NFC East: Draft Watch 2011 NFC

Draft Watch: NFC East

April, 21, 2011
4/21/11
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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 blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today's topic: Dream scenario/Plan B.

Dallas Cowboys

Dream scenario: If the Cowboys play things the conventional way and sit tight at No. 9, they’ll probably be looking at either defensive end J.J. Watt or offensive tackle Tyron Smith. Either one would provide good value or fill a big need, and the Cowboys would improve. But Dallas owner Jerry Jones doesn’t always do things the conventional way. Although trading up to the top five might be difficult, Jones’ imagination could heat up if LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson makes it past the first five picks. The entire Dallas secondary had a horrible year last season, and Peterson would provide an instant upgrade. Jones might not be able to sit still if he’s within striking distance of Peterson.

Plan B: If there’s no chance at Peterson and the Cowboys aren’t excited enough about Watt or Smith, they could reach slightly and take Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara. He’s the second-best cornerback in this draft, and most mocks have him going somewhere in the teens. If the Cowboys like the player enough, it wouldn’t be much of a reach to just take him. If another team is looking to move up for another player, the Cowboys could drop down a few spots and still have a shot at Amukamara.

Washington Redskins

Dream scenario: The Redskins, who need a quarterback perhaps more than any other team on the planet, would love nothing more than for something bizarre to suddenly cause Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert to start falling. It’s not out of the realm of possibility. Carolina’s leaning toward Newton but hasn’t made a final decision. Even if the Panthers go with Newton, Buffalo could go with linebacker Von Miller at No. 3, and the word out of Arizona is the Cardinals probably are looking more for a pass-rusher than a quarterback. That would put the Redskins within striking distance on Gabbert, and general manager Bruce Allen and owner Daniel Snyder could try to move up to grab him. Or they could just take a chance that he’ll be available at No. 10.

Plan B: If Newton and Gabbert are gone, there’s no quarterback worthy of the No. 10 pick. Defensive tackle also is a major need, but the Redskins could fill that in free agency. Snyder enjoys making a splash, and if he can’t do it with a quarterback, he might do the next-best thing and take a guy who would catch passes from whoever ends up throwing them. With Santana Moss as a free agent and not much else in the receiving corps, Alabama’s Julio Jones could be a very nice consolation prize.

New York Giants

Dream scenario: The desperate need is at outside linebacker, but the only player who is really a sure thing is Miller, and he almost certainly will be a top-five pick. So the dream ends there and reality sets in, and the other reality is the Giants have big needs on the offensive line, where everyone but guard Chris Snee is starting to get old. Florida center/guard Mike Pouncey could really solidify the interior of the line, where the need is greatest. Tackles Gabe Carimi and Anthony Castonzo also could be possibilities as the Giants could consider moving tackle David Diehl to guard.

Plan B: This may sound a bit off the wall because the Giants have decent running backs in Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. But what if Alabama’s Mark Ingram happens to be available? The Giants might have to consider him. He might be better than Bradshaw and Jacobs. Also, along the same lines, don’t rule out the possibility of a defensive tackle like Temple’s Muhammad Wilkerson if he’s available. The Giants appear to be in good shape in the middle of the defensive line, but general manager Jerry Reese places a high value on having lots of depth, especially in the middle of the defensive line.

Philadelphia Eagles

Dream scenario: In a perfect world, the Eagles would package their first pick (No. 23 overall) with quarterback Kevin Kolb and trade their way into the top five, where they would aim for cornerback Peterson. The Eagles have a desperate need for a cornerback to play opposite Asante Samuel, and Peterson is the only sure thing in this draft. But this is not a perfect world. Unless the lockout somehow ends between now and the start of the draft, they’re not allowed to trade Kolb. If they stay put, the Eagles have to hope Amukamara somehow falls to them, or they might have to take a chance on Colorado’s Jimmy Smith, who comes with some background questions.

Plan B: The right side of the offensive line needs to be upgraded. Most teams stay clear of guards in the first round. But tackles Castonzo, Nate Solder and Carimi all could be available when the Eagles pick. Any one of them could step right into the lineup and start.

