NFC East Free Agent Grades and Draft Needs

nfc-east-team-free-agent-grades-and-draft-needs1NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

Free Agency: Igor Olshansky is a strong 3-4 end, and a nice fit opposite Chris Canty – pity Canty isn’t at the club anymore. Canty, Tank Johnson, Roy Williams, Zach Thomas, Pacman Jones, Anthony Henry and TO all left, and despite being a mixed bag of veterans, overrated talent and off field cancers – make you own mind up on who fills each of those roles – it’s still a lot of players to lose. You can make arguments either way for keeping or cutting many of those players, but I expect an uphill struggle for Dallas to get back to the playoffs.

Grade: D- Total mess. How is Wade Phillips still there?

Draft Needs: No first round pick, but a safety and late round sleeper WR are on the shopping list. Pat White may be too flashy for Jerry Jones to resist.

New York Giants

Free Agency: Michael Boley’s stock may be low but this athletic linebacker has heaps of talent, and Chris Canty is the DE depth they wanted. Remember: Osi Umenyiora is also set to return, so expect another year of dominant Giants defence. That’s a good sign since they’ll need that D in top form, having lost 1000 yards of the dynamic Derrick Ward and the moronic Plaxico Burress from that offense. Rumours still circulate about Braylon Edwards making a move.

Grade: B+

Draft Needs: Receiver. Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt whoever’s there. Not much more to say really, but they might be tempted should Moreno slide to them in the first.

Philadelphia Eagles

Free Agency: A very quiet but astute offseason for the Eagles. Lito Sheppard was moved off the payroll, whilst the man who eclipsed him last year Joselio Hanson was re-signed. Brian ‘not-what-he-was’ Dawkins was let go and Sean Jones was brought in; another example of an expensive veteran being upgraded with youth and talent by the Eagles. They decided to act before injuries and/or age ravaged their play by offloading offensive tackle Tra Thomas and leaving Jon Runyan sitting in the cold free market, whilst acquiring Jason Peters from the Bills for their 28th overall selection. If you can motivate Peters (a big fat contract often does the opposite) and get him fit then he is both a dominant run blocker and offers dynamic pass protection. If you can’t however, then you end up with what the Bills had last year: the worst LT in the NFL as Peters stumbled to 13 games and conceded 11.5 sacks a league low for any offensive lineman. LJ Smith is good for two things: drops and penalties. So whilst the Ravens suffer through that, the Eagles will be glad to see his back. They also lost career backup Correll Buckhalter, but again, they have a plan (hint hint Dallas) having traded for Lorenzo Booker last year. Leonard Weaver at FB is a huge boom for the team, and is one of the best offseason signings anywhere in the league. Now if only they could keep Brian Westbrook healthy…

Grade: A-

Draft Needs: Trading their second of two first round picks leaves Philadelphia at 21 overall, and with left tackle no longer an issue it’ll be an offensive threat or defensive end for the Eagles in the first round. Robert Ayers fits the latter scenario but may be off the board with his stock on the rise, so trading up could be a possibility if they like him that much. Knowshon Moreno, a Westbrook-esque RB, is a candidate, but Philadelphia struggled badly at converting red zone trips into touchdowns so the stouter punch-back Chris Wells could be higher on the Philadelphia war room big board. Red zone production could also be aided with a large aerial target like Kenny Britt or TE Brandon Pettigrew; Plaxico Burress may fill this need from free agency however.

Washington Redskins

Free Agency: Dan Snyder has no problem flashing the cash, so when $100million man Albert Haynesworth became available it was almost inevitable. He took just hours to sign, but may take just hours to regress into Fat Albert mode; Washington have to keep him motivated since he has only two years of high level production under his belt and both were in his contract year. They managed to re-sign the mercurial DeAngelo Hall but lost the aging Shawn Springs, meaning a late round developmental corner is an option. They’ll find their offensive tackle in the draft, but is Haynesworth enough of a disruptive backfield threat to hide their meager secondary and anemic pass rush?

Grade: B – Washington means high risk and big money; a B could easily be an F come week 17.

Draft Needs: With just 4 picks (first, third, fifth and sixth) and a negative cap figure, the Redskins have few options. Offensive tackle is a must, and it looks like it’ll be the talented but much maligned Andre Smith or Michael ‘hardknocks’ Oher; but if Dan Snyder has his say he’ll eat up the boom/bust high risk potential of Andre Smith. Trading up for Sanchez with Jacksonville is a possibility, but Denver, San Francisco and possibly Tampa are all thinking the same thing.

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