NFC East: Russell Okung

Age: 43

Position: Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator

[+] EnlargeDarrell Bevell
Bob Donnan/USA TODAY SportsDarrell Bevell has been an assistant in smaller markets during his entire NFL coaching career.
Recent background: Bevell has served as the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator the past three seasons. His offense ranked 23rd in points per game in 2011 (28th in yards). But in the past two years they’re ninth and eighth, respectively, in points per game (and 17th both years in total yards).

Past stops: Bevell started his NFL coaching career as a Green Bay offensive assistant in 2000. Three years later he became their quarterbacks coach and three years after that Bevell was named Minnesota’s offensive coordinator. Quarterback Brett Favre posted a career-best 107.2 passer rating under Bevell in 2009, when the offense finished No. 2 in points per game (In his five years with Minnesota, they were 26th, 15th, 12th, second and 29th in points per game). Bevell was not retained when interim coach Leslie Frazier became the head coach for the 2011 season. He started four seasons at quarterback for the University of Wisconsin.

What I’ve heard about him: Seattle coach Pete Carroll expects Bevell to be a head coach in 2014. While the Seahawks’ offense has been inconsistent, what’s impressed many is that they’ve still been productive despite playing most of the season minus receivers Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin and half the season without tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini. Bevell is considered matter-of-fact and not flashy, but open and honest. One ex-NFL general manager said he likes Bevell and thinks he’s a good coach, but said his personality is not that of a head coach.

Potential fit: Bevell has done excellent work in Seattle. They’re still playing with a young quarterback who was a third-round pick and they haven’t played much with their true starting lineup. Yes, Russell Wilson would have gone in the (late) first round had he been a couple inches taller. Still, he’s a young quarterback and Bevell and the Seahawks have done a good job winning with him (yes, with a great defense). It was Bevell who wanted Wilson to start right away over Matt Flynn, so he has some conviction and doesn’t appear afraid to make what was considered a gutsy move after they traded for Flynn. It's not like every team was raving about Wilson before the draft, either. I like that Bevell is younger. But I’d very much worry about his low-key personality in this organization. That’s not the sort owner Dan Snyder wants or needs; I think it would make it harder for Bevell to thrive in Washington. Also, several coaches from the past have talked about working in a big market; Bevell has been in Green Bay, Minnesota and Seattle. I'd worry about him being overwhelmed by the demands of the job in Washington, from maneuvering inside the organization -- knowing how to handle the owner is only part of it -- to dealing with outside pressures.

Suggested reading: A little bit on his offensive philosophy. Really, the first graph is the one that’s applicable. … A little bit more on his philosophy regarding audibles, from his Minnesota days. … A year ago, Bevell said, “We’re a running team.”… Too much verbiage? ... Vikings' loss was Seahawks' gain. ... An interesting look on his time in Minnesota.
Three days left until the big showdown between the Cowboys and the Giants in the NFC East, and yeah, they're chirping. We'll get you all caught up with the links.

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware thinks the reason Giants defensive end Justin Tuck doesn't like Cowboys Stadium is because Tuck is jealous and secretly wants to play for the Cowboys. I'm pretty sure this is untrue, since I've always thought Tuck hated the Cowboys, but I don't know maybe Ware has his reasons for believing what he believes. He also says some stuff in Calvin Watkins' post about how the Cowboys need to get their manhood back, but that it's not just the Giants they need to get it back from or something like that, I didn't really understand. And Mike Jenkins calls Brandon Jacobs "a bully" in reference to his on-field trash talk, which we've heard before. So I don't know. I guess they don't like each other, Cowboys and Giants, is the upshot.

Manhood or not, the Cowboys do appear as though they'll get fullback Tony Fiammetta back for the game. The Cowboys are averaging 5.6 yards per carry this year when Fiammetta plays and 3.2 when he doesn't. His may be a more important return from injury than Miles Austin's.

New York Giants

As Ohm Youngmisuk points out, the Giants have won five of the last seven meetings between these teams and Eli Manning has had some of the best games of his career against Dallas. That, plus the fact that Manning is playing at as high a level as he ever has entering this final stretch, gives him and the Giants confidence as they gear up for Sunday's game.

