GRADING THE DRAFT: NFC EAST

 

Now that the dust is settling and the "priority" is being take out of priority free agents, I want to reflect back on each teams' draft class and share initial thoughts. The number in the parentheses next to the player names is where they were selected vs. where they were on my final big board; a positive number means value, negative number means reach. I added the total numbers up for a total grade for each team, and it means absolutely nothing besides letting me know how I off I was in my evaluation for each players, so take it for what it's worth.

 

While this article focuses on the AFC South, you can click on a different division below.

 

AFC West | AFC South | AFC North | AFC East || NFC West | NFC South | NFC North | NFC East

 

DALLAS COWBOYS - A (+127)

LB Leighton Vander Esch (-5)

OG Connor Williams (+23)

WR Michael Gallup (-11)

DE Dorance Armstrong Jr. (+12)

TE Dalton Schultz (+28)

QB Mike White (+83)

LB Chris Covington (-164)

WR Cedrick Wilson (+54)

RB Bo Scarbrough (+107)

 

Notable UDFAs: RB Jordan Chunn, TE David Wells, DT DeQuinton Osborne, DE James Hearns, LB Joel Lanning, CB Charvarius Ward, FS Kameron Kelly

 

The hosts did nothing to disappoint their fans this year. The Cowboys seem to have an affinity of taking linebackers with medical red flags, and you have to think many fans are uneasy about taking a high-impact tackler with a cervical neck issue 19th overall. I had Connor Williams as a top-ten player as an offensive lineman in this class had he not gotten injured, so to pilfer him with the 50th pick is outrageous value and provides the missing piece to an already dominant offensive line. Michael Gallup got selected right about where I figured he would, and though he may never become an alpha in the NFL, should be a productive receiver rotating in with Allen Hurns. Dorance Armstrong is a "looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane" player for me, and I would like to see him play in a defense where he didn't have to do everything like he did at Kansas. Dalton Schultz is predominantly a blocking tight end and should by no means be seen as the heir-apparent to the suddenly-retired Jason Witten, and I wouldn't be surprised if they signed a veteran like Antonio Gates on a one-year deal as a band-aid. Mike White was a savvy pick and not only does he give them a competent backup, he also provides some insurance in case Dak Prescott regresses this year. Chris Covington wasn't my favorite selection in the middle of round six, especially with Hoosiers teammate Tegray Scales on the board, but Scales didn't even get drafted so what do I know? Cedrick Wilson is a high upside-player that could crack the WR corps and Bo Scarbrough gives them an additional runner between the tackles to keep Zeke Elliott fresher towards the end of the season. Out of the free agents, David Wells was a player they really liked and brought in for a top-30 visit, and Kameron Kelly has a good chance to make the team based on the fact that they failed to address the safety position in the draft. Overall, my only gripe is that the Cowboys didn't do anything to upgrade their secondary or defensive tackle rotation, but with the 2019 class so stacked at DT, I won't hold it against them. Factor in acquiring Tavon Austin as an air back where he should have always played since day one, and I give this class an A. 

 

NEW YORK GIANTS - A (+51)

RB Saquon Barkley (+1)

OG Will Hernandez (+20)

LB Lorenzo Carter (+14)

DT BJ Hill (-12)

QB Kyle Lauletta (+38)

DE RJ McIntosh (-5)

 

Notable UDFAs: WR Davon Grayson, OT Nick Gates, CB Grant Haley, CB Aaron Davis, FS Sean Chandler

 

I had Saquon Barkley penciled as the top player in this draft class since watching him carry the football as a freshman. The ability to acquire a generational talent like Barkley at the team's biggest position of need over the last few years is awesome. And don't give me the RB-positional value argument. I will never understand how a player who has the ball in his hands 15-25 times a game isn't worth a top-5 pick. You can consider me the anti-Pete Prisco. With their next pick, Dave Gettleman selects a triceratops on the offensive line in Will Hernandez to blow open some craters for Barkley to run through and bring defensive linemen to extinction. Lorenzo Carter was another great value pick to rush the passer, and it's pretty telling what the Giants passed on Josh Sweat in favor of Carter given that the Giants team doctor did Sweat's knee surgery and had some inside information on his medical. I loved BJ Hill at NC State and his ability to spell both Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson along their new 3-4 front was something they were missing on the roster. Kyle Lauletta was my favorite developmental QB in the draft and he left the biggest impression on me in Mobile out of all the passers there. If Lauletta develops into a franchise passer in 2-3 years, Gettleman will look like a genius for passing on "the big four" QBs and still landing the guy. James Bettcher procuring a former Canes player to start at DE in his odd front a la Calais Campbell in Arizona is almost poetic and McIntosh has a chance to be a day one starter. From free agency, Nick Gates can compete for a right tackle spot if they boot Ereck Flowers and I would wager money on Grant Haley making the team as the nickel corner of the future. When you also factor in Alec Ogletree as part of this class, it's an exceptional one.  

