NFC East: Draft Review

After a short hiatus, I’m back to have a look back at the 2018 draft.  With the AFC now complete, attention turns to the NFC, and in particular, the NFC East, home of the reigning Super Bowl champion Eagles and three other storied franchises.

Dallas Cowboys

Round 1: (No. 19 overall) Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State.

Round 2: (50) Connor Williams, OL, Texas.

Round 3: (81) Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State.

Round 4: (116) Dorance Armstrong, Edge, Kansas; (137) Dalton Schultz, TE, Stanford.

Round 5: (171) Mike White, QB, Western Kentucky.

Round 6: (193) Chris Covington, LB, Indiana; (208) Cedrick Wilson, WR, Boise State.

Round 7: (236) Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama.

According to some sources, there were questions about the health of Vander Esch with some teams reportedly taking him off their boards.  Not so the Dallas Cowboys who took him with the 19th overall pick.  He looks set to slot in alongside Jaylan Smith and Sean Lee, the latter possibly drawing close to the end of an injury plagued career.

With their second-round pick, the rich got richer and one of the best o-lines in the league gathered strength in depth.  Williams has played football in Texas for his entire life, growing up in the Dallas suburbs.  Now he stays there and stands to either play at left guard or right tackle, depending on where the Cowboys want to deploy La’el Collins in 2018.  The pick might have been different had the Eagles not jumped up to take Dallas Goedert who many pencilled in to replace a retiring legend in Jason Witten.  The Cowboys did take a new tight end in the 4th with Dalton Schultz out of Stanford.  Stanford have a history of turning out NFL tight ends (Ertz, Fleener) but Schultz stands to be a better blocker than pass catcher, perhaps further aiding the run game.  Passes may be picked up by Gallup who Pro-Football Talk ranked as the top receiver in the draft.  Gallup has excelled when against press coverage but can lack get away speed which might see him struggle against speedier cornerbacks.

Lastly, the Cowboys picked up Bo Scarbrough in the 7th round.  Scarbrough was a highly touted recruit out of high school where he was a man amongst boys when running the ball. At 228lbs he can still be a useful stand in for when Zeke gets tired or the Cowboys need to smash the ball into the end zone.

Washington Redskins

Round 1: (No. 13 overall) Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama.

Round 2: (59) Derrius Guice, RB, LSU.

Round 3: (74) Geron Christian, OT, Louisville.

Round 4: (109) Troy Apke, S, Penn State.

Round 5: (163) Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech.

Round 6: (197) Shaun Dion Hamilton, LB, Alabama.

Round 7: (241) Greg Stroman, CB, Virginia Tech; (256) Trey Quinn, WR, SMU.

The Redskins ranked last in run defence last year so picking up one of the drafts best defensive lineman and the best defender against the pass rush makes a lot of sense.  Payne also gets to team up once again with his former Alabama team mate Jonathan Allen.  Washington went back to the defensive line well in the 5th round with Tim Settle.  If he can continue to learn his craft (he’s only played 27 college games) and improve his skill to go along with his massive frame then the Redskins might not be so low on run defence in 2018.

On talent alone, Guice probably should have gone earlier however there are several character questions he needs to answer.  If he can mature then he’s likely the day one starter on a team that had little talent in the running back stable before his arrival.  To go alongside Guice, the Redskins beefed up their o-line with Geron Christian who stands to be a long-term replacement for Trent Williams should he not recover from a season of injuries.

New York Giants

Round 1: (No. 2 overall) Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State.

Round 2: (34) Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP.

Round 3: (66) Lorenzo Carter, Edge, Georgia; (69) B.J. Hill, DT, N.C. State.

Round 4: (108) Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond.

Round 5: (139) R.J. McIntosh, DT, Miami.

2017 was an anomaly for the Giants, or at least they hope so!  Dodgy calls from the coaching staff and a plague of injuries to receivers as well as a defence that lost its way led to them picking second in the draft.  With the Browns taking Mayfield, some suspected that the Giants would solidify the QB position for the next ten to fifteen years by taking Darnold as Eli Manning’s successor. They opted not to do that and instead they picked up the drafts most exciting playmaker and filled a massive hole in the team by selecting Saquon Barkley. I genuinely can’t wait to see what he can do next year alongside a talented bunch of playmakers. Say what you will about Eli Manning, he’s never had the chance to play with a back like this and it’ll take a lot of pressure off of him.

Next biggest problem last year (and a for a few years), the offensive line.  The Giants already added veteran Nate Solder, now they bring in the second best interior lineman in the draft in Will Hernandez.  The UTEP prospect is not as long as other guys but he is nasty and powerful and will open up holes for Barkley to gallop through.

Now, how about that defence?  Under new defensive coordinator, James Bettcher, the Giants are going to move to a 3-4 defence.  Olivier Vernon will rush from one side and now Carter will rush from the other.  Carter needs to bulk up some, but he has raw speed to get to the passer.  And if the opposing team want to run it?  Well, BJ Hill will be there as a space eater and could be a long-term replacement for Snacks Harrison.

Overall, this is possibly my favourite draft class in 2018.

Philadelphia Eagles

Round 2: (No. 49 overall) Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State.

Round 4: (125) Avonte Maddox, CB, Pittsburgh; (130) Josh Sweat, Edge, Florida State.

Round 6: (206) Matt Pryor, OT, TCU.

Round 7: (233) Jordan Mailata, OT

Not all that much to talk about here as the Eagles only made five picks.  They traded out of the first round to allow Baltimore to take Lamar Jackson.  The drama did come when they traded up in the second round to take Dallas Goedert, from the expected grasp of……. Dallas.  Anyway, Goedert is a copy of Ertz and in a tight end room that just lost Brent Celek and Trey Burton will likely feature early on.

Maddox is a slot corner with good recovery speed and can replace Patrick Robinson who left for the Saints.

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