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Thursday, April 29, 2010
How I See It: NFC East Stock Watch

By Matt Mosley

NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Falling

The New York Giants' veteran defensive linemen: No matter how Tom Coughlin and general manager Jerry Reese choose to spin it, this draft was an indictment of some of the players on the Giants' defensive line. Reese signed defensive tackles Rocky Bernard and Chris Canty to lucrative free-agent contracts last offseason and neither player had any production. They were banged up for much of the season, but the Giants didn't want to wait around and see if they healed in 2010. And we all know the story of defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who saw his star fade significantly last season. His late-season benching has led to an offseason of unrest. The Giants have said Umenyiora won't be traded, but it's not like they're in a hurry to return him to the starting lineup.

The Giants had a huge need at middle linebacker, but they didn't let that dictate the first couple of rounds of the draft. Once the Raiders selected Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain, the Giants focused on landing a pass-rusher. South Florida defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is raw, but he has immense potential. There's not a more athletic pass-rusher in this rookie class. In the second round, the Giants selected East Carolina defensive tackle Linval Joseph. He's not a polished player, but he's enormous (328 pounds) and he should contribute immediately. The Giants are attempting to regain their identity as a dominant defensive line through this draft. And that's why players such as Bernard might not be around to see the results.

Rising

Doug Free, Cowboys left tackle: Jerry Jones told anyone who would listen that he's comfortable with Doug Free as his starting left tackle. I guess we should have believed him. The Cowboys didn't attempt to land a potential starter at that position in the draft. They may have briefly thought about moving up the board when Bryan Bulaga began to slip, but they were mostly focused on Dez Bryant.

Cowboys players were surprised by Flozell Adams' release. DeMarcus Ware, Bradie James and Tony Romo have all expressed some level of surprise by the announcement. The release of Adams was a financial decision. It was a chance for Jones to trim a significant salary without any penalty because of the uncapped seasoHow I See It: NFC East Stock Watch n. But the move would not have been made if the Cowboys didn't feel like Free was ready. Scouts have always told me that Free's a good "foot athlete," which means he's good in space. And against Brian Orakpo and Trent Cole, he better be really good in space. Free did a superb job filling in for Marc Colombo at right tackle last season. But protecting Tony Romo's blindside is a completely different assignment. The Cowboys have displayed a lot of faith in Free. Now we'll see if they're rewarded.