Thursday, March 10, 2011
Draft Watch: NFC East
By Matt Williamson, Scouts Inc.
╗ 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.
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 endáStephen 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.
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.
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.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.