NFC East Draft Preview
NFC East Draft Preview
The 2017 NFL Draft is almost upon us! Here is a look at the teams of the NFC East.
The Cowboys surprised a lot of people when they finished 2016 at 13-3, tying their franchise record for regular season wins. They won the NFC East and made the playoffs for the second time in three years. Rookies Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott solidified themselves as the future of the franchise. The team said goodbye to Tony Romo and embraced the new-look Cowboys. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli was the true star of the season. He took an under-talented defense and found a way to get the best out of each player. Eight different Cowboys defenders logged an interception and the team forced 19 fumbles, recovering 11 of those. The Cowboys remade themselves in 2016 and hope to continue the upward trend in 2017
Notable 2017 additions
CB Nolan Carroll
RT Byron Bell
DE Stephen Paea,
Paea could end up being the best free agency move the Cowboys made. For the last two years he has been miscast as a five-technique, but will be able to play the nose and under tackle positions which are a more natural fit for him. Noland Carol is a solid #2 corner and adds depth to a thin secondary. It also helps that he is coming from the Eagles and is familiar with divisional opponents. Byron Bell will help replace the retired Doug Free.
The Cowboys lost both starting safeties to free agency. Byron Jones will fill one of those spots, but the other will need to be addressed in the draft. Dallas also needs help at cornerback and will probably spend an early pick to secure a starter. The team added Paea and Moore but will most likely still seek to add an edge rusher via the draft. Jason Witten is not getting any younger and this draft has some very good tight ends. It’s unclear if 2016 second-round pick LB Jaylon Smith will make a full recovery from a serious knee injury so the team may be in the market for a linebacker to play next to Sean Lee. Kick returner and running back depth are also needs.
The team has seven picks in the draft with picks 28, 60 and 92 in the first three rounds.
New York Giants
The 2016 Giants finished with a 11-5 record, their first wining season since 2012. They beat the NFC East champion Cowboys twice and earned a playoff spot, but were destroyed by the Packers 38-13 in the wild card round. This led many people to question whether the Giants had overachieved in the regular season, or underachieved in the postseason. It was Ben McAdoo’s first year as head coach and there were a lot of question marks going into the season with a lot of new pieces on the roster. McAdoo also had a lot of drama to deal with in his first year- Josh Brown’s history of domestic violence was uncovered, the receiver corp’s party cruise scandal and OBJ’s ridiculous and childish behavior. He handled the adversity well. There were a lot of bright spots in 2016 in the form of young players that showed good development. The Giants appear to be a good team with a good core of young players, but there are still a lot of question marks.
Notable 2017 additions
TE Rhett Ellison
WR Brandon Marshall
G D.J. Fluker
RB Shaun Draughn
Brandon Marshall had a down year for the Jets in 2016, but much of that can be attributed to poor QB play. Marshall still has (near) elite talent and the Giants are hoping he will make a nice compliment to OBJ (as long as their mental disorders don’t conflict). The Giants have been plagued with average TE play in recent years and have managed to add yet another average tight end to their roster in Rhett Ellison. 6-foot-5, 339lb D.J. Fluker comes to New York to compete for a starting position on the offensive line. Shaun Draughn has played for just about every team in the league and is making a stop in NY. He is a capable runner and good pass catcher and can add veteran depth to the roster.
The Gmen have most of their offensive line locked up for just one more year. Infusing young talent this year will be a priority. This draft class is largely considered to be weak at offensive line, especially at tackle, but the Giants may be forced to take some chances. The team needs a playmaker at TE. The team has most of its linebacker corps on contract for just one more year. The team’s reliance on nickel defense requires them to have athletic linebackers so they will probably take a linebacker in this draft. The Giants need more depth and rotational pieces on the defensive line so look for them to add an edge rusher and/or interior lineman.
The team has seven picks in the draft with picks 23, 55, and 87 in the first three rounds.
