NFC East: 2014 NFL draft NFC wrap

Philadelphia Eagles draft wrap-up

May, 10, 2014
5/10/14
8:35
PM ET
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

PHILADELPHIA -- A wrap-up of the Philadelphia Eagles' draft. Click here for a full list of Eagles draftees.

[+] Enlarge Jordan Matthews
Frederick Breedon/Getty ImagesThe Eagles traded up 12 spots to land Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews.
Best move: Trading up 12 spots to select Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews in the second round at No. 42 was brilliant. The Eagles were in need of a major upgrade at wide receiver, and they picked up a player who has speed and size. Matthews has the ability to catch the difficult pass across the middle, and he can run a deep route with ease. Without DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant, this was a position the Eagles had to monitor. Matthews left Vanderbilt as the SEC’s career leader in receptions (262) and yards (3,759). Look for him to make an immediate impact in the NFL. Matthews is joining a team that needs help at wide receiver. It’s the perfect fit.

Riskiest move: Drafting Louisville linebacker Marcus Smith with the No. 26 pick in the first round has to be questioned. This is a player the Eagles easily could have gotten in the second or even the third round. Smith registered 14.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss as a senior, but that was in the aftermath of a poor junior season with just four sacks. Pass-rushers are hard to find, but the Eagles could have filled another need and added Smith in the second round. Time will tell whether it was worth using a first-round pick.

Most surprising move: This is surprising in a good way here with the pick of Oregon wide receiver Josh Huff at No. 86. The Eagles took Matthews at No. 42 and could have used another big wideout. Huff is 5-foot-11, but he has speed, strength and toughness. Even though the Eagles had a major need at wide receiver, selecting them in consecutive picks was a bit surprising. Huff’s all-around talent, which includes a desire to thrive on special teams, had to be enticing for the Eagles. Returning kickoffs and punts became a problem area at the beginning of last season and didn’t get much better by the end. If Huff can adapt quickly to the NFL style, he’ll be quite valuable to the Eagles.

File it away: Taking Florida cornerback Jaylen Watkins with the first pick in the fourth round, No. 101 overall, was a solid move. Remember this pick down the road. The Eagles fielded a lot of calls from other teams but chose to keep the pick. With a major need at cornerback, this was the right move. Plus, Watkins played safety for two years at Florida, so his versatility will be an asset. Having players who can perform at multiple positions is a major bonus in the NFL. Watkins, who played with the Eagles’ Nate Allen in high school, has the speed (4.41 in the 40-yard dash) to be an effective cornerback. And he has the physical presence to be a solid safety. Allen has leadership skills and was named Florida’s captain midway through last season. Getting a player like this in the fourth round is a big-time positive.

Dallas Cowboys draft wrap-up

May, 10, 2014
5/10/14
7:46
PM ET
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


IRVING, Texas – A wrap-up of the Dallas Cowboys draft. Click here for a full list of Cowboys' draftees.

[+] EnlargeZack Martin
Robin Alam/Icon SMIZack Martin was the right choice for the Dallas Cowboys in the first round.
Best move: In taking Zack Martin with the 16th pick in the first round with Johnny Manziel staring at them in the face, the Cowboys made a football decision. Bravo. It did not directly help a defense that ended last in the NFL in 2013, but indirectly it could make the defense better. If the Cowboys are better along the offensive line, they can do a better job closing out games by running the ball and the defense would be on the sidelines watching. Martin started 52 games at left tackle at Notre Dame but will move to guard, most likely for Mackenzy Bernadeau, this year. He is the third offensive linemen the Cowboys have drafted in the first round in the last four seasons. The Cowboys hit on tackle Tyron Smith (2011) and center Travis Frederick (2013) and if they hit on Martin, they will make Tony Romo’s life much easier. Jason Garrett said teams win games up front, but he has been reluctant to run the ball and Scott Linehan’s offense in Detroit was pass happy. The Cowboys do not have to become a ground-and-pound team but they will have to do a better job of finishing games with the run.

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Riskiest move: The Cowboys entered the draft knowing they needed a right defensive end. When they went with Martin in the first round, the need increased, so they were willing to overpay some by giving the Washington Redskins their second (47th) and third (78) picks in order to move to the 34th pick to take Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence. With how the draft fell, they had a chance to stick at their picks and take defensive linemen anyway, but none with the elite talent they believe Lawrence has to affect the quarterback. Moving up is always dangerous. The last time the Cowboys moved up significantly in a round was in 2012 when they took Morris Claiborne in the first round. Through his first two seasons, the Claiborne move has not paid off.

Most surprising move: Most of the draft experts had linebacker Anthony Hitchens as a late-round pick, but the Cowboys took him in the fourth round, No. 119 overall. He was Iowa’s defensive MVP in 2013 and led the team in tackles for two seasons with 112. He could play inside linebacker as Sean Lee’s backup and be a special teams stalwart early on. The Cowboys defense is predicated on speed and he ran a 4.7 at the scouting combine. But he was productive. He had an eye-catching 13.5 tackles for loss as a senior.

File it away: The Cowboys came into the draft needing to find help for a defense that finished last in the NFL in 2013. The Cowboys ended up with nine picks and took seven defenders to potentially help Rod Marinelli make over the unit in 2014. Five of those picks came in the seventh round, so some expectations need to be tempered, but the Cowboys were able to find a defensive end in Ben Gardner, a linebacker in Will Smith, a safety in Ahmad Dixon, a defensive tackle in Ken Bishop and defensive back Terrance Mitchell. If the Cowboys can find three players to fill roles out of that group, they should be happy.

