Kiper's Summer Audits: AFC East
Breaking down the offseason and needs of each AFC East team
Every summer, with the NFL draft and free agency in the rearview mirror, I take a look at each team. What did it accomplish in terms of added personnel? How did its draft fill holes? What voids remain? Let's jump around the league, addressing three things for each team:
• Help added: What has the team done this offseason to improve its prospects. Given my greatest area of expertise, I put a particular emphasis on the draft.
• Questions that remain: A look at what voids must be filled.
• Next year's help, now: With an eye toward next year's draft class, what player from 2013 could seemingly help the team in 2012? This is meant to be hypothetical, a quick look at prospects to keep an eye on.
Here is the version for the AFC East:
Help added: It's a proven fact that if you want to build a championship team in the NFL, it has to start with the draft. Look at the personnel makeup of any of the best teams and you'll see a massive ratio of its talent came aboard via the draft. This isn't groundbreaking, but I bring it up because of the addition of Mario Williams in free agency. So often, teams add free agents looking for a fix and end up disappointed. In this case, Williams might be a perfect fit.
It's not merely because of what he brings to the defense as it goes to more of a base 4-3 system but because of what that could do for last year's top pick, Marcell Dareus. With Mario and Kyle Williams flanking him, Dareus could become a star. Don't forget about Mark Anderson, who picked up 10 sacks last season and will line up opposite Williams at right defensive end. The Bills' defensive line has been elevated and is now one of the top lines in football, a year after it was 25th in the NFL in sack percentage.
The Bills did well in the draft. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore is an immediate starter. I don't agree with Buddy Nix that second-round pick Cordy Glenn profiles as a potential NFL left tackle, but he could be outstanding on the right side. Erik Pears is penciled in at right tackle, but I'm interested to see how the depth chart looks coming out of camp. The Bills could also have some late steals. Tackle Zebrie Sanders could become a starter if he develops, and Ron Brooks could be a starting slot corner after being overshadowed at LSU. It's hard to find a team that had a better offseason than Buffalo.
For the full AFC East breakdown from Mel Kiper, including picks for next year's draft, you must be an ESPN Insider.
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