Draft Watch: NFC East

April, 14, 2011
4/14/11
12:00
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Each Thursday leading up to the NFL draft (April 28-30), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: Draft philosophy.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles have used five of 10 first-round picks on defensive linemen since Andy Reid arrived as coach and top personnel man in 1999. Two more went for wide receivers. The team has taken one quarterback (Donovan McNabb), one defensive back (Lito Sheppard) and one offensive lineman (Shawn Andrews) in the first round during that time.

Reid and the Eagles like to stockpile draft choices. They have used 105 choices since 1999, tied for the fourth-highest total in the league. The figure is 31 over the past three drafts, tied with New England for most in the league.

Philadelphia moved up in the first round in each of the last two drafts. The Eagles traded up to take receiver Jeremy Maclin with the 19th pick in 2009. They traded up to the 13th spot last year, selecting defensive end Brandon Graham.


Dallas Cowboys

Obvious needs on the offensive line will test the Cowboys’ draft philosophy.

The team hasn’t used a first-round choice for the position since 1981. Dallas hasn’t used even a second-round selection for an offensive lineman since selecting Jacob Rogers in 2004.

Owner Jerry Jones has selected skill-position players twice in the past three drafts, landing receiver Dez White and running back Felix Jones.

Overall, however, Dallas has used eight of its last 10 first-round selections for defense.

The Cowboys aren’t afraid to wheel and deal. They’ve traded up or down five times in the last nine first rounds, generally coming out OK. Bryant, cornerback Mike Jenkins (2008), Jones (2008) and linebacker Anthony Spencer (2007) came to the Cowboys with first-round picks acquired from other teams.

Dallas could use help in its secondary, a position the team has periodically addressed early with Jenkins, Terence Newman (2003) and Roy Williams (2002).

Washington Redskins

Mike Shanahan’s personnel decisions in Denver were largely his undoing, clearing the way for him to join the Redskins beginning in 2010.

His last few drafts in Denver did produce some big hits, however. Ryan Clady, Peyton Hillis, Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Elvis Dumervil became quality starters.

Shanahan has been known to focus on draft prospects at their very best, putting less weight into their struggles in the belief that a good coach should be able to realize max potential.

New York Giants

The Giants seem like one of the more methodical teams when it comes to the draft. They haven’t traded up or down in the first round since 2006.

A longtime former league executive told me he thought the Giants were more apt than most teams to target the players they brought in for pre-draft workouts.

Conventional wisdom says the Giants need to address their offensive line and linebacker situations in this draft. It’s easy to see why when looking at recent draft history.

The team has used four of its last five first-round choices for defense -- but none for linebackers -- since using the 2004 draft to select Philip Rivers and trade for Eli Manning.

The Giants have drafted only one offensive lineman and no running backs in the first three rounds since 2005. They’ve remained productive on the ground, but their veteran line could use some reinforcements. The Giants have selected a league-low four offensive linemen in the draft since 2005, a trend that might need to change.

Draft Watch: NFC East

April, 7, 2011
4/07/11
12:00
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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.

Draft Watch: NFC East

March, 31, 2011
3/31/11
12:00
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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: decision-makers.

Dallas Cowboys

Jerry Jones remains the most hands-on owner in the NFL, as reflected by his title of general manager. That makes him more directly responsible for the Cowboys’ draft choices than a typical owner would be. Jones solicits and seems to value input from scouts and coaches. The group has been together long enough for individuals to have a good feel for one another. Tom Ciskowski, who took over the top scouting job after Jeff Ireland left for the Miami Dolphins, has been with the organization since 1992. Coach Jason Garrett, who helped make the call on drafting Felix Jones in 2008, has been with the Cowboys since 2005. Their voices matter, but Jones is the dominant personality in the organization. He makes the call and everyone knows it.

New York Giants

General manager Jerry Reese is the driving force behind the Giants’ draft decisions. He’s methodical and disciplined in his approach, as are the Giants. The team has had only three GMs since George Young first held the job in 1979. Reese has been with the organization since 1994 and has served in the GM role since replacing Ernie Accorsi before the 2007 season. The Giants’ decision to promote Reese following Accorsi’s retirement allowed them to maintain continuity and stability. Winning a Super Bowl following Reese’s first season as GM served as validation. The Giants seem to have a good thing going with Reese and coach Tom Coughlin working together.