 

PHILAEDLPHIA EAGLES - B (-634)

TE Dallas Goedert (+17)

CB Avonte Maddox (-57)

DE Josh Sweat (+75)

OG Matt Pryor (-434)

OT Jordan Mailata (-235)

 

Notable UDFAs: QB Jeremiah Briscoe, RB Josh Adams, OT Toby Weathersby, DE Joe Ostman, DT Bruce Hector, CB Chandon Sullivan, FS Jeremy Reaves

 

With a roster as stacked as the Super Bowl Champion Eagles, their draft was about acquiring promising depth. A tight end tandem of Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert is going to give NFC East defensive coordinators a ton of head aches. Avonte Maddox was one of my favorite nickel CBs in the draft and the only reason he wasn't higher on my board is I didn't see a lot of buzz on him so I buried him despite a high evaluation grade. Something to learn from in the future. Josh Sweat was my favorite pick and even if his NFL shelf life is low due to his knee, he can be an effective pass rush specialist in a strong position group for the Eagle. Matt Pryor was a player I scouted for Optimum Scouting and while he did show flashes of dominance at TCU, I felt his feet were too cumbersome for the NFL and I didn't think he was a great scheme fit for the Eagles offense. Lastly, Jordan Mailata is the type of high-upside project that I don't mind taking a shot on in the 7th round. Mailata is a rare athlete and unlike other international players like Jarryd Hayne and Moritz Boehringer who tried to make the transition as skill players, Mailata will be competing at offensive tackle so he won't need to be as fluent in the playbook and vernacular. The Eagles killed it in recruiting free agents, and I wouldn't be surprised if Josh Adams, Joe Ostman, Bruce Hector, Chandon Sullivan and Jeremy Reaves all make the final roster. For a squad as loaded as Philly, that's saying something. Overall, it was a very good class but their inability to bring in at least one starter, reaching on Matt Pryor, and not getting a suitable interior pass rusher as insurance behind an injured Timmy Jernigan brings it to a B.

 

WASHINGTON REDSKINS - A- (-6)

DT Da'Ron Payne (-5)

RB Derrius Guice (+45)

OT Geron Christian (-110)

FS Troy Apke (-158)

DT Tim Settle (+61)

LB Shaun Dion-Hamilton (+20)

CB Greg Stroman (+56)

WR Trey Quinn (+85)

 

Notable UDFAs: RB Martez Carter, WR Simmie Cobbs, TE Matt Flanagan, OT Timon Parris, OG Sean Welsh, CB Danny Johnson, SS Quin Blanding

 

Well done, Washington! It's not often that you can get two top-15 players at positions of need with only one first round pick, but the Redskins managed to get it done. Da'Ron Payne should start at right defensive tackle in base formations and kick inside with ex-Crimson Tide teammate Jonathan Allen in nickel sub-packages. Derrius Guice gives them a rare do-it-all back who should be the featured runner ahead of Samaje Perine and third down air back Chris Thompson. Washington's next two picks were head-scratchers. I felt they reached for a swing tackle in Geron Christian that they didn't need with how well Ty Nsekhe played last season, but then I read that Nsekhe may be competing for the starting left guard spot, so the pick made a little more sense. Troy Apke was a player that I felt wouldn't have been drafted had he not been invited to the Combine where he put up some jaw-dropping numbers, and those players always give me pause. I don't think Apke will legitimately challenge for a starting safety spot, but he will likely have a long NFL career on special teams that will mirror that of Chris Prosinski. Tim Settle was a tremendous value for the Skins and finally gives them a dominant nose tackle to feature in base formations between Allen and Payne. Shaun Dion-Hamilton keeps the Tide-theme rolling into Washington and gives them a player they can develop into a starter when Zach Brown and Mason Foster's contracts expire. Greg Stroman will be groomed as the team's future nickel back after Orlando Scandrick and offers extra value as a return specialist. Trey Quinn was a terrific Mr. Irrelevant pick and apparently Jay Gruden was pounding the table for him earlier in the draft, so don't be surprised if Quinn is a real part of the WR rotation this season. In free agency, picking up Simmie Cobbs and Quin Blanding were home runs, and Sean Welsh is another Iowa Hawkeye that can be brought along at right guard behind Brandon Scherff. Overall, if you swap out Troy Apke with Quin Blanding in my eyes, it's an awesome haul and one of my favorites in the class.

 

 

 

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