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NFL draft preview: AFC and NFC East

The Dolphins are in search of another franchise quarterback, and Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill might be available with their No. 8 pick.

April 23, 2012|By Sam Farmer
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The draft will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday in New York. Times NFL writer Sam Farmer examines the needs for each team by division. Today, the East divisions:

AFC East

Yet again, the Dolphins are looking for their franchise quarterback. They have the eighth pick and might use it on Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill, providing he's still on the board. The team needs a receiver, too, since it traded Brandon Marshall. The right side of the offensive line is a work in progress, and the team is perpetually looking for pass rushers. Lots of holes on this team.

The Bills are stocked on the defensive line, having picked up Mario Williams and Mark Anderson in free agency. Now, Buffalo can turn its attention to protecting the blind side of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Left tackle Demetress Bell is gone, but Iowa's Riley Reiff should still be available. The club should be able to trade out of the 10th spot, as that's a coveted position.

Every year under Rex Ryan, the Jets have looked for a quality outside linebacker who can pressure the passer. There are some of those in this draft, and the Jets could land one at 16. Receiver is also a position of need, as the Jets need a top-shelf complement to Santonio Holmes. The team signed LaRon Landry, but another safety would be helpful.

The Patriots are thinking defense in this draft. With the pass rusher Anderson now in Buffalo, New England needs to find someone else who can put the squeeze on quarterbacks. The secondary has been a hodgepodge lately, and Bill Belichick will take a hard look at quality corners and safeties. The Patriots might also find a defensive tackle who can learn behind Vince Wilfork.

NFC East

The Redskins paid handsomely to trade up to No. 2 and move into position to take Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. The team will need to collect some big men to protect him, with several holes along their offensive line. The Redskins don't have a second-round pick, so they'll be lucky to find a safety to step in for the departed Landry or O.J. Atogwe.

Mark Barron is on the wish list of the Cowboys, but the Alabama safety might not be available when Dallas picks at 14. Dallas did well in drafting USC tackle Tyron Smith last season, and this year has a chance to augment some interior line positions. And how about some targets for Tony Romo now that Laurent Robinson and Martellus Bennett are gone?

There were rumblings that the Eagles were interested in Tannehill, but the team has a more pressing need at defensive tackle. Philadelphia has productive defensive ends in Trent Cole and Jason Babin but could improve on the interior of that line. At linebacker, the Eagles traded for a standout in the middle in DeMeco Ryans but can improve at the outside spots.

As Super Bowl champions, the Giants have the last pick in the first round. That might be a spot to grab Stanford tight end Coby Fleener, a player who no doubt would mesh well with Eli Manning. Of course, there are more pressing needs than tight end. The Giants could use a replacement for receiver Mario Manningham, and for running back Brandon Jacobs, as well as an offensive tackle.

sam.farmer@latimes.com

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