In the second installment of our draft reviews we'll take a look at some of the key picks made in the NFC East.
WASHINGTON REDSKINSAs expected the Redskins drafted Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick of the 2012 draft. Much like the Colts taking Andrew Luck first overall, this pick was a no-brainer for Washington. The Redskins gave up a tonne to move into the No.2 position but look to have locked up their franchise quarterback. Griffin has a strong arm, throws accurately and his blazing speed makes him a threat in both the rushing and passing game. But Griffin is no glorified running back. He is a pass-first quarterback that should come in and make an instant impact for the Redskins. In the third round, Washington moved to protect their newly-acquired asset by drafting guard Josh LeRibeus out of Southern Methodist. LeRibeus had a turbulent collegiate tenure to say the least. He was dropped to the practice squad for academic reasons and having his fitness and dedication questioned by the team, but he fought his way back into the team and has shown that he has the physical strength and drive to be a starting guard in the NFL. Look for him to excel in pass protection.
The Redskins fourth round pick had me scratching my head. By drafting Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins, Washington added a safety net for RG3. In all honesty I can't see the value here. While I’m pretty sure no Redskins supporters want a return to the days of Rex Grossman as the starter, he does provide a proven veteran backup for RGIII that can come in and play straight away if required. They may have drafted Cousins here in an attempt to train him up and use him for trading fodder down the track, but with so many other current needs, this selection doesn’t make sense to me.
Texas outside linebacker Keenan Robinson was the first defensive player drafted by the Redskins. He comes into the league with plenty of upside but will need to improve his tackling and instincts. Robinson’s biggest strength is his speed which allows him to cover ground when playing zone and makes him a danger when blitzing. With coaching, Robinson should become an effective player for the ‘Skins.
Washington went back to addressing the offence with their fifth pick, Iowa guard Adam Gettis. The major criticism of Gettis coming out of college is that he is undersized in comparison to existing NFL guards although he does have great footwork and speed off the ball which helps hide his size deficiencies.
The Eagles' defensive line was awful last season and they set out to address this problem with their first draft pick, Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. The Eagles traded up to land Cox and they got themselves a run stuffer with great strength and quickness who should prove to be a handful for any offensive linemen. Cox should provide the push up the middle the defence so sorely missed last year which will reduce the need to use the secondary and linebackers to apply pressure on the quarterback. This isn’t a fancy, headline pick by Philadelphia, but it is a great pick.[caption id="attachment_15431" align="alignright" width="224" caption="Mychal Kendricks could be the Eagles' best pick of the draft."][/caption]
Cal linebacker Mychal Kendricks looks to be an interesting player moving forward for the Eagles. He is incredibly athletic and quick for a man his size (he ran a 4.47 40 at the combine) and is effective against the run and pass. He is smaller than a prototypical inside linebacker but with the physical tools he possesses it will be hard to keep him off the field this season.
The Philadelphia defensive front is starting to take shape with their first three picks. The pass rush continued to be bolstered with the Eagles' second round pick being spent on Marshall defensive end Vinny Curry. Curry is a quick, disruptive force against the pass who is also a solid run defender. He will find it difficult to supplant the current Eagles starters of Jason Babin and Trent Cole and will likely be used in rotation with this pair but is nonetheless an exciting addition to the group.
In 2012, many believed Philadelphia would draft a backup quarterback for Micheal Vick that they could groom into a future starter ala Kevin Kolb. They did just that in round three when they selected Arizona quarterback Nick Foles. He has a great arm and has shown good accuracy, albeit in a spread system that was focused on short, quick throws. Expect him to come on in leaps and bounds under quarterback guru Andy Reid.
Georgia cornerback Brandon Boykin will add depth to a position left a little thin after Asante Samuel was traded earlier in the offseason. Boykin does have some injury concerns coming out of college after suffering two concussions but with his elite straight-line speed and his above average kick return abilities he was obviously too good for the Eagles to overlook.
NEW YORK GIANTS
New York had several needs coming into the draft which left many unsure which position they would address with the 32ndpick. The Giants surprised many when they ended up drafting Virginia Tech running back David Wilson. Running back was a position of need after Brandon Jacobs was released during the offseason but few thought they would address it in the first round. The odd thing about this pick is that with Wilson’s speed and agility he is very different to Jacobs and more in the mould of existing running back Ahmad Bradshaw. How Bradshaw and Wilson will complement each other this year is unclear, but what is clear is Wilson’s tremendous upside. The Giants look to have found their running back of the future.[caption id="attachment_15063" align="alignleft" width="244" caption="The Giants were delighted that Randle fell to them late in the 2nd round."][/caption]
After Mario Manningham left for the 49ers in free agency, New York decided to remedy his loss by taking LSU wide receiver Rueben Randle in the second round. Randle is a big, physical player who will be a solid possession receiver who will produce yards after the catch for the Giants and be a presence in the run game with his blocking. Randle provides depth to an already intimidating receiving corps that will be among the league’s best once again this season.
Round three of the draft saw the Giants make another surprising move when they took another Virginia Tech player, cornerback Jayron Hosley. Coming in to the draft New York seemed stacked at cornerback and it wasn’t viewed as a pressing position of need, but the Giants still deemed Hosley worthy of a third rounder. He is a poor open field tackler but shows good speed and positional play, and could be used for punt returns if needed. Hosley looks like a nice pickup for New York but I would’ve liked to have seen them address other needs here.
The Giants addressed a massive need in the fourth round by drafting Cincinnati tight end Adrien Robinson. Robinson has the physical tools to be a successful tight end and shows good blocking skills. He just needs to put some polish to his game to take the next step.
It didn’t take long for the Dallas Cowboys to make an impact on the opening day of the draft. The Cowboys traded the 14thoverall pick and their second round pick for the sixth overall. With it they selected the highest rated cornerback in the draft, LSU’s Morris Claiborne. Dallas made an aggressive move and it will pay dividends for them immediately. Claiborne can be inserted into the line-up from week one and coupled with free agent addition Brandon Carr, the pair form a formidable secondary duo that will make the Cowboys very hard to throw against.[caption id="attachment_15432" align="alignright" width="238" caption="Claiborne is the final part of what has been a huge overhaul for the Cowboys' secondary this offseason."][/caption]
Defence was again on the mind of the Cowboys when they drafted Boise State defensive end Tyrone Crawford in the third round. Crawford only had a single year as a starter in college which is reflected in his somewhat small repertoire of rush moves, but he is a maximum effort guy with a high work ethic that should allow him to be trained up and become a regular contributor for Dallas this season.
The Cowboys' defence continues to get stronger with the addition of Kyle Wilber. The Wake Forest outside linebacker shapes to be another pass rushing weapon for Rob Ryan to use. Wilber has long arms, quick footwork and good speed but will need to work on his strength if he is to really worry NFL calibre linemen. There are also some concerns for Wilber against the run but he shapes as a good prospect moving forward.
Safety was finally addressed by the Cowboys in the fourth round with Dallas drafting Matt Johnson out of Eastern Washington. Johnson is an aggressive run stopper but doesn’t have top end speed and is poor at changing direction quickly. I’m not sure whether Johnson is going to solve the Cowboys' problems at safety and I would've liked to seen them draft a safety earlier.
Virginia Tech wide receiver Danny Coale looks to be in contention for the slot receiver role this season. He won’t be challenging Dez Bryant or Miles Austin for a starting spot but his speed and strong route running could see him get some solid game time this year.
Overall I think the NFC East had a great three days and all teams will take improvement out of the draft. Let me know who you think had the best draft and why or the picks you liked/disliked. I look forward to your comments.