NFC East Heading Into the Draft

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G-Men

I love every single thing the Giants have done to improve so far this offseason, every last move. J.T. Thomas started to come into his own in the second half of the season for the Jaguars. He took advantage of the opportunity when other guys got banged up and the G-Men noticed. Just when you thought Rashad Jennings was going to be the feature back, he gets nicked up again after an excellent first half of the season. Andre Williams is pretty raw in pass protection and receiving out of the backfield, but he can hit a hole and looks for contact. That just wasn’t enough for them, so they bring in Shane Vereen to keep all these legs fresh. Eli Manning can checkdown to Jennings or Vereen, and it could turn out to gain as many yards as a pass downfield would.

They also focused on special teams, bringing Dwayne Harris on board from the rival Cowboys and Jonathan Casillas from the Patriots. Harris ay get some spot snaps at wide receiver, and Casillas may get some burn at linebacker even, but you can bet their primary contributions will come in the third phase of the game. It took years, but they finally got tired of lackluster coverage units with indecisive returners. Special teams isn’t a big deal? Philly’s special teams won a few games for them, almost single-handedly. They do, however, have to replace reliable safety Antrel Rolle. They should also make O-line a priority, probably the biggest need of theirs, because this team is dangerous when they give Manning time and comfort.The line played solid in the last few games. The linebackers are one of the most laughable units in the league, they could use two more to play with the newly acquired Thomas.

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Big D

So they stood strong with discipline and are doing what’s best for business. They invested in the O-line, played the Dez Bryant contract situation cautiously with that reported incident, and you never know what could come of that if anything. DeMarco Murray moves on to green pastures, we will find out if they are greener or not, so Dallas signs Darren McFadden. and will likely draft another back on the first or second day. McFadden has similar features as the departed Murray, some home-run burst in him, and will be an interesting player to watch in this offense. They are relying on the line, Bryant to keep breaking loose, and Tony Romo to maintain his newfound composure.

I think they may be gambling a little too much by letting a couple linebackers go, Bruce Carter and Justin Durant, but it is what it is. On defense too, they are relying on Rod Marinelli’s system and expect Sean Lee to return on the outside, as Rolando McClain made some plays in the middle. What they did different last season, in comparison to their historically bad 2013 statistics, they kept both safeties on the back-end and brought in some pass-rushing specialists at all line positions, to at least move the pocket. It seems like ever team needs a safety and the Cowboys are no different. They may not place as much emphasis on one because of the cover-2 philosophy, but eventually they’re going to want someone who can move in and out of the box to mix coverages up a little, without getting burned for it. They could definitely benefit from another defensive lineman as well. Now, it may not be flashy, perhaps perceived as a boring pick, like say an offensive lineman.

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Philly

After addressing so many needs in entertaining fashion, the Eagles can now zero in on a few positions to solidify at the end of free agency, and in the upcoming draft. The key positions being wide receiver, safety, and offensive guard. Maybe the plan, after moving on from right guard Todd Herremans, and while left guard Evan Mathis is on the trade block, is to let the reserves compete for the starting roles. After all, when 4 of the 5 starting linemen went down to injury last season, everybody got a chance to play in the scheme and prepare as the starter for several games. Oh and for the record, I never bought into the rumor about them trading up for Marcus Mariota, not for one second and I still don’t. Do I even have to mention anything about the best backfield, or possibly best linebacker corps, in football now?

When you think about wide receiver, I must remind you, that Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff are both a part of last year’s draft class. Matthews came on strong around mid-season, Huff struggled to earn more snaps, but he did play for Chip Kelly at Oregon. No, I can’t tell you why Riley Cooper is still on the roster. Receivers will be added, whether it be through free agency or the draft, if not for a new starter, at least for depth. The free safety position has been a problem since the great Brian Dawkins, but to be optimistic, they look to have found an answer with Malcolm Jenkins at strong safety. Moving on from Nate Allen was a good decision, and I fully expect a rookie to start at safety from one of the first three rounds.

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D.C.

This team overspent in recent seasons so it’s no wonder they’ve been so quiet. This could be the best thing for them to retool. I say that because they’re only a couple of seasons removed from a playoff appearance, despite returning to the cellar ever since. I think they made some valid acquisitions with defensive tackles Terrence Knighton and Stephen Paea, you have to shore the front against the Cowboys and Eagles 4 games per year. Chris Culliver was also a necessary add, he and DeAngelo Hall are active corners that would benefit from a better pass rush.

Whatever happened to Robert Griffin and Pierre Garcon, they need to snap out of it or else. I like the approach Jay Gruden has taken, holding his team accountable while owning up to the fault as a whole. As great as DeSean Jackson was for them in his first season there, they need to feature him even more. They didn’t get nearly enough touches for him. How about using Niles Paul more too, that’s why they re-signed him right? As for the rest of the roster, the primary focuses should be on safety and offensive line, at least give RG3 or whoever the quarterback turns out to be on any given week, another reliable blocker and one less excuse.