Draft Review: NFC East

The Philadelphia Eagles won the NFC East in Chip Kelly’s first year as an NFL coach. Going into the draft, I was wondering if any of the other teams were going to do anything special to try to stop the Eagles high powered offense. That didn’t seem to be the case over draft weekend.

New York Giants

Jerry Reese has had a very simple philosophy since he became the Giants GM: draft the highest rated player on the board. In most cases, that has worked for the G-Men. In a rebuilding year and with many new offensive coaches on board, I thought the Giants had another good draft.

The Giants needed to add a big play receiver and did just that with the addition of LSU’s Odell Beckham. What made the pick even better, is reportedly the Jets were trying to trade up to get Beckham. I guess we will never know for sure

Beckham has all the traits needed to be a top NFL receiver. He runs very good routes, has the speed to get deep, has great hands and is excellent after the catch. Throw in his return skills and he is a top level player.

Center was also a big need, and Colorado State’s Weston Richburg will come in and start right away. He has very good size and is more athletic than most centers. He also plays the game with a nasty attitude, which is always a plus. Syracuse defensive tackle Jay Bromley fits the mold of what defensive coordinator looks for in an inside lineman. He is a big run stuffer who can occupy blockers and get penetration.

Boston College running back Andre Williams' run skills are as good as any back in the draft. He is not a proficient receiver and that’s why he lasted until the fourth round. Sixth round pick Bennett Jackson a corner form Notre Dame, is an interesting selection. A year ago, he looked like a potential premium round pick. He had shoulder surgery following the 2012 season and was not nearly as physical in 2013. If he reverts back to 2012 form, the Giants got themselves a late round steal.

Philadelphia Eagles

In 2013, offense was not a problem for Philly, stopping the opponent’s offense was. In free agency the Eagles looked to upgrade their defense and also with their first round pick. Louisville’s Marcus Smith played defensive end in college, he will convert to outside linebacker in the NFL. He has ideal size and athleticism for that slot. Smith is primarily a pass rusher, he had 14.5 sacks in 2013. While many, including myself, thought that the first round was a little high for Smith, if he can provide a pass rush for the Eagles, he was worth the pick.

Philly’s next two picks were receivers who will complement each other. Jordan Matthews is a tall, physical receiver with great hands and good after the catch skills. Josh Huff can play inside or outside and is both quick and fast. He knows Kelly’s system, as he played for Kelly at Oregon. These two upgrade the Eagles receiver group.

Corner Jaylen Watkins can come in and be a nickel corner type. He is aggressive and a sure tackler. Stanford’s Ed Reynolds is a very smart and instinctive safety. While he may not have great top end speed, he has very good ball skills and can support the run.

I really like defensive tackle Taylor Hart. Coming from Oregon, he also knows the scheme. On top of that, he is a quality player with a non-stop motor. The only real negative is that he lacks great bulk at about 285 – 290.

Dallas Cowboys

There were reports that the Cowboys wanted Aaron Donald or Ryan Shazier, both players who were excellent fits for the Cowboys defense. Who knows if that is true, but we do know that in Zack Martin, they got a versatile and durable offensive lineman who is capable of playing anywhere on the line of scrimmage but center. Martin is a well-coached technician and as tough as they come.

Second round pick Demarcus Lawrence is another scheme fit who fits in at defensive end in Rod Marinelli’s Tampa 2 type scheme. He is an edge pass rusher who had 20 sacks in his two-year stay at Boise State. Though he is only 6027 – 251, he plays bigger and stronger than his numbers would indicate.

Going in the fourth round may have been a little high for linebacker Anthony Hitchens of Iowa. He is primarily a Will linebacker in the Dallas scheme. He is an athletic, run-and-hit type who lacks top instincts.
Devin Street from Pitt is a tall, long-armed possession receiver. He is best uncovering versus zone defenses. He will need to get a little longer to be able to handle press coverage in the NFL.

Stanford’s Ben Gardner is a bit undersized for an NFL D-Linemen, but he has very good instincts and is a top competitor. The rest of the Dallas draft are players who will compete for a roster spot.

Washington Redskins

Washington didn’t have a pick until the second round, but still came away with some pretty good players. Stanford’s Trent Murphy is a good fit as an OLB in Jim Haslett’s 3-4. On passing downs, he will probably play with his hand in the dirt. He is highly instinctive and competitive.

Virginia’s Morgan Moses is a huge offensive tackle. He is best suited to play on the right side in the NFL. While he has natural size and power, he needs to increase his weight room strength.

Nebraska guard Spencer Long missed the last half of the 2013 season with an injury, and some had him downgraded because of that. On tape, he is a tough and physical point-of-attack player who may be able to come in and play right away.

Clemson corner Bashaud Breeland looks great on tape but didn’t time well he ran 4.62 at the combine and improved to only 4.58 at his pro day. He shows good cover skills on tape and is a more than adequate run support player.

Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk has speed and is a very good runner in space. The problem is he didn’t catch a single pass in 2013 and has only nine career receptions. His pass protection is suspect also.

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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