Philadelphia Eagles

Coach Andy Reid remains the Eagles’ primary decision-maker on personnel matters. Like any coach, Reid relies upon his personnel department to do the legwork. Unlike most coaches, Reid makes the final decision on draft choices and has done so since his hiring in 1999. The Eagles’ personnel team has evolved in recent seasons. Tom Heckert, the Eagles’ personnel chief through most of Reid’s run as head coach, left to become the Cleveland Browns’ GM following the 2009 season. The Eagles promoted Howie Roseman as Heckert’s successor, a move that maintained continuity. Team president Joe Banner remains influential, but Reid makes the call.

Washington Redskins

Coach Mike Shanahan has more power than any Redskins coach since Dan Snyder purchased the team in 1999. He has wielded that power over defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and flexed it repeatedly in his handling of quarterback Donovan McNabb. Shanahan is the boss and everyone knows it. Snyder has taken a lower profile as a result. Bruce Allen, son of former legendary Redskins coach George Allen, has served as general manager since replacing Vinny Cerrato late in the 2009 season. He brings administrative expertise to the front office. This is Shanahan’s show, however.

Draft Watch: NFC East

March, 24, 2011
3/24/11
12:00
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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: schemes and themes.

Dallas Cowboys

Although Jerry Jones has been reluctant to use early draft picks on offensive linemen over the past six drafts, the Cowboys have a huge hole at right tackle. The interior of this line also could use an influx of young talent. Dallas loves big, mauling, heavy offensive linemen for its scheme. There isn’t a pure prototypical right tackle, per se, who matches up with Dallas’ formula for offensive linemen given where it selects in Round 1, but I contend that USC’s Tyron Smith might be too good to pass up.

Smith doesn’t fit the typical Dallas mold for linemen, but he has put on a lot of weight during the draft process and his upside is off the charts. The Cowboys obviously have a plethora of talent in the passing game, so adding a high-end athlete -- even for the right side -- would be hard to argue with. But if Dallas passes on the offensive line in the first frame, TCU’s Marcus Cannon, Miami’s Orlando Franklin, Florida’s Marcus Gilbert or Baylor’s Danny Watkins all could fit the mold as potential starting right tackles.

New York Giants

Like Dallas, the Giants have not been using their high draft picks on offensive linemen. Their team is traditionally built in the trenches, and it might be time to go back to that way of thinking on the offensive side of the ball. After a rash of injuries last season and a lot of shuffling, New York’s line now has a lot of options and a lot of pieces that can be fit in different spots among the five starting positions. But left tackle isn’t like any other position up front in that typical left tackles have long, athletic builds and are very light on their feet. These types of players usually do not transition well to right tackle or the inside from a power perspective. But a left tackle is the one puzzle piece that is now missing with the Giants’ line and could be their first-round pick.

Although they need to get stronger, Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo, Mississippi State’s Derek Sherrod and Colorado’s Nate Solder leap out at me as players who should fit this mold on the left side. Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi is more “right tackleish” than Castonzo or Solder. He plays stronger and is more NFL-ready, but his tough-guy mentality would fit right in. Also, although he is not a left tackle prospect, Florida’s Mike Pouncey is New York’s type of lineman. He could be difficult to pass on. It seems like a safe bet that New York will have several options to address this need when it gets on the clock.

Philadelphia Eagles

Like the Giants and Cowboys, the Eagles like rugged offensive linemen. It is a rugged division. But their situation is a little different in that their most pressing need up front is at right tackle, which is quarterback Michael Vick’s blind side. Overall, I think that aspect of left-handed quarterbacks is slightly overblown because the right tackle generally faces lesser pass-rushers than the left tackle. But there is no question that the Eagles are a predominantly passing team. So in this case, finding a right tackle with exceptional pass-blocking skills is a must.

The interior of Philadelphia’s line could use some attention as well, but few superior edge pass protectors are also suited for duty at guard or center. The Eagles might have to add two players to truly fortify their offensive line. The Eagles also have not used many early draft picks lately to select offensive line help. But they did use picks to trade for Jason Peters.

