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NFL Draft Grades: NFC East

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Grading an NFL Draft immediately after it occurs is akin to giving your compliments to the chef based on the menu. It will take at least three years before we can truly assess how the 32 NFL teams fared over the three-day event. But waiting is no fun, so let’s take a take at which teams appear to have done the best job of filling needs and building for the future.

NFC EAST

Dallas Cowboys: At least on paper, perhaps no team found a better fit late in the first round than the Cowboys, who filled arguably their two biggest needs – cornerback depth and locker room leader – with the selection of Byron Jones. Leadership could be required, however, as the club made a risky pick with Randy Gregory next. Gregory boasts top 10 talent and gives Dallas a potentially frightening trio of edge rushers with Greg Hardy and second-year pro Demarcus Lawrence, but Gregory’s slide wasn’t by accident. While Gregory’s addition was all about winning immediately, I like the developmental upside of young tackles Chaz Green and Laurence Gipson, as well as the instincts and closing speed of linebacker Damien Wilson.

Grade: B-

New York Giants: Ereck Flowers will be perceived by some as a reach, but his combination of length, strength and nastiness is precisely what the Giants have been missing along the offensive line for the past several years. No one will be questioning how high he was selected five years from now when he has helped stabilize New York’s leaky offensive line. Similarly, the Giants should receive an immediate impact from safety Landon Collins and defensive end Owa Odighizuwa, each of whom offer pure explosiveness but lack ideal agility. In terms of aggression and physicality, no club improved more than Big Blue with its first three picks. In a division boasting playmakers, though, the lack of flexibility of these defenders could leave New York vulnerable. Of New York’s Day Three prospects, wideout Geremy Davis has the size and reliable hands to surprise.

Grade: B

Philadelphia Eagles: With so much talk of the Eagles looking to move up to nab Marcus Mariota, it would be easy to miscast Nelson Agholor as a consolation prize. In reality, Agholor’s agility, speed and soft hands made him arguably the second-most pro-ready receiver in this class (behind No. 4 overall pick Amari Cooper). It won’t take long for Agholor to prove a star in coach Chip Kelly’s offense. Not surprisingly, the rest of Philadelphia’s draft was dedicated to defense with Utah’s Eric Rowe projecting as an upgrade at either cornerback or safety. I like his range and ballskills best at safety, especially with the Eagles nabbing an underrated cover corner in JaCorey Shepherd in the sixth round. If third round linebacker Jordan Hicks can show more durability in Philadelphia than he did at Texas, he could prove quite a steal.

Grade: B

Washington Redskins: Brandon Scherff wasn’t the most exciting pick at No. 5 overall but for a club that so often has gambled on dynamic athletes, the brawling blocker is the perfect “meat and potatoes” kind of pick to start the Scot McCloughan era in Washington. Jay Gruden’s scheme calls for bigger, stronger blockers than what former Redskins coach Mike Shanahan used and with Scherff and fourth round guard Arie Kouandjio, the Redskins certainly added that. Given the production of running back Alfred Morris and wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon in Washington, the addition of running back Matt Jones and slot receiver Jamison Crowder might be surprising, but each has the traits to project as early contributors in Gruden’s scheme. Tough-guy defenders Preston Smith, Martrell Spaight and Kyshoen Jarrett aren’t dynamic athletes, but are instinctive and highly physical.

Grade: B

–Rob Rang is a Senior Analyst for www.NFLDraftScout.com, a property of The Sports Xchange distributed in partnership with CBSSports.com.


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