Sunday, May 6, 2012

Final Draft Grades: NFC East

Dallas Cowboys You've got to give Jerry Jones credit, the Cowboys circled a guy on their big board at a position of need, cornerback, then went out and got him. Jumping from #14 all the way up to #6, the Cowboys selected top available defensive back, LSU corner, Morris Claiborne. There is no denying the talent of Claiborne, he's phenomenal. He's mentally and physically tough enough to play at the next level, and should anchor the Cowboy secondary for years to come, or at least that's what owner Jerry Jones will hope for. With the departure of corner backs Alan Ball and longtime Cowboy Terence Newman, Dallas has managed to revamp their entire defensive backfield and Claiborne will be the key. The Cowboys other big splash came in the form of 3rd rounder, Boise State defensive end Tyrone Crawford. Dallas has lived off adding depth to the front seven of their defense over recent years, Crawfords big frame and quality motor will do just that. Now addition by subtraction, the Cowboys cut ties with the oft-frustrating tight end Martellus Bennett this offseason, and most likely replaced him through the draft selecting Oklahoma tight end James Hanna in the 6th round, hoping once again and he'll give quarterback Tony Romo that second tight end option who can block. Final Grade: B+

New York Giants Being a fan of the team I just spoke about, it pains me to say this but . . . the Giants are just good at what they do, all things football. The defending Super Bowl Champs seem to just 'get it,' when it comes to the draft. Replacing Mario Manningham didn't seem to take long as the Giants nabbed LSU receiver Rueben Randle at the end of round one. Randle is a good unpolished receiver who has pretty good hands but difficulty making space, luckily he'll be playing with a quarterback who can put the ball in any space made. The Giants also replaced malcontent running back Brandon Jacobs with Virginia Tech rusher David Wilson. The Giants are one of those teams who when it comes to the draft really use their picks to not just fill their roster but enhance it. There is a reason this team has won two Super Bowls in recent years against one of the best franchises in professional sports, because they too are becoming one. Final Grade: A

Washington Redskins So that there is no misconception at a later date, the entire future of the Washington Redskins hinges on the immediate play and continued development of their top selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, quarterback Robert Griffin III. First, the Redskins gave up a ton of picks to acquire Griffin III. They gave up two future first round picks and a second round pick this year, that's the future of their franchise, in case you were wondering. They also blew one of their few selections of the draft on Michigan State signal caller Kirk Cousins, in what an insane person would also call a head scratcher, but ignore that, or try to. If Griffin looks anything like reigning Rookie of the Year, Carolina Panther quarterback Cam Newton, looked like last season then the immediate feedback would be that the Redskins should have given up more! However, if Griffin struggles and looks less than a franchise quarterback should, then just wait for the naysayers. This is the Cam Newton effect, doesn't matter how long you were on center stage, it only matters what you did when you were on it. Final Grade: TBD (I understand that's weak.)

Philadelphia Eagles The Eagles are always an interesting team when it comes to the draft. This year however, they were pretty consistent. Andy Reid picked up his typical defensive lineman in defensive tackle, Fletcher Cox in the first round. Cox is your prototypical pass rusher from the Southeastern Conference, he's angry, he's fast, and can get after the quarterback. When watching tape on Fletcher Cox you get a really good idea at what the Eagles were looking into. Cox has a great ability to get off the ball and work to the quarterback relentlessly. No other outing was more impressive than his performance in the Music City Bowl this past season. Cox terrorized Wake Forest all afternoon long, tirelessly getting after the quarterback and even blocking a kick to the point where he smashes right through the offensive lineman. I also liked that Philadelphia went with Arizona quarterback Nick Foles, whereas I really don't think Foles is ready for the NFL, I think that Philadelphia might finally understand they are on borrowed time with the oft-injured Michael Vick who is only getting older at this point. Final Grade: B+

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