Guest blogger Blake Finney recaps on the draft for NFC East
The NFC East can never be considered under the radar on draft day; with Jerry Jones working making Draft Day headlines once again, a big trade up for a QB and some incredible value in the later rounds that could turn this laughing stock of a division into a serious player in 2016.
1 (4) Ezekiel Elliot, RB, Ohio State
2 (34) Jaylon Smith, OLB, Notre Dame
3 (67) Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska
4 (101) Charles Tapper, DE, Oklahoma
4 (135) Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State
6 (189) (From Oakland) Anthony Brown, CB, Purdue
6 (212) Kavon Frazier, SS, Central Michigan
6 (216) Darius Jackson, RB, Eastern Michigan
6 (217) Rico Gathers, TE, Baylor
The Cowboys made a huge statement of intent with the 4th overall pick by drafting arguably the best offensive player available in this year’s draft, Ezekiel Elliot out of Ohio State. “Zeke” flat out dominated at the college level averaging well over 6 yards per carry and 44 Rushing TDs throughout his 3 year College career as a true 3 down back that many have dubbed the next Adrian Peterson. If he lives up to his seemingly limitless potential, the Cowboys may be straight back in the race in the NFC East crown, with a similar run-heavy approach that won them the crown just 2 seasons ago with DeMarco Murray. Elliot projects to be superior to Murray, and will also help take the strain off of Romo and his gradually more fragile body.
In Jaylon Smith, Jerry Jones added yet another top 10 talent to the mix; however a serious injury, which will likely cause the Linebacker to miss the entire 2016 season, allowed him to drop all the way down to 34th overall. Teams were worried about the lasting effects of his injury as it affects the nerves in his knee which could leave permanent damage. Also in the haul are Dak Prescott who could well be the heir to Romo and College Basketball player Rico Gathers who looks to follow in the footsteps of Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates career path from the hoops to the gridiron.
1 (2) (From Cleveland) Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
3 (79) Issac Seumalo, OG, Oregon State
5 (153) Wendell Smallwood, RB, West Virginia
5 (164) (From Pittsburgh) Halapoulivaati Vaitai, OT, TCU
6 (196) (From NE via Miami & Minnesota) Blake Countess, CB, Auburn
7 (233) Jalen Mills, FS, LSU
7 (240) (From Buffalo via Minnesota) Alex McCalister, DE,Florida
7 (251) (From Arizona) Joe Walker, ILB, Oregon
The Eagles made their big statement not on Draft Day, but a week before when they traded up from Number 8 overall to Number 2 in order to take North Dakota QB Carson Wentz. Right now, it’s easy to look at this as a very risky move by the Eagles who recently shelled out for new contracts on Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel; and right now it appears a massive risk on a player who was originally projected as a 3rd or 4th rounder back in January and February. However, Wentz does show some very promising traits with and the leadership qualities teams look for, so in a few years it could pay off for the Eagles, but it seems a big risk to be taking for a developmental QB none the less.
Aside from the big acquisitions of Wentz, there was a lot of depth additions (who would complete a fairly mean scrabble score) addressing areas of need with Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Issac Seumalo to add to the offensive line, with Blake Countess and Jalen Mills added to a fairly weak secondary. But this draft was all about collecting the QB of the future for Doug Pederson’s Eagles.
New York Giants
1 (10) Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
2 (40) Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
3 (71) Darian Thompson, S, Boise State
4 (109) B.J. Goodson, OLB, Clemson
5 (149) Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA
6 (184) Jerell Adams, TE, South Carolina
The Giants turned heads with the 10th overall pick by taking Eli Apple, whilst Vernon Hargreaves, who appeared to be better according to most evaluators, was still left on the board. Although it looks as though he has the potential to be a good CB1 in time, he may need to take a back seat this season playing some situational Nickel with new signing Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie handling the starting duties to begin the season.
The other headline grabber for the Giants was the selection of Sterling Shepard, who appears to be a great complimentary piece to Odell Beckham Jr. at Wide Receiver. Shepard projects as a future elite slot receiver in a similar role Wes Welker during his time with the Patriots, to give Beckham more open space around the field as team’s game-plan for Shepard who has excellent route running capabilities and ability to make defenders miss after the catch.
1 (21) (From Houston) Josh Doctson, WR, Texas Christian
2 (53) Su’a Cravens, OLB/S, USC
3 (84) Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
5 (152) (From New Orleans) Matt Ioannidis, DT, Temple
6 (187) (From New Orleans) Nate Sudfield, QB, Michigan State
7 (232) (From Tampa Bay) Steven Daniels, ILB, Boston
7 (242) Keith Marshall, RB, Georgia
Probably the best all-round draft class in the NFC East this year belongs to the Redskins as they didn’t draft a big star name like the others, but added a lot of solid pieces. But first round selection Josh Doctson appears to be the best of the bunch. The receiver out of Texas Christian has freakish athletic talent, with the ability to out jump any Cornerback shown his way, and great speed to run behind them. He could have an immediate impact on the Redskins this year despite two fairly well paid road blocks in Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. By the looks of it, one of the two will not have their contract renewed come the end of the season, so Doctson figures to get an early foothold on a role in the offence.
Beyond Doctson, Kendall Fuller stands out in the third round as proof that Scot McCloughan really does hold true to his Best Player Available strategy. After acquiring Josh Norman less than a week before the draft, he still added Fuller; who at times has displayed some first round pedigree, and were it not for a knee injury in preseason camp, would’ve been in consideration for a top 31 selection. Su’a Cravens is also a big addition to the Redskins D as a versatile Linebacker who appears set to transition to Safety, where is idol and former Redskins great Sean Taylor roamed.