NFC East draft analysis

April, 24, 2010
4/24/10
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NFC draft analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

The Washington Redskins were the only team in the division to keep this draft from being all about defense. The Giants' once-vaunted defense was embarrassed in '09 and general manager Jerry Reese and coach Tom Coughlin spent three days trying to rectify the situation. Who will start at middle linebacker, though? It's a fair question.

It was a memorable three days in the Beast. Now, let's take a look back at what transpired. It's never too early for some knee-jerk reaction.

Best move

I think Cowboys owner Jerry Jones moving up three spots in the first round to select Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant may have been the best move in the division. He's a top-10 talent (No. 8 on the Boys' board) who comes with some baggage. Yes, there were teams scared of him. But I couldn't find a scout around the league who said he would've passed on Bryant at No. 24 overall. It was also a shrewd move because the Ravens were waiting for Bryant at No. 25. Patriots coach Bill Belichick blocked an AFC playoff team by making the trade with Jones.

Other teams were worried about Bryant's association with Dallas area businessman David Wells, who helped guide (his nephew) Michael Crabtree into a holdout last fall. I'm told by folks at Valley Ranch that Jones knows exactly how to deal with Wells and that it shouldn't be a problem. The unfair thing for Bryant was that some folks assumed he wasn't a good kid because his stock was falling. Of the eight or nine scouts I asked about Bryant during the buildup to the draft, every one of them said he was essentially a good kid. He was just extremely immature and had a problem showing up to places on time. He's hands down the best receiver in the draft and I think the potential reward far outweighs the risk -- especially where he was drafted. The Tim Tebow trade immediately trumped Bryant's selection in terms of excitement, but Bryant will be contributing a lot sooner than the former Florida quarterback.

Riskiest move

You'll think I'm crazy (as usual), but the Redskins choosing Oklahoma left tackle Trent Williams No. 4 overall is one of the riskiest moves of the draft. I agree that he has tremendous potential, but he's not a finished product at left tackle. Oklahoma State's Russell Okung would have been a no-brainer starter at left tackle from Day 1. Williams has more versatility and he's a better fit in the Redskins' zone-blocking scheme, but it's wrong to suggest that he's anywhere close to the "safest" pick in the top-10. If you want to know why I'm a little skeptical, go back and watch the OU-BYU game on tape. Sam Bradford remembers what I'm talking about.

[+] EnlargeTrent Williams
J.P. Wilson/Icon SMITrent Williams, the No. 4 overall selection, is far from a finished product.
On the positive side, Williams is an exceptional athlete and I love watching him finish off blocks. I think Mike Shanahan always has Ryan Clady on his mind these days. And Williams has that type of potential. But you're going to have to live with some mistakes. Don't be shocked if Williams has to begin his career at right tackle. I shudder to think what he'll look like in that first game against DeMarcus Ware. I flew back from Indianapolis with both of those players after the combine. Williams didn't recognize Ware on that flight. Something tells me he won't have a problem putting a face to a name Sept. 12.


Most surprising move

Maybe I haven't been fair enough to Eagles general manager Howie Roseman. On the second day of the draft, I was really impressed by the way he moved all over the board and kept acquiring extra picks. I'd heard from both Eagles and Cowboys sources that the fourth round was going to contain a ton of "value," and Roseman apparently took that to heart. By trading down twice in the 50s, he basically took over the fourth round. The Eagles had four picks in the fourth and then they found another pass-rusher in the fifth with Clemson defensive end Ricky Sapp. He's an undersized player who has exceptional quickness. I think he probably reminded Andy Reid of Trent Cole, a player who the Eagles landed in the fifth round a few years back. I guess the "surprising" aspect of all this is how comfortable Roseman looked while running his first draft. Even the stoic Andy Reid admitted that he was entertained by watching Roseman at work.

It was also bold to move from No. 24 to 13 in order to land Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham. ESPN's Sal Paolantonio has reported that Reid and Roseman may have wanted to preempt the Giants from taking Graham. Of course, general manager Jerry Reese will never acknowledge that he coveted Graham, but it's an interesting theory.

File it away

I could almost sense that Tom Coughlin and Jerry Reese were seething about the '09 season during this draft. Everyone wanted them to take a middle linebacker in the first round, but it didn't happen. The Giants made this draft about reclaiming the line of scrimmage. They started out with the immensely talented, but somewhat unproven, South Florida defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and then selected an enormous defensive tackle from East Carolina named Linval Joseph in the second round. Even when you thought they might turn to offense in the sixth round, they went with a sleeper defensive end out of Williams & Mary named Adrian Tracy. This pick had Reese written all over it because he loves overachieving kids from small schools. Tracy's not a three-down lineman by any stretch of the imagination, but he gives the Giants more options. If the Giants are able to become an elite defense again, we'll point back to the 2010 draft as a major turning point. In terms of potential impact players, this reminds me of the '07 draft. And that's a great thing for Giants fans.

One other thing to file away

The Cowboys moved up to take Penn State linebacker Sean Lee in the second round. They see him as the eventual successor to Keith Brooking at inside linebacker. Other scouts around the league were very concerned about Lee's torn ACL that caused him to miss the '08 season. If he's healthy, the Cowboys will have a starter in the near future. And you can probably go ahead and say goodbye to the Bobby Carpenter era. I'll say one thing for Carpenter. I've never seen a guy respond to intense criticism with such extreme grace. Perhaps he'll find a team that will truly value his ability to cover running backs and tight ends in space.

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