Washington Redskins

Last year the Redskins made the transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme. For an odd front to be run properly, an impactful nose tackle is simply a must. After putting far too much faith in the battered Maake Kemoeatu, Washington simply did not have that type of nose tackle. Needless to say, the position is now a problem area, and it could be argued that nose tackle is the very top need on this still-transitioning defense.

But where the Redskins pick in the draft, there isn’t a good fit in terms of value for nose tackles. They could perhaps trade down and select Baylor’s Phil Taylor, who has excellent movement skills for such a massive nose tackle body type. Or maybe the Redskins move up a few spots from where they sit in Round 2 to nab Washington’s Stephen Paea, who is more of a penetrator inside but is very strong. Ole Miss’ Jerrell Powe could be an option a bit later in the draft. But overall, this draft doesn’t match up well with the Redskins’ need at nose tackle. Going the free-agent route might make more sense as a short-term fix.

Draft Watch: NFC East

March, 17, 2011
3/17/11
12:00
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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: draft rewind -- examining the past five drafts.

Dallas Cowboys

Best choice: Mike Jenkins, CB, first round (2008). The Cowboys have selected 40 players over the past five drafts. Jenkins is the only one to earn Pro Bowl honors. Check back in a couple seasons to see whether receiver Dez Bryant has joined him. Doug Free, a fourth-rounder in 2007, made a run at this distinction after emerging as a solid starting left tackle in 2010. Jenkins suffered through a down season and needs to bounce back.

Worst choice: Bobby Carpenter, LB, first round (2006). The Cowboys got very little from Carpenter and their 2006 class overall. Carpenter started three games for Dallas in four seasons with the team. The Cowboys traded him to St. Louis before the 2010 season in a deal that brought them penalty-prone tackle Alex Barron.

On the bubble: Felix Jones, RB, first round (2008). By bubble, we’re not talking about job security, but rather about Jones’ status as a player seeking to realize more of his potential. The weight Jones added last season might have slowed him. He has the talent to take the next step. Improved play from the offensive line would help.

Washington Redskins

Best choice: Brian Orakpo, OLB, first round (2009). Two Pro Bowl appearances in two seasons make Orakpo the clear choice for Washington among the 33 players drafted since 2006. Some of the others are productive, of course, but none has earned Pro Bowl honors.

Worst choice: Chad Rinehart, G, third round (2008). Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly made this a three-way race. The Redskins have used only nine choices in the first three rounds of the past five drafts. I wasn’t going to single out later-round picks as disappointments. Rinehart suffered a broken fibula during his second season. He had a DUI arrest shortly after Mike Shanahan arrived as head coach. The Redskins released Rinehart before last season.

On the bubble: Kevin Barnes, CB, third round (2009). Barnes has only two starts, but he finished strong last season after getting a look at safety. Barnes picked off a pass against Jacksonville to set up the winning field goal in overtime. A sign of things to come?

Philadelphia Eagles

Best choice: DeSean Jackson, WR, second round (2008). Jackson is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. Making two Pro Bowls in three seasons is particularly impressive for a receiver. Lots of receivers put up good numbers, but few can match Jackson in the big-play department. He is a game-changer.

Worst choice: Tony Hunt, RB, third round (2007). Hunt was a curious selection because he didn’t seem to fit the Eagles’ offense. The team tried Hunt at fullback before releasing him during the 2008 season. Hunt has recently resurfaced in an Austrian league. Seriously.

On the bubble: Kevin Kolb, QB, second round (2007). Kolb enters a crossroads season with the Eagles after losing the starting job to Michael Vick. It was nothing personal -- Vick simply outplayed him. Will the Eagles trade Kolb or keep him around?

New York Giants

Best choice: Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, seventh round (2007). Bradshaw broke out with 1,235 yards and eight touchdowns last season. That was terrific production for any back, let alone one selected with the 250th overall choice. Bradshaw lost five fumbles in the first 10 games of the season, however, and lost his starting job.

