New York Giants
After the Chargers selected Eli Manning with the first overall selection the Giants found themselves with little choice but to acquire Phillip Rivers, the player the Chargers coveted, and swing a deal with San Diego for Manning's services. Trading Rivers along with a third round pick from this year's draft as well as a first and fifth round selection next year, was a very steep price to pay for any player. And though Manning is an intelligent and accurate pocket passer who must focus more on his deep throws, he is not as polished as his brother Peyton. In his own right Eli is a top prospect but the Giants paid heavily to acquire his services.
Guard Chris Snee was the Giants second round selection and while the issue of nepotism with Tom Coughlin has been raised (Snee fathered a child with Coughlin's daughter) there is no questioning Snee's ability or value. He has the versatility to play guard and possibly center. There is also talk of moving him to right tackle if need be. Smart and physical, Snee should start quickly for the Giants and become a dominant run blocker. Reggie Torbor, a converted running back, was never able to translate his incredible athleticism into production at Auburn, where he played defensive end. Shining in off season workouts, the Giants pounced on him at the outset of the second day. Torbor projects best to outside linebacker and may earn time as a pass rushing end in certain situations.
It is likely that a player with his athleticism will find a way onto the field at the expense of a veteran with a hefty contract. New York continued to strengthen their defense selecting safety Gibril Wilson in the fifth round. A vocal leader who makes football a priority both on and off the field, Wilson should be an instant Coughlin favorite. Limited as an athlete, Wislon projects only to strong safety but his work ethic will get him serious consideration for playing time. Jamaar Taylor gives the Giants a solid developmental possession receiver should his knee hold up. He could find a spot on the roster as a fifth receiver.
Drew Strojny has the body type needed to play offensive tackle in the NFL but must further develop his technique and strength. He is a likely candidate for the Giants practice squad and was good value late in the draft. Isaac Hilton is an athletic defensive end who's biggest hurdle is a lack of premium competition in college. Even with that Hilton was both productive as a player and sizzled during combine workouts. Should he add some weight and strength he could develop into a solid rotational end. As it stands now, he is little more than an edge rusher whose mental skills must catch-up with his physical abilities.
New York aggressively pursued the one player that they coveted at the top of the draft and it is hard to knock the organization for going out and acquiring that player. In addition to Manning the Giants also added several athletic defensive prospects that offer good upside for the future. Chris Snee should be the only player to start immediately as a rookie but the Giants could have as many as four starters eventually emerge from this group. This was a solid yet unspectacular draft but it will always be gauged by the success Eli Manning has on the field versus what the Giants gave away to acquire him.
In years past Philadelphia has consistently been the most frugal of NFL teams, signing modestly priced free agents to their roster. Thus it came as somewhat of a surprise when they inked Jevon Kearse and traded for Terrell Owens within a matter of days during the off season. Hoping to make the Super Bowl rather than experience yet another loss in the NFC Championship Game, Philadelphia culminated an aggressive free agency period by doing something similar on draft day.
Picking late in round round the Eagles traded up into the middle part of the frame for the second consecutive year, nabbing junior offensive lineman Shawn Andrews. The big tackle from Arkansas will likely start off his career as an offensive guard though he should settle into one of the tackle spots before too long. While the biggest concern with Andrews is his commitment to staying in shape, he has great upside and potential if coach Andy Reid can get into his head and motivate him.
Matt Ware was the Eagles second selection and represents good value for a team that lost both of it's starting cornerbacks in free agency. Ware is still a project at cornerback but does have the size and speed to be a good bump and run cover man, something the Eagles love to do. At the very worst he offers solid potential at free safety. J.R. Reed gives the Eagles yet another young defensive back to develop. While Ware will likely be the teams nickel cornerback Reed is better suited to playing safety. He will be given every opportunity to earn the third safety spot during his rookie year and the heady defender fits the type of player Andy Reid likes and should be productive on special teams.
Philadelphia went back to the offensive line with it's next pick, selecting Trey Darilek. Darilek is strictly an offensive guard who overcomes limited athleticism through hard work and effort. He should earn a spot as a backup guard.
Thomas Tapeh gives the Eagles a solid triple-threat fullback. He can be used as a short yardage runner in a single back offense or as a receiver coming out of the backfield as well as a lead blocker. Tapeh showed well at the Senior Bowl and is a great value in the fifth round. Andy Hall is likely just a camp arm for the Eagles but he could find his way onto the practice squad if he impresses the coaching staff.
Dexter Wynn was the third defensive back selected by the Eagles. While he is a solid cornerback best in zone coverage, Wynn's real value is as a special teams player, where he excels as a return specialist. Adrien Clark could be the best value pick of this draft by the Eagles should he get his act together. A big and dominant blocker, at the top of his game Clarke has starting potential at either guard spots and could fill in at left tackle in a pinch. Yet if Clarke continues to get by on natural ability and not apply himself he will quickly be looking for a new line of work.
Running back Bruce Perry brings another explosive body to the Eagles "backfield by committee" approach. Not big enough to play every down, Perry can contribute as a third down back or a change of pace runner. Center Dominic Furio's best shot is to make the team as a snapping specialist.
Overall Philadelphia appears to have addressed what it considered the primary weakness on both sides of the ball. With three defensive backs selected the team appears ready to move on after the loss of two starting cornerbacks in free agency. Shawn Andrews by himself helps to rebuild an offensive line but with other picks thrown into the position Philadelphia appears to be readying themselves for future departures. Taking everything the Eagles have done this off season into consideration it is difficult to believe they will not be considered the front runner in the NFC in 2004.
With Joe Gibbs back as head coach the Redskins hope to begin the long road back to NFL credibility. Gibbs is one of the greatest coaches in league history but questions about his fit in the current NFL are legitimate. He was faced the difficult task of rebuilding a talent deprived roster with only four selections in last April's draft. With the fifth overall pick Washington had the opportunity to trade down for extra premium selections or take a legitimate game breaking prospect.
Sean Taylor can't arrive in Redskins camp soon enough. Taylor is the best safety prospect to come out of college in years and was this seasons best defensive player. With safety being ranked among Washington's primary needs this selection provided maximum value at a position of great need. Taylor will be a starter from day one and could be a game impacting force from the early weeks as well.
Chris Cooley was a little known yet a highly regarded tight end prospect. Cooley is a nice sized athletic prospect that excels in both the passing and the blocking game. While he does not possess the same great athleticism as many of the tight ends drafted ahead of him, Cooley is a hard working and fundamentally sound player that should fit nicely into Gibbs system.
Mark Wilson is a tough intelligent blocker best suited for the right side of the line. While he does have the flexibility to play either tackle spot his size potential and lack of great athleticism make him a strong candidate to be the teams primary strong side backup. Jim Molinaro is a good-sized blocker best in confined quarters. At the Blue-Gray Game last December, Molinaro appeared more comfortable on the weak side yet may not have the athleticism to stay there in the NFL. A hard worker, Molinaro needs to add weight and strength if he's to have a serious chance of competing at the next level.
With most of their picks already spent acquiring veteran players Washington had little ammunition to work with yet many needs to fill on draft weekend. The Redskins managed to bring in players at two primary positions of need as well as another pair of prospects to develop at offensive tackle. Sean Taylor will eventually be a superstar and Chris Cooley could be a starter by his second season in the league, if not earlier. Should either of the two offensive tackles ever contribute this will be considered a successful draft for Joe Gibbs and the Redskins.
Reviewing the Draft: The NFC East
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