When left tackle Will Beatty had to have surgery to repair a detached retina, veteran David Diehl had to move back from left guard to his old left tackle spot. His transition has been smooth and has helped the line play well in Beatty's absence, which comes as no surprise to his teammates, as Mike Garafolo writes.

Philadelphia Eagles

Marcus Hayes heard what Andy Reid said about the Eagles being the youngest team in the league, and he understands that most people heard it as an excuse. But Marcus points out that, excuse or not, it might be true, and the fact that the Eagles are as young as they are at linebacker and safety has contributed to the struggles of the defense. Now, you can make the argument that it's Reid's fault they were so young at those spots and they could have found a veteran or two to help out. But as for whether youth and inexperience at those spots contributed to the problem, sure.

Trent Cole defended the play that ended the season of Seattle tackle Russell Okung. Cole was fined $7,500 for that play but said it wasn't dirty, that he plans to appeal the fine and sheesh, whatever you do, he'd really like you not to compare him to Ndamukong Suh. That's apparently one of the worst things you can say about somebody right now.

Washington Redskins

I feel like we've clobbered the Trent Williams and Fred Davis suspensions pretty hard here, so we'll move on from commenting on those. (Though I reserve the right to point out the ways in which their absence affects the offense once people start asking, "What's wrong with our offense?") One piece of the fallout, Mike Jones says, might be more work for veteran fullback Mike Sellers, who has played more recently due to Darrel Young's concussion and says he's ready for more work if need be.

That offense could find some passing yards this weekend against a soft Patriots defense. But Rex Grossman says the key will be to sustain drives and find a way to finish things off in the fourth quarter -- something they couldn't do last week against the Jets.

Giants want this to be only trip to Seattle

November, 7, 2010
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The New York Giants haven't fared well in Seattle over the years, so they want to make sure to not return to Qwest Field for a playoff game this season. ESPN.com's John Clayton addressed this topic in his weekly First-and-10 column.

"The Giants have had two bad experiences going cross-country and playing the Seahawks," writes the affable Professor Clayton. "In 2005, they lost in overtime, 24-21. The next year, they lost a 42-30 shootout in which the Seahawks jumped to a 35-0 first-half lead. The games have been marred with false starts and mistakes. If the Giants lose, it could set up a possible return to Qwest in the playoffs. For that to happen, the Seahawks would have to win the NFC West and the Giants would have to get a wild card behind either the Eagles or Redskins. Winning Sunday would put the Giants on a path to win the NFC East and to not have to worry about traveling back to Seattle."

It's a shame the NFC West gets to send a team to the playoffs, but it's something the league refuses to address. And Clayton certainly has a point. The Giants can't afford to lose to an injury-depleted Seahawks team and run the risk of returning in the wild-card round of the playoffs. I think the Eagles are about to get on a little roll, so the Giants need to keep stacking wins.

Scout's honor: Answering your questions

April, 27, 2010
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Since the draft ended Saturday afternoon, I've been on the phone with scouts from across the league trying to figure how they thought the NFC East teams performed. Many of you (100 at last count) left questions for the scouts in the "comments" section. I asked the following question on behalf of "dnasemployee."

Question: I understand that Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, drafted in the fourth round by the Cowboys, is a project safety and will take a few years before he develops into a starter. Given his skill set, what type of potential does he have, what obstacles would he have to overcome and who is he comparable to?

AFC scout: I see him as more of a safety than a cornerback. He'd have to be a press corner if he plays that position. He's certainly athletic enough to be effective, but you have to wonder about the pedigree a little bit. He hasn't played stiff competition, so it's hard to have a great feel for him. He needs a lot of drill work and he's going to have to become more savvy as a technician. I think he could eventually start, but for now, he'll only be ready for some special-teams duty. He's sort of built like the Giants' Kenny Phillips, although he's not there talent-wise. Not a bad pick in the fourth round. It's not like you're expecting to find an immediate starter that late in the draft. He's a project.

