With the release of the NFL schedule and subsequent draft, our ESPN.com panelists raced to their laptops Friday to produce some offseason power rankings. Let's take a long look at where the four teams from the Beast ended up. The Redskins can thank Hall of Famer John Clayton (No. 12?!!) for helping them move up six spots from the end of the '09 regular season to No. 23. Paul Kuharsky and Jeff Chadiha weren't all that impressed with the Donovan McNabb trade, deciding to rank the Skins 28th.
No. 5 Dallas Cowboys -- The Cowboys dropped a spot in the rankings following the draft mainly because of Kuharsky. His No. 7 vote canceled out Clayton's No. 4. And in case you were wondering, Clayton's 11.25 average overall ranking of the NFC East was by far the highest among our esteemed panelists. Chadiha turned up his nose at the Beast with a stunning 16.75.
No. 13 Philadelphia Eagles -- Clayton's passion for the McNabb trade hurt the Eagles in the rankings. The Eagles fell six spots from their January ranking based on the voters' refusal to believe in young Kevin Kolb. Clayton dropped the Eagles 10 spots. Chadiha gave the Eagles their highest vote with a No. 11 ranking, but Clayton's 18 was too much for Kolb and the Eagles to overcome. I admire that Clayton's sticking to his guns with his prediction that the Skins will challenge the Cowboys for Beast supremacy.
No. 17. New York Giants -- Outside of the Redskins, the Giants caused the biggest disparity among voters. Clayton apparently loved the Giants' defensive draft in moving them all the way up to No. 11. But Chadiha is not easily impressed. He had the Giants at No. 22. Tom Coughlin could not be reached for comment, but I'm told he was seething after the power rankings were posted in the locker room.
No. 23. Washington Redskins -- As we mentioned earlier, Clayton has fallen in love with this team. His No. 12 ranking caused several shouts of joy at Redskins Park. I'm told the chant "Professor loves us!" was used to break the huddle after a recent conditioning session. General manager Bruce Allen is in the process of reaching out to Kuharsky and Chadiha to see if they heard about the McNabb trade.
"Who do I talk to at the blog network?" said Allen after being told that such a network exists.
Other items of note: Clayton dropped the Eagles a whopping 10 spots since the McNabb trade. ... Chadiha had five other divisions ranked ahead of the Beast, but the division still finished second behind the AFC South in the overall rankings. ... Clayton moved the Skins up 17 spots from the January rankings, which is believed to be a new record for biggest offseason reaction to a trade. ... What caused Kuharsky to drop the Cowboys four spots in his rankings? Well, maybe I'll ask him this afternoon.
How would you guys rank the NFC East teams right now? And why would you rank them that way? I'll peruse the "comments" section (at my own risk) and will likely print some of my favorite responses at some point this week.