Dallas Cowboys – Jerry Jones was at it again. True to recent form, he was wheeling and dealing. Unlike other years when there was little evidence of a plan, this year he got it right. He moved out of the first round when he got a substantial offer from Cleveland, who was interested in Brady Quinn. The big part of the deal was that they got Cleveland's first-round pick in 2008, which should be a high pick. After moving out of the first round, he traded back into the opening round to draft Anthony Spencer, a DE from Purdue. It has been reported that Spencer is the player they wanted all along. So, to get Spencer and a first-round pick next year, it looks like they did well.
Last year, the Cowboys defense was doing very well until they lost Greg Ellis to a torn Achilles' shortly after midseason. Without Ellis, a substantial pass rusher, all they had left was DeMarcus Ware. Teams were able to control Ware and the Cowboys were left with little or no pass rush and their defense struggled the rest of the season. Anthony Spencer gives them another much-needed pass-rusher. He should be able to convert from a down DE to a 3-4 OLB. He is a player we liked very much in this draft, so we applaud the pick.
Their wheeling and dealing left them without a second-round pick. In round three they picked Boston College OT James Marten. This was a good pick because Marten was one of the best OTs in a generally weak OT draft. Flozell Adams does not have much left. In Marten they have a tackle they can groom.
In the second day, the most interesting picks were fourth-rounders Doug Free, another OT prospect, and Isaiah Stanback, an athletic QB who may have to make a position change in order to get on the field. With his great athletic ability he should be able to handle a switch just fine.
Summary: Spencer was the key pick. He fills a great need for a pass rusher. This was the best draft in the NFC East.
Philadelphia Eagles – The Eagles' draft was bizarre. There are no other words to describe it. They traded out of the first round and then selected QB Kevin Kolb from Houston. There are several things about this pick that have us scratching our head. They traded with the Cowboys to get out of the first round. They helped the Cowboys get Anthony Spencer, a player who could torment Eagles QBs for years to come. We don't like trading in the division and possibly helping a rival. Next, they took a QB. What does that say to the already fragile Donovan McNabb? Despite the Eagles' spin, it sends a message to McNabb that they don't expect him to be around much longer. Perhaps it also says that McNabb's rehab is not going as well as expected. They now have four viable QBs on their depth chart. Besides McNabb and Kolb, they also have A.J. Feeley, who they just signed to a big contract extension, and Kelly Holcomb, a veteran QB they just acquired in a trade from Buffalo. The next problem we see is that Kevin Kolb is not the third-best QB in the draft, which is where he was selected. John Beck from BYU, Trent Edwards from Stanford and Drew Stanton from Michigan State were all ahead of Kolb on most NFL draft boards. It was a strange pick indeed.
The rest of their first-day picks look good. Victor Abiamiri from Notre Dame is a talented pass-rusher. The Eagles were showing some age with Jevon Kearse and Darren Howard, so Abiamiri is a good fit. They also selected Penn State RB Tony Hunt. He is the power back they needed behind Brian Westbrook. LB Stewart Bradley from Nebraska was a player we liked for the Giants. They are turning over their LB corps and Bradley will help replace the departed Dhani Jones.
Two second-day picks caught our attention. In the fifth round they took C.J. Gaddis, an interesting prospect from Clemson. He has both corner and safety experience, but the Eagles plan to use him at safety. In the seventh round they took RB Nate Llaoa from Hawaii. He's bowling ball size (5-9, 245), but he can run. He may be more than just a fullback.
Summary: Their first pick of QB Kevin Kolb was strange, but the rest of their draft was strong.
Washington Redskins – Daniel Snyder and his personnel people love to go for the quick fix through free agency. The draft is just not important to them. They have no fear in trading draft choices for players they think will help them now. This is not a good method of operation and their record backs this up. Most, if not all, teams believe the draft is the lifeblood of a team. Not the Redskins. Snyder loves to collect trophies. More often than not this approach has backfired on them. Add to the mix the fact that Joe Gibbs will not coach too much longer and you see why he approved of the ‘win-now' approach. He doesn't have time to develop players.
Look at this year's draft. They had five picks – a first, a fifth, two in the sixth and a seventh. That's not much. Fortunately they scored big on their only first-day pick when they selected LaRon Landry, a safety from LSU. He is a prime player and has a chance to become an elite NFL safety. He will look good paired with Sean Taylor in the Redskins secondary. Landry is a great hitter and he also has great coverage skills. He is an impact player with size and speed. He should be a starter from Day One. He has great instincts, but he is also daring and confident. He is truly a blue-chip prospect. He will be a thorn in the Giants' side for several years.
None of their four second-day picks are very exciting. In round six, they drafted Carson Palmer's brother, Texas-El Paso QB Jordan Palmer. Despite his famous name, he's not nearly as good as his brother. They took another player with a famous relative in LB H.B. Blades, the son of Bennie Blades. H.B. is not nearly the player that Bennie was. He's an undersized LB who may help on special teams.
Summary: This was clearly a one-player draft. Landry has the ability and potential to be an All-Pro. The rest will be lucky to make the team.
So, how does the NFC East rank? We would put them in this order: 1. Dallas. 2. Giants. 3. Eagles. 4. Redskins. Dallas did not have a lot of holes to fill, but they got a good one in Spencer plus a first-round pick next year. We go in depth on the Giants' draft elsewhere on this site, but they clearly fared better than the Eagles and Redskins. The Giants' draft, while not sensational, was clearly substantial. We view it as a "meat and potatoes" draft. Time will tell how it all works out.
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