Mosley: You guys asked some great questions. I'll keep rolling these out over the next couple of weeks. Thanks for your participation. Ttoes9528 asked for a scout to compare Trent Williams to Russell Okung. Here's what I came up with.

Skins' Kelly defends Williams' honor

April, 26, 2010
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As most of you know, the knock on Oklahoma left tackle Trent Williams was that he had a somewhat questionable work ethic. But he also has enormous potential as an NFL left tackle and that's why the Redskins made him the No. 4 overall selection. Williams' former teammate in high school, college and now the pros, Malcolm Kelly, refuted some of the claims about work ethic.

"It does bother me," Kelly told the Post on Sunday. "See, the thing about the draft, too, man, is somebody's always going to find some reason as to why they shouldn't pick you where everybody thinks you should get picked. There's always going to be some kind of knock.

"I've never heard of anybody going up to the draft, especially a high draft pick, where they're not saying something's wrong with him. It does kind of bother me, but I know Trent. He's not going to say too much about it. But then when people see him out there pancaking people, then they'll realize."

By the way, I'll be talking to Williams via phone either Friday or Saturday. Feel free to leave some questions for him in the "comments" section. I reached out to an AFC scout this morning and asked him to compare Williams to Oklahoma State left tackle Russell Okung, who went sixth overall to the Seahawks.

"Williams has all the tools," said the longtime scout. "He was just a little bit of an underachiever in college. Okung was the opposite. Everything came easy for Williams because he's such an athlete. I would say that Okung's a little more reliable."

I'll have more from the scouting community throughout the week.

Answering your scouting questions

April, 26, 2010
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I've spent the past two hours visiting with scouts across the league about their draft classes. If you'd like to ask a specific question to an anonymous scout, just leave it in the "comments" section. I would suggest choosing a rookie from the NFC East and firing away.

I'll ask a few of your questions and then post the answers either today or tomorrow. I'm particularly interested in finding out what scouts thought of the Eagles trading up 11 spots to select Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham. And I'll get some specifics on what scouts liked and disliked about Dez Bryant.

You interested in reading more on Giants defensive tackle Linval Joseph? Well, I'll ask scouts about his strengths and weaknesses. And I'm not going to allow scouts to brag about their own players. That's no fun. I've lined up some AFC scouts to discuss the NFC East rookie class.

Did the Redskins do the right thing in taking Trent Williams over Russell Okung? I'll let you know what the scouts think.

NFC East draft analysis

April, 24, 2010
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NFC draft analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

The Washington Redskins were the only team in the division to keep this draft from being all about defense. The Giants' once-vaunted defense was embarrassed in '09 and general manager Jerry Reese and coach Tom Coughlin spent three days trying to rectify the situation. Who will start at middle linebacker, though? It's a fair question.

It was a memorable three days in the Beast. Now, let's take a look back at what transpired. It's never too early for some knee-jerk reaction.

Best move

I think Cowboys owner Jerry Jones moving up three spots in the first round to select Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant may have been the best move in the division. He's a top-10 talent (No. 8 on the Boys' board) who comes with some baggage. Yes, there were teams scared of him. But I couldn't find a scout around the league who said he would've passed on Bryant at No. 24 overall. It was also a shrewd move because the Ravens were waiting for Bryant at No. 25. Patriots coach Bill Belichick blocked an AFC playoff team by making the trade with Jones.

Other teams were worried about Bryant's association with Dallas area businessman David Wells, who helped guide (his nephew) Michael Crabtree into a holdout last fall. I'm told by folks at Valley Ranch that Jones knows exactly how to deal with Wells and that it shouldn't be a problem. The unfair thing for Bryant was that some folks assumed he wasn't a good kid because his stock was falling. Of the eight or nine scouts I asked about Bryant during the buildup to the draft, every one of them said he was essentially a good kid. He was just extremely immature and had a problem showing up to places on time. He's hands down the best receiver in the draft and I think the potential reward far outweighs the risk -- especially where he was drafted. The Tim Tebow trade immediately trumped Bryant's selection in terms of excitement, but Bryant will be contributing a lot sooner than the former Florida quarterback.