2016 was Doug Peterson’s first year as head coach and he went into the season with rookie Carson Wentz as the starting quarterback. After a 3-0 start, the team lost nine of their final 13 games and missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season. Wentz set an NFL rookie record with 379 completions (on 607 attempts for 3,782 yards, 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions and a 79.3 passer rating). Peterson stuck with the rookie throughout they year and laid a foundation to build on. RT Lane Johnson missed ten games and the offense certainly missed him. The team was 5-1 with Johnson in the lineup. It was a frustrating season that saw a lot of winnable games turn into losses. The NFC East began to return to its former glory in 2016, but the Eagles just couldn’t seem to keep up. Peterson never lost the locker room and managed to redeem his rookie campaign with a couple of wins late in the season.
Notable 2017 additions
WR Torrey Smith, Alshon Jeffery
QB Nick Foles, Matt McGloin
DE Chris Long
G Chance Warmack
CB Patrick Robinson
Alshon Jeffery is a great talent and a huge upgrade for Wentz, but he comes to Philly with a long history of injuries. Torrey Smith is forever the underachiever, but he is a veteran with elite speed. Chance Warmack was a #10 overall selection in 2013. He has turned out to be only slightly above average but will look to turn the corner with a fresh start in Philly. Veteran Chris Long will help the Eagles get pressure on the quarterback- a must in Jim Schwatz’s system. Foles and McGloin will add depth and act as mentors for Wentz. Robinson was a cheap addition that could end up contributing a lot in a depleted secondary.
Starting CBs Leodis McKelvin and Noland Carroll are both gone. Robinson can help, but the position group needs to be rebuilt. Ryan Matthew isn’t expected back and Darren Sproles has to be getting near the end of his career. The Eagles will need to spend an early pick and get a talented starter at running back. The team had just 37 sacks last year and will need to infuse more talent along the defensive line. The team could also use depth at linebacker and wide receiver.
The team has seven picks in the draft with picks 15, 43 and 74 in the first three rounds.
The Redskins finish the 2016 season with a record of 8-7-1. It was the first time the franchise had consecutive winning seasons since the 1996 -1997 seasons. The Skins had a chance to clinch a wild card spot, but instead the team sputtered and imploded at end of the season. Not to be outdone by the team, the upper management- in classic Redskins fashion- fired the first real general manager the organization has had in decades. Was Scot McCloughan drunk? Did his grandmother really die? Is Bruce Allen a back stabbing, power hungry prick? Nobody knows. At least the 2017 free agency period didn’t see the Skins waste tens of millions of dollars on a multi-year deal for an over-the-hill splash free agent. (am I too bitter?)
Notable 2017 additions
DT Stacy McGee
DT Terrell McClain
SS D.J. Swearinger
WR Terrelle Pryor
ILB Zack Brown
Replacing Djax and Garçon is a tall order, but signing Pryor is a really good start. The former quarterback’s natural athleticism is elite and he has shown that he can be very effective as a receiver. McClain is an underrated, athletic defensive tackle that will be able to immediately contribute at nose. He’s not big, but he is quick and can leverage well. The Skins overpaid for McGee (5 years, $25M), but the run defense was gashed on the ground last year and McGee will be a much needed rotational run stopper. Zack Brown tallied 149 tackles last season, second only to Seattle’s Bobby Wagner. Brown is a good pass defender and will be able to start immediately and help a Washington defense that was terrible on third downs last year. D.J. Swearing is another player that should come in and immediately start.
Since 2010, the team has only drafted three defensive lineman, and two of those were in the fifth round or later. Addressing the line in free agency has been an expensive revolving door. It’s time for the franchise to spend an early pick on a defensive lineman. Brown is a great addition, but he’s on a one-year deal. LB has been a need for some time and there are a few in this draft that would be a good fit. Safety is still a need and this draft is deep with secondary talent. The offensive line needs more depth and the team will spend a late pick or two trying to hit on a lineman. I don’t think anybody considers Rob Kelly to be the answer at running back. I expect they will spend a mid-rounder or better on a RB. The team will also add WR depth at some point. If the fans had their say, the Skins would draft a new owner, too. (yes, I’m too bitter)
The team has ten picks in the draft with picks 17, 49 and 81 in the first three rounds.