Judging the NFC East Draft

With little football to look forward to until the lockout is finally over, it is now time to obsess endlessly about the quality of the draft choices of each team. I took a few moments to jot down my thoughts about the NFC East and how well they addressed their needs in this draft.

New York Giants

I don’t fault the Giants for taking Prince Amukamara in the first round despite the cornerback position not being a top need heading onto this draft. This is a big time player that they snatched up at a bargain with the 19th pick. Marvin Austin is also a strong player, though I am worried about his character issues, so I can’t get overly excited about this choice until I see him working hard and committing himself to the team.

Overall, I am extremely disappointed that the Giants did not address their obvious needs on the o-line. They took James Brewer at a bargain in the fourth round, but I do not believe this is enough to help their ancient line. I also do not see Jerrel Jernigan as much help for Eli, who prefers tall receivers. However, the Giants could use him as a kick returner and underneath. He will not help the Giants downfield, but I think the return of Steve Smith and an added years experience for Manningham and Nixon should take care of that problem. Assuming, of course, that Eli has enough protection at the line to let his receivers get downfield.

(All charts with additional information can be found here.)

Round Pick Player Position School
1 19 (19) Prince Amukamara CB Nebraska
2 20 (52) Marvin Austin DT North Carolina
3 19 (83) Jerrel Jernigan WR Troy University
4 20 (117) James Brewer T Indiana
6 20 (185) Greg Jones ILB Michigan State
6 33 (198) * Tyler Sash S Iowa
6 37 (202) * Jacquian Williams LB South Florida
7 19 (221) Da’Rel Scott RB Maryland

* – Compensatory pick | # – Supplemental pick

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys are clearly still traumatized by the loss of Tony Romo last season (do I really need to remind you which defense broke his collar bone?). They used three of their draft picks on offensive linemen which should help eliminate some of the big hits this unit has surrendered in recent years. They also added a couple of weapons for Romo with a running back, full back and another wide receiver. I especially like the Dwayne Harris pick because he can be a kick returner. I always thought it foolish of the Cowboys to put Dez Bryant in this role. He was scary good returning kicks but was too valuable a player to expose to injury.

Overall I think the Cowboys did a decent job of addressing their needs on offense, but I am surprised this was their focus considering the defense was their weakest unit last season. This is especially surprising given the strong class of defensive players that were available to them. There will be plenty of holes for the Giants to pick apart this season.

Round Pick Player Position School
1 9 (9) Tyron Smith T USC
2 8 (40) Bruce Carter OLB North Carolina
3 7 (71) DeMarco Murray RB Oklahoma
4 13 (110) David Arkin G Missouri State
5 12 (143) Josh Thomas CB Buffalo
6 11 (176) Dwayne Harris WR East Carolina
7 18 (220) Shaun Chapas FB Georgia
7 51 (252) * Bill Nagy G Wisconsin

* – Compensatory pick | # – Supplemental pick

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles had a strong draft weekend by addressing several needs. But when you have 11 picks to play with, it’s easy to hit several problem areas. They picked up a center and a couple of guards to help protect Michael Vick, who is by far their strongest weapon and in need of better protection. They also addressed their problems in the backfield by taking Curtis Marsh and Casey Matthews. Despite their strong season overall, the defense did not do much to help. None of these are positives for the Giants, who had enough trouble getting to Vick last season without new talent.

The only pick that makes no sense to me is place kicker Alex Henery in the fourth round. I know he is a strong prospect for this position, but fourth round money seems a little rich to me, especially since they still have the talented, albeit aging, David Akers. Now they have little choice but to bid farewell to Akers after this investment. But given his terrible performance against the Packers during the playoffs, I doubt too many fans will be sad to see him go.

Round Pick Player Position School
1 23 (23) Danny Watkins G Baylor
2 22 (54) Jaiquawn Jarrett S Temple
3 26 (90) Curtis Marsh CB Utah State
4 19 (116) Casey Matthews ILB Oregon
4 23 (120) Alex Henery PK Nebraska
5 18 (149) Dion Lewis RB Pittsburgh
5 30 (161) Julian Vandervelde G Iowa
6 26 (191) Jason Kelce C Cincinnati
6 28 (193) Brian Rolle OLB Ohio State
7 36 (237) * Greg Lloyd ILB Connecticut
7 39 (240) * Stanley Havili FB USC

* – Compensatory pick | # – Supplemental pick

Washington Redskins

Like the Eagles, the Redskins had a lot of picks to play with, 12 this time, and used them to address many of their needs. They started heavy on defense with two key players, then worked on providing offensive weapons, drafting three wide receivers and a running back. They only took one guard to help out on the o-line, but given how horrible their defense was and how few weapons McNabb had to rely on, I think their focus was spot on.

The only glaring position they did not draft is a quarterback, which was a surprise to me given how little Shanahan seems to think of McNabb. If they can’t unload him in the offseason, I would guess there will be a competition for the starting role between him and Grossman, with the latter more likely to win given his coach’s seemingly lesser of two evils mentality when it comes to these two guys. But then again, if the rookies can perform as well as is hoped, McNabb might be given new life. Stranger things have happened!

Round Pick Player Position School
1 16 (16) Ryan Kerrigan DE Purdue
2 9 (41) Jarvis Jenkins DT Clemson
3 15 (79) Leonard Hankerson WR Miami-Fl
4 8 (105) Roy Helu RB Nebraska
5 15 (146) DeJon Gomes CB Nebraska
5 24 (155) Niles Paul WR Nebraska
6 12 (177) Evan Royster RB Penn State
6 13 (178) Aldrick Robinson WR SMU
7 11 (213) Brandyn Thompson CB Boise State
7 15 (217) Maurice Hurt G Florida
7 22 (224) Markus White DE Florida State
7 52 (253) * Chris Neild DT West Virginia

* – Compensatory pick | # – Supplemental pick

Overall, I think the Eagles did the best job of addressing their needs and making themselves more of a threat this season. Although Washington did at least as well at hitting most of their problem areas, they have more issues than can be solved in one draft. They are, rightfully so, in a rebuilding phase and I expect them to become more dangerous in a few years. The Cowboys rank last in this group, completely ignoring several problem areas and leaving themselves open to another disappointing season.

The Giants, meanwhile, had a good draft but I was expecting more out of Jerry Reese. Normally I would be less worried about his choices, but with the lockout and current lack of free agency, I am concerned that there are too many holes to overcome, and this team will once again underachieve down the stretch. Then again, he has never drafted in the hopes of receiving immediate praise and choosing instead to let his rookies do the talking for him. Here’s hoping!

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