Riskiest move

You'll think I'm crazy (as usual), but the Redskins choosing Oklahoma left tackle Trent Williams No. 4 overall is one of the riskiest moves of the draft. I agree that he has tremendous potential, but he's not a finished product at left tackle. Oklahoma State's Russell Okung would have been a no-brainer starter at left tackle from Day 1. Williams has more versatility and he's a better fit in the Redskins' zone-blocking scheme, but it's wrong to suggest that he's anywhere close to the "safest" pick in the top-10. If you want to know why I'm a little skeptical, go back and watch the OU-BYU game on tape. Sam Bradford remembers what I'm talking about.

[+] EnlargeTrent Williams
J.P. Wilson/Icon SMITrent Williams, the No. 4 overall selection, is far from a finished product.
On the positive side, Williams is an exceptional athlete and I love watching him finish off blocks. I think Mike Shanahan always has Ryan Clady on his mind these days. And Williams has that type of potential. But you're going to have to live with some mistakes. Don't be shocked if Williams has to begin his career at right tackle. I shudder to think what he'll look like in that first game against DeMarcus Ware. I flew back from Indianapolis with both of those players after the combine. Williams didn't recognize Ware on that flight. Something tells me he won't have a problem putting a face to a name Sept. 12.


Most surprising move

Maybe I haven't been fair enough to Eagles general manager Howie Roseman. On the second day of the draft, I was really impressed by the way he moved all over the board and kept acquiring extra picks. I'd heard from both Eagles and Cowboys sources that the fourth round was going to contain a ton of "value," and Roseman apparently took that to heart. By trading down twice in the 50s, he basically took over the fourth round. The Eagles had four picks in the fourth and then they found another pass-rusher in the fifth with Clemson defensive end Ricky Sapp. He's an undersized player who has exceptional quickness. I think he probably reminded Andy Reid of Trent Cole, a player who the Eagles landed in the fifth round a few years back. I guess the "surprising" aspect of all this is how comfortable Roseman looked while running his first draft. Even the stoic Andy Reid admitted that he was entertained by watching Roseman at work.

It was also bold to move from No. 24 to 13 in order to land Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham. ESPN's Sal Paolantonio has reported that Reid and Roseman may have wanted to preempt the Giants from taking Graham. Of course, general manager Jerry Reese will never acknowledge that he coveted Graham, but it's an interesting theory.

File it away

I could almost sense that Tom Coughlin and Jerry Reese were seething about the '09 season during this draft. Everyone wanted them to take a middle linebacker in the first round, but it didn't happen. The Giants made this draft about reclaiming the line of scrimmage. They started out with the immensely talented, but somewhat unproven, South Florida defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and then selected an enormous defensive tackle from East Carolina named Linval Joseph in the second round. Even when you thought they might turn to offense in the sixth round, they went with a sleeper defensive end out of Williams & Mary named Adrian Tracy. This pick had Reese written all over it because he loves overachieving kids from small schools. Tracy's not a three-down lineman by any stretch of the imagination, but he gives the Giants more options. If the Giants are able to become an elite defense again, we'll point back to the 2010 draft as a major turning point. In terms of potential impact players, this reminds me of the '07 draft. And that's a great thing for Giants fans.

One other thing to file away

The Cowboys moved up to take Penn State linebacker Sean Lee in the second round. They see him as the eventual successor to Keith Brooking at inside linebacker. Other scouts around the league were very concerned about Lee's torn ACL that caused him to miss the '08 season. If he's healthy, the Cowboys will have a starter in the near future. And you can probably go ahead and say goodbye to the Bobby Carpenter era. I'll say one thing for Carpenter. I've never seen a guy respond to intense criticism with such extreme grace. Perhaps he'll find a team that will truly value his ability to cover running backs and tight ends in space.