Washington Redskins draft wrap-up

May, 10, 2014
5/10/14
6:35
PM ET
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


ASHBURN, Va. -- A wrap-up of the Washington Redskins' draft. Click here for a full list of Redskins draftees.

Best move: Trading out of the 34th pick overall and picking up another third-round choice. The Redskins did not have a first-round pick, so being able to pick up another choice among the top three rounds was a strong move. The Redskins might have stayed at 34 had linebacker Marcus Smith still been available. The Redskins saw a couple other players they liked get picked as well, so trading back was a no-brainer. Plus, they liked a handful of pass-rushers, so they knew someone they liked would still be around at 47.

[+] EnlargeMorgan Moses
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesOffensive lineman Morgan Moses, taken in the third round, has a chance to develop into a starter.
The Redskins were able to get a player who might help their pass rush in linebacker Trent Murphy and then two players who could be future starters on the offensive line in tackle Morgan Moses -- whom many experts said could go in the first round -- and guard Spencer Long. Though you can debate if the Redskins reached on Murphy -- they liked his all-around game better than Jeremiah Attaochu's -- the bottom line is they found three players who can possibly help instead of two. Murphy could be insurance if Brian Orakpo leaves after this season via free agency. Or Murphy, Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan could form a strong pass-rush group.

Riskiest move: Long from Nebraska in the third round. There is a chance that Long becomes a solid player for the Redskins. One scout called Long a potential longtime starter at center (though the Redskins, for now, view him as a guard). The scout considers him a smart, tough player with good size, so perhaps he works out well -- and might ultimately end up being a steal. However, Long is coming off an ACL tear. It’s always hard to say a team could have waited and still gotten their man with the next pick, but in this case, that could be true. This is more of a pick for 2015 and beyond than anything else, so there is a definite benefit to selecting him. But if he doesn’t pan out, the perception will be that they reached in the third round for a guy who had been hurt.

Most surprising move: Drafting kicker Zach Hocker in the seventh round. The Redskins have Kai Forbath, who has made 35 of 40 field goals in two seasons with Washington. The Redskins don’t like to draft players they feel have no shot at making the roster, so they clearly expect Hocker to do more than compete with Forbath. Hocker could be better than Forbath on kickoffs, too, which would please the Redskins. Still, it’s a bit surprising they ended up drafting more kickers than safeties. But the coaches entered the draft feeling like they had enough competition there already. The same is true at inside linebacker.

File it away: Bashaud Breeland could develop into a solid player and help the Redskins in a variety of ways, perhaps even at safety at some point. The Redskins did not need a cornerback to come in and play immediately; they did not view anyone after the second round as being better than their top three. But Breeland can help right away on special teams -- another area of need. In college, he blitzed well from corner and was never afraid to mix it up against the run. He also plays a physical style the coaches love. The knock on Breeland is speed, so he’ll need some work, but he has a chance.

New York Giants draft wrap-up

May, 10, 2014
5/10/14
5:50
PM ET
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A wrap-up of the New York Giants' draft. Click here for a full list of Giants draftees.

[+] EnlargeWeston Richburg
AP Photo/G.M. AndrewsWeston Richburg, a center out of Colorado State, should be in a good position to compete for the Giants' starting job this season.
Best move: The Giants addressed an immediate and long-term need with the selection of Colorado State center Weston Richburg with the 11th pick of the second round. Richburg played multiple positions and in a variety of different offensive schemes in college, and his versatility, athleticism and intelligence make him a strong fit for the center spot in the Giants' new Ben McAdoo offense. I don't see any reason he can't beat out J.D. Walton for the job right away, and having a center who can handle a variety of responsibilities before the snap and after it should help the offensive line play on either side of him. Richburg's play can also offer the Giants a number of ways to jump-start a running game that never got going in 2013.

Riskiest move: The selection of LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. with the 12th pick of the draft isn't "risky" in the traditional sense -- meaning, I don't think he's a threat to be a bust. I think Beckham is likely to be a very good player for the Giants. But passing on offensive lineman Zack Martin for a potential game-breaking receiver was a risky move. The Giants have let the offensive line decay too much in recent years, and Beckham's ability to separate from defenders isn't going to help them much if the line can't get the play blocked and Eli Manning doesn't have time to get him the ball. The Richburg selection mitigates things somewhat, but adding a first-round talent to the offensive line mix was the best move the Giants could have made in this draft, and they chose not to make it. There's a decent chance that will come back to bite them.

Most surprising move: It was surprising that Boston College running back Andre Williams was still available for the Giants in the fourth round, but it's not surprising they took him. He'll fill a role right away as a power back who can fight for tough yards in the middle of the line -- doing the dirty work while Rashad Jennings and maybe David Wilson get the highlight-reel work. The biggest surprise was the selection of Syracuse defensive tackle Jay Bromley in the third round, with the No. 74 pick. This was a clear reach for a player who mainly had fifth- and sixth-round grades. And, although the Giants cited his 10 sacks from an interior line position in his senior season and the fact he was a team captain as support for the pick, even Bromley said he was shocked to be picked on the draft's second day.

File it away: San Diego State safety Nat Berhe was the Giants' pick in the fifth round, at No. 152. It's the second year in a row they took a safety with the No. 152 pick (Cooper Taylor in 2013). Berhe was also a reach but also a team captain/leader type, like almost everyone they picked. Scouting director Marc Ross said the Giants can envision Berhe as a hybrid safety in what Ross called a "Deon Grant role" in the defense. He wasn't necessarily talking about this year, but if Berhe develops, he could have a path to playing time. Taylor is the only Giants safety under contract beyond 2014 at this point. Antrel Rolle is in his final year; Stevie Brown is coming off ACL surgery; and Will Hill is facing a third drug suspension in as many years.

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