The home of the NFC Champs and historically one of the most competitive divisions in football, the NFC East was mostly picking in the latter halves of the rounds. Despite that, a few teams drastically improved – led by the Eagles, who had the best draft in football, and it’s not close. The Eagles improved immensely and should be a lock to win the division and the NFC again. Other teams improved as well but have a lot of work to do to catch what Howie Roseman is doing with the Eagles.
What did they do to improve so much, and how did the other teams attack this draft?
1.26: Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan
2.58: Luke Schoonmaker, TE, Michigan
3.90: DeMarvion Overshown, LB, Texas
4.129: Viliami Fehoko, DE, San Jose State
5.169: Asim Richards, OT, North Carolina
6.178: Eric Scott Jr., CB, Southern Miss
6.212: Deuce Vaughn, RB, Kansas State
7.344: Jalen Brooks, WR, South Carolina
The Cowboys were mocked consistently to get a tight end in the first round but instead added a defensive tackle. Smith is a fine player and fits a massive need. The Cowboys haven’t been able to stop the run effectively, and Smith will help there. He’s a massive man with good short-area quicks, but he will need some work on gap discipline. Overshown was a pick I really liked, but he may struggle to find a spot to start consistently. He’s athletic with good instincts and a good blitzer but lacks the play strength to be a formidable starter. Fehoko could develop into a solid situational blitzer but is a tweener size-wise and has a lot of work to do to get there.
On offense, they may not have drafted one of the TEs everyone wanted for them, but Schoonmaker is a good player for their need. He’s a phenomenal blocker and can run a good route tree, and he’s got a knack for finding the open spot in the secondary to make big plays. Is he better than Jake Ferguson or Peyton Hendershot? I’m not sure, and this pick felt like a reach. Richards could develop into a spot starter at tackle. And Vaughn is a great story, as his father works on the Cowboys’ staff. I love Vaughn as a player and hope the ‘Boys find a way to use him.
I didn’t love the draft for Dallas and am hard-pressed to rank them with even a C-. Smith is the only sure starter, and I don’t see him as a plus starter. I felt like they reached on most of the picks, and five of these guys may never see the field consistently.
New York Giants
1.25: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
2.57: John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota
3.73: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
5.172: Eric Gray, RB, Oklahoma
6.209: Tre Hawkins III, CB, Old Dominion
7.243: Jordon Riley, DT, Oregon
7.254: Gervarrius Owens, S, Houston
The Giants quietly had a strong draft. Defensively, the addition of Banks is a home run, and he’s going to be a starter immediately. He has the perfect size, phenomenal athleticism, and plays with smooth hips and quick footwork. Banks can get physical but may have a few bumps and bruises from learning, more than the other top corners in the class. Hawkins and Owens are depth pieces for the secondary, but each could develop into solid reserves.
Schmitz should be the starting center early, and he has the potential to develop into one of the best centers in the NFL. Hyatt was a value in the third round and gives the Giants another speedy weapon. The Giants badly needed play-making receivers, and he’s going to fight for playing time. But I think he’s one of the top two receiver options they have and will emerge quickly. Gray is also a great option to back up Saquon Barkley. If Barkley misses time, Gray can handle a three-down workload and fill in for long stretches.
The Giants didn’t draft sexy, instead adding several starters with the potential to be plus starters and contributors right away. Banks, Schmitz, and Hyatt could make a difference in 2023 and then beyond.
1.9: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
1.30: Nolan Smith, DE, Georgia
3.65: Tyler Steen, OT, Alabama
3.66: Sydney Brown, S, Illinois
4.105: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
6.188: Tanner McKee, QB, Stanford
7.249: Moro Ojomo, DE, Texas
The Eagles are playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II on an Xbox One while the rest of the NFL is still playing Contra on the Nintendo (tired of the checkers and chess analogy). They are taking what is given to them, and it’s working better than it should and filling needs.
The defense is hoarding Georgia defenders and was able to take Carter at pick nine. Carter joins fellow DT studs Jordan Davis and Fletcher Cox to give the Eagles one of history’s nastiest defensive tackle trios. Carter is only scratching the surface of what he can be, and Cox is the type of veteran that can help him unlock it. Smith will join Nakobe Dean, another former Bulldog, and Hasaan Reddick in the linebacker corps, and Reddick will help Smith unlock what he can do. Smith is a fierce pass-rushing outside linebacker and tested phenomenally. Taking him at pick 30 is criminal. Brown will have to sit behind a few players to gain playing time at safety, and he’s a ferocious hitter that plays hard. Ringo was projected to go much higher, but the Eagles gained another Bulldog defender with the potential to be a plus starter. Ringo is physical but needs to work on anticipating routes and being more patient.
The only offensive player to note is Steen, and he’s got the potential to be a fill-in lineman initially and grow into a starter. McKee, hopefully, never has to see the field; he’s an average backup at best.
We have to figure in that they also traded a few future picks for De’Andre Swift, giving them a better option at RB after letting Miles Sanders go in free agency. They added key pieces on defense; two guys who will play meaningful snaps early and two guys who may see the field some and contribute on special teams. Adding Swift was the icing on the cake.
1.16: Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
2.47: Jartavius Martin, S, Illinois
3.97: Ricky Stromberg, C, Arkansas
4.118: Braeden Daniels, OG, Utah
5.137: K.J. Henry, DE, Clemson
6.193: Chris Rodriguez Jr., RB, Kentucky
7.233: Andre Jones, LB, Louisiana
The Commanders went the same route as the Cowboys, nothing sexy but attacking needs in the secondary and in the trenches. Forbes is a good pick at 16, but it seemed like an odd choice with Christian Gonzalez on the board. Forbes is a playmaker but is small and could be bullied by larger receivers. They doubled up on secondary help by taking “Quan” Martin in the second. He can play inside or outside corner, along with safety, and has speed and explosiveness. Martin can play early but will take some time to be an every-down starter. Henry is a player who could develop into a starter too. He’s a former five-star that never fully realized his potential with Clemson. Henry is an edge-rushing outside linebacker with elite athletic traits.
The offense added a few linemen, with Stromberg in the fourth, then Daniels in the fifth. Each guy is a versatile lineman, and Stromberg has the potential to start at center. Daniels may spot start but will need development to be a consistent starter. Rodriguez is a nice depth back; he’s got the size to handle the dirty work and is a one-cut-and-go runner with good vision and contact balance.
I was puzzled by taking Forbes over Gonzalez, and the Commanders could walk away from the draft without a single plus starter. I like the potential of Forbes, Martin, Stromberg, and Henry to be contributors, but I don’t see any home runs in the class.