Worst choice: Sinorice Moss, WR, second round (2006). Moss started only two games and caught three touchdown passes during four seasons with the Giants. A hernia injury sidelined Moss last season, and the team released him. He has not played in a game since 2009. The Eagles signed Moss earlier this offseason.

On the bubble: Aaron Ross, CB, first round (2007). Ross has only two starts with no interceptions over the past two seasons, a sharp downturn from his first two seasons. Injuries have played a leading role in Ross’ diminished production. A hamstring injury bothered him in 2009. Plantar fasciitis was a problem last season. He needs to get healthy.

Draft Watch: NFC East

March, 10, 2011
3/10/11
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: biggest team needs.

Dallas Cowboys

While its 2010 record did not show it, Dallas has an excellent roster. I see only two major areas to attack this offseason: the secondary and the offensive line. On the back end of the defense, the Cowboys have to add one more cornerback to the mix -- preferably one with the talent to challenge for a starting spot before long. But I see free safety as the bigger need in Dallas’ secondary. A rangy, ball-hawking center fielder type could make a lot of secondary problems go away. Locking up defensive end Stephen Bowen also would be the smart move, but adding another end to the mix even if he does stay also makes sense.

On the offensive line, Doug Free and Kyle Kosier are up for free agency. The Cowboys must bring back Free. Dallas also needs to acquire a starting right tackle, because that position was a major liability last season. Adding youth to the interior should be a priority. Adding a big-time prospect like Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara or USC tackle Tyron Smith or even Cal’s defensive end Cameron Jordan with the ninth pick overall could be exactly what the doctor ordered.

New York Giants

The running back position is somewhat unsettled, and if Ahmad Bradshaw were to depart, replacing him would be priority No. 1. But overall, I see the Giants’ offensive needs up front on the offensive line. There was just too much shuffling with this unit in 2010 -- mostly because of injuries. But if the Giants could add an infusion of youth -- specifically at left tackle -- this line might quickly get back to the extremely high level it played at in previous seasons. Kevin Boss is a free agent, which would open up a hole for a starting tight end should he leave.

On defense, the Giants are loaded up front and at safety. But linebacker help would be a huge boost to an already solid defensive nucleus. Adding a cornerback to compete for playing time also would make sense. But I see an every-down, versatile outside linebacker as the position New York would most like to add on the defensive side of the ball right now.

Philadelphia Eagles

The biggest need I see for the Eagles is at cornerback. If they could find a legit starter opposite Asante Samuel, this defense could be poised to jump into the elite category. Maybe they get involved with Nnamdi Asomugha? Depth at the position is also a problem, so adding two bodies at corner could be a wise move. The rest of the defense could use some tweaking, maybe by adding another linebacker or two because there could be change at that position. Another possibility would be adding a defensive end, but those needs pale in comparison next to cornerback. However, if Quintin Mikell were to depart in free agency, a massive hole would emerge at safety. Philly cannot afford to let Mikell walk.

On offense, Andy Reid has never been shy about fortifying his offensive line, and I fully expect him to go that direction again this offseason. Right tackle was a big problem last season, and adding a guard to the mix might make some sense as well. Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi would be a great fit in the first round. Overall, the Eagles don’t have a ton of pressing needs, but if Jerome Harrison leaves, then a backup to LeSean McCoy will be required as well.

Washington Redskins

I hate to say it, but I believe the Redskins need everything. On offense, they need help in all areas except tight end. On defense, they need help in all areas except safety. That sounds extreme -- and it is. But for the Redskins to catch up with the other teams in the division, a lot of work needs to be done.

On offense, they could use a right tackle if Jammal Brown leaves via free agency. They also probably need interior offensive line help no matter what. The running backs are pedestrian. The wideout group needs an influx of talent, and would be decimated if Santana Moss departed. At quarterback, few teams are in as bad of shape as the Redskins right now.

The defensive side looks better, but really, how many building block players are in place? I like the safeties. Among other things, nose tackle is a massive need if the team is to properly run the 3-4. Brian Orakpo is a great young player, but they need a pass-rusher opposite him. They don’t have many good fits overall for the 3-4. And -- by the way -- their kicking specialists might need to be replaced.

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