Friday, April 19, 2013
Eight in the Box: Ideal first rounds
By Dan Graziano
What would be the ideal first-round scenario for each NFC East team in next week's NFL draft?
Because of the perceived lack of top-level skill-position talent in this year's draft, a lot of the mock drafts and projections have the top offensive linemen going off the board early. Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest mock , for example, has six offensive linemen going in the top 12 picks, which means well before the Cowboys pick at 18 and probably too early for them to make a sensible trade-up to grab someone like Alabama guard Chance Warmack or North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper. This would be unfortunate and far from ideal for the Cowboys, but history offers hope. The last time six of the first 17 picks in the draft were offensive linemen was 1966, when there were only 15 teams in the league. Only three times since then -- 1977, 1985 and 2008 -- have as many as five offensive linemen been picked in the top 17. The Cowboys probably can't expect any of the top three tackles to fall to them, but their ideal first-round situation would be for Warmack, Cooper or even Alabama tackle D.J. Fluker to fall to 18 and allow them to shore up their most significant area of short-term and long-term need. If only one of those guys is still available by 14, the Cowboys should look into trading up to get him.
New York Giants
The Giants live for value in the first round, so their ideal scenario is that someone who's very high (say, top-10) on their draft board falls to them at No. 19. It happened two years ago, when they were picking in the exact same spot and were stunned to find cornerback Prince Amukamara still there. It could happen again, especially if the Cowboys get their aforementioned wish and those offensive linemen drop into the second half of the first round. Although the Giants haven't picked an offensive lineman in the first round since 1999, the value on someone like Warmack or Fluker, if either is still there at 19, might be too good to pass up. It's easy to look at linebacker as a glaring need and project someone like Alec Ogletree here, but the Giants haven't taken a first-round linebacker since 1984, and it's unlikely they have a first-round grade assigned to any linebacker in the draft. The Giants' ideal scenario is not to draft for need but to wait and hope some highly talented prospect at one of their premium positions (Tavon Austin? Kenny Vaccaro? Dee Milliner?) drops into their laps.
Sitting at No. 4 in the first round, the Eagles probably would be excited to see one of the draft's top two tackles -- Eric Fisher or Luke Joeckel -- available to them at that spot. Drafting one of those players would allow the Eagles to move Todd Herremans inside from right tackle to right guard, play the rookie at right tackle and groom him to replace Jason Peters eventually at left tackle. It's an immediate-need pick and a future building-block pick all wrapped up in one package. The Eagles also probably would be happy to take a defensive lineman like Star Lotulelei or a pass-rusher like Dion Jordan here, but in my opinion the tackle scenario is more ideal given their situation. I also think part of their ideal situation would include a drop for West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, which would allow them to trade back into the first round to take him somewhere in the 20s, as Kiper suggested in his recent "Grade A" draft post .
As a result of last year's trade for quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Redskins don't have a first-round draft pick and don't pick until 19th in the second round, so a trade-up into the first is unlikely. Their ideal first-round scenario is that the teams picking in the first round believe they can wait on safety and cornerback, and that some of the top players at those positions of significant need are still there by the time Washington starts picking at 51.