Draft Grades

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Divsional draft recap: AFC East

The Dolphins and Bills -- with ten and nine draft picks respectively -- went a long way toward improving their teams at positions of need. For the second straight year, the Patriots drafted defenders with four of their first five picks, including a linebacker in Jerod Mayo with the 10th pick -- something Bill Belichick has never done in his time with New England. The Jets banked on Vernon Gholston's talent in the first round, then took offensive players with four of their next five picks.

Safest pick: OT, Jake Long (Dolphins). Before you find your franchise quarterback you have to build an offensive line that will be able to protect him. Long's natural ability, combined with his maturity and work ethic, make him as safe a pick as they come for Bill Parcells.

Riskiest pick: CB, Leodis McKelvin (Bills). With a pressing need at receiver, Buffalo went with a talented cornerback -- albeit one from a small school in Troy -- with their first-round pick, gambling that an elite receiver would be available in the second round. When no wideouts were taken in the first round, Buffalo looked to be in good shape. However, three receivers were drafted before the Bills selected in the second round, leaving them to select Indiana's James Hardy with the 41st pick.

Best Day 2 value: LB, Shawn Crable (Patriots). New England was reportedly prepared to take the former Michigan linebacker with the 69th overall pick, when the Chargers swooped in with a trade offer that was apparently too good to pass up. To their surprise, Crable was still around when the Patriots drafted at 78, plus New England netted San Diego's second-rounder in 2009.

AFC East draft recaps

The loss of Pro Bowler Asante Samuel and veteran Randall Gay created a need at the cornerback position. To address that situation, the Patriots drafted Terrence Wheatley in the second round. First-round pick Jerod Mayo and third-rounder Shawn Crable give the team a pair of young linebackers who can eventually replace the aging Junior Seau and Tedy Bruschi. New England also has some concerns on the offensive line and at safety, but did not address those areas in the draft.
Patriots' complete draft

Tackle Jake Long answers the most pressing concern on the offensive line, but there were other numerous issues for a team that finished 1-15. Quarterback Chad Henne comes into a situation where he'll push veteran Josh McCown and last year's second-round pick John Beck for the starting job. Defensive end Philip Merling is there if the team trades Jason Taylor, but also provides an upgrade over Matt Roth. The team has lost receivers Marty Booker and Chris Chambers over the past year, but did not take a player to upgrade that position.
Miami's complete draft

Cornerback Leodis McKelvin is a suitable replacement for Nate Clements, whom the Bills lost last year in free agency. Having lost two tight ends to the open market, the Bills had a major need at the position and took Derek Fine in the fourth round. James Hardy provides a valuable target for quarterback Trent Edwards and a complement for speedster Lee Evans.

With Thomas Jones entering his 10th season and coming off a year that saw him average fewer yards per carry than he had since his second season, running back was one of the Jets' biggest needs. But the Raiders' selection of Darren McFadden pushed the Jets to select Vernon Gholston, which drew cheers from the local fans at Radio City Music Hall. There was talk about a quarterback, and the Jets took a chance on Erik Ainge in the fifth round.
New York's complete draft

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