New faces in the front office, and the carousel of players moving around; there was a lot of talk of, would the Eagles mortgage the farm to make the trampoline leap to get quarterback Marcus Mariota? Well, no leap was made and the first 14 picks stayed somewhat true to form without any trades or deals made.
Redskins GM Scott McCloughan showed why Daniel Snyder paid top dollar to get him from the west coast and why he was so successful with the 49ers and the Seahawks. Drafting two linemen in the first two rounds one on each side of the ball, which went against the grain of what popular choice (fans) would’ve might have liked. But it was smart. Not something that the teams in the NFC East tend to do regularly.
Let’s start from top to bottom, beginning with the NFC East Champions’ Cowboys, Jerry Jones finally acknowledged an area that needed much help; the cornerback position. With the downfall of Morris Claiborne depth was a serious concern. Drafting in the 1st round CB Byron Jones out of Connecticut brings instinctiveness, length and speed, which will help in the secondary for Rod Marinelli defense. With the loss of Anthony Spencer upfront and Greg Hardy not eligible for the first 10 games having Randy Gregory fall in their lap because of off the field and character issues was a gift. How will these kids pan out is still up in the air, but it was a smart pick. It was evident what the Cowboys were targeting; the Cowboys drafted 8 players with 5 of them being on the defensive side of the ball and 4 of the 5 were in the front 7.
The Philadelphia Eagles did most of their damage in free agency when it comes to signing players and making trades. The draft for the Eagles was about filling spots. When Chip Kelly saw that he couldn’t move up to get hid former college quarterback he went to plan B. Nelson Aghilo is a dynamic big play receiver. He has deceptive speed and good hands. He is a precise route runner which gives new Eagle quarterback Sam Bradford an extra playmaker on the other side of the field. And drafting Utah corner Eric Rowe gives the Eagles a long lengthy corner who has the ability to defend some of the bigger receivers in the NFL East; like a Dez Bryant or Pierre Garcon.
The Giants needed to find a way to protect their 2-time Super Bowl champion and franchise quarterback Eli Manning, and they got it with a 6’6″ 329 Ereck Flowers. He has an ability to move to the tackle when needed. He has the power and strength to open sustainable running lanes for the ground game which was lacking for the Giants last season. In the 2nd round they were to snag best available player Landon Collins, who was surprised that he dropped so far on the draft. UCLA DE is hopefully a distraction to take some of the attention off of Jason Pierre Paul.
Well the new trend seems to be drafting offensive linemen. Protecting the main investment (quarterback) is at the forefront obtaining success. The Cowboys have done it for the past 3 seasons; the Giants this offseason and now the Redskins. With Trent Williams as the only Pro Bowler on the Redskins offensive line, Scott McCloughan realizes that RG III is going to need some time in the pocket and the only way to do that is give him a little more protection; in the hopes that it will make him a better pocket passer. So the 5th overall pick of Branden Scherff, who is a big, strong and illusive Offensive Guard that can play multiple positions on the O-line.
Brian Orakpo didn’t work for Scott McCloughan, so out he went. But there wasn’t any panic; in the 2nd round he drafted Preston Smith, an absolute neusense for offensive tackles. He can play down in the 3 point stand or up to speed around the corner. He uses his hands well to shed off blockers. Matt Jones to me is a “Dickerson” style of runner; not as fast as Dickerson, but upright and illusive. Linebacker Matrell Spaight has a great nose for the ball. He dissects play very well and pretty quickly. He doesn’t tackle that well in the open field, especially with shifty runners. Jamison Crownder reminds me of Dante Hall; quick, illusive, slot like receiver and can give them a big play returner on punt and kick returns.