Shanahan likes Williams' versatility

April, 23, 2010
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Redskins coach Mike Shanahan kept bringing up Broncos offensive tackle Ryan Clady's name while discussing his new left tackle, Trent Williams. Shanahan took Clady early in the first round and he's emerged as one of the best offensive linemen in the league.

Williams
Williams
The Redskins believed that Williams was a better fit for their zone-blocking scheme than Oklahoma State's Russell Okung. And the fact that Williams can play pretty much any position on the line didn't hurt, either. His former Oklahoma teammate Sam Bradford talked about Williams' willingness to move to center for a game last season. Shanahan is obviously hoping Williams can start at left tackle immediately, but if he's not quite ready, it sounds like there will be an opening for him at right tackle. The Redskins' new coach said that Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops influenced his decision.

"I wanted to get a little reinforcement from him," said Shanahan of Stoops. "He’s been around a lot of good football players throughout his career. There are not many athletes that are 315 pounds and can run in that 4.8 range and show the type of athleticism that we look for. We do run that zone-blocking scheme. A very agile offensive tackle is something we look for. Sometimes it is hard to find unless you do pick in the first round or early in the first round and we think we found a guy that can really help us."

Here's what Shanahan said when asked where Williams would line up in 201o:

"Well I think the left tackle is the hardest position to play. So we would like him to come in and compete at the left tackle position. But he has a lot of experience at the right tackle position. He has played the center position. I think he’s got the ability to play the guard position as well, very effectively. We will pencil him in at left tackle and hopefully he will help us there."

I know the Redskins were intrigued by the playmaking skills of Eric Berry, but Williams was the right pick. You can't send Donovan McNabb into a season without a decent left tackle. I've actually heard arguments lately about how left tackles are overrated. Well, try telling that to Jason Campbell. By the way, I'll visit with Campbell on Friday and see if he's heard anything on the trade front.

We'll also keep our ear to the ground on a potential Albert Haynesworth trade. That could certainly happen during the second round.

Berry to Skins talk heats up

April, 22, 2010
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As we mentioned earlier, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen have done a superb job of keeping everyone in the dark about the No. 4 pick. For weeks, everyone assumed Oklahoma State left tackle Russell Okung would be the Skins' choice. But in recent days, Oklahoma left tackle Trent Williams has become the favorite of mock draft specialists.

Now, former Tennessee safety Eric Berry, believed to be headed to the Chiefs at No. 5, is starting to get some burn in Washington. Jason Reid of The Washington Post said he thinks there's a "60 percent" chance the Skins will take Berry. But he sort of hedges his bet by saying the Redskins have too many other holes to fill. I think Shanahan and Allen have thoroughly confused everyone, which was probably their intention.

And I love the irony of Vinny Cerrato suggesting the Redskins should select an offensive lineman with the No. 4 pick. I can hear Skins fans yelling a collective, "Then why didn't you do it, Vinny?"

Check out our man Cerrato's podcast about what goes into preparing for a draft.

Skins draft-day nuggets: Bradford in play?

April, 22, 2010
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By his presence alone, Mike Shanahan made the Washington Redskins relevant again in the league. Then he followed it up with the most fascinating trade of the past two decades -- in my opinion. Because of the Donovan McNabb trade, a lot of us are wondering whether Shanahan and Bruce Allen have another trick up their sleeves with the No. 4 overall pick.

The mock draft coalition has swung its support toward Oklahoma left tackle Trent Williams with that pick. There's a belief that his ability to play other positions on the line makes him even more valuable. But the King of the Mock (sorry, Mel), Rick "Goose" Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News, is sticking with Oklahoma State's Russell Okung at No. 4. You have to admire Shanahan and Allen's secrecy. Other than sending out quarterback smokescreens ("we LOVE Jimmy Clausen"), the two have played it close to the vest.

There are even rumors the Redskins could bypass a left tackle and take safety Eric Berry, who may be the safest choice in the entire draft based on his remarkable college career and skillset. Mike Wise of the Post is a little bummed that he thinks the Redskins will do the right thing tonight. He misses being able to criticize Vinny Cerrato before the pick is even made.

Rick Maese of the Post has a nice breakdown of all the Skins' options. There's a chance one of the top defensive tackles in the draft -- Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy -- could be available at No. 4. Oh, and don't forget that Shanahan and Allen could try to bail out on the pick and try to land some picks on Day 2.

Dan Graziano of AOL Fanhouse is reporting that Washington is still having "discussions" with the Rams about moving up to select quarterback Sam Bradford. But while I do believe that Shanahan thinks Bradford is a remarkable talent, I don't see him creating an awkward situation with McNabb. It would certainly be the splashiest move of the draft, but it doesn't make a lot of sense.

The Skins' beat writer for the Post, Jason Reid, also thinks Bradford is still in play. I think the Skins want us to believe that just about everyone is "in play." I'd expect the Redskins to be on the clock at about 8:15 p.m. ET. This should be very interesting. Part of me wants to hop a plane to Redskins Park this very minute.

Draft Watch: NFC East

April, 21, 2010
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NFC dream/Plan B: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)

Each week leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), 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

I guess a dream scenario would be someone like Texas safety Earl Thomas slipping all the way to No. 27, but we know that will never happen. So a more realistic "dream" might be a team behind the Cowboys desperately wanting safety Taylor Mays. I don't believe the Cowboys want Mays, but he would be tempting if he's still there at No. 27. If the Cowboys can bail out on that pick and land an extra one, that would be a positive scenario. If none of that works, the Cowboys will stay at home and take someone such as USC left tackle Charles Brown or Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty. We know they love safety Nate Allen, but No. 27 is too high for him.

New York Giants

The dream scenario is Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain slipping to No. 15. But that seems like a stretch at this point. If McClain's not there, the Giants will be looking at defensive tackle Dan Williams. They need another defensive tackle who can hold at the point of attack. Williams would be that player. He'd be an immediate upgrade to Rocky Bernard and he would likely push Chris Canty. General manager Jerry Reese loves creating competition in training camp. I think Idaho guard Mike Iupati could also be an option in a Plan B scenario.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles would be thrilled with Texas safety Earl Thomas, but he'll never slide to No. 24. And that's why I'm sticking with Boise State cornerback Kyle Wilson as the Plan B. He has the tools to be a starter in the league for several years. Another strong Plan B would be Florida center/guard Maurkice Pouncey. Andy Reid would be thrilled to land Pouncey. Especially with Jamaal Jackson recovering from the knee surgery.

Washington Redskins

I guess the dream scenario would be thwarting Andy Reid's evil plan and landing Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford. It wouldn't thrill Donovan McNabb, but it would give the Redskins more of a long-term answer than McNabb. But I don't see that scenario happening, so let's go with a left tackle at Plan B in Oklahoma State's Russell Okung or perhaps Oklahoma left tackle Trent Williams. Is it just me or is the Big 12 going to dominate the top of the draft board?

The Skins need more draft picks. That's why they should pull the trigger on an Albert Haynesworth. It's clear that Shanahan doesn't want to move forward with the talented defensive tackle. See what a team's willing to give up for him. I think you'd at least get a second-round pick.

My favorite mock draft of the weekend

April, 18, 2010
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In case you missed it Saturday afternoon on ESPN Radio, Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay delivered a rapid-fire mock draft in which McShay selected the odd number picks and Kiper took care of the evens. This exercise is a lot closer to what teams will be doing in draft sessions next week.

Forced to make picks in a matter of seconds, Kiper and McShay produced a fairly intriguing first round. Let's take a look at what happened in the NFC East:

4. Washington Redskins -- OT Russell Okung, Oklahoma State: Not a big surprise here. Most mock drafters should nail the first four picks.

15. New York Giants -- DT Dan Williams, Tennessee: The Broncos took linebacker Rolando McClain at No. 11 in McShay and Kiper's rapid-fire mock. And the Giants passed up the best cornerback in the draft in Joe Haden. But Williams actually provides great value at 15. Tremendous player against the run and also has a nice bull-rush. Rocky Bernard was awful last season and Chris Canty couldn't get on the field. It's the right pick -- if Williams is there.

24. Philadelphia Eagles -- C/G Maurkice Pouncey, Florida: Kiper sounded a little flustered about taking Pouncey here, but he likes the value. Pouncey is the best center in the draft. The only downside is that players such as Dan Williams can move him off the ball at times. The Eagles could have taken Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon or USC safety Taylor Mays. But Mays inexplicably falls out of the first round in this mock draft.

27. Dallas Cowboys -- OT Charles Brown, USC: I think Brown's a definite possibility at this spot, but the Cowboys will be hoping that a team behind them wants to trade up for Brown or Mays. But if Dez Bryant slides all the way to No. 25 -- as Kiper suggested -- Jerry Jones will be tempted to go after him. And I wouldn't blame him. Bryant is by far the best wide receiver in the draft. To have a shot at him in the 20s is too much to pass up. I realize there are character concerns related to his '09 suspension, but the Cowboys have shown a lot of interest in Bryant throughout the scouting process. If Bryant goes into free-fall mode, look for Jones to offer him a lifeline. Kiper says the Ravens will take him at No. 25. But that might be wishful thinking for a Ravens season-ticket holder.

How I See It: NFC East Stock Watch

April, 15, 2010
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NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Falling

Marcus Spears, Cowboys DE: After the '09 season, owner Jerry Jones indicated that Spears had a long-term future with the club. But he has a funny way of showing his devotion to the restricted free agent who recently signed his first-round tender. Spears, who would've been an appealing player on the open market, is scheduled to make less money than backup defensive ends Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher. All three players could be unrestricted free agents after next season.

I think a team such as the Redskins would be wise to make a move for Spears during the draft. The Cowboys would probably move him for a mid-round pick. For whatever reason, the team has soured on Spears, who's actually one of the better leaders on the team. It's not like the defensive end in Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme is going to have a lot of sacks. I'm not quite sure why Spears' stock has fallen so much, but it's at an all-time low at this point.

Rising

Oklahoma State LT Russell Okung going to the Redskins at No. 4 overall: Mock drafters across the country will at least get this one right. When the Skins traded for Donovan McNabb, it all but guranteed that they'd select Okung in the first round. I've watched the guy in person several times over the last few years and he's a refined athlete who doesn't have many holes in his game. Barring injury, he'll start at left tackle for the next 10 years. In the past, Vinny Cerrato and Dan Snyder neglected the offensive line in the draft. But Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen won't make that mistake.

I had a long conversation with Okung at the combine. He's a no-nonsense guy who seems to have a bit of a mean streak. That will go over well in Washington. If not for those two great defensive tackles, Okung would have gone even higher in this draft. He's a more refined player than last year's No. 2 overall pick Jason Smith, although he's not quite that athletic.

The Kiper/McShay mock shocks, amazes

April, 7, 2010
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I've spent the afternoon studying mock drafts from some of my favorite experts. And as luck would have it, Mel Kiper and my older cousin Todd McShay Insider delivered their fourth joint mock draft. Most of this information is reserved for our Insiders, but I've pirated a few of the NFC East picks.

Both Kiper and McShay have the Washington Redskins taking Oklahoma State left tackle Russell Okung, which makes a lot of sense. Here's an excerpt from what Kiper wrote about Okung:

"Okung may not have the extraordinary upside of a guy like Anthony Davis, but he's the most complete left tackle available, and is a low-risk pick for a team that can't afford to miss."

In one of the most interesting picks in the joint mock, McShay selects Idaho guard Mike Iupati for theNew York Giants. I think Iupati could be a force at left guard for years to come, but linebacker is a bigger need at this point.

The Philadelphia Eagles will select Alabama cornerback Kareem Jackson at No. 24, according to Kiper. He thinks the Eagles could wait until No. 37 to draft a safety. And Kiper even thinks Nate Allen of South Florida might be available. But knowing how much the Cowboys like Allen, I'm not sure he'll be around that late.

McShay has the Dallas Cowboys taking USC safety Taylor Mays at No. 27. And Mays would certainly be tempting at that spot. The biggest problem is that Mays is getting compared to former Cowboys safety Roy Williams. And we all know how his time in Dallas ended. I think Jerry Jones is hoping that Mays is already off the board before the Cowboys pick.

McShay says that Mays has "better closing burst and range" than either Ken Hamlin or Williams. From what I'm hearing, the Cowboys are pretty high on USC left tackle Charles Brown. If he falls to No. 27, don't be surprised to see the Cowboys take him.

Draft Watch: NFC East

April, 7, 2010
4/07/10
1:00
PM ET
NFC Approach: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)

Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: Draft approach.

Dallas Cowboys

Now that Jerry Jones has released left tackle Flozell Adams and safety Ken Hamlin, there's more of a sense of urgency at those spots in the draft. The Cowboys will replace Adams with Doug Free, but they could still take an offensive tackle or guard at No. 27 overall. Safety Nate Allen and cornerback Devin McCourty are two players the Cowboys really like late in the first round.

There's a belief that safeties Alan Ball and Mike Hamlin could get the job done in a pinch, but the Cowboys will focus on that position in the draft. Last year's approach involved saving money -- if you can believe that. The Cowboys' first picks were Nos. 69 and 74. The only true impact player from the '09 draft was kickoff specialist David Buehler. In this year's draft, the Cowboys need to select players who can have a more immediate impact. If an offensive tackle starts to slip in the first round, don't be surprised if the Cowboys are there to catch him.

In the past, the Cowboys have emphasized need over value out of necessity. In this year's draft, I think staying at No. 27 and going with the best value is what the Cowboys are trying to accomplish. Releasing Hamlin and Adams certainly changed the dynamic heading into the draft, but it also provided some clarity.

New York Giants

General manager Jerry Reese almost never gets caught reaching in a draft. He doesn't normally go for project players in the first three rounds, although Ramses Barden is certainly the exception. This year's approach has to be a little different, though. The Giants were exposed on defense in several areas last season.

They can't afford to simply take the "best-player-on-the-board" philosophy. The Giants need help at linebacker and defensive tackle. And another pass-rusher would be nice. I'd be very surprised if the Giants took an offensive player at No. 15 overall. If Rolando McClain out of Alabama is there, look for Reese to take him. He's exactly the type of player Reese and Coughlin love -- remarkably intelligent and a natural leader. After losing Antonio Pierce, the Giants need more players like that.

Philadelphia Eagles

With the Sheldon Brown/Chris Gocong trade, the Eagles are now thin at cornerback and linebacker. And it's not as if they had an embarrassment of riches at those positions before the trade. In the past, the Eagles have been very open to moving down in the first round. And with the depth of talent in this year's draft, that's certainly a possibility. But at No. 24, something tells me the Eagles will stay right there and draft the best cornerback or safety available. They've taken a long look at Texas' Earl Thomas, but he won't be available at that point.

The Eagles need more firepower at linebacker, so that's also an option in the first round. They've spent the past couple of drafts bolstering their offense with speed at the skill positions. Now it's time to start retooling that defense. I'd be very surprised if the Eagles don't take a defensive player at No. 24.

Washington Redskins

Mike Shanahan continues to meet with quarterbacks despite the blockbuster trade for Donovan McNabb. I recall McNabb not enjoying a certain draft pick in '07, so it will be interesting to see whether Shanahan addresses the quarterback position in the draft.

Of course, the draft focus now turns to left tackle. The Redskins don't have a viable candidate there unless they sign the aging Flozell Adams. And general manager Bruce Allen said on a local radio show that he's talked to Adams' agent. But I still think left tackle Russell Okung of Oklahoma State is the way to go for the Redskins at No. 4 overall. The Redskins will have to wait until Saturday to pick again unless they somehow land a second-round pick in a trade.

So in reality, the Redskins will only find one immediate starter in this draft. And by the way, Shanahan needs to start drafting some larger inside linebackers. As I've said many times, London Fletcher is not going to hold up in this defense for very long. Part of that is age, but most of it is size.

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