NFL Draft Needs in the NFC East: Free Agency Update
As teams get closer to the NFL Draft in April, we’ll continue our look at divisional needs moving forward. This time, it’s the NFC East.
For division champions, it’s difficult to always spot your own flaws. The success could lead a team to believe they are good where they stand.
Luckily for the Dallas Cowboys, they have Jerry Jones who has certainly proven he’s never stopping in his quest to improve his team.
For cellar dwellers like the Philadelphia Eagles, it’s all about getting better fast. Finding key players in the draft who can make immediate impacts is always the goal. In Philly’s case, it’s crucial.
No team is ever done adding talent, here’s where the NFC East teams need to focus their attention.
DALLAS COWBOYS (2016 Results: 13-3 — 1st in NFC East)
Show me a team who starts two guys they picked up in the draft at two of the most crucial positions, and normally I’d show you a team selecting high in the next draft as well.
Surprisingly, the Cowboys are not in this position.
We all know what happened there, and we aren’t here to dwell on the past. Moving forward, this team needs defense.
All three of the unrestricted free agents brought into “Big D” play on the defensive side of the ball. Two look to be good depth pieces for the defensive line, but cornerback Nolan Carroll will likely start.
Still, there’s work to be done, and picking 28th in the first round means there are some names they could be targeting.
On the offensive side of the ball, another wide receiver could be brought in for depth in the late second or third days.
Tight end should see an addition in the draft this year as well while the team looks to prepare for the eventual departure of veteran Jason Witten.
In order for Dallas to become true contenders for the Super Bowl, the defense needs a face lift.
NEW YORK GIANTS (2016 Results: 11-5 — 2nd in NFC East)
The Giants got things off with a bang as they signed veteran free-agent Brandon Marshall following his release from the Jets.
Considering they had cut Victor Cruz a short time before this, it came as a welcoming surprise for fans of the franchise, I’m sure.
This move allows the offense to focus elsewhere as they look to improve similarly to the way their defense did in 2016.
Leading into the draft, this team should be looking running back early and often.
While it’s unlikely top guys like Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook will be around, there’s a chance Christian McCaffrey is there at 23rd overall.
This move would put a versatile weapon in the backfield with Eli Manning as he looks for further opportunities to spread the ball around.
Too many times last season, the Giants got one dimensional, and it hurt them badly.
More weapons which the defense actually needs to protect against is a smart move.
This means David Njoku from the University of Miami (Florida) is a name to watch as well.
Will Tye doesn’t look like the kind of tight end defenses are going to gameplan against, and while Njoku won’t be as a rookie, he’s a real threat in the passing game.
In later rounds, this team should look to draft some offensive line help as they continue their efforts to sort it out.
If they feel passionately enough about the starting potential of a late first round offensive tackle, then we could see the trigger pulled on one of a handful of guys atop the position rankings there.
Either way, the offense should get the majority share of the draft picks, or the Giants should be contenders in this division moving forward.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (2016 Results: 7-9 / 4th in NFC East)
Not having to worry about whether or not your second-year quarterback will have passing options really helps take pressure off the process in general.
This isn’t to say the team won’t add someone they see promise in during the later rounds, though.
The need for this team on Carson Wentz’ side of the ball has to be running back.
Both Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook could be available when the Eagles come up on the board first with the 14th selection which they got from the Minnesota Vikings.
If so, then the team could find themselves a franchise running back to team up with Wentz and a suddenly good receiving corps.
Beyond this, the secondary and defensive lines could both use some more reinforcement, and the infusion of a young player with starting talent could really energize the group.
The Eagles will be an interesting team to watch once the season gets going, and I’d expect the schedule makers to put an early season match-up between this team and the Cowboys.
This draft is more important than others as it will be the catalyst to propel their young quarterback forward, or keep him grounded in the middle tier of NFL players.
Look for this team to be aggressive and go for playmakers in every round.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (2016 Results: 8-7-1 — 3rd in NFC East)
Third place in the NFC East might not sound impressive, but the Redskins will need a good draft to keep up with their rivals as they make moves to get even better.
In the middle of it, was since ousted general manager Scot McCloughan and the ensuing drama which came with his firing.
The team might appear on the surface to be burning like so many dumpsters before them.
However, the signings of Terrelle Pryor and Terrell McClain may help to balance out the tide a little bit.
Once the draft gets under way, this is a team which truly can select the best player available and improve their roster.
They have to find a running back somewhere, and if they’d figure out their quarterback situation, that would be great.
On the surface, the NFC East looks to be a two-horse race.
The Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants look like they’re on top, while the Eagles and Redskins claw for third.
However, there is talent throughout the division, so any team could be a contender.
In April, these teams will draft the next crop of rookies into their formations, and one or more of them could help define which team wears the crowns, and which return to the drawing board in 2018.
Which draft prospects do you like for your team? Let me know on Twitter, and share your thoughts on your team’s needs.