridge, UNLV, 5th round, 2005). However, over the past three years, the Patriots have selected five linebackers within the first three rounds, including first-round pick Jerod Mayo (Tennessee) in 2008.
3. Since drafting Laurence Maroney in the first round back in 2006, the Patriots have used only one selection on the running back position (Justise Hairston, Central Connecticut State, 6th round, 2007) over the last four years.
4. Despite drafting ten defensive tackles/nose tackles over the last ten years, only three of those players have been selected within the first 100 draft picks. Side Note: The Patriots have targeted the wide receiver position (5 players) more than anything else within the first 100 picks since 2001.
5. Since 2001, the Patriots have only drafted two offensive tackles (Matt Light, Sebastian Vollmer) prior to the start of the third round.
NEW YORK JETS (11-5, second in AFC East)
Head Coach: Rex Ryan (3rd season)
2011 Draft Picks: 6 (1.30, 3.30, 4.29, 5.30, 6.29, 7.5)
Total Selections Since 2001: 63 (35 on offense, 28 on defense)
With ten first-round picks over the last ten years, the Jets have done an interesting job spreading the wealth across their roster. Six selections have been used on defense at virtually every position while four picks have been delegated to the offensive side of the ball.
Since 2001, the Jets have used 35 of their 63 draft picks on offensive players (55.5%) with 16 of those selections (25.4%) going to the running back and offensive tackle positions. New York has actually used the same amount of picks on offensive tackles (8) as they have on defensive ends (3) and defensive tackles (5) combined.
Here’s how the Jets’ selections break down by position:
1. Since former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan took over as head coach in 2009, the Jets have spent six of their seven draft picks on the offensive side of the football. Cornerback Kyle Wilson (Boise State, 2010) is the only defensive player Ryan has drafted.
2. New York has selected six or fewer players in six of the last ten drafts. Over the past three years, the Jets have had only two picks in the second and third rounds combined. Meanwhile, the Patriots have had a grand total of 13 combined picks in the second and third rounds during that same time span.
3. Over the last ten years, the Jets have selected only one wide receiver within the first 100 draft picks (Santana Moss, 2001).
4. Over the last ten years, the Jets have selected only one defensive end within the first 100 draft picks (Bryan Thomas, 2002).
5. Since 2006, the Jets have used only one draft pick on a defensive lineman (Titus Adams, DT, Nebraska, 2006, 7th round).
MIAMI DOLPHINS (7-9, third in AFC East)
Head Coach: Tony Sparano (4th season)
2011 Draft Picks: 7 (1.15, 3.15, 4.14, 5.15, 6.14, 7.14, 7.15)
Total Selections Since 2001: 77 (40 on offense, 37 on defense)
Notice anything interesting regarding the first chart below? Apparently, the Dolphins are Big Ten fans, as five of their last eight first-round draft picks have come from that conference.
If you’re paying attention, you’ll also notice that Miami has repeatedly failed to find a replacement for Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, as the Dolphins have not used a single first-round pick on a quarterback since Marino retired in 1999. Over the past ten years, the team has passed up the chance to draft Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Schaub and Drew Brees.
Since 2001, the Dolphins have used 15 draft picks (19.5%) on a combination of running backs and wide receivers and another 15 selections on linebackers. In addition, over the last ten years Miami has drafted just as many tight ends (3) and centers (3) as they have quarterbacks (3).
Here’s how the Dolphins’ selections break down by position:
1. The Dolphins have possessed eight or more draft picks in each of the last four years.
Will the Dolphins ever find a replacement for Dan Marino?
2. Since 2001, the Dolphins have never selected a defensive tackle within the first 100 draft picks.
3. Over the last ten years, the Dolphins have used their final draft pick on a defensive player eight times, with five of those selections being spent on linebackers.
4. Despite using eight draft picks on wide receivers over the last ten years, only Ted Ginn (first round, 2007) and Chris Chambers (second round, 2001) were selected prior to the third round.
5. Last year, the Dolphins used seven of their eight draft picks on defensive players. Miami finished the 2010 season ranked 30th in the NFL in scoring offense (17.1 pts/gm) and 21st in total offense (323.1 yds/gm).
BUFFALO BILLS (4-12, last in AFC East)
Head Coach: Chan Gailey (2nd season)
2011 Draft Picks: 8 (1.3, 2.2, 3.4, 4.3, 4.25, 5.2, 6.4, 7.3)
Total Selections Since 2001: 84 (43 on offense, 41 on defense)
While several NFL teams feel that the running back position can be addressed in the later rounds for a better value, the Bills apparently live by a different standard. Buffalo has used three of their last 12 first-round selections on running backs. Take note that two of those players (Willis McGahee, Marshawn Lynch) are no longer with the team.
What’s even more interesting is that 2010 first-round pick C.J. Spiller spent his rookie season backing up Fred Jackson, who went undrafted in 2006.
Buffalo has done a nice job stocking up on draft picks over the past decade. The Bills have drafted nine or more players five times over the last ten years, with the wide receiver and running back positions accounting for 22.6% of their selections.
However, for a team that never really found a replacement for Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, the Bills have only used three picks on quarterbacks in the last ten years.
Here's how the Bills' selections break down by position:
1. Paul Posluszny (second round, 2007) and Angelo Crowell (third round, 2003) are the only linebackers the Bills have selected prior to the fourth round in the last ten years.
2. The Bills have drafted at least one wide receiver in seven of the last ten drafts.
3. Over the last ten years, the Bills have only used four selections on offensive linemen within the first 100 picks of the draft.
4. However, six of the seven defensive ends the Bills have drafted since 2001 have been selected within the first 100 picks.
5. Buffalo hasn’t selected an offensive tackle prior to the fifth round since the team drafted Mike Williams (Texas, first round) back in 2002.
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