Now that the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft is complete, the early evaluations are beginning to roll in. The teams of the AFC East were active on Thursday night -- both Miami and Buffalo were involved in trades -- but every pick left some doubts among the experts. Did Miami and Buffalo reach for their respective selections? Did the Jets really need another interior defensive lineman? Those and other questions were raised once the picks were made.
Below, we'll look at the draft grades for each selection from a few experts.
Miami Dolphins, No. 3 overall: LB/DE Dion Jordan, Oregon
The Dolphins made an aggressive move to grab Jordan, trading up from No. 12 to get a player they feel will be a significant part of their defense for years to come. The pick came as an early surprise; many thought the Dolphins were making that move up to take an offensive tackle. Instead, general manager Jeff Ireland decided to strengthen a defense that was not good in 2012. Jordan has drawn comparisons to former Miami great Jason Taylor, and if he lives up to that billing, the Dolphins will be more than vindicated for what at the time appeared to some as a questionable selection.
New York Jets, No. 9 overall: CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
New York traded corner Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers less than a week ago and decided to address that hole with their first pick. Milliner may have been the best cornerback prospect in the draft, but some experts, and Pete Prisco in particular, consider this far from a home run for the Jets. Jets blog Gang Green Nation is taking a cautious approach to evaluating the choice, but worries about what it says about the franchise's plan, or lack thereof, for building another playoff team:
In a macro sense, this just further confirms the idea that the Jets don't have any coherent vision for building this team. They traded the best cornerback in the league. This opened up such a hole that they felt compelled to use their most valuable asset to take a player that one day they hope might be 80% as good. If there's logic behind the way the Jets are operating, they are doing a heck of a job hiding it.
Milliner had 54 tackles for the Crimson Tide in 2012, as well as a pair of interceptions.
New York Jets, No. 13 overall: DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
The Jets used the draft pick they received in the Revis trade to further strengthen their defense, and Richardson represents the third defensive lineman that they've drafted in the first round in as many years. That's also why the Jets' decision to go with Richardson was surprising to some -- the question of where he'll fit into the defense is one that will linger for a while. Opinions within the fan base appear to be mixed, but this is not an uncommon viewpoint:
Where exactly is Richardson going to play? Was he so much better than everybody else on the board that you make a luxury pick at the one spot on the field you have top young talent instead of addressing a position of need with Jarvis Jones or Star Lotulelei let alone the offense?
Richardson finished last season with 10.5 tackles for loss, including four sacks.
Buffalo Bills, No. 16 overall: QB EJ Manuel, Florida State
The first quarterback off the board wasn't West Virginia's Geno Smith, who ended up being passed over altogether in the first round. It was EJ Manuel, a multi-year starter from Florida State. The selection raised plenty of eyebrows among draft experts when it was made, as most expected Manuel to go quite a bit later in the draft. Not surprisingly, the grades aren't kind -- Prisco gave the Bills his only F-grade of the round. But as Buffalo Rumblings pointed out afterward, the Bills nabbed the guy they wanted all along, which is the important thing at this point:
The only thing that matters is this: the Bills took the top-rated quarterback on their board - we know that for certain - and they need to be right about it. They got "their guy"; they took a quarterback in which they had some conviction about his skills and potential. It is a critical moment in franchise history, and one that should be judged on performance, and performance alone. Words like "reach" no longer apply. All that matters is that the Bills hit on the pick. That work starts soon.
Manuel completed 68 percent of his throws during his senior season for 3,392 yards, 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.