NFC East: dwayne allen

The New York Giants drafting for need? Quick, somebody check and make sure death and taxes are still OK.

The Giants love to take the best player available, stressing value and using the draft as a means of building and maintaining a deep roster rather than drafting to fill immediate needs. But they've made four picks now, and each of the four appears to have at least something to do with filling a current roster hole.

The latest was the 32nd pick in the fourth round, which the Giants used to take tight end Adrien Robinson from Cincinnati. Yes, they already signed Martellus Bennett in free agency, but remember, they lost two tight ends to torn ACLs in the Super Bowl, so there was room for another. After using their first three picks on a running back, a wide receiver and a cornerback -- all positions from which they lost 2011 contributors to free agency -- they used their fourth to help fill a hole created by injury.

It's not strictly a need pick, though. Since it's the Giants, it's still a smart value pick. Remember, there was talk during mock-draft season of the Giants taking a tight end such as Coby Fleener or Dwayne Allen in the first or second rounds. But the Giants didn't think taking a tight end that early would have maximized the value of those early-round picks, and it's possible they had their eye on Robinson as a mid-round value pick all along. Robinson has great athletic ability, great speed and great size (6-4, 267) for the tight end position. He may be a project tight end, but the Giants love their tight ends coach and they love the track record their coaching staff and veteran players have of developing draft picks into contributors to championship teams.

Mock draft: Kiper on the NFC East

February, 15, 2012
By now, all of you draft-crazy maniacs must know that Mel Kiper Jr. has released his second mock draft. It's Insider Insider (and no, we're not just doing Insider stuff today — it's a coincidence, and for goodness' sake, it's a mock draft!), but I asked Mel and he said it'd be OK if I told you guys who he has the four NFC East teams taking. Just this once.

6. Washington Redskins: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU. Mel believes the Redskins could move out of this slot***, in particular if they make a play to move up and take quarterback Robert Griffin III. But Mel's mocks don't deal in potential trades, and he believes Claiborne represents the best value for Washington at No. 6, even given the team's obvious needs on offense. Mel says Claiborne "is actually a better pure cover corner than Patrick Peterson, the No. 5 overall pick from last year." No question, that would help.

14. Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron, S, Alabama. Yes, a big percentage of this year's first round will be players who played in the BCS National Championship Game. Mel thinks Dallas' biggest need is defensive back, and he thinks the safety Barron represents better value at 14 than the next-best cornerback he has still available (Barron's teammate, Dre Kirkpatrick). As ever, the caveat is what happens in free agency. If they get a bunch of defensive backs in free agency, I believe they'll be looking for a pass rusher here. The next pass rusher off Mel's board is Illinois' Whitney Mercilus, whom he has going to Tennessee at No. 20.

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Fletcher Cox, DT Mississippi State. Mel has Luke Kuechly gone already, and while linebacker is the Eagles' greater need, he doesn't see value for them at that position in this spot. I kind of agree, though if they don't get a linebacker here I think they need to make sure and get one in Round 2 or 3. Cox would help shore up the middle of Jim Washburn's defensive line rotation.

32. New York Giants: Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson. The champs lost two tight ends in the Super Bowl, and if Allen's still on the board at 32, he makes as much sense as anyone. If not, my guess is they pick an offensive lineman here.

***NOTE: This isn't, per se, an NFC East point, but it does affect the Redskins, at least tangentially. Mel has the Rams taking Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon with the No. 2 pick, and it made me think about the Rams' leverage in these negotiations with the teams that will want the pick to ensure they get Griffin. Even if, say, the Redskins become the only team willing to trade for the pick, the Rams still have plenty of leverage. Someone like Blackmon or USC tackle Matt Kalil would fill a major need for them, and if no team wants to give them the multiple-first-round-picks package they'll surely be seeking in exchange, they can very easily stay right where they are and get a potentially great player who can help them for years to come. It's not as though the Rams need to be out of No. 2. They'll only do it if they get blown away. Worth keeping in mind.

Mocking the NFC East

February, 3, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS -- While we've all been running around here at the Super Bowl, creating web video content and working to find new and interesting angles on the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. Todd McShay did a mock draft Insider. God love him.

It's Insider, but if you promise not to tell anyone, I can let you know who he's projecting in the first round for each of our four teams. Ssssshhhh....

6. Washington Redskins: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State. Todd couches this, saying it assumes the Redskins don't trade up for Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. He has Griffin and LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne gone by No. 6, and Blackmon would fill the Redskins' most significant non-quarterback need.

14. Dallas Cowboys: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama. This guy is moving up quickly after a strong Senior Bowl showing. He comes with plenty of baggage, including some legal issues, which is why he was at North Alabama. But he can cover, and the Cowboys do need corners who can cover.

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Devon Still, DT, Penn State. It seems the idea here is that a linebacker would be a reach at his spot. (Luke Kuechly is already gone by this spot in this mock.) Todd says he has an early second-round grade on Still, who's a physical specimen with upside, but that others are rating him as a mid first-rounder. You know Andy Reid wouldn't shy away from picking a defensive lineman.

31. New York Giants: Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson. Interesting. I keep thinking linebacker, offensive line, maybe running back if they do part ways with Brandon Jacobs. But Allen would be another fun weapon for Eli Manning as the Giants become more and more of a passing team. And yeah, we know the Giants will pick 32nd and not 31st if they win Sunday night.