Draft Watch: NFC East

April, 7, 2011
4/07/11
12:00
PM ET
NFC Draft Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Each Thursday leading up to the NFL draft (April 28-30), the ESPN.com NFL blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: history in that spot.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys’ top pick is No. 9 overall. Here are the last seven players taken in that spot, with their NFL team in parentheses:

2010: RB C.J. Spiller (Bills)

2009: DT B.J. Raji (Packers)

2008: LB Keith Rivers (Bengals)

2007: WR Ted Ginn Jr. (Dolphins)

2006: LB Ernie Sims (Lions)

2005: DB Carlos Rogers (Redskins)

2004: WR Reggie Williams (Jaguars)

ANALYSIS: Raji quickly has become a dominant force, although some of the other names on this list didn’t work out. The Cowboys really need to make the most of the fact they have a top-10 pick. They haven’t drafted well in recent years. Cornerback Mike Jenkins (2008) is the only Dallas draft pick from the last five years to make the Pro Bowl, and that came in 2009. Jenkins and the rest of the secondary struggled mightily last season, and there’s a strong feeling Dallas will address the defensive backfield in the draft. But the Cowboys have other needs elsewhere, and the “bust factor’’ with a top-10 pick isn’t generally as high when you go with an offensive or defensive lineman. Any time Jerry Jones and this franchise make a decision, there’s the potential for something flashy. But this might be a year where it’s best to stick to basics and upgrade either the offensive or defensive line.

Washington Redskins

The Redskins’ top pick is No. 10 overall. Here are the last seven players taken in that spot, with their NFL team in parentheses:

2010: DT Tyson Alualu (Jaguars)

2009: WR Michael Crabtree (49ers)

2008: LB Jerod Mayo (Patriots)

2007: DT Amobi Okoye (Texans)

2006: QB Matt Leinart (Cardinals)

2005: WR Mike Williams (Lions)

2004: CB Dunta Robinson (Texans)

ANALYSIS: The Redskins desperately need a quarterback, and they’re not sitting in a great spot. If you look at the recent history of the No. 10 pick, Leinart is the sole measuring stick. He was a complete bust in Arizona. With Donovan McNabb almost certainly gone, the Redskins have to find someone to run their offense. There’s a good chance Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert will be gone before Washington gets on the clock. That leaves a pool of guys like Ryan Mallett and Jake Locker, who could be huge reaches this early in the draft. The overall history of this pick isn’t great, but Mayo was the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2008, so there is hope. It might mean the Redskins have to look for a quarterback somewhere else. At No. 10, they might have a shot to get a quality defensive tackle -- Albert Haynesworth and Maake Kemoeatu simply haven’t been getting things done.

New York Giants

The Giants’ top pick is No. 19 overall. Here are the last seven players taken in that spot, with their NFL team in parentheses:

2010: LB Sean Weatherspoon (Falcons)

2009: WR Jeremy Maclin (Eagles)

2008: OT Jeff Otah (Panthers)

2007: S Michael Griffin (Titans)

2006: CB Antonio Cromartie (Chargers)

2005: OT Alex Barron (Rams)

2004: OT Vernon Carey (Dolphins)

ANALYSIS: If you’re Giants general manager Jerry Reese and you’re looking at this list, you have to feel very good about having the No. 19 overall pick. There’s not a single guy on this list who's been anything close to a disappointment. In fact, look at the last three No. 19 picks -- they all play positions the Giants potentially could be looking at. A speedy outside linebacker, like Weatherspoon, could really help the defense. Maclin’s emerging nicely in Philadelphia, and the Giants have some uncertainty at receiver with Steve Smith coming off a major injury. When healthy, Otah’s been a powerful force on Carolina’s offensive line. The Giants aren’t getting any younger on the offensive line, and Boston College tackle Anthony Castonzo has a chance to be available. The Giants have some familiarity with Boston College. Tom Coughlin used to coach there. He also drafted guard Chris Snee, his son-in-law, out of Boston College, and that’s worked out well.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles’ top pick is No. 23 overall. Here are the last seven players taken in that spot, with their NFL team in parentheses:

2010: OT Bryan Bulaga (Packers) (started 12 games on Super Bowl winner)

2009: OT Michael Oher (Ravens)

2008: RB Rashard Mendenhall (Steelers)

2007: WR Dwayne Bowe (Chiefs)

2006: G Davin Joseph (Buccaneers)

2005: CB Fabian Washington (Raiders)

2004: DT Marcus Tubbs (Seahawks)

ANALYSIS: The Eagles have pretty glaring needs on the offensive line, particularly at right tackle and right guard. Bulaga and Oher were able to step in and help their teams right away. That could make someone like Castonzo a likely target, and the Eagles also have done a lot of homework on Mississippi State’s Derek Sherrod. The rule of thumb is that guards don’t usually have as much value as tackles, but Joseph is proof you can get a very good guard at No. 23. The Eagles could reach into their own backyard in a later round and get Lehigh’s Will Rackley, who has the potential to play guard or tackle. Offensive line coach Howard Mudd attended his pro day. Right cornerback also is a high priority, and Colorado’s Jimmy Smith could be a candidate at No. 23, but there are some concerns beyond his physical ability. On passes to the side of the field covered by Asante Samuel, the Eagles allowed only 5.91 yards per attempt last season. On the other side of the field, they allowed 8.58 yards, which ranked 31st in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information. A dream scenario for the Eagles would be for the lockout to end before the draft. That would allow them a chance to package quarterback Kevin Kolb with the No. 23 pick to try to jump somewhere into the top five to land LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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