Last week we showed you the AFC, and this week we’ll give you a draft ranking of every division in the NFC. First up is the NFC East, which is as competitive as it gets in the NFL, both on the field and during the draft. This division came away with one clear loser and three teams that should be relatively happy with how they did in the draft. This is how we think the teams in this division stack up against one another in the draft:
1. New York Giants – The Giants win this division because they ended up with four players that could have been picked in the first round, which is something that few teams in the NFL can claim following the draft. Offensive lineman Justin Pugh may not have been the obvious first-round pick, but he was a great left tackle in college, and even if he doesn’t make it as a left tackle in the NFL, he’ll be able to start somewhere else on along the offensive line. The defensive line got a big boost in the second and third rounds with Johnathan Hankins and Damontre Moore, two players that could have been picked much earlier and give the front seven an infusion of youth.
The Giants didn’t need a quarterback, but being able to take Ryan Nassib in the fourth round was an opportunity too good to pass up, and if Nassib develops as expected the Giants could trade him in a couple years for something much more than a fourth round pick. On the down side, New York didn’t address their need at linebacker, and they waited until the fifth round to address their need at safety, getting 6’4’’ Cooper Taylor out of Richmond, but they have the most talented class in this division, which puts them at the top of this list and among the top 10 draft classes in the NFL.
2. Philadelphia – Chip Kelly’s teams at Oregon were known for speed, but Kelly’s new team added a lot of size in this draft. Philadelphia’s first pick was offensive tackle Lane Johnson, who’s not just big but athletic as well. The Eagles then added tight end Zach Ertz to give their offense a tall and versatile player. The defensive line is getting a makeover as well, with third round defensive tackle Bennie Logan, as well as Joe Kruger and David King, two defensive ends drafted in the 7th round.
The pick that elevates the Eagle’s draft class considerably is getting quarterback Matt Barkley in the fourth round. Barkley could have been the first overall pick last year, and he still could have been a first or second round pick this year, so the Eagles getting him in the fourth round makes him a valuable pick; plus he’ll factor into the quarterback competition right away. This draft class won’t blow too many people away, but the Eagles did what they needed to do to start reshaping their roster with a new head coach, and they should be satisfied with the players they added to their roster.
3. Washington – The Redskins were held back by not having a first round pick, but they compounded their problems by not using their picks wisely, especially in the later rounds. The one thing Washington did well was addressing the problems in their secondary, which needed a lot of help. The first pick they made was in the second round, where they got cornerback David Amerson, a big corner with first-round talent, but who is far from a sure thing to succeed in the NFL.
Washington also drafted two quality safeties, Phillip Thomas in the fourth round, a potential starter, and Bacarri Rambo, who was a major steal in the 6th round after being an All-American in 2011. The Redskins also added a nice offensive playmaker in the third round with tight end Jordan Reed. However, after having a lot of success with Alfred Morris last season, Washington used two late-round picks on running backs. Chris Thompson and Jawan Jamison are both good backs, but without running back being an area of need those picks could have been used to build up depth elsewhere. In the end, aside from the improvements made to the secondary, the Redskins didn’t do a whole lot to help themselves in this draft, which is why they rank third in the NFC East.
4. Dallas – What the Cowboys were doing the weekend of the draft is a question their fans will be asking for quite some time. First, they completely ignored their needs along the defensive line, which was a position they needed to address at some point, even if it wasn’t early on. Their next problem is that they reached to draft center Travis Frederick is the first round when they could have found a comparable player later in the draft. They also should have used multiple picks on offensive linemen to help protect Tony Romo.
Another problem is that they didn’t draft a safety, which was arguably their biggest need, until the third round, when they could have drafted a difference maker at that position with their first round pick. Those are three huge mistakes made by whoever is calling the shots in Dallas (looking at you Jerry Jones). The Cowboys did give Romo a couple of helpful receivers to throw the ball to in wide receiver Terrance Williams and tight end Gavin Escobar, but the value of those two players pails in comparison to the mistakes made throughout the draft, giving the Cowboys by far the worst draft class in the NFC East and one of the worst in football.