Writers sockonfl and Consigliere will provide a division-by-division look at NFL Teams leading up to the 2010 NFL Draft. The articles will focus on teams’ strengths, weaknesses and draft needs. Consigliere already wrote one for the NFC North. — Ed.
Here is a look at how each team in the AFC East currently shapes up prior to the NFL Draft.
New England Patriots
Tom Brady: He is still one of the best in the business at his position. Many people feel he had a disappointing season last year. That’s only because it was not realistic to expect another 50 TD season. Those are once-in-a-career seasons. Brady still posted the second best fantasy season of his career despite the fact he started the year slowly. He was still getting used to moving around on his previously injured knee. Brady is still a top 5 QB without a doubt.
Laurence Maroney, Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris, and Kevin Faulk: The ultimate RBBC is in New England. For how much these carries are spread out among the 4 of them, I am not sure any of them are really fantasy relevant. They should be used in your fantasy lineup in case of injury only.
Randy Moss: Moss still posted decent numbers last year despite playing with a separated shoulder for most of the season. I give him a lot of credit for playing through the pain for the first time in his career for the benefit of the team. Moss is in the final year of his deal with New England and rumor has it he will not be resigned by the Patriots. Look for the star receiver to put his best effort forth and have a big 2010 season as he realizes this may be his final shot at achieving that elusive championship ring.
Wes Welker/Julian Edelman: I put these 2 in the same category because they are pretty much interchangeable in the Patriot offense. Edelman should see a lot of the action early on during the season while Welker recovers from his injured knee. Welker will resume his starting role once the doctors give him a clean bill of health.
Alge Crumpler: Crumpler was recently signed by New England. They will quickly find out that he is now pretty much a blocking TE and no longer the big receiving threat he used to be in Atlanta. A Ben Watson he is not. Brady will miss Watson especially in red zone situations. Look for more TDs to go Moss’s way because of this.
Tim Tebow has been in Patriots facilities for private workouts. The Florida product is a possibility with one of the many second round picks that New England has. Tebow could mentor under Tom Brady for a few seasons and then be the eventual successor when the time comes.
The Patriots could also be looking for a receiving TE. Oklahoma’s Jermaine Gresham would be awesome for them at their first pick if he makes it that far. Otherwise I would see them being attracted to Florida’s Aaron Hernandez in the later rounds of the draft.
New York Jets
Mark Sanchez: Looks like the Jets may have a decent developing QB in Sanchez. He seemed to mature as a player the longer the season progressed. After only playing a season and change in college, he played about as well as one could expect him to play. His continued maturation is the key to getting the Jets over the hump and being legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
Shonn Greene: Greene showed down the stretch of the season and once again in the playoffs that he can handle the bulk of the carries for the team. He is a power runner that puts me to the mind of Michael Turner. He should be a force behind that awesome offensive line that the Jets have put together.
LaDainian Tomlinson: LT2 comes in to serve as a complimentary back and most likely play on most receiving down situations. I am not sure he has much left in the tank after his dismal 3.3 YPC season a year ago. He still remains a force down by the goal line however.
Leon Washington: Leon is recovering from the broken leg he suffered from a year ago. I think the Jets brass want him to focus solely on the return game in 2010. They may sprinkle him in on some running plays, but look for Greene and LT2 to get the bulk of the work.
Braylon Edwards: Edwards played well in spurts during the course of the 2009 season with the Jets. The Jet brass hopes that he returns to the form he had with Cleveland the year he posted 16 receiving TDs.
Jerricho Cotchery: Cotchery is a nice possession type receiver in the offense. He has found a niche with Sanchez and plays well together with him. Cotchery will be a fixture in the receiving corp for several more seasons.
Dustin Keller: Keller was another spurty type player in 2009. Some of that can be attributed to inconsistent QB play in Sanchez’s rookie season. Once Sanchez matures, Keller may become one of the better TE options in the league. Do you hear that all you dynasty league owners?
The only upgrade the Jets may look for on offense is possibly another WR. I look for them to address some needs on defense such as safety and defensive tackle before they address any offensive issues however.
Chad Henne: Henne is one of my personal favorites who I believe will be a solid NFL QB once he has some quality targets to throw the ball to. I can remember far too many times how he led last-minute drives to beat my Penn State Nittany Lions several times in his career. Now he is still the QB of my Jets arch nemesis. What irony?
Ronnie Brown: I am not sure how many times I have to say this about Ronnie Brown. He is a fantasy stud for part of the season and then gets injured and misses the remainder of the season. Seriously, I cannot remember this guy being the lead dog RB for this team for a full season ever. Ride him early on in the season, but at some point, make a move to acquire Ricky Williams.
Ricky Williams: Ricky played admirably well in place of Brown later in the season. He is a nice back to stash away for the fantasy playoff run.
Davone Bess: Bess became the go-to target of Henne late in the 2009 season. He really is better suited as a complimentary receiver than the go-to guy, but he is the best the Dolphins have at this time.
Brian Hartline: Hartline saw much more playing time when the Dolphins decided to make Ted Ginn a return specialist only. He was OK, but I am sure the team could do better at the position.
Anthony Fasano: Fasano’s numbers regressed under Henne. The more experienced Pennington was able to find him open on more occasions. Once Henne matures as a QB, he will go through the progressions better and find Fasano.
This team is in desperate need of a play-making wide receiver. I am sure Parcells knows this and will address the issue with the first round pick this year. Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant and Georgia Tech’s Demaryius Thomas are distinct possibilities to look for here come draft day.
Trent Edwards: I guess you could say Trent Edwards is the starter based on people currently on the roster. He was supposed to be a great sleeper QB last year when the Bills acquired TO. He certainly was a sleeper and remained asleep for the entire season.
Fred Jackson: Right now it is safe to say that Jackson has emerged more as the lead back now for the Bills. He isn’t a bad fantasy selection. You just have to remember he will share some time with Lynch in the backfield and will never be a bell cow runner.
Marshawn Lynch: Here’s a guy that has fallen flat on his face after having a promising start to his career. Maybe somehow he can get the courage to resuscitate his dying career. I have my doubts on that though.
Lee Evans: Evans takes back over as the No. 1 WR now that TO is gone. He may not be a bad option in PPR leagues for 2010 as the rookie QB that takes over will probably use him as his security blanket for the season.
James Hardy/Steve Johnson: These two will have a training camp battle for the No. 2 WR position. My bet is that Steve Johnson wins this battle because he has seemed to earn more respect of the Bills brass than Hardy has.
Shawn Nelson: The team cut the oft-injured Derek Fine, clearing the way for Nelson to become the full-time TE. He is tall and could be a nice receiving option in the middle of the field for the team’s new QB.
As you can tell by most comments, this team needs to address the QB situation this season. To be honest though the offensive line might be in more of a shambles and needs to be addressed with the first round pick this year. That would possibly leave Texas’ Colt McCoy or Florida’s Tim Tebow as the team’s option at QB in round 2. The team could also address the WR position as Evans is starting to age and Hardy and Johnson are far from proven commodities at this point.