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NFC East Draft Grades: Matt Barkley and Eagles Provide Intrigue

by Photo of Quentin Haynes

Draft Grades for the Redskins, Eagles, Cowboys, and Giants.

NFC East Draft Grades: Matt Barkley and Eagles Provide Intrigue

Every season, the NFC East is one of the toughest divisions to win in football. With Robert Griffin III joining the fray last season, the division flipped as Washington won. Along with the Griffin pick, Washington also selected Alfred Morris in the sixth round, providing a ton of evidence that the draft is the great equalizer and ultimately the difference between a good team and a great team. 

This year, the NFC East took that into consideration, and all made an effort to have great draft classes. With the Philadelphia Eagles picking fourth overall, the hysteria around them was "Who will be Chip Kelly's first ever draft pick?" The answer turned out to be Lane Johnson, an offensive tackle from Oklahoma. Not a sexy move, but a smart move. The other three teams, Dallas, New York, and Washington, all made moves to find depth and potential gems in this roster, and I believe they all did. The Cowboys became the talk of the first round, but recovered. How did Washington and New York do? Let's take a look at each team's draft picks and grades. Remember, I'm not including any undrafted free agents into the equation. 

The good people at fftoolbox.com broke down each pick by their team. Let's hand out grades.

Philadelphia Eagles : Grade: B+

Under Chip Kelly, the Eagles made it their business to address the offense in free agency, meaning this draft would largely be used to find defensive fits. However, the first round selection of Lane Johnson was huge for a team without a right tackle. While Johnson still has ways to go to become an elite tackle, he still fits Chip Kelly’s system thanks to his top-tier athleticism. Zach Ertz seems like the perfect weapon inside for this offense. The Eagles have DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin on the outside and just acquired James Casey to be the fullback out of the backfield. Ertz's speed and size will give the starting quarterback...let's say Michael Vick for now... a chance to hit a large target in the middle of the field. 

Let's talk about  Matt Barkley. In round four, Barkley presented them with terrific value. However, I don't exactly know how Barkley fits in with the system Kelly presented at Oregon the past four seasons. On the other hand, I thought this is what Barkley needed: a fast-paced offense where he has weapons to work with inside and out. While I cheer for Notre Dame, it would be both interesting and, for lack of a better term, cool to see Barkley get some reps as a rookie. Chip Kelly stuck with the Pac 12 in this draft, and that should help him figure out what direction this team is going offensively and defensively. 

Dallas Cowboys : Grade: B-

It's not the popular thing to say, but the Dallas Cowboys did well in their draft efforts. After becoming the talk of the first round with their trade down, the Cowboys recovered with a couple of brilliant late round draft picks. Again, opting to move down and draft Wisconsin interior lineman Travis Fredrick was puzzling a bit. It was a reach, possibly of epic proportions, but Fredrick should be able to start right away at guard or center, and since the Cowboys struggled in that department last season, it wasn’t that bad of a pick. You have to protect the quarterback. 

After that pick, you can make the argument that the Cowboys aced their draft. Gavin Escobar wasn't a need in round two, but after John Phillips left, the Cowboys could use another tight end, possibly for two tight end sets next season. Terrance Williams in round three? B.W. Webb in round four? Joseph Randle in round five? All excellent value picks. If safety third-round draft pick J.J. Wilcox can start right away, I wouldn’t be shocked if this draft class ended next season as one of the best in terms of top contributors. Again, the Fredrick move slightly effects the grade, but not by much.

New York Giants- Grade A

This is where I begin to envy the Giants a little bit. It’s arguable that they got three first round talents in the first three rounds. At pick 19, Justin Pugh will be an instant starter at right tackle, and could present the Giants with a strong interior presence if that doesn't work out. Jonathan Hankins fell to the second round for unknown reasons, but he fell to the right team. After a year of grooming, he’ll contribute to this line as a big run stuffer. DeMontre Moore at round three was highway robbery.  He looked great in his final season of college, but after a poor combine showing and interviews that left GM's scratching their heads, he fell. In New York he'll be brought up slowly. 

Ryan Nassib was a solid value pick in round four, but the one major thing that stuck out to me was the lack of defensive backs in this draft. I thought the Giants would go with a defensive back in the first two rounds, but going with none in the first four rounds? Cooper Taylor out of Richmond could surprise, but the lack of secondary picks is nteresting since Corey Webster got abused late in the season and veteran Aaron Ross was brought back. 


Washington Redskins- Grade: C

I also placed the grade as: "It doesn't really matter because this team has RG3 for the next decade," but thought against it. No matter. With no first round pick, the Redskins’ grade won’t be as high as many, but they got some talent that other teams wish they could've snagged. The Redskins got a ton of value in the later rounds. Jawan Jamison might be the change-of-pace back the Redskins need, and could jump into the Redskins backfield in that role behind Alfred Morris. Safety Phillip Thomas could start day one at either safety position thanks to his playmaking ability. After losing Brian Orakpo, the selection of Brandon Jenkins as a reserve pass rusher makes sense. 

I had no clue they also picked up Baccari Rambo. He'll start on special teams. The David Amerson pick is where the Redskins could see the upside of this class. If Amerson plays like it’s 2011, he’s a top-15 talent and a big playmaker in their secondary. If it’s his 2012 play? Well… it could get a bit ugly with him and Hall